Bus Travel: Alternative to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Forget planes, trains, and automobiles; bus travel is emerging as a key player in the travel game. In this post-pandemic world, travelers are seeking cheaper alternatives to their destinations. With gas prices soaring, hopping on a bus—and leaving the driving and fillups to someone else—can ease the stress and wallet of many travelers.

Flixbus and Greyhound

Leading the way in bus travel is FlixBus, starting in Europe and now taking the United States by storm.

FlixBus offers routes to 200 destinations across the U.S. and Canada and operates in 40 countries worldwide. According to the company's Founder and CEO, André Schwämmlein, 62 million passengers traveled with them in 2019, and the numbers have grown since then. In 2021, FlixBus acquired Greyhound, and the partnership between the two companies will only provide a better future for both companies.

FlixBus entered the U.S. market in 2018, but in the past two years, it has expanded its network of bus routes. Today, they connect 242 cities in the United States via 7,214 intercity bus routes.

Sean Hanft, PR Manager at FlixBus, notes that their 2022 expansions — Canada domestic network, cross-border routes — have been popular so far, and their Northeast Corridor routes like Boston to New York City and NYC-Washington DC continue to be favored amongst passengers.

“We see intercity bus service as one of the most affordable, convenient, and sustainable travel methods available – and a great alternative to the private car,” he says. To do that, he stresses they need to make the trip not only cheaper but also improve service, including newer busses, free Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, the ability to track the bus on the FlixBus App, and more.

“FlixBus is setting a new standard for North American intercity travel and making buses not just an affordable option, but the preferred choice for all passengers looking to experience the world.”

Lena Mrowka, a travel blogger for Not Another Backpacker, has utilized Flixbus to get from destination to destination since she started traveling full-time six years ago. While she has primarily used it in Europe, she has also used it to travel from San José to Anaheim.

“The great thing about Flixbus is that you can buy tickets directly through their app—which is often much cheaper than traveling by plane or train,” she says. “This convenience plus the low price of a Flixbus ticket makes it one of the best ways to travel around.”

She has paid as little as five dollars per fare for short distances, with the average of her Flixbus trips being around $20 to $30 per fare.

Bryn Culbert, Budget Travel Expert from Wanderu, a leading platform for booking bus and train travel, advises that the sooner one books a ticket, the lower the price will be. “Bus companies use dynamic pricing, which means that tickets cost more when there is more demand. Your best bet for finding a deal is searching for a trip several weeks before your target travel date.”

Culbert notes that with the influx of cheap bus tickets from FlixBus, bus travel avoided the dramatic price increases that characterized air travel this summer.

“The average price of a bus ticket in the U.S. across all the major bus carriers has increased only slightly compared to last year,” Culbert shares. “On other routes, the ticket prices have even decreased.” She references two of the Northeast's most popular bus routes — D.C. to New York City and Philadelphia to New York City — which now have tickets 2% cheaper on average than they were in the fall of 2021.

Hanft describes that FlixBus passengers come from all walks of life and demographics. One aim of the company is to make intercity bus travel easy, convenient, and accessible to all passengers.

“The American bus industry is changing for the better,” he says. “We encourage travelers who haven't taken a bus in a while to give buses another look as an alternative to cars to save money on future trips, remove the stress of traveling, and help the environment.”

Bus Only or Bus Centric Destinations

Travel experts point to bus travel as key in markets across the U.S. and abroad that are only served, or best served, by bus travel. These are routes with no train service, where sometimes plane travel is more costly.

One route is Southern CA (San Diego or Los Angeles) to Las Vegas. There is currently no train service on that route—although it has been envisioned and planned by Amtrak—and the traffic can be a bear to deal with. Flixbus offers service from multiple stops in both Los Angeles and San Diego to Las Vegas. According to Wanderu, the average price of a bus ticket from Las Vegas to Los Angeles costs only 3.6% more this year than last fall. At just $26.09, a bus from Vegas to Los Angeles is one of the cheapest travel methods.

Other Bus Options and Booking

In addition to Flixbus, other lines around the U.S. include Peter PanMegabus, and Chinatown. Peter Pan Lines is known for its routes through the Northeast, having the most express service anywhere on the Cape and the Islands. Megabus operates in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Canada and offers over 965 routes every day. Chinatown busses run in 17 states in the U.S.

In addition, it is always a good idea to check out regional local bus lines.

For booking, visiting the company's direct website is one method. However, a quick check of a site such as Wanderu, Rome2RioBusbud, or Omio (which includes Europe) will present all options on a specific route. These are especially helpful when you aren't sure if a destination is serviced by a bus or not.

When planning that next trip—whether across the state, country, or overseas—consider turning to a bus when the need arises. They are typically cheaper, more sustainable, and take the stress out of driving. The wheels on the bus go round and round, ready for the next adventure.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Kelley Dukat is a freelance writer, photographer, and event planner currently based in the United States. She has spent the last year as a nomad traveling and house-sitting. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and previously served as a trade magazine editor. Her favorites include dog-friendly travel, road trips, and nomad life. She is currently working on a memoir and a series of personal essays.