This is Part 1 of the 3-part Bus Booking Optimization Guide:
- Part 1: Basics of Bus Booking Optimization
- Part 2: Tips on Scoring $1 Bus Tickets
- Part 3: Optimizing Bus Bookings by Carrier
You’re probably thinking — I didn’t even think booking buses could be optimized. In fact they can! 😀
I. Use Wanderu!
Wanderu is the Google of bus tickets — it pulls and sorts options from all major bus providers so you can identify the best ride across a 100 options instead of the 10 proprietary options the Greyhound/Megabus/Boltbus site provides.
On top of that, you can:
- Sort the options for the cheapest/fastest/shortest route
- Select specific carriers
- Include nearby cities
- Adjust the time slider to identify only the buses which leave after a certain time or arrive by a certain time.
Once you’ve found a bus, you can either:
- Pay through the site (100% free as of July 2017).
- Navigate to the company site and book there.
While I personally find Wanderu the most versatile, another great option is BusBud.
II. Booking multiple dates 1-3 months in advance may be cheaper than booking a single date the week of travel.
Say you’re traveling from Philadelphia to New York on a weekend 3 months in the future, though you’re not sure which weekend.
Check the prices for this weekend, to get a sense of what the cost of a last-minute booking is.
Check the prices for 1-3 months out.
If the prices of a ticket 1-3 months out is significantly cheaper (say $1-5 instead of $20-$30) buy multiple tickets for a couple weekends.
Depending on the route, this can actually be way cheaper than booking last minute. If you do this through Megabus, you can later credit the unused tickets to a future trip.
III. Snag overnight trips if you can.
Since you’ll be asleep a majority of the time, you won’t even realize how much time you’ve been on the bus. Plus, you avoid paying for a hotel that night. 😉
IV. If you travel often, play the rewards game.
Yes, they’re irritating to sign up for, but if you travel often (for example if you’re a college student), being strategic about your trips and using rewards programs can pay off.
Take 8 trips, get 1 free =)
|3 roundtrip tickets||15% off next ticket||Buy 1 get 1 free for a friend|
|5 roundtrip tickets||20% off next ticket||Buy 1 get 1 free for a friend|
|8 roundtrip tickets||Free trip anywhere|
The best strategy here is to first use Wanderu to figure out which bus carrier offers the cheapest price consistently for your route. Once you find a carrier, use that carrier exclusively and join their rewards program; most of these reward programs require a good number of rides to reap the benefits. Companies like Greyhound and Boltbus offer free rides and rewards with every 8 rides you buy.
Say you’re a college student, and between the months of August and May, you return home on a $20 bus ride for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and Fall Break (8 roundtrips – a total of 32 roundtrips and 64 individual trips over 4 years). With a Boltbus or Greyhound rewards program, you end up saving $160 with 8 free trips. Not too shabby!
Next up in the Bus Booking Optimization Guide: Tips on Scoring $1 Bus Tickets
Other Posts in This Series: