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  1. Default Road Trip Next Summer by Bus

    Hello!

    Next year me and my Girlfriend are planning a month long trip around the US, I imagine from New York to San Fransisco, by greyhound bus.

    We're from the UK and have heard good things about this as a cheap way of covering a lot of miles, but we're unsure about how reliable, comfortable the buses are etc. I kind of see it as a good alternative to driving as it seems a whole lot cheaper, the monthly pass is $600ish, and I understand it can be redeemed whenever you like; i.e. we could stay in one place as long as we like. We're planning to stay in cheap hostels or motels.

    I was just wondering if anyone has had any problems with these buses and whether they can think of any reasons not to do it or any difficulties we're likely to encounter!

    Will appreciate any feedback!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default cheap

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Greyhound is about the cheapest way to travel in the way you're talking about, and while it doesn't go everywhere, its probably your best bet to get to the widest variest of places.

    Having said that, I personally don't think its the most comfortable way to travel. First of all, buses stop in every little town, so a couple hundred mile trip can litterally take all day. Also because most everyone has a car, it tends to be the poor who use the buses, and depots tend to be in some of the most crime riden parts of cities. That means you can meet some pretty "interesting" people and see some "interesting" things along the way.

    There are certainly pluses and minuses to this mode of travel, but if budget is a major factor, then its certainly an option worth looking at. You might also look at rail options via Amtrak. That won't take you as many different places, but its another option to consider.

  3. Default

    Hi thanks for the tip about the trains, I checked the prices and it turns out the train costs the same as the bus, and although they go to plenty of places I imagine they will be a lot quicker, and a lot easier to manage and plan.

    Do you think it's a better option if it's safer? We quite like the idea of being able to sleep a lot of the time we'll be travelling!

    Also, I presume when you purchase an Amtrak ticket you're only able to board Amtrak trains, is going with one travel provider going to limit the trains we have available or they all pretty regualr in the US?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Not many options

    Quote Originally Posted by will0 View Post
    Also, I presume when you purchase an Amtrak ticket you're only able to board Amtrak trains, is going with one travel provider going to limit the trains we have available or they all pretty regualr in the US?
    For the most part, Amtrak is the only provider of long distance passenger train travel in the entire US. Yes, it may seem odd to our European brethren, but it's true.

    There are some smaller regional trains, such as the MBTA in Boston and VRE in Virginia, but buying an Amtrak ticket will only allow you to travel on Amtrak trains. As far as regularity - one of the big complaints about Amtrak for long distance travel is that the schedule seems to be more of a suggestion than fact, hence we get pet names such as the "Late for Sure Limited" (for the Lake Shore Limited). Delays can be an hour or more.

    Having written that, it is still a good option provided you don't have to be any particular place at a set time, and being on vacation, you most likely won't. You'll be able to sit back and enjoy a different view than you otherwise would have from the highway.

  5. Default

    I think we really like the idea of the trains as I understand you can upgrade to sleepers If we want to cover a long distance.

    Has anyone had any bad experiences with the Amtrak trains?

    I think we're planning on covering the east and west coasts from top to bottom or vice versa, as it seems were most interested in the stuff on the edges but not so much anything in the middle!

    Are domestic flights much cheaper than international ones in the US? We're probably gona be flying from New York or Boston to Seattle.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Not much flight time

    Quote Originally Posted by will0 View Post

    Are domestic flights much cheaper than international ones in the US? We're probably gona be flying from New York or Boston to Seattle.
    I don't have much flight time, but from what I have seen is in the USA you can usually get a cheaper flight if you don't want to fly directly to your destination. Some examples of this:

    Boston to Chicago, by way of Atlanta.
    New York to Atlanta, by way of Chicago.

    I think you get the idea. This reduces the cost of the flight, but adds complexity as well as time.

  7. Default

    Bus plus: It's cheap.
    Bus minus: It's slow, not all that comfortable. Once you arrive at your destination you won't have around-town transportation; I imagine this won't be much of an issue in the cities, but it'll be downright inconvenient in many parts of America.

    I've only traveled by bus when it's been a group-trip on a chartered bus, never a "public bus". Not many Americans use Greyhound.

    I can repeat a story about my last-year's student teacher: She and her friend took a cruise over a school break -- they're both seniors, and it was a last-hurrah type thing for them before they graduate and start working for a living! They looked into cost and decided to use Greyhound to get to their port destination. They said their fellow travelers made them feel unsafe, and they called their parents and begged for money to rent a one-way car to drive back home. Their parents sent it. This story is about level-headed young woman who isn't prone to irrational fears.

    Train plus: Low prices (do buy as soon as possible, the cost increases as your travel date draws nearer), better reputation than Greyhound.
    Train minus: Limited routes, all areas of the country aren't served by Amtrak.

    Sleeper cars are a great choice on the train. They're small, but most trains that have sleepers also allow checked luggage, so you can keep just a backpack with you. If you can choose a train that runs at night, the sleeper car will mean you won't need to pay for lodging, and you can't beat waking up at your destination. Negative about sleeper cars: They all sleep two people, which can be a problem if you have an odd number of people. Also, tall people might be uncomfortable in the small bunks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default expensive addition

    Quote Originally Posted by MrsPete View Post
    Sleeper cars are a great choice on the train. They're small, but most trains that have sleepers also allow checked luggage, so you can keep just a backpack with you. If you can choose a train that runs at night, the sleeper car will mean you won't need to pay for lodging, and you can't beat waking up at your destination.
    Sleeper cars are an interesting idea, but they are not cheap at all. While you wouldn't be paying for a motel when you spend the night on a train, you're looking at spending about $100 per night extra for a sleeper car, compared to just the typical train fare. Standard train seats do lean back to a nearly flat state, so you can sleep reasonably well in coach, although you obviously don't get the privacy of a sleeper.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default ...but very romantic

    I've traveled coast to coast on trains -- and for my money -- I always opt for the sleeper cars. There is something magical about waking up in bed and watching the moon as the train is zipping across the plains. And then there is nothing quite as fun as waking up (or not) with your significant other in your private sleeping roomette. They offer a nice bit of privacy when on the train.

    Even if you don't do it the whole way -- I would opt for the roomettes whenever you can.

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default a worthwhile expense

    I'm by no means saying that sleeper cars aren't an option worth considering. If I was traveling cross country by train, I think I would need to have some place for a little privacy, at least once and a while. There are lots of positives for getting a roommette, especially on a multiple night trip.

    I'm simply saying, considering the cost, I wouldn't think of sleeper cars as free lodging.

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