Getting around the USA
There are a million and one ways to travel around the USA – they have every mode of transport you could imagine.
The USA by bus
This is by far the cheapest and most basic form of transport available in the USA. The buses tend to go in strange directions (Chicago to Boston via Buffalo for example) so journeys can take a really long time. However, you can use this time to save money on accommodation and to sleep at the same time.
There are lots of bus companies that go across some or all of the USA.
Busbud – a hugely helpful free online tool which helps you to search for routes and prices for buses across the USA and the world.
Greyhound – largest network of buses. They also do a discovery pass which allows the purchaser to use as many buses as needed in a set amount of days (15, 30 and 60).
Mega Bus– predominantly on the middle and east side of the USA they can have very cheap tickets (Boston to New York for $1.00 for example). Very good experiences on clean safe buses – would use over and above greyhound anyday!
Peter Pan– Cheap east coast bus company.
Bolt Bus– Cheap east coast bus company.
Note that in the USA everyone uses cars for short journeys and flights for long journeys. Therefore, people on buses are either travellers (limited) or very, very poor people (I jest not). Buses and their depots can be rough and often have police and security on hand. That said, keep a very close eye on your belongings and keep safe! Convicts are given a ticket when released from prison to use on a bus of their choice. There were no problems – I was just told to keep an eye out as I was clearly not a local!
One other thing is to keep your passport on you and another form of ID. Twice the bus I was on was pulled over and State Troopers got on. They ask you about your travels and want proof of residency or your passport.
The USA by plane
This is the easiest and quickest way to travel around the USA, but as usual is the most expensive form of transport and the worst for the environment. Try and book in advance as you will always save money, and only use flights in the USA when you really need to. Look at flights with Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines and Jet Blue for the best deals, or give Gap Year Travel a call on 0333 333 9923.
It’s often worth noting that in America airlines overbook flights. If you can be flexible with your seat they’ll offer you great deals for coming off an oversubscribed flight. Ask at the airport for more details.
Flights go all over the USA so you’ll be able to get from A to B easily.
The USA by car
Getting around the USA by plane is cheap if there’s more than one of you and you’re over 25 (for insurance purposes). Petrol is a lot cheaper in the USA than in the UK so you get more miles for your money too. It also gives you freedom to go where you want, when you want. There’s some incredible countryside in the USA and it really is the best way to see the real USA. Beware of one way fees and tax though, both of which are added at the time you collect the car.
The USA by train
Amtrak have special deals which you can buy to travel around the USA – a bit like interrailing in Europe. You can purchase passes which allow you to do a certain amount of days using a set amount of ‘segments’. Amtrak trains tend to be nicer but more expensive than the bus journeys. Just work out whether it’s the time or money that’s important to you.
Note, however, that even the cheapies are almost as expensive as the 60 day bus passes available from greyhound.