Airplane and Train Alternatives

If you're having trouble affording a summer vacation, consider these inexpensive alternatives to a plane or train ticket.

Chinatown Bus - Serves over 40 cities on the east and west coasts plus a couple of other states. Sample fares (one way/return): New York to DC, $10/$20, New York to Boston ($15/$30), Orlando to Miami ($20/$40), Los Angeles to Las Vegas, $25/$40, Los Angeles to San Francisco, $45/$90.

Greyhound Bus - Greyhound is the largest bus service operator in North America and serves 2,300 cities. Sample e-fares (one way/return) (must be purchased online): New York to DC, $25/$42, New York to Boston, $25/$45, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, $39/$75, Los Angeles to San Francisco, $39/$75, St. Louis to Chicago, $22/$44. Since the prices are higher than Chinatown Bus, Greyhound is a better option for routes not served by Chinatown Bus. Also offers child, student, military, veteran, and senior discounts. Companion fares get you a second adult or child ticket at 50% off the walk-up price on either one-way or round-trip tickets purchased at least three days in advance. Go Anywhere Fares price tickets based on mileage for trips between 1 and 800 miles regardless of destination and must be purchased at least seven days in advance. These rates are lower Monday-Thursday.

Megabus - Provides low-cost daily express service in the U.S. and Toronto. Primarily serves Midwestern cities such as Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Detroit, but also serves a few major northeast cities. Sample fares (one way/round trip): New York to DC, $5/$10, New York to Boston, $5/$10, St. Louis to Chicago, $21/$39, Toronto to New York, $75/$135. Fares for some night trips between some cities are as low as $1 one way.

Hostel Shuttles – Some hostels offer cheap bus service between nearby cities. For example, San Francisco’s Green Tortoise hostel offers shuttle service between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas via their Hostel Hopper service. Sample fares: Los Angeles to Las Vegas, $39 one way; Las Vegas to San Francisco, $59 one way; Los Angeles to San Francisco $39 one way. While most of these shuttles will probably be provided exclusively to hostel patrons, it never hurts to ask. And if a route isn’t full, they may take you anyway.

Rideshare - Though it’s perhaps only a step above hitchhiking in terms of safety, Craigslist’s rideshare boards are filled with drivers seeking passengers and passengers seeking drivers. The ad will general state how much the driver expects the passenger to pay for a ride, which is usually either a flat amount or the actual cost of gas divided by the number of people in the car.

Road Trip - If you’re traveling alone, driving may not be cheaper than flying or taking the train. However, if you are traveling with a group of friends or family, economies of scale can quickly make driving the most cost-effective way to get from point A to point B.

Photo by conner395

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