That's what happened recently when my husband found himself needing to get from Boston to New York (and back) for Thanksgiving. Planes were a non-starter as they were all sold out. Amtrak would have meant a wallet setback of potentially four-hundred dollars round trip. We had the family car at home, and car rentals were a pretty penny. So that left him looking into the bus.
Myths vs. Reality
I've been taking buses for a while now. But I have to admit that before that, I had visions (as wrong as they may have been) of what I might encounter on bus trips across the Northeast Corridor. Perhaps I'd be wedged between a group of just-sprung prisoners, or stuck in the back behind a marching band's brass section, or have to sit scrunched up next to an elderly man holding a chicken in a cage on his lap. Of course, with today's bus travel, none of these have turned out to be true--so far.
AAA put out projections that 43.6 million Americans would travel 50 or more miles from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That's a number that would be an increase of .7 percent over those who traveled last year, and the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers. Other projections were that travel on the roads would be up--as air travel was declining, as were gas prices once again.
Range of Choices
So, what better way to still travel, but in a more eco-friendly style, for possibly as little as $1? (Sure it's a marketing gimmick, but it does happen.) Megabus and Bolt Bus, in their own way, put the "bus" back on the travel map. Sure, Greyhound had been around since 1914 and Peter Pan had become their main competition, but suddenly these other lines offered lower prices and convenience that made for some heavy competition. (It didn't hurt they'd added some carpeting, free Wi-Fi and outlets for your electronics as well.) These days, the Fung Wah bus (aka the Chinatown) bus has garnered a cult following and become known for their lead-footed bus drivers. (Helpful if you need to be sure you'll get there on time.) Lucky Star, Vamoose Bus, World Wide Bus, Apex Bus and others are jumping into the fray--each with their own perks.
Sure, there are still plenty of potential pitfalls, ranging from foot room that's limiting for the long-legged crowd, to buses breaking down while en route (yes, I've experienced this once), to bathroom doors that swing open/close throughout the entire trip. But the bottom line is, it's much harder to complain when, instead of paying hundreds of dollars you're paying in the $20-$30-dollar range--or less.
But for this year, the bus (thanks to added trips overnight!) allowed my husband to make it home for the holiday. In my book, that's something to give thanks for.