Long-distance public transport isn't always a great option in the US. Without the high-speed trains of Europe and Asia, covering such large distances can be time-consuming, and finding the right combination of routes is often laborious.
For shorter trips or those on a tight budget, however, these often-overlooked modes of transport offer a good alternative to flights or driving your own vehicle.
Download these four apps to make the process faster, easier and maybe even cheaper.
To get a good idea of the options you've got available, it's hard to go past Rome2Rio. The app asks for a start and end point, and shows any combination of flights, buses, trains, ferries and self-driving options you can take for the journey.
You'll get price information for each potential trip, along with its duration. Tap one that seems appealing, and you'll see the available schedule, map and a detailed breakdown of each step of the journey.
The app isn't perfect – prices and schedules change faster than they can be updated, and booking or schedule links don't always take you where they should. Still, to quickly discover which choices you've got and roughly how much they'll cost, it's always a useful place to start.
Dedicated solely to bus and train travel in North America, Wanderu is an essential part of the ground traveler's arsenal. The app covers over 2000 cities, with comprehensive information about carriers, routes and schedules in much of the United States and Canada, as well as key Mexican destinations..
Enter your start and end points, travel date and time and number of people, and the app quickly spits out a range of options.
On popular routes like New York City to Washington, DC, there are literally hundreds of choices. The app helpfully shows the cheapest, earliest, latest and shortest trips along the top of the screen, and tapping on any of them sorts the list that way. Longer and more obscure routes, unsurprisingly, have fewer options.
Selecting any trip shows detailed trip information, including start and end times and station address. Tapping the location icon loads that address into your favorite mapping app. Booking, too, is reasonably straightforward and done inside the app rather than pushing you out to the carrier's website – a nice touch.
Given the lack of competition on the nation's rails, the Amtrak app is better than you might expect. You can book one-way, round-trip or multi-ride tickets directly, as well as update existing reservations.
Station information is available, along with trip details and information about any delays, and you can board using the barcode shown within the app. You can also check the current status of any train, if you're getting worried it's not going to show up on time.
With the biggest intercity bus network in the country, Greyhound can get you almost anywhere you want to go. The company's app has most of the features of the website, including booking tickets, checking schedules, and finding station locations and information.
Real-time bus status and location are also available. All bookings are stored in the 'My Trips' section, making it easy to see which trips you've got coming up. Discounts are shown in-app, and you can access your "RoadRewards" points if you're a member.
Note that it only works for Greyhound-branded services. If you want to use Bolt Bus, for example, it has its own app. Trips also need to originate within the continental United States to be bookable within the app.