Traveling by Boltbus is an excellent option for exploring the United States overland. It's cheap, convenient, and far nicer than other overland alternatives, such as the infamous Greyhound buses. In fact, Boltbus is my favorite way to travel in the U.S. and I'm always looking at their prices first whenever I'm planning an American adventure.
On BoltBus buses, the seats are reclinable, clean and comfortable, and don't look as though they've had a hundred thousand people sitting on them before you.
There's air conditioning, which is especially welcome when traveling in the summer months. There's also free Wi-Fi on board that actually works, which, compared to other cheap bus companies in the U.S., is rare. There's power sockets on board, too -- great if you have some work to get done, otherwise useful for charging your technology as you travel. BoltBus provides an enjoyable way to travel overland, which is sadly all too rare these days.
Even better: there are plenty of ways to save money on your Boltbus ticket, and it's surprisingly easy to find tickets for as low as $1! Here's how you can do it.
Book Six Weeks in Advance
Boltbus releases their schedules and tickets to the public exactly six weeks in advance, and they release them at a starting price of an unbelievable $1. If you know what your travel dates are likely to be in advance, calculate when six weeks prior to your departure is and, if possible, spend the day refreshing the Boltbus website so you'll be able get in first.
If you miss out on the $1 fares, you'll rarely spend more than $5 if you're buying on the same day.
Prices will increase the closer it gets to your departure date, so snapping up a bargain is highly dependent on making travel plans in advance. It's not my favorite way to travel, but it's worth it if it means I can travel for just one dollar.
Even if you decide to make a last minute trip, it's worth nothing that the most a Boltbus ticket will ever cost you is $25, which is the price you'll pay if you buy the tickets on board with cash, which is still great value for money if you'll be taking a multi-hour trip at the very last minute.
If you are taking a last minute trip, I would recommend buying your tickets online rather than on board the bus. By waiting until the bus arrives at your departure station, you run the risk of the bus being full. Even if it works out to be the same price online, it's worth buying tickets through their website. It's not worth the risk of not being able to go at all.
Tickets can be booked at boltbus.com or by phone at 1-877-BOLTBUS (1-877-265-8287).
Travel on Weekdays
Logic dictates that it's far more expensive to travel on a Friday or Sunday, because that's when most people travel for weekend breaks. Like a lot of travel companies, BoltBus offers cheaper rates whenever the fewest amount of people are likely to want to travel.
To save money on your Boltbus ticket, then, it's best to book your tickets for a weekday and to try to avoid the weekends. I've found that it's typically around half the price to travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, than it is a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Friday evenings and Sunday evenings are particularly expensive, as that's when most people choose to travel if they're spending a weekend away.
Don't Travel During Holidays
Boltbus prices its tickets based on popularity and availability, so holidays will be the worst time of year to try to grab a bargain. If you know you need to travel during a holiday, make sure you have your dates finalized as far out as possible, so that you can get the cheapest price available.
If possible, see if you can travel a few days earlier or later in order to avoid the holiday rush. Traveling on Christmas Day or New Years Eve, for example, is often one of the cheapest days of the year for travel, as few people want to be sitting on a bus during a special occasion.
Check Out Different Stations
Most of the cities that Boltbus travels to have multiple stations, so this is something else you can do to try to lower the cost of your ticket.
If you're traveling from or to New York City, for example, you'll have almost a dozen Boltbus stations to choose from, and some of them will be cheaper than others.
Of course this could work out costing you more money if you choose a station that's further away from your accommodation and have to take an Uber to get there, but if there are multiple stations within walking distance of where you need to be, it's worth checking the price for all of them. It may end up saving you a couple of dollars.
Check Alternative Dates
An alternative way to save money on your ticket is to check multiple dates to see how the price varies. You may find that it's far more affordable to travel a day or a week earlier or later than you originally planned. Prices tend to fluctuate by the day and time, depending on how many tickets have been sold for a particularly journey, so you may find that if you can travel on a less popular day, you'll save a few dollars. It all comes down to keeping your plans as flexible as possible!
Book as Early as Possible
Boltbus releases its famous $1 tickets six weeks in advance, and the price starts to increase from that moment onwards. In order to get the possible deal, I recommend confirming your travel plans as soon as you can. If you know your exact date of travel six weeks out, it's likely you'll be one of those lucky travelers who gets to travel across the country on the cheap.
Sign Up for BoltBus Rewards
BoltBus Rewards is a fantastic way to save money on bus travel if you find yourself frequently traveling around the United States.
BoltBus Rewards works kind of like a loyalty card -- once you've taken eight trips with BoltBus, they'll give you a free bus ride from whichever destination you choose, with no strings attached. Yep, that even means that you can choose the day and time without any restrictions.
If you're going to be traveling a lot, make sure you sign up for Rewards on their website -- best of all, it's totally free to do so!