Bolt Bus Survival Guide

This weekend, I took my first ever Bolt Bus trip to New York City.
I have heard about how amazing it is from tons of students on campus.  Here’s the deal: Super cheap (sometimes you can get $1 fares) bus trips with WiFi.  They go to various cities in the Northeast.
I had to make a quick trip to New York and opted to take the bus instead of the train.  Literally, the round trip on the bus was $40 versus what normally would be $220+ on the train.  Hello, win.
Considering riding?  Here are my tips:
  1. Remember the price that you paid.  Don’t expect to receive better service.  You get what you pay for…. I will admit, I found the drivers to be extraordinarily friendly and helpful!
  2. Bring earplugs and/or headphones.  You’re allowed to eat on the bus which means obnoxious apple-and-chip-eating noises.
  3. Speaking of food… Bring food and water!!!
  4. Also, bring candy.  (It helps… haha)
  5. Arrive early, you may be able to hop onto an earlier bus.  In the morning, I showed up ten minutes earlier than they suggested and scored a seat that got me in the city 45 minutes earlier!
  6. If you’re riding at night, don’t expect to be able to get that much “work” done.  I found that it was way too dark.
  7. Register before purchasing your first ticket.  You get an “A” boarding pass that allows you to get first choice seating!  You can also start collecting reward points that can be redeemed for trips in the future!
  8. Bring your cell phone charger!  I loved that each seat pair had two electrical outlets.
  9. There is WiFi, but don’t expect to stream videos.  It was perfect for Pandora, Tumblr, answering emails, and tweeting… but nothing too crazy!
  10. Last, going back to the first issue… have patience.  My returning trip bus left 30 minutes late because there was some sort of random “inspection” at the bus station going on.  (We still arrived 20 minutes earlier than the ticket said we would.)  So many people in line were incredibly obnoxious about having to wait a few more minutes.  Hello, you paid $20.  Relax.
Has anyone else done the whole “Bolt Bus” or “Mega Bus” travel?  How’d it go for you?  Any other tips you’d like to share???
PS I did the round trip in one day.  And survived.
PPS It was so good, in fact, that I want to do another day trip… possibly during “study days” before finals.  Can we do a meetup so I have an excuse to come up??? haha

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I've done MegaBus…. definitely need to be patient and realize that you will get stuck in traffic/be behind schedule b/c it is a bus. Also, they crowd you in there so I agree- keep your expectations in check b/c you did only pay $15-20!


I did the mega bus from VA to Philly! I had a similar experience…very pleasant, but need to keep in mind what you paid! My return bus was (super) late, but I just stayed calm…unlike the other crazies!


I am riding the Mega Bus to NYC next month. Hopefully it isn't too bad…I'm doing a round trip in one day too! Thanks for the perspective.


I've been riding these buses forever, and they're perfectly fine for me. I never expected it to be glamorous and great, it's a bus for less than $30 you just shouldn't expect miracles.


Yes to an NYC meetup!

I've ridden the Mega Bus a bunch, it's my way of getting back and forth between home and school. It isn't too bad, but obviously it isn't amazing. I usually just bring my laptop and a few dvds and watch them to keep myself busy.


I have Bolted quite a few times to visit girlfriends from college. Have arrived early, on time, and late. The best time to travel back to DC was Super Bowl Sunday- literally no traffic. The Vamoose bus also goes to Rosslyn and is cleaner/sometimes not as crowded.


Thanks so much, Carly for this post! I asked you this exact question on Tumblr!! 🙂 I The bus is way cheaper than Amtrak!


I love Bolt, I took a round trip from Boston to New York in one day and it was a good experience.

Megabus, not so much. I've taken Megabus maybe four times because it, unlike Bolt, goes to Upstate NY. It's always bad – no leg room, the WiFi and outlets never seem to work, and it's usually freezing on the bus. I'd definitely recommend Bolt over Megabus, given the option.

heather elizabeth

I've always had poor luck with both Bolt and Mega from NYC-Philly. One thing to remember is that what is tolerable in the summer may not be in winter – a 45 minute wait on the street last year in the days following a blizzard was horrible. I also try to time the bus trips to connect with Amtrak trains, which isn't a good idea – you can't trust the timing.