Growing up as an expat provided me with the wonderful luxury of traveling the globe at a young age. By the time I could buy cigarettes and get drafted (yeah right), I had been to upwards of 20 countries. Then I repatriated to the United States in order to attend college.
(Climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji. I just really wanted the cool walking stick.)
(Going native with my sister. Blue-eyed Geishas are extremely rare.)
(Gutted my miles for a trip to Paris.)
These days my family lives within the continental United States so my Christmas and summer vacations to the Far East have stopped. More importantly, my traveling is now on my dime. As a self-proclaimed wanderlust it has become imperative that I find frugal ways to explore and visit loved ones (speaking of loved ones, read more about the expat experience on my Dad’s blog).
Typically, I avoid the moniker “spoiled” because how could a girl whose parents invoked candy tax laws at Halloween and threatened that Santa’s elves could come and take presents back to the North Pole be spoiled?! But when it came to traveling, I would shudder at the thought of flying coach or sharing a hotel room with more than just my sister. These days I would gladly take the coach seat near the bathroom in exchange for my frequent form of travel, the bus.
My once thriving frequent flyer miles account has seen about as much action lately as Lindsay Lohan’s acting career. Instead, I have become a card-carrying member of the Greyhound Road Rewards program.
(Yeah, that’s a real thing. I’m only 6 rides away from a free ticket!)
For all my money-saving antics I cannot part ways with my desire to travel. Luckily, the United States is a great country to explore while I slowly build up a fund to support international escapades. So for those interested in more than a “Staycation” here are a few tips for keeping it cheap:
- Join any sort of reward program your preferred form of transportation offers.
- Instead of planes check out trains and automobiles. I’m partial to Greyhound but Mega Bus and Bolt Bus also provide cheaper options to planes and trains.
- If you’re up-to-date in self-defense (or super trusting) check out Craigslist’s rideshare page in your area.
- Ditch the hotel and rent an apartment or house-swap. Plenty of sites (AirBnBand or VRBO) exist to help facilitate rentals,shares or swaps instead of staying hotels. This is particularly helpful and inexpensive with a large group.
- Pack your own snacks or pick up fixin’s for some PB&Js.
- For really cheap options check out couchsurfing or hostels.
- If you’re in a walkable city bring a sturdy pair of sneakers and pound the pavement to save the money you’d spend on mass transit or a rental car.
- Check out Kayak/Priceline. Keep in mind, according to Kayak the lowest fares for domestic tickets occur 21 days prior to departure.
- For the love of God don’t check a bag. Carry-on bags only!
- If you’re willing to work, there are plenty of ways to fund international adventures. Explore teaching English as a foreign language, Au pair jobs or volunteer programs such as the Peace Corp or Americorps. For more details check out this blog post from Escape Normal.
Otherwise, see you on the Greyhound Bus. I’ll be the one sprawled over two seats pretending to sleep so I don’t have to sit next to you.
For daily bits of wit and financial advice follow the journey on Twitter @BrokeMillennial.
13 responses to “Finding the Glamour in Greyhound”
Add: Make friends with bloggers across the country (or world) for free places to stay when you travel.
True, true. Another blogger tip was to exchange a review for stays!
Exchange a review for stays?
Sometimes people can get a free stay at a hotel/B&B in exchange for writing a review, particularly for travel bloggers
Air BnB and Couch Surfing are godsends. I don’t know how I’d travel without them.
Ever gotten left behind by Greyhound before? This summer, I found out about their overbooking policy the hard way. Getting to the station an hour early wasn’t enough to actually get on the bus, despite buying an advance ticket. Wound up getting stranded in Montreal for an extra night. Although, I suppose Montreal would be a preferable place to be stranded than…say…the edge of the highway in Wyoming.
Luckily, I haven’t been stranded but I’ve seen it happen. I was on a bus about 3 weeks ago that actually left a guy at the rest stop and he had to run across the highway to stop the bus. Keeping it classy on Greyhound!
Glad to hear I’m not the only one who pretends to be asleep sprawled over 2 seats so no one sits beside me 😛
Sure aren’t! I totally busted a girl on the bus trying to do that about two weeks back. Later she admitted to just trying to take up space and I said, “Yeah, that’s my trademark move.”
I’m extremely jealous that there’s a frequently travelers card for greyhound in the US. We don’t have anything like that in Canada, or I would for sure have enough points for a bunch of free rides. These are some awesome tips all together that I will definitely try out in the future. I’ll be happy to share this with my followers on Twitter!
Thanks so much for the support! Really glad you’re enjoying my posts and tips. You should tweet at Greyhound about expanding the program to Canada!
Out of curiosity, how long did it take you to get your permanent membership card after reaching six destination points?
I’m not entirely sure. Probably not too long, but I’ve never actually used the permanent one for anything. I just carry it in my wallet to look cool.
It’s so, so cool how much traveling you have done! I want to chat in person one day and hear about all these adventures!