Having studied in post-secondary education in the United States for eight years total, I learned a great deal about how to travel economically on the East Coast. One of the best-kept secrets in United States student budget travel is that the trains are your enemy and the buses are your friend (financially speaking). Here are my tips on how to pay under $30 USD for routes between Washington D.C., Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Delaware, and New Jersey:
1) The Chinatown Buses Are Your Friend.
Many people are unaware that every major United States city has a Chinatown and within those Chinatowns are economical bus companies that will take you for under $30 USD round trip between cities that average four hour bus ride such as: between Boston and New York and between Washington D.C. and New York. Sometimes, you can even take advantage of these companies $1USD fare sales.
2) Take Megabus.
If you are looking for a busing option that has frequent sales and is slightly nicer than your friends in Chinatown, consider using Megabus. If you are aware of your travel dates well in advance, you can get a one way fare on Megabus between Boston and New York for under $10 USD. While taking the four-hour bus ride on Megabus you can also enjoy free WiFi while you travel and get your homework or work assignments done.
3) Give Greyhound A Try.
In recent years, Greyhound has actually become quite nice! I was shocked when I took them between New York and Washington D.C. in January for $15 USD one-way. What is great about Greyhound is that they have a private waiting room in most bus stations and also have wifi on board the bus for you to enjoy. If you are traveling between New York and Washington D.C., this route also stops in Baltimore on the way for your convenience.
4) Book Early For Key Holidays.
One of the most important ways to take advantage of these bus options is too book in advance for Thanksgiving and Christmas dates. Many locals native to the East Coast are well aware of these options that are usually 70% cheaper than trains or planes and seats sell out quickly. It is best to reserve seats on these dates at least one month in advance. During key holidays, one can usually expect to pay roughly $20 USD more per fare, which is still substantially cheaper than other transportation options.
What is important to remember when traveling throughout the Eastern Seaboard is that there are absolutely economical ways to travel that will get you safely to your destination in one piece. Buses have come a great way recently and have become a viable transportation option for those on a budget.