J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to travel from Louisville to Chicago and Atlanta for only $1

Life’s an adventure and I’m always on the lookout for a new one.  My craziest, riding in the back seat of a stranger’s motorcycle sneaking into a foreign country.  A dumb thing to do, but a great story to tell.    

My new adventure, traveling to Chicago or Atlanta for $1 on a Megabus.  I usually write about things I’ve already experienced but I’m going to be an armchair blogger (think armchair anthropologist) on this one.  This means I’ll be sharing information gathered from a friend who experienced it.  With a deal this great, I just couldn’t wait to share it.

How it works

Megabus is a discounted bus service offering cheap tickets in 9 countries, 34 states and the District of Columbia.  From Louisville you can travel to Chicago, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Indianapolis, or Nashville. From Lexington your options are: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Erie, and Knoxville.  From those cities, you can then venture on to other destinations in the U.S.

Megabus does not have a physical office, everything is done online or over the phone.  To find tickets for $1, go to their website, choose a departure location, a destination and a travel date.  The site will generate a few different prices.  More than likely you will not get a $1 bus ticket on your first try, though for $5 - $40, it’s still a bargain.  Play around with your dates, travel later in the week or even a few weeks or a few months later.  The further out you travel, the better chance of scoring a $1 ticket.  Your chance of finding $1 tickets is higher if your dates are flexible.  Even if you bought a ticket and later can’t travel on that date, $1 is a very small investment!  If you see $1 tickets, buy it right away, it can go very quickly.

The bus
Inside. Source
Megabus does not have a bus terminal, so you’ll be dropped off and picked up at designated bus stops.  For Louisville, pick up and drop off is on the north side of Jefferson Street, between Roy Wilkins Ave and S. 8th St.  This means no shelter and no facilities.

It’s a double decker bus with reclining seats and seatbelts.  Bathroom is on the bus and they’ll make stops at rest areas for restroom breaks.  For today’s tech addict generation, there’s free Wi-Fi onboard and outlets for charging.

The verdict

There’s mixed reviews on this, varying from region to region but most agreed it’s good for short distance travel.  New York Times reporter Seth Kugel sums it best, Megabus is good leisure travel for the: truly flexible, comfort-be-damned, all-out budget traveler (aka me).

My friend enjoyed it better than Greyhound and never had a problem.  But here are some problems you may come across and some solutions:
  • Mechanical problems & breakdowns happen - bring a lot of patience
  • Toilet breaks are on the bus or at a rest area - bring hand sanitizer and wipes 
  • It’s not always on time - bring entertainment
  • The temperature on the bus is cold - bring a blanket or jacket
  • There’s luggage restrictions - bring less baggage 
  • The seats are not comfortable - bring a pillow
  • Wi-Fi is spotty – bring a book
  • For all other problems that arise - bring your sense of adventure.  
The bus ride itself will be an adventure but think of all the other adventures that lie ahead with this $1 investment.  When you arrived at your destination, rent a car or use public transportation for inner city exploration.  Let Megabus take you to larger cities like Chicago and Atlanta, where you can fly out to more exotic world destinations at a cheaper rate than from Louisville.

Happy adventuring friends.