How to Travel on a Budget

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Posted 24 Mar 2008 in Soulville

SoulvilleYou’ve got a few bucks and want to travel to somewhere that isn’t where you currently are. But you’re a college student (or otherwise broke person) and thus your few bucks are definitely not enough to fly, especially on short notice. What do you do? There are plenty of trains and buses to grab and if you get your tickets early enough (usually a week to three days), they are much cheaper than if you bought them at the counter. If you have a student advantage card, even better!


Greyhound is an option….if you don’t really need to be anywhere in a hurry and don’t mind backwards systems that may leave you stranded for a few hours (or days). They are cheap, which is a definite plus, but that’s where the benefit stops. Other options are Megabus (they tout $1 fares) or similar systems and in the northeast anyway some merchants (usually Chinatown merchants) have really cheap buses going places like New York City ($30 bucks to get to NYC any day of the week? Awesome). Buses are an easy thing if you want more stops than a train and don’t mind smaller seats. Your luggage is usually your responsibility so don’t transfer buses and forget your bag! Note: if cars aren’t moving on the roadways, buses won’t be either.


Amtrak is slower than driving, but cushy. Big seats, lots of place to put your luggage and huge windows to look out of. Some trains have electrical outlets at the seats, while others make you use outlets in the club car or pay for a room to get a space with outlets. For the most part, the only stretching your legs will be between major stops. Trains stay relatively on time so even 30 seconds late may make you miss that train. Some train cars are older, but they are all still pretty nice as long as you don’t get stuck next to Andre the Giant or psycho woman (I’ve had both experiences). Your bags will be transferred to the next train for you so only worry about your carry ons. Amtrak doesn’t go everywhere, but oftentimes even the remote places can be reached through combinations of Amtrak and Greyhound or other bus service.


What do you eat when traveling for the cheap cheap price? If you want to continue to save money, you’ll pack your own soft sided cooler with drinks and sandwiches or something else you like to eat (and plenty of cool packs or ice to keep it cool). Otherwise, expect typical quick food fare that will cost you about 5-10 dollars a meal including drinks, but only if it’s a major stop on either line (smaller stations have no food, maybe a vending machine). Amtrak has a club car with food and drinks, but all food on a Greyhound you gotta bring on yourself. If you’re not a fan of fatty foods or greasy foods, you really might want to bring your own food either way.

What’s your favorite way to travel?? ❓

HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears every Thursday.

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  1. I enjoyed your post about cheap travel. I write for a student travel blog where we focus on finding a trip with food, fun, and historical facts for under 50 dollars. Feel free to check us out!