Traveling by bus is one of the most affordable and eco-friendly ways of traveling but it can also be fairly time-consuming. If you’re a seasoned traveler, it won’t be too much of an issue but if you’re traveling with children, it’s a whole different story. We’ve put together a couple of tips that will make your journey much more pleasant!

On the bus with children

Before you plan your next trip, bear in mind that each  bus operator has different conditions when it comes to traveling with kids. From discounts to completely free rides, we can’t vouch for the smoothest ride, but you’ll at least have some peace of mind knowing you’re either paying less for it or not at all!

First things first: Booking a children’s ticket

When booking a ticket, you’re usually prompted to choose between a regular adult ticket or a children’s ticket: make sure you tick the right box! If you’re traveling with a child under the age of two, it gets even easier as most providers have a “free-under-two” policy: Just book your ticket and your child will travel for free provided that it travels accompanied by adult and does not occupy a full seat.

Discounts for children

Among the providers allowing free child travel are: Greyhound, Trailways. Children between the ages of 3-16 have a 20% discount on Greyhound and Peter Pan and most other operators.

A welcome exception to this rule is offered by C&J Buses, where all children under the age of 16 ride free when accompanied by an adult on the Boston-Logan Airport route. For all NYC service, children under the age of 6 ride free, while all children under the age of 13 pay only half of the adult fare.

An overview of available children’s discounts

Bus operator Free Travel Discounts
Greyhound Kids under 2 ride free on adult’s lap 20% discount for children between 3-15
Peter Pan Kids under 2 ride free on adult’s lap 20% discount for children between 3-15
C&J Kids under 6 travel for free on all NYC service. All children under 16 ride free from Boston to Logan Airport 50% discount for all children under 13 for all NYC service

➠ Don’t forget to bring proof of age when you travel with your kids!

On the road with kids

With so many choices out there, including free rides for children under 16, it’s not surprising that many families opt for the intercity bus when it comes to cheap getaways. With a comparatively long journey ahead, preparation is everything! Make sure to provide entertainment to keep your children focused on another activity other than the bus ride. This can range from travel games to books and handheld consoles.

Some providers also offer free WiFi, which is always a good way to keep your children’s attention off the long journey. Luxury Florida bus operator RedCoach went the extra mile and recently launched an infotainment system with movies available on their WiFi network.

While bus WiFi is extremely reliable, its architecture relies on something similar to the usual cell phone signals and speeds can therefore fluctuate during your trip. Should that happen, we recommend preparing your tablet or phone and to download movies, tv shows or podcasts in advance. Many providers such as Amazon Prime Video Netflix, and iTunes have an offline mode and allow you to save their content on your mobile device.

➠ Remember companies such as Greyhound also offer other discounts for young passengers, such as a 10% discount for students and a 50% shipping discount!

Bus travel for unaccompanied kids

Unaccompanied travel for children, although possible, does have its limitations. Most companies require the full adult fare and additional fees may incur. Below some examples:

Greyhound requires the full fare for children between the ages of 12-16 who travel unaccompanied and a completed Unaccompanied Child Form.

Peter Pan also requires the full fare and has a list of guidelines to allow unaccompanied child travel (also between 12 and 16).

Greyhound’s Unaccompanied Travel Restriction
Things you need to know before booking a trip for an unaccompanied child:

➠ The trip should be direct (no transfers)
➠ The trip can be a maximum of 8 hours in duration (each way), between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
➠ The departing and arriving stations must be full serviced agencies or company operated facilities. (not curbside stops) The station should be scheduled to be open when the child’s bus is scheduled to arrive.
➠ The person named on the Unaccompanied Child Form who is meeting the child must have positive photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state-issued ID card. Without the correct ID, the child may be released into the custody of Child Protective Services or to local law enforcement
➠ A $15 fee (or $30 for a round-trip) must be paid at the point of purchase for each child traveling unaccompanied