Living in the metro DC area, we are pretty spoiled when it comes to travel options.
We can jet off on bargain flights from Reagan National or Dulles Airport, avoid the endless hours of commuting traffic using the Metro or Amtrak, or just sit back, relax and let someone else do the driving on a bus.
Last week, I attended the Inman Connect conference in New York City and while I was preparing for my trip I had to decide the best way to get there.
Do I drive? Fly? Take the train? Or take a bus?
Driving would include lots of tolls, traffic, and a hotel charge of $50 dollars per night for parking – ouch! Flying would be the quickest, but landing at JFK adds around a $60 cab ride to get into the city. For this trip, I was working on a budget, so these two choices were definitely out.
To help make my decision, I went to Facebook – asking my friends their preferred method of travel to NYC and had an overwhelming response of suggestions. Many said they swear by the train, but another offered an option I hadn’t heard of before. The Bolt Bus.
I went to the Bolt Bus website and found that for about $15 dollars each direction (compared to $49-$79 for Amtrak), I could hop on a bus that in a mere 4.5 hours would provide me with a non-stop trip to NYC. Not only was it cheap and efficient, it also had free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets on the bus. I was sold. (be sure to book online in advance, if possible, to get best prices and time options)
The Bolt Bus departs from Union Station and arrives at varying locations in NYC, depending on which destination you chose when booking your ticket. When you arrive at Union Station, the bus port is on the Mezzanine level. You will actually exit the back of the building and wait outside in a covered garage area for the bus.
My three Bolt Bus tips–
1) Arrive at least 30 minutes early – they start boarding 15 minutes before departure and the “first come first serve line” can fill up quickly.
2) If it’s cold out, bring your jacket, it’s chilly in the outdoor waiting area.
3) Try your best to snag a seat with an electrical outlet so you don’t have to worry about your electronics running out of juice during the ride.
The trip was quick and easy. On the way up, we made one “rest stop” to stretch our legs and get food and still arrived on time. My bus dropped off at Port Authority making it a breeze to grab a subway train or cab and make it to my business dinner in Times Square with time to spare. I had arrived!
On the way home, the bus made no stops and we arrived back to Union Station almost 20 minutes early – an unfamiliar feeling compared to the flights I’ve taken recently where I’m consistently LATE.
Overall, the Bolt Bus experience was easy, enjoyable, and I would have no problem recommending it to my friends looking for an inexpensive way to get up to NYC – save the extra cash for an “I LOVE NY” t-shirt souvenir!
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