The Ultimate Guide to Traveling on Megabus: Tips, Suggestions, and How to Score Cheap Seats

Note: This is an original post by Quirky Travel Guy. It is not in any way endorsed or approved by Megabus.

ultimate megabus guide

Welcome to the ultimate guide to traveling on Megabus

The “$1 tickets!” advertisements captured my attention years ago. Now, I’m an experienced traveler on Megabus, the low-cost bus system that serves the entire eastern half the country.

You may have seen their giant double-decker buses and eye-catching logo featuring the portly driver wearing his yellow cap.

I’ve managed to score the elusive $1 tickets on several occasions. I’ve also learned the hard way what to bring with you on trips, how much luggage you can take, how to score the best seats, how reliable the onboard wifi is (not so much), and how often the bus shows up on time (usually.)

Now’s the time to share some of my secrets for getting those cheap bus tickets. Read on for some Megabus tips and suggestions, and if you have a tip that I haven’t mentioned, please share your comment at the end.

UPDATE: For those reading in the year 2023, here’s a link to the current Megabus policy regarding ticketing and cleaning in these challenging times. As life returns to normal and people start taking road trips and bus trips again, we can expect that Megabus will again become an extremely popular form of travel around the country.

Megabus currently offers an “empty seat guarantee” to ensure that everyone will have an empty seat next to them on the bus. They are also providing sanitizer and disinfectant to all travelers.

Route Maps and Schedules: Where Does Megabus Travel?

Here’s the current Megabus map of routes in the U.S.:

megabus route map 2023
Here’s the current Megabus route map as of 2023.

This company began with routes in the northeast, and gradually expanded to the south and into California. Megabus regularly changes its routes based on supply and demand, so check their website for the latest info.

In recent years, Megabus has drastically cut back its service in parts of the Midwest. Shockingly, it no longer has any service at all in Chicago, which is a huge loss and a perplexing decision.

Megabus no longer operates in St. Louis, Cleveland, or Indianapolis either. At one time, Megabus expanded into California and Las Vegas, but they’ve eliminated those routes, too.

Megabus schedules vary by day and destination. Check their website for the current information for the date of your travel. Obviously, huge cities like New York City will have many more routes scheduled than smaller places like Virginia Beach or Columbia, South Carolina.

Among the popular routes are Houston to New Orleans, Washington DC to Boston, and San Antonio to Austin. Atlanta is one of the main hubs for Megabus. From there, you can travel to places as far away as NYC, Philadelphia, Dallas, Orlando, and Miami.

Megabus also has routes in Canada, the U.K., and the rest of Europe. In Europe, Megabus was bought out by Flixbus. In Canada, Megabus operates routes in a couple dozen eastern cities, including Toronto and Montreal.

Is Megabus reliable?

The short answer is yes, absolutely. More so than Greyhound, that’s for sure.

I’ve had to suffer through a couple of minor delays where the bus showed up 15-20 minutes late. There was one instance in Minneapolis where the bus was more than an hour late. But those have been rare cases.

Almost always, the bus shows up on time and, even more amazingly, arrives on time. I’m always surprised how an 8-hour ride from Chicago to Memphis can arrive at precisely the minute it’s scheduled to show up. You’d think it would be hard to nail down the exact time on a trip of that length, but usually Megabus pulls it off.

To sum up, Megabus riders will sometimes have to put up with delays, but I’ve had far worse delays on Greyhound (I will never get over the nightmarish 16-hour Greyhound ride from Pittsburgh to Chicago in which we arrived late in Indianapolis, missed our connection and had to wait all night until 5 am for the next one…)

Some trips are crowded, others aren’t. I’ve been on rides where every last seat was taken, and others where there were fewer than five of us on the entire bus.

Pro Tip: How to score $1 Megabus tickets!

Every couple of months, Megabus releases the next batch of tickets for the next few months. The best strategy is to plan ahead where you’d like to go, then follow the company’s social media accounts or join their email list to see alerts when new tickets are released.

If you buy on the first day they’re available, you’re likely to get $1 tickets. As of this writing, tickets are already on sale for dates into early 2023.

How can you nab cheap Megabus tickets if you don’t buy them immediately after they go on sale? When you’re searching for tix, be sure to also search for the day before and the day after your ideal travel dates.

Ticket prices can vary dramatically from one day to the next. Fridays tend to be very popular travel days, for instance, while Saturdays are not, so prices are adjusted accordingly.

Prices also vary by time of day. Here’s a look at an old search I did for tickets from Chicago to Indianapolis (back when that route existed.)

You can see that the popular 3:40 pm trip costs $25, but the 6:20 pm trip is just $1, while an earlier trip runs $10. If you can be flexible with your travel times, you can save quite a bit of money.

megabus one dollar cheap bus tickets
Study the Megabus website to see the different routes and schedules to nab those cheap bus tickets!

Single-dollar tickets are rare because they get snatched up quickly, but you can nab them if you plan ahead. I’ve gotten $1 tickets on each of the following routes (sadly, some of these routes no longer exist): Chicago to Detroit, Chicago to Kansas City, Pittsburgh to Cleveland, Indianapolis to Chicago, Chicago to Louisville.

If plans change, you can change your existing reservation as long as it’s more than 24 hours before your schedule trip. The change fee is only $3 if your trip is more than 24 hours away. Don’t you wish airlines had a similar policy? For a larger fee, you can change your reservation up to 3 hours before your trip.

Boarding the bus: expect a bit of chaos

Unike Greyhound, Megabus does not have bus terminals. That’s why their prices are so low – they don’t have to spend any money on buildings.

The downside of the lack of Megabus stations is that you’ll be waiting outside and exposed to snow and wind and rain. (There are some lucky cities, such as Toronto, where Megabus riders can now utilize indoor waiting areas shared by other companies.)

To find the address of the bus locations in your city, download the Megabus app for your mobile device. There you can find pickup locations, schedules, routes, and more.

IMPORTANT: Megabus has no printed tickets. Your ticket is your confirmation number. You can either print out this number, or fire up your smart phone and show the driver the confirmation number you received via email. You will not be allowed to board without this number.

Be sure to show up early. A 1 pm departure time means just that; boarding often commences 15 minutes early, and, assuming it’s on time, the vehicle will start to pull away at 1 pm. Don’t be the guy running after the bus as it’s pulling away!

When it comes to boarding, lower your expectations. Megabus is not exactly a well-oiled machine. It’s more like unorganized chaos where the driver pulls up, gets out and starts barking instructions like, “IF YOU HAVE BAGS GO TO THE REAR! IF NOT GET IN LINE UP FRONT!”

People are generally considerate, but this is not always an orderly process. Don’t be surprised if someone cuts the line or you end up at the back of the queue because you didn’t realize you were in the wrong place.

If you have luggage to check, you’ll have to wait in the luggage line first before moving to the main boarding line, so don’t expect to get a window seat – you’ll probably be boarding near the end.

Most Megabus travelers tend to be young or young-ish. A huge percentage are college students, 20- and 30-somethings. Not many people over 50 ride the Megabus, although this has been changing in recent years as more seniors discover Megabus.

mega bus faq - interior luggage nyc
The Megabus has a comfortable interior. Your luggage will be stored down below the bus.

As for the interior, Megabus seats are fairly comfortable, with thick padding. There’s ample leg room and space to store your carryon baggage or backpack under the seat.

What should I bring?

Pro Tip: for all Megabus rides, bring a jacket. The a/c can make the bus chilly, even in the middle of a 110 degree Texas summer. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Thank me later!

For overnight trips, bring a hoodie, face mask, or knit hat so you can cover your eyes. You won’t get much sleep otherwise. Feel free to bring a travel pillow, light blanket, or whatever else will help you relax.

megabus baggage - travel pillowIf you plan to sleep on Megabus, I recommend bringing a comfortable travel pillow. Your journey will be a lot more relaxing!


For trips longer than two hours, bring some snacks and a bottle of water. You can eat on Megabus, and in fact most longer trips include a rest stop where you can pick up fast food or snacks.

I typically bring pretzels or fruit bars to munch on. Plus Chewy Spree, the greatest candy ever invented. You can never go wrong with Chewy Spree.

Wifi and outlets

Bring headphones to listen to music and drown out anybody chattering incessantly. Bring chargers for your phones and other electronic devices; you’ll want to take advantage of the outlets at every seat.

Usually, there are two outlets at every set of two seats, which conveniently leaves one for each person. On some bus models, though, there is only one power outlet to share between every two seats, another reason why you’ll want to board early and snag one.

As for the onboard wifi, it’s available in theory on every ride, but in my experience it tends to only work about 50% of the time. Do not count on having internet service on your journey. Think of it as a nice bonus when it works.

How much luggage can I bring on Megabus?

Here’s the current baggage policy. You can take one large bag, to be stored inside the baggage area, and one additional carry-on. I’ve seen people take several shopping bags worth of carry-ons on a single trip, but that really is up to the discretion of the driver since it violates the official policy.

The large bag can be no more than 50 pounds and 62 inches when adding length + width + height. I’ve taken one of those big 65L camping bags with a tent and sleeping bag packed inside, so the luggage allowance is pretty generous.

megabus station routes schedule mascot
Is Megabus safe? Yes, it’s pretty reliable and safe.

Don’t try to stretch the Megabus luggage allowance. If you have too many checked bags, you may be asked to buy another seat. And if it’s sold out, you may be out of luck. Cheap bus travel is not like airline travel, where you can simply pay extra for an extra checked bag.

cheap luggage megabsu carryonLooking for cheap luggage? Here’s a carry-on sized bag that we think is the best balance between affordability and quality.


The best and worst places to sit on the bus

The most popular seats on the bus are the front seats on the upper deck, because of the awesome view they provide. But these seats have proven to be the most dangerous.

Megabus accidents are rare, but they do happen, just as Greyhound and Amtrak have their share of accidents. In the few major mishaps that have occurred, those sitting in the front upper-deck seats were the ones who took most of the impact.

A few years back, Megabus began charging extra for the most desirable seats. The front upper deck seats can add an extra $7 to your ticket price, while other top seats near the front have surcharges of $1-5. Here’s a common seat map, though they will vary by route:

megabus seat map - seating chart - front seat surcharge
A typical Megabus seating chart, showing which seats come with a surcharge.

For safety reasons, I usually try to sit on the bottom deck, but probably 80% of the seats are on the second deck, so often there’s no choice.

If you do end up on the top level, for crying out loud, wear your seat belt! Virtually no one buckles up on the bus, but if something unforeseen were to happen, the seat belt could save your life.

Pro Tip: Travel overnight to save on hotel

Penny pinchers unite! Taking the bus overnight is the best way to travel cheaply since you avoid paying for a night of lodging. A few years back, I took a three-week Megabus trip around the east coast (Pittsburgh > Philadelphia > Washington DC > Charlotte > Atlanta) and saved on four nights of lodging by scheduling overnight bus trips between cities.

The only drawback of the overnight trip? Well, for me there are two. First, it’s not the most restful night you’ll ever get. For some reason, sleeping while sitting upright in a moving vehicle doesn’t provide the same level of relaxation that an entire night in a comfortable bed does. Imagine that!

And second, because I’m insane, I always have this nagging feeling that the bus driver is going to fall asleep at the wheel.

That’s really just me projecting, because I can’t stay awake past 1 am anymore, so I have a hard time believing that a driver could stay wide alert and guide a bus until sunrise. Yet they always do, and I arrive at my destination safely without fail.

How to change or cancel a Megabus reservation

Unfortunately, you cannot cancel a Megabus reservation for a full refund. However, you can trade in your ticket for a different ticket. Go to and click “Change Trip.”

After entering your reservation number and the last name used for the order, you’ll be able to remove your reservation and receive credit for use on a future ride. You will be hit with a small fee, between $3-7, depending on how far ahead of time you make the change.

Note that the company website says, “Megabus is not responsible for delays or cancellations caused by traffic, road conditions, weather or other causes over which it has no control.”

If you need to contact Megabus by phone to speak with someone about your trip, it’s pretty easy. The Megabus contact number in the United States is 877-462-6342. If you are in Canada, the Megabus contact number is 866-488-4452.

Can you track a Megabus?

Megabus has a “Track My Bus” page that you can use to see the status of your upcoming rides. This page lists all current Megabus trips that are in progress, and confirms whether the bus is on track to arrive on time or whether it will be late.

You can click on the “Delayed” or “On Time” link to see the projected time that the bus will arrive at its destination.

track a megabus

In this example, you can see that the bus was supposed to depart New York City at 10:15 but actually departed at 10:29. And you can see the scheduled arrival time is 12:25, but the expected arrival is now 1:06. If you have someone coming to pick you up, have them track the bus using this feature.

megabus tracker late

Megabus doesn’t currently have a system where you can see the exact location of the bus using GPS.  So you can’t track a Megabus the way you can track an airplane. But this tracking system at least helps you understand when your bus will reach its destination.

That’s it for my Ultimate Guide to Traveling by Megabus. What Megabus tips do you have?

The official Megabus welcome video mentions wifi, scoring cheap bus tickets, Megabus routes and schedule, luggage and carryon info, and the seat map showing which seats come with a surcharge:


How to Score $1 seats on Megabus  Everything you need to know about traveling on the budget bus line Megabus

41 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Traveling on Megabus: Tips, Suggestions, and How to Score Cheap Seats”

  1. Megabus just isn’t worth it anymore. I just looked at the dates furthest away available today. For Syracuse to New York City, it’s $51 for any ticket. Are you kidding me? Greyhound charges $40 and Flixbus $30 for the same dates. Why the hell would I pay more? Even Amtrak only wants $53, and that’s for a smoother ride and more legroom.

  2. I was supposed to catch a 2:00 pm bus to Washington D C getting there by 6:35 the bus had no ac so we had to wait in the hot sun on Friday July 16th 2021 but they said they would give us a credit but we have to uae it on the 18th of July im not going nowhere so im gonna lose my money they should put it back on my card i will never use megabus again

  3. I’m glad u posted this if I had the platform I would too but u tell everyone and anyone wherever I go you should catch the Megabus

    1. Patricia Joan Holley

      Ar e there any buses lea ving out of bloom county to springfield, va or to washington dc on 9th of October 2020

  4. Mega bus operators are criminals and major scammers. Tickets purchased to travel from KY to GA. Appx 7 passengers were waiting in the rain at the Mohammed Ali bus stop as indicated in the website. A bus did show up, slowed down, made a right turn on to another street, put it’s hazard lights and kept going even with passengers chasing after it. We were later told that we would have to purchase new tickets for the next bus that was due 7 hrs later. We were aslso i formed that they hgad recently changed the bus terminal but had not yet updated the website.
    How is this allowed to happen? These people are low down thieves and this was no error, it was by design.

  5. Thanks for the informative post! I do have a question about legroom though. Where would you recommend sitting for extra legroom if there is some to be had? I can reserve a seat if thats what it takes.

  6. Hey Scott,
    Also have been wanting to try the Megabus & thought that was coming up (Atlanta to Orlando) – but was trying to get to east coast beachside (for my 45th high school reunion!) and that extra leg just added time and
    cost to the trip, bringing it almost to plane fare. but am vowing to take a shot or 2 at it in the next 6 mo!!
    Thanks for the info!

    1. Patrice Ridgley

      Not all of us ha e tje same experience I see…not on e in all the traveling I do on megabus has it arrived on time. O. One date our bus broke down and we actually sat out in the sun on the freeway for over 6 whole hours… supposedly compensated with redemption codes and amazingly the next trip I used those on that bus also broke down and they felt I should not receive redemption codes back or anything for that trip. I like the fact that megabus doesn’t have all those stops at the station where you have to get off the bus for a hour or for cleaning it whatever…however sometimes it’s not worth all the trouble you go through. For instance they don’t really have rules so it’s whatever that certain driver feels about rest stops stretching your legs air and whatever else they have control over, so buyer beware.

  7. Crystal –
    First of all, for a financially savvy lady, you are pretty funny!
    #1 – FinCon (did you make this up? it is muy funny – esp living in the town of DragonCon and Rainbow Parades)
    Do you get to dress up as your favored Financial Hero?
    #2 – Double Duh for bras – also hilarious!!
    Thanks for the info!

  8. Thanks so much for your posts. They have been helpful. I am a first time rider in July from Chatt to Indianapolis, and am so thrilled that I don’t have to pay for parking ($25/day) downtown. Scored roundtrip for $47. I purchased the seats near the table, paying $3 extra each way. Am I to understand that these seats are reserved and even if I am the last in line they are still mine? Thanks so much!

  9. Hi Scott ~
    I was looking for information about Megabus and your site popped up. Great post, it was actually really helpful. 🙂

  10. just a quick warning: if you are looking for a place to leave luggage (e.g. a locker) in Chicago, forget union station. they just removed their lockers. apparently greyhound bus terminal on Harrison does have lockers–I hope. Amtrak has a luggage room, but you have to be ticketed, and it costs 10 bucks in Chicago and a couple of other big cities

  11. Hi I’m taking my first road trip from NOLA to San Antonio this weekend and I am very nervous since I am only 17 and will be leaving bout midnight with a 2 hour delay in the early morning. If anyone had any advice or tips i would really appreciate it. I did reserve a seat though so that I would have a guaranteed seat.

  12. Katlyn de la Cruz Gonzales

    I will travel on the 3rd week of February and my first time ti ride in Megabus. I want to make sure the size of luggage i can bring. Is 62 inches is the third size of the luggage. Do i need to buy early my ticket? i plan to travel overnight. What is the time i need to come to the terminal supposed to be in Bay St. in Toronto? Because, its very far from my home and i only
    take a bus. i hope you can help me.

    1. 62 inches is the total of the bag including all three sides, length + width + height. You need to buy your ticket in advance at That will tell you what time to arrive.

  13. Thanks for this, I am a bit confused about carry-on sizes. I saw a photo/pictograph that (I thought) said under 45″ for the carry-on. I have 2 bags that I may use (haven’t decided which). One of them is a backpack with a computer sleeve, High Sierra Access, which has external dimensions of 41.5″ (20″ x 15″ x 6.5″). The other is the High Sierra Pack-N-Carry 20″ Duffel, it’s external dimensions are 42″ (20″ x 11″ x 11″). I feel both would fit under a seat, or I could easily hold them. I’m curious on if they were too big? I keep hearing different things about size of carry-on bags for Megabus. I’ve also read that it’s up to the driver if something can go on board (I don’t know how true this is though). I would need to take my laptop, so that would be my “personal” item but would be putting it inside the bag, instead of having two items with me and needing to place something under the bus. Megabus has told me that the carry-on can only be briefcase size and no bigger, but the photo said fit under seat… can somebody help/tell their experience?

    1. You could contact Megabus to be sure, but I’ve never seen anyone take a large carry-on bag as their Megabus carry-on. Most people take a backpack or small shoulder bag as their Megabus carry-on, since the room under the seats is very limited. Perhaps if you’re on a trip that isn’t full, the driver may let you take it on, but I’m not certain.

  14. The problem we’re running into is that there is only one trip per day from Columbus to Chicago and no overnight trips. Do they add extra trips when a bus reaches capacity?

  15. Quick question my daughter and I are traveling from mi to Chicago and then to mn using megabus with a 5 hour layover in Chicago at night midnight to 5:45 am to be exact. When I booked I did not know they did not have terminals. What would you recommend we do safely while we wait. Union station is closed between one and five am

  16. I am going to be taking first Megabus trip in a few weeks. I am going to just travel with a small backpack type bag. Can I take that on the bus with me, or will I need to check it? Was hoping just to take along with me on the trip so quick on and off.

  17. I am going to travel from New York to Philadelphia on June 21, which is 41 days in advance of my departure. Can I reserve the ticket?

    Thank you

  18. I have total 3 luggage bags.
    1 small and 2 big ones.
    small one is the one that we normally take with us in flight which is called Cabin luggage.
    2 big ones are the ones that we normally check-in while travelling in flight.
    All these 3 bags allowed for a travel in Megabus?

  19. Thanks for the informative info. I am new to the MegaBus scene, and have my first trip coming up in a few weeks. Your article was most helpful. If only I could figure out how to scale down my luggage, I would be ecstatic.

    1. I’m traveling on the Megabus for the 2nd time this October. I totally appreciated this post. Snagged $1 deals from Houston to Dallas today (and paid $3 extra each way for the window seat facing the front at the table since I have short legs and loved the table last time).

  20. Hi Scott,

    I wanted to thank you for writing about Megabus here on your blog – just got an unbelievable deal!
    I paid a total of $5.50 for bus rides from Austin to San Antonio, San Antonio to New Orleans, New Orleans to Orlando and Orlando to Miami. I still can’t belive it! So, I’ll have more money for accomodation and activities. Right now I love Megabus! 😉

  21. Very nice Megabus primer. I’ve been riding for almost four years and usually snag those dollar fares by booking all my trips on the day Megabus adds new dates. New York to Chicago and back for $2. Next month Harrisburg to San Antonio and return for $12..$2.50 reservation fee and a $1.50 fee for going through Union station in DC. Seven days out, two nights in hotels. I must be the exception. I’m 65 and working part time with a love of travel and not much disposable income,so Megabus is a godsend. I must have taken over a hundred trips. Only problem I ever encountered, and this is no biggie are late buses. People I know and people I meet riding are always amazed how I can get dollar seats. With extreme flexibility and careful planning,it can be done.

  22. It’s so funny to see companies like this that were exported from the UK to the US with exactly the same branding. Not sure why, but I kinda expect them to vary it from country to country. Oh, and I hate it when buses have the air conditioning on too high – I remember a bus ride in Malaysia where the only logical explanation for the ridiculously low temperature was that the driver had mistaken the human passengers for perishable goods that required refrigeration!

    1. Ha, if only you had known you could have brought ice cream and frozen foods with you. I actually prefer being cold on the bus, since at least you can dress for the chill.

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