Bus Travel with Children

bus travel with children

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 want to travel with children, it’s a whole different story. We’ve put together a couple of tips that will make your journey much more pleasant!

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

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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. 

Since many buses come equipped with seat belts, you can use them with your own child seat. However, in this case the “free-under-two” policy will not apply.

Discounts for children

Among the providers allowing free child travel under the age of 2 are: Greyhound, Peter Pan, FlixBus and Trailways. Children’s fares may be available for children between the ages of 2-16 on select operators such as Trailways, Peter Pan and most other operators with a savings of  up to 20%.

C&J Buses is a welcome exception to this rule: children under the age of 16 ride free when accompanied by an adult on the Boston-Logan Airport route.

An overview of available children’s discount

Bus operatorFree TravelDiscounts
GreyhoundOne child under 2 ride free on adult’s lapStudents can get 10% off Greyhound travel and 15% off shipping with the Student Advantage Discount Card
Peter PanOne child under 2 ride free on adult’s lap20% discount for children between 2-11 (Only be purchased in person)
C&JOne child 16 and younger ride free on all buses to Logan AirportWhen traveling with multiple children, kids fare is available for children 16 and under
TrailwaysOne child under 2 ride free on adult’s lapUp to 20% discount for children between 2-16 when accompanied by an adult (Only 2 children’s fare ticket per adult)
FlixbusOne child under 2 ride free on adult’s lapDiscount for children under 15 years

➠ 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. For instance, luxury Florida bus operator RedCoach offers on-board entertainment by connecting to their WiFi.

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, Netflix, and Disney+ allow you to save their content on your mobile device.

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.  For instance, Greyhound requires full fare for children between the ages of 12-16 who travel unaccompanied and a completed Unaccompanied Child Form. Likewise, Peter Pan requires the full fare and has a list of guidelines to allow unaccompanied child travel (between 12 and 14).

Below is an example of an unaccompanied travel restriction list:

  • The trip should be direct (no transfers);
  • The trip can be a maximum of 8 hours in duration, 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 custody of Child Protective Services or to local law enforcement;
  • Each unaccompanied child traveling must pay an additional $15 fee (or $30 for a round-trip).

To sum it up, travelling with kids can be daunting, but with the right planning your next bus trip with kids will basically be a piece of cake!

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