Road Trip across the USA by Bus | Our Itinerary

by Alice
Road trip across the USA by bus collage of bus and destinations

Two years ago, we were going on our first big road trip together. This bus trip across the USA was our honeymoon, and it lasted almost 3 months, practically the duration of what we are allowed to stay in the States without a visa. It wasn’t planned at all. Actually we started planning the first half of the trip while we were in New Jersey, and the second half while we were in Florida. It was tiring and a little crazy, but we had an amazing time and I would have never thought I’d see so much of the United States in just one trip! Two year later, we finally publish the report of this trip across the USA.

Bus travel across the USA: the numbers

12 States
31 cities
22 bus rides
111 hours of bus (not counting the layover time)
$863 spent on bus tickets for 2
2 domestic flights
$563 spent in low-cost domestic flights for 2

Is it crazy to travel across the USA by bus?

A little, yes. Traveling by bus across the USA is not for everyone, but it was certainly an experience to remember. If you take day buses, you will lose days and have to pay for accommodations at night ; if you take night buses, you might not sleep and get very tired very quickly – but you’re saving on accommodations. Traveling long-distance and somewhat long-term by bus is not ideal, but I doubt we could have been to so many places for less than $450 per person.

It’s also a great way to travel when you don’t have a driving license or can’t rent a car in the States for some reason. I don’t have my license, and Simone wouldn’t have wanted to drive so many hours. And it would have cost us much more than what we spent on those bus trips. It’s also more eco-friendly than to drive a car or take a plane!

You have to be prepared, though. The toilets won’t always be decent. The wifi might not work all the time time. You might have (you will have) crappy seat neighbors who will speak loudly on the phone, eat with their mouth open, fart, listen to music without headphones, etc. You will get woken up by the multiple stops on an overnight bus. You might get hungry or thirsty because you miscalculated your reserves and needs. Bring your own toilet paper (but honestly, you should do so on any kind of trip, anyway). Bring a comfortable pillow (neck pillow at worst, real one at best), ear plugs, headphones, etc.

Itinerary of our road trip across the USA by bus

Paris, France – New York City, NY: Air France Flight || NYC – Loch Arbour, NJ – Asbury Park, NJ: Ferry | June 15

We took a flight from Paris to New York City, where we stopped to eat and go get the ferry that would take us to New Jersey, where Simone’s family lives. Then we spent almost 2 weeks relaxing in Loch Arbour and Asbury Park, taking advantage of the beach and calm moments with family.

New York City | June 27

We spent a few days in New York, where we quickly understood that Midtown was going to be a bit too much with the crowds and the heat. So we went in search of less touristy and nicer things to do. Since the accomodations were so expensive in Manhattan, we took a (not so great) airbnb in Brooklyn.

Itineray USA road trip by bus - New York City

| Read more: Our favorite off the beaten path things to do in NYC

New York City – Boston: Megabus | June 30

We took a Megabus ride from NYC to Boston. It lasted a bit more than the 4:30 hours planned because there was a lot of traffic to get out of New York. It was our first Megabus ride of the trip and it went fairly well.
In Boston, we stayed at a hostel, basked in the historical vibe of the city and spent a day in Cambridge to check out Harvard University.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Boston Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Cambridge Harvard

| Read more: Most beautiful universities in the US we’ve been to

Boston – Detroit: Flight with Spirit Airlines | July 2

From Boston to Detroit we took a low-cost flight (almost $300 per 2, pretty expensive to compare with our cheap bus rides) with Spirit Airlines, a low-cost company, and it was pretty good. The staff was great, we didn’t have any complaint!

We celebrated the 4th of July in Detroit and spent time with other members of Simone’s family, which we enjoyed a lot!

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Detroit skyline from the beach

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Detroit Arena

| Read more: Our Guide on Surviving Low-Cost Flights 

Detroit – Chicago: Megabus | July 5

If late, the 5 hours ride with Megabus from Detroit to Chicago went fairly well too.

I had no idea what to expect and wasn’t super in love with the city, but we had a good time nonetheless. Especially since Simone had booked us a huge and super comfortable hotel room at the Marriott, where we celebrated my 26th birthday, yay!

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Chicago Church covered in vine Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Chicago Magnificient Mile

Chicago – State College, PA – Philadelphia, PA: Megabus | July 7-8

The Megabus ride from Chicago to Philadelphia was a little bit less fun than the previous ones, because it was a night ride (we slept zilch) and we had a layover in the afternoon at State College, a town in Pennsylvania. In the end, it took us almost 24 hours to go from Chicago to Philadelphia.

BUT, it was forgotten exceptionally fast since we had an amazing time in Philadelphia. It became right away my favorite city we had visited so far. I loved everything I saw and wanted to move there right away and apply to Upenn. I could totally see us leave there.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Street art in Philadelphia Itinerary USA road trip by bus - University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

| Read more: 3 days in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA – Pittsburgh, PA: Megabus | July 11-12

After three great days in Philly, it was pretty hard to leave but Megabus took us to Pittsburgh in a bit more than 7 hours and we arrived a bit after midnight.

The only reason we went to Pittsburgh was to go to the Guns’n’Roses live, which was an impressive and very long show.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Guns'n'roses live show in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA – Washington DC: Megabus | July 13

The Megabus ride from Pittsburgh to Washington was pretty fast and cheap: 3 hours 40min and 12$ for two people. We were hosted in the town of Bethesda in Maryland so we took a uber to get there since it was pretty late when we arrived.

We were warmly welcomed and treated like family. However the heat in Washington DC was unbelievable, it was probably the worst heatwave I had to endure. Spending time outside just to go from museum to museum made my lungs burn. Totally insane.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - The White House in Washington DC

For that reason we didn’t get to enjoy Washington much, but still had the opportunity to go check out Georgetown university.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Georgetown University building Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Georgetown University Football field

| Read more: 7 most beautiful universities in the US that we visited
| Read more: A Day in Georgetown

Washington DC – Atlanta, GA: Megabus | July 16-17 || Atlanta, GA – Savannah, GA – Charleston, SC : Greyhound | July 17-18

If you wonder why we were taking Megabus that much, it’s because it was cheaper and seemed easier than Greyhound. In retrospect, we 100% preferred Megabus anyway.

We only went to Atlanta because it was on the way to go to Charleston. The 13 hours and 30 min long overnight ride from Washington to Atlanta was pretty tough, and we spent the day trying to shake off the fatigue, going to the movies and relaxing in the lounge of the gorgeous Marriott’s Hotel. We left Atlanta at the end of the day, to go from there to Charleston with Greyhound. It was one of the worst rides since the beginning of our trip. We had to stop at Savannah in the middle of the night (from around 1am to 6am), and it was impossible to get any sleep at the badly managed bus terminal (impossible to lay down, people screaming, super strong light). Since it was the second overnight bus ride in a row, we started to think that overnight bus rides were overrated…..

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Atlanta

It took us in total more than 12 hours to go from Atlanta to Charleston, so we were not the happiest when we were told there was a problem at the hostel in Charleston, where they had basically misplaced the key to our room. However there was a restaurant with vegan options not too far so we made the most of it.

If not a haunted one, Charleston seemed like a cute town, but we didn’t stay long enough and we were too tired to really enjoy it as we could have.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Town of Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC – Savannah, GA – Jacksonville, FL: Greyhound | July 19

Once again, going from Charleston to Jacksonville with Greyhound meant stopping by Savannah. It wasn’t such a big deal this time since it was in the afternoon, but the place was so badly managed we so more than a few people missing their bus…

However, 5 hours later we arrived in Jacksonville where a cousin of Simone’s came to get us and drive us to their house in Ponte Vedra.

We had an amazing time in Florida, going to the beach where the water was the warmest I had ever experienced, and visiting the cute town of St Augustine with Simone’s family.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Cute town of St Augustine Itinerary USA road trip by bus - University in St Augustine, Florida

| Read more: A few days in Florida – Exploring Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine

Jacksonville, FL – Lake City – Gainesville, FL: Greyhound || Gainesville, FL – New Orleans, LA: Megabus | July 23-24

As you have understood, we essentially favored Megabus, and the fact that we had a big issue on that trip only strengthened our preference. The driver that should have taken us from Jacksonville to Lake City did not go to work. For almost two hours we were left in the dark, not knowing if we would make it to Lake City, where we had to take another Greyhound bus to Gainesville (there wasn’t another ride scheduled until the next day). Anyhow, another driver covered for the one who didn’t come, and we arrived pretty late in Lake City. However the bus going to Gainesville was waiting for us and we made it without more issues.
The stop in Gainesville is not the same if you ride with Greyhound or Megabus, so we had to go and find the Megabus stop – but Google Maps saved us on that one and we had time to stop and relax at a cafe before going to the Megabus stop for our overnight ride to New Orleans.

This 9 hours long overnight bus ride was pretty hard too… We arrived in New Orleans with our eyes completely glued by fatigue….. Since we couldn’t get inside our room right away, we just went to drop our luggages and roamed in the city, stoped to watch a movie in a cool cinema, and went back to the guesthouse.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Arriving in New Orleans

We were so tired by our bus trips and by moving around that much when we reached New Orleans that we didn’t enjoy the city as much as we could have. And to top it all up, it was raining cats and dogs non stop from the second day to the end of our trip. We didn’t even have any signature cocktails in famous bars and clubs, but preferred strolling around, and discovering Uptown.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - A typical house in New Orleans Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Streets of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA – Houston, TX: Megabus || Houston, TX – San Diego, CA: Spirit Airline Flight | July 27

We had originally planned to go to Las Vegas before reaching California. However when we finally decided to book flights, the prices were so expensive we wondered how we would even make it to California. In the end, we had to forget about Las Vegas and take a Megabus ride from New Orleans to Houston, where we took a low cost flight to San Diego

…our favorite city in the States! San Diego was a beautiful discovery and if the accommodations weren’t so expensive we would have stayed there much longer! We loved the beaches, downtown, the atmosphere, the food…

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Streets of San Diego Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Surfing in San Diego Itinerary USA road trip by bus - San Diego Downtown

| Read more: 2 incredible days in San Diego

San Diego, CA – Los Angeles, CA – Santa Cruz, CA: Greyhound | July 30-31

Once in California, we were once again stuck with Greyhound, even though we would have preferred traveling with Megabus… To go from San Diego to Santa Cruz, we had to first take a bus to Los Angeles, wait a few hours in at the L.A. terminal, then take an overnight ride to Santa Cruz. We arrived so early on the Sunday that we couldn’t go right away to our friend’s place. So we spent some time in a Starbucks, waiting for a more decent time to go and wake up our host.

Santa Cruz was a place where we really took the time to relax, do nothing, and eat better. We could go do groceries and cook healthier dishes, stroll along the water,… do nothing and watch Netflix.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Santa Cruz skyline Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Santa Cruz beach

| Have a look: Our Santa Cruz Photo Diary

Santa Cruz, CA – Sacramento, CA: Greyhound | August 5 || Northern California Road Trip: car rental

After some relaxing time in Santa Cruz, what felt like the second half of our trip started. We took a 5 hours ride with Greyhound from Santa Cruz to Sacramento, where a new friend hosted us.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Sacramento

We had a great time with him and some of the best moments of our trip: he had rented us a car for a few days to go on a road trip in Northern California. That was amazing, and we had the opportunity to understand how diverse the state of California is. We started from Sacramento to Yosemite NP, where we had the luck to spot a bear on our hike.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Northern California Road Trip Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Simone in Yosemite NP Itinerary USA road trip by bus - A bear in Yosemite NP

Then we drove to Yountville, a cute little town in the Napa Valley where we were hosted by a couple of friends who told us more about Californian wine and the Valley.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - The town of Yountville Itinerary USA road trip by bus - On the road in Napa Valley

Then we took the car again to go north, up to Mendocino, and spend the night in a better motel than the one we had stayed in after Yosemite. The next day we took some time to explore around Mendocino, went back to Yountville, and then back to Sacramento.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - End of our road trip in Northern California Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Mendocino beach Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Jenner By The Sea

| Read more: A 4 Days Road Trip to Northern California

Sacramento, CA – Oakland, CA: Greyhound | August 13

After these incredible moments in Northern California, we took a Greyhound bus to Oakland, where we were hosted by friends again. During the week, we took the time to relax, went to the movies again, explored San Francisco (not our favorite town) and checked out the university of Berkeley.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - San Francisco Bridge Itinerary USA road trip by bus - University of Berkeley, UC Berkeley

| Have a look: San Francisco Photo Journal


During the weekend, we had another little road trip, with our friends, that ended up being another one of our best moments in the US. They drove us to Lake Tahoe, where we spent a day kayaking and SUPaddling and basically having the time of our life in this breathtaking landscape. If you guys hear about a house on sale in the neighborhood, shoot us an email right away!!

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Lake Tahoe beach Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Lake Tahoe landscape

| Read more: Day Trips from Oakland – including San Francisco, Berkeley & Lake Tahoe

Oakland, CA – Santa Cruz, CA: Greyhound | August 21

Broke and tired, we went back to Santa Cruz where our friend was leaving us his apartment since he was going away on vacations. That really saved us because once again, Santa Cruz was our safe heaven.

We watched entire seasons of tv shows on Netflix, and slept complete nights. It was rejuvenating, and we really needed it!! We didn’t only bum around though, we visited the town and went as far as to go to UCSC.

Itinerray USA road trip by bus - Santa Cruz Beach from the roller coaster Version Itinerary USA road trip by bus - A surfer in Santa Cruz, CA Itinerray USA road trip by bus - Santa Cruz University - UCSC

| Read more: Lazy guide to Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA – Los Angeles, CA: Greyhound | September 1

Finally, the last city of our trip: Los Angeles. I had no expectations about this city, and was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it. I certainly didn’t like the $150 a night we had to pay to stay at a guesthouse in West Hollywood (one of the cheapest options and I loved the place). But man, was I wrong. Spending the day in the Greyhound bus was a fair price to pay. I L O V E D Los Angeles, and practically refused to leave. We had long walks that made us feel like we had lived there all our lives, we enjoyed the huge beaches, had amazing food and drinks, loved our time in UCLA…. It was heartbreaking to leave without the opportunity to spend more time in LA.

Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Hollywood sign in L.A. Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA Itinerary USA road trip by bus - UCLA University of California Los Angeles Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Hollywood boulevard at night Itinerary USA road trip by bus - Santa Monica beach in L.A. Itinerary USA road trip by bus - View from Venice Beach

| Read more: 3 Days in Los Angeles: Hollywood Boulevard, UCLA, Venice & Santa Monica beaches,…

Los Angeles, CA – Paris, France: Air France Flight | September 4-5

So would you do the same? Are you ready to go and discover the USA by bus? For the record, we kept going on super long bus ride since a few months after that trip we went from Paris to Belfast by bus, a trip requiring to take a 9 hours bus from Paris to London, then wait for a 12+ hours overnight bus from London to Scotland, where you have to take the ferry to Belfast, and then a short bus ride to the city center. Not kidding.

Travel USA by bus | Megabus and Greyhound bus trips | Greyhound on the West Coast | Jacksonville to New Orleans | New Orleans to Houston | San Diego to LA | LA to Oakland | Oakland to Sacramento...... #bustrip #ride #roadtripRoad trip across the USA by bus | Megabus bus rides on the East Coast | NYC to Boston | Detroit to Chicago | Chicago to Philadelphia | Philadelphia to Pittsburgh,.... | #bus #megabus #usa
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Jennifer Da Silva 19 June 2018 - 12 h 43 min

Superbe article ! très complet ça donne envie d’y retourner…et vos photos font rêver !
Merci Alice & Simone

Emma Grace 15 July 2018 - 0 h 33 min

Wow looks like an epic road trip! I’m not sure the bus would be for me though, sounds super tiring! It’s awesome how much you got to see though!

Simone Cardillo 3 August 2018 - 0 h 29 min

It was epic, but tiring as well, probably next time we’ll hire a car or a van.
I can’t believe myself either of the amount of cities we’ve seen!
Thanks for reading our article

Rachel 21 July 2018 - 10 h 35 min

Found it interesting to read about your experience especially since not many people tend to take the bus across the states! would have been useful to have a little summary at the end to make it easy for readers to find some tips and tricks or quickly look over the lessons you learnt!

Simone Cardillo 3 August 2018 - 0 h 12 min

The bus was the only affordable option…and honestly it was not that bad!
We’ll definitely take your advice, sincerely appreciate your idea!
Thank you so much!

Madhubani 30 July 2018 - 14 h 24 min

Wow.. This seems to be a heck of a trip.. Absolutely breathtaking..

Simone Cardillo 2 August 2018 - 22 h 52 min

It has absolutely been a great trip indeed……
Thanks for taking time to read it!

Farah al Zadjaly 30 July 2018 - 16 h 24 min

This looks like a truly epic trip. You guys went to soo many places.

Simone Cardillo 2 August 2018 - 22 h 50 min

It was Epic I absolutely agree, but honestly it’s a must do trip….. but next time with my own Van

Chelsea 15 August 2018 - 16 h 32 min

Wow, what an epic trip across my home country! As a former Philadelphia resident and UPenn alum, I agree that the city and university are stellar places to visit.

Sinjana Ghosh 6 October 2018 - 13 h 03 min

what an exciting journey! loved your experience

Louise Grace 6 October 2018 - 21 h 49 min

What an amazing trip! Would love to travel like this across America, your pictures are beautiful, thanks for sharing!

Amy Dodd 7 October 2018 - 10 h 26 min

Wow such an amazing post, these photos are breathtaking! Totally make you feel like you are along for the trip. Such a great itinerary!

Maggie 7 October 2018 - 14 h 55 min

As an American, I’m super impressed. I’ve only ridden buses here a couple of times, and didn’t like any of those experiences haha. I can’t believe you came here without doing any planning!!! Wow!! And you still got to see so much! I live and work in Washington, DC, and yes, the summers can be absolutely brutal. That’s why Congress takes the whole month of August off haha. But you should revisit in the spring or fall, because it really is a lovely city!

Nina Nichols 8 October 2018 - 4 h 22 min

I heard about traveling across the USA by bus from a former student. He said it’s actually convenient and not stressful at all. We find bringing car more convenient but this is something that we might do in the future.

Synz 8 October 2018 - 4 h 42 min

Definitely bookmarking this post! I’m planning to move to the US (if everything goes according to plan) and join my cousins there. We are already starting to plan our road trip. And this post is just perfect. Love the information I’m reading here. Thanks!

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 24 min

You are welcome! And good luck for your plan!

Alex Trembath 8 October 2018 - 11 h 09 min

This looks like an incredible itinerary! We love road trips, and it would be great to try it by bus – looks like it would save a lot on costs as well. Bet this was an amazing honeymoon for you guys! Your photos are awesome too – you really catch the mood of the different places. Saving this for future inspiration for when we next head across the Atlantic 🙂

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 22 min

Yep, we had a super limited budget, so that was the perfect way! We were lucky that we had lot’s of friends hosting us!
Thanks for taking the time to read it!

Yeshi 8 October 2018 - 12 h 43 min

If ever I get a chance to, this is one bucket list item that I want to see through – road trip the USA! I’ve visited a few of the places mentioned however, not in a road trip! There’s always something interesting/exciting to see and do in every town and city!

P.S. I love the edit/filter on your photos!

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 20 min

Do it, it’s an amazing adventure.
p.s. thanks, sincerely!

Nitasha 8 October 2018 - 12 h 58 min

Sounds so fun! I would love to experience something like this. Buses are not the best way to travel but every way has it’s own advantages. After reading your itinerary which I loved by the way I am inspired to do something like this in my future trip to USA. What do you think is the biggest challenge of traveling by bus ?

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 19 min

I would say the other people, not joking, like on a plane, the worst besides an uncomfortable seat, is a noisy passenger. The biggest challenge probably is long overnight busses with stopover, you really might find yourself in the middle of nowhere!

Rajat 8 October 2018 - 18 h 41 min

The first quick info about travel/expenses.. I like it personally it gives u idea about what you’re gonna read.

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 15 min

Well that was exactly what we tried to share! Thanks so much.

pujarini 8 October 2018 - 19 h 38 min

Wow! This must be an epic trip. We love road trips and it’s a great way to see the scenery that you won’t be able to see otherwise. Your pictures are awe-inspiring.

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 14 min

Thanks so much for the compliments, always appreciated

umiko Silalahi 8 October 2018 - 22 h 09 min

I can only say it’s crazy, long, and I don’t want to do it, but I enjoyed reading your adventure in the U.S. by bus.

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 13 min

It was long, and yes crazy, next time we will take easier for sure!

Sydney | A World in Reach 8 October 2018 - 23 h 29 min

This sounds like a great trip! I’ve done a road trip across the US but never by bus. Megabus has departures from my city though so I might have to try it out – plus those $1 fares are enticing!

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 12 min

When you see fares at that price, personally, I would just book any city and go!

Megan 8 October 2018 - 23 h 48 min

You have the most beautiful website! Your pictures are incredible and everything flows so well. I’ve womdered about the megabus so it was cool to finally learn about it. I’m on the west coast so it is all new information for me.

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 10 min

Thank you so much, it’s always great receive compliments.
Megabus would definitely be our pick, back then the West was not covered a lot by them, hopefully it changed.

Chandni 9 October 2018 - 14 h 12 min

This sounds like a great trip! I’m going to be in the west coast next month and this will really help me plan my trip.

Simone Cardillo 12 October 2018 - 0 h 05 min

It has been a great trip, and i am sure your are going to enjoy yours so much!


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