Given the ongoing challenges surrounding air travel — ranging from flight delays and cancellations to lost luggage and long airport queues — staying on the ground may be the easiest (and least stressful) way to get from point A to point B. While taking a road trip or traveling by train may take longer than flying, land travel has its benefits.
To start, the slower journey makes it possible to truly appreciate your surroundings, whether you’re traveling between forested mountains or past beautiful city skylines. Not to mention, overland options are generally more environmentally friendly and less expensive than flying.
Sticking to ground transportation doesn’t mean you have to make major sacrifices on comfort. Even previously cramped options like buses are evolving to attract all kinds of travelers, including those who enjoy a dose of luxury.
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Gone are the days of standard buses being the only option for intercity travel. In recent years, luxury buses have emerged to provide travelers with a stylish take on the classic bus journey.
How exactly are luxury buses different from traditional options, and are they a good fit for you? We took a closer look at this elevated transportation option, including a few noteworthy routes, to find out.
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What is a luxury bus?
Luxury buses offer a “first-class travel experience that combines the luxury and personal space of a private jet with the affordability and convenience of a motorcoach,” according to The Jet, one of several luxury bus companies that launched in recent years.
Unlike regular buses, luxury options provide several comforts and services more commonly found in the first-class cabin of an airplane.
For example, more space is available between seats, as they’re typically arranged in a 1-2 setup across aisles. As a result, you’ll enjoy plenty of legroom and space for reclining your seat and using fold-out tables for work or snacking.
Additionally, luxury buses come with a number of conveniences, including free high-speed Wi-Fi as well as complimentary snacks and beverages. You’ll also have access to a clean bathroom facility, plus various TV-viewing options and attendant services (on select routes).
Related: Why you shouldn’t sleep on bus loyalty programs
Why should you take a luxury bus?
There are several reasons why a luxury bus may be the way to go the next time you travel.
To start, there’s the price. A bus ride (even a luxury one) generally costs a fraction of what you would pay for a flight and transportation to and from an airport.
Then there’s the convenience of using buses. Intercity buses typically depart from depots in city centers and often offer additional connections at rail and airport terminals, making them easy to reach. Plus, there are no security lines to endure, and you are not required to check in an hour before departure. If you’re traveling with luggage, all you have to do is place your bag in the cargo area before you board.
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may also find that buses are a more efficient way to reach your destination, as some cities do not offer flight or rail service. They’re more environmentally friendly than driving your own car or flying, too, so you can feel good about your journey.
Why should you consider a luxury bus specifically? There is plenty of space as well as amenities on board. If you value having extra elbow room, enjoy creature comforts like snacks and drinks while in transit and want to pay the cheapest price possible, then you’ll likely find a luxury bus appealing.
Which luxury bus routes should you consider?
The majority of luxury buses operate between major metropolitan areas and popular tourist destinations. While New York City is a hub for many luxury bus routes, others depart from places such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Houston and Dallas.
There are numerous routes to consider for luxury bus travel, but three in particular stand out from others currently available.
The Jet: New York City to Washington, DC
The Jet luxury bus service runs its route between New York’s Hudson Yards and Washington’s Metro Center six days a week. Offering enough space to accommodate a maximum of 14 people, The Jet provides passengers with lots of legroom at their wide seats. Each seat features a specially designed “motion-canceling” technology called HoverSeat designed to absorb all the bumps you may encounter during the ride.
While traveling to the nation’s capital, you’ll have access to free high-speed Wi-Fi and a restroom with high-end details reminiscent of what you’d find in a hotel bathroom (such as white subway tiles and black brass fixtures). Plus, you’ll receive complimentary beverages (think: sodas, coffee, beer and wine) as well as snacks such as chips and trail mix from an onboard attendant. Bus tickets also include two free checked bags and two carry-on bags.
Traveling from New York to Washington takes about four hours and 15 minutes, and prices start at $99 for a one-way trip. Specific seats are available for reservation in advance.
Vonlane: Houston to Austin
Vonlane offers 22-person luxury buses for travel within Texas. While you’ll find routes connecting several major cities in the Lone Star State — including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio — the Houston-to-Austin itinerary is an especially popular option.
As you ride on a Vonlane bus, you can stay connected with free Wi-Fi from the comfort of an oversized leather seat that also features an extended recline and leg rest. You’ll also enjoy complimentary food and drinks served by an onboard attendant; keep in mind that alcohol costs extra. Loaner noise-canceling headphones are free to borrow, as are items such as eye masks, neck pillows, blankets and phone and computer chargers.
The trip from Houston to Austin typically takes two hours and 45 minutes, and it costs at least $114 one-way.
Napaway: Washington, DC, to Nashville
For travel between Washington and Nashville, there’s Napaway — a luxury bus operator with overnight sleeper coaches. Passengers book one of 18 “personal suites,” which feature two seats that convert into lie-flat beds with memory foam mattress pads. Napaway also provides pillows and blankets for the trip.
Standard amenities include high-speed Wi-Fi, a selection of movies and TV shows to watch from personal devices, fold-out desks and sleep kits with eye masks, toothbrushes and earplugs. Complimentary bottled water is also available, though that’s the extent of Napaway’s onboard food and beverage options.
The 11-hour overnight Napaway itinerary departs Washington at 10 p.m. on Fridays and arrives in Nashville at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. Tickets cost a minimum of $125 for the one-way trip.
Most people don’t consider bus travel to be a luxury experience thanks, in part, to the extra time it adds to the journey. However, several recently launched companies now provide more comfortable and upscale ways to hit the road.
Sure, you’ll need to pay a little more for a luxury bus ticket than one in a regular coach, but the service is still an affordable option when compared to flying. Plus, you’ll enjoy many of the same amenities you would receive at the front of a plane. So, you don’t have to worry about squeezing into a tight space without the necessities to keep you comfortable.
Featured photo by Life Journeys/Getty Images.