The Cheapest Days To Travel By Train And Bus In The U.S. Over The Holidays


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Traveling to gather with the family for the holidays can be stressful and pricey in the United States, especially near Christmas and new year’s eve. For those planning to travel by train or bus, a recent study revealed the best dates to travel in the upcoming days. 

The Cheapest Days To Travel By Train And Bus In The U.S. Over The Holidays

Wanderu—a ground and air travel metasearch engine— gathered data and the company published a report with insights on the cheapest days to travel and when to catch the best last-minute deals. 

There are different strategies that Americans can use to get the best prices. According to the information shared by, Polina Raygorodskaya, CEO at Wanderu, explained: “Traveling on alternate days is one reliable method to avoid inflation’s worst impacts.” And added: “The other strategy is to book as early as possible, as prices will only go up as the holidays get close.”

Woman using computer from couch with Christmas decoration

Here’s valuable information for American travelers who are interested in planning a bus or train trip for the holidays:

Best Dates To Travel For Christmas

The prices vary depending on the travel method and the dates. According to the study, the cheapest prices before Christmas are on weekdays. Those who can travel on Monday 19, Tuesday 20 or Wednesday 21 can save up to 12% on bus tickets and 23% on train tickets. 

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gran central station view

And there’s a date to avoid before the holiday, the most expensive day to travel is Friday 23, and tickets can also be a little pricey on December 18, 22, 26, and 27. Travelers who enjoy a little rush or can only gather at the very last minute can also get cheaper tickets on December 24 and 25. 

Returning home after Christmas can be less expensive by bus, those returning by train should wait a few days. The best return date for train travel is December 29. Maybe one luxurious bus route could be worth the shot.

Best Dates To Travel For New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve celebration with champagne and sparkling light

Train and bus travel behavior change a little more around New Year’s Eve. Travelers will get the cheapest bus prices on December 28 and 29, before New Year’s Eve, and the cheapest train seats on December 29 and 31. Travel on January 1, 2023, will be a little pricey for both transportation methods. 

Traveling on the holiday itself is a good idea to save money, but probably a risky strategy depending on the location, weather conditions, and unexpected events. According to the study, in general, this year travelers will be paying more for bus and train tickets compared to 2021. 

Best Last-Minute Deals

woman using computer from cabana

Planning ahead is probably one of the best strategies to save money. However, anyone can change their minds about where to spend the holidays, even just a few days or hours before, and actually find good deals. 

In Wanderu’s report, it is explained that certain bus carriers add more vehicles at the last minute when all seats are booked, this is an opportunity for spontaneous travelers to score a cheap ticket since prices tend to go up when there are just a few seats left.

Chicago airport with christmas wreaths

When it comes to train travel, it is not possible to find those last-minute extra vehicles. Amtrak is constantly announcing sales and promotions for customers to book in advance and when they include more itineraries for the holidays these are usually announced months ahead. Ticket prices increase closer to the date of travel, so once a traveler has made up their mind about where to spend the holidays and wants to travel by train, should book as soon as possible.

Empty seats in the train next to the window

For those interested in saving more, between these two services, buses are usually cheaper than trains. Depending on the route, the train can double or triple the bus ticket price. For example, the average train fare from New York to Washington DC is $116 while the average bus fare is $31. It’s always wise to research and compare prices.

Luxury Bus seats

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