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Wanderu User Guide - Tips, Savings, Cautions

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Wanderu User Guide - Amtrak bus with bike rack

Wanderu offers a great new way to book inter-city bus and rail transportation.

For the first time, Wanderu lets you compare prices of Amtrak and 24 bus company options all at once. You no longer waste time researching a bunch of individual websites.

This shows how best to use Wanderu.com. You become an expert Wanderu traveler and avoid costly mistakes.

Easy booking more important than ever

DePaul University research shows that buses are the fastest growing method of U.S. city-to-city transportation. Travelers save nearly 80 percent compared to flying.

Until now though, how could you easily find what companies offer service on each route? Time to research each of their websites?

Now, not only do you enjoy multiple choices on one site, you gain assurance that the company you book has a good reputation.

As travel expert Pauline Frommer points out, Wanderu does not display every bus line. “It vets all of the companies it works with and only uses those with good safety records.”

How to use Wanderu

Watch especially for ways to handle Wanderu.com connections.

When to book?

Do the math.

Not having to spend $65 just one time closer to departure justifies paying for a few $3.00 tickets in advance that you may end up not using.

BoltBus and others offer fares under $10 to early bookers. Mike Walters of Megabus and Coach USA says Megabus always has $1 fares available on every departure if you book early enough.

Go for it!

Easy ways to save

  • Traveling from Los Angeles to Vegas? Changing dates could save enough to pay for your hotel.
  • When possible, consider choosing your destinations at least in part based on fares available.
  • See "create your own connections" below.

Hotwire.com

Avoid missed connections

Most Wanderu trips require no connections.

However you are traveling having to connect always increases risk that something may go wrong.

Be more concerned with a smooth trip than with minimal travel time. Simple advice. So often overlooked.

Mix and match carriers

An urban Interstate highway interchange (c) Fotolia

Unlike company-owned websites, Wanderu displays less expensive prices that may come when you connect between non-affiliated carriers.

As an example, a trip from Las Vegas to San Diego may cost less using 1) Megabus to Los Angeles and then 2) Amtrak to San Diego.

Image above: © chungking - Fotolia.com

These trips demand extra caution

Be especially careful if your trip involves more than one company.

What happens if Megabus brings you late into Los Angeles making you miss your connection to Amtrak?

You hold separate reservations. Neither company takes responsibility for what happens on the other. In the above example, this becomes more serious if you hold a nonrefundable Amtrak reservation valid only on the train booked.

If asked to book each connecting service separately, you will travel on more than one reservation. Not all connecting trips go on separate reservations.

Decide carefully

I am not saying don't book different companies. I do!

Make sure that

  • Money saved justifies additional risk.
  • Connection time does not depend too much upon an on-time arrival.

Create your own connections

Wanderu search screen

Would you like more connection time? Think outside the screen.

Let’s look at a trip from Hartford to Pittsburgh –

Look up the schedules and fares Wanderu displays from Hartford to Pittsburgh. These connect in New York City.

Then check individually –

  • Hartford to New York City and
  • New York City to Pittsburgh

Your longer connection might even save you money!

Make your choices and then go through the payment process quickly. You DO NOT want to pay for the first reservation and then find the second one has sold out or gone up in price.

Consider booking each in its own browser window. Then when both segments show still available once you have selected them and have moved on to BOTH of their payment pages, dive in and pay.

Handling complicated connections

Wanderu User Guide - Amtrak bus with bike rack

Watch out for situations that make you go to another location for a connection. These can be complicated.

Before paying,

  • Understand the directions Wanderu provides about how to walk or use public transit to the other place.
  • Decide if comfortable with time allowed and amount of effort involved.

Avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

Reconfirm boarding locations

When traveling by bus, reconfirm both departure times and where will board.

Check for service advisories posted on company websites. “Due to construction, the bus stop location at Charlotte, NC has moved to …”

Owning no stations, companies like Megabus can easily move boarding to another street location.

Who can use Wanderu.com?

Hotwire.com

As of July 2014, the company serves all major U.S. cities.

The site features mostly short and middle-distance routes such as Portland to Seattle, Chicago to Cleveland, and New York City to Toronto.

Canadian cities

You need to click on the American flag next to where you input your destination. A Canadian flag pops up. Now you can enter a Canadian city name.

Enjoy your Wanderu trips!

As Wanderu co-founder Polina Raygorodskaya told USA Today, inter-city buses have become “cool.”

Neither BidOnTravel nor I have any affiliation with Wanderu.

Comments and questions about this Wanderu user guide are very welcome!

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