What’s a party bus?

There are few terms on the Internet that are more confusing than “party bus.” If you sat in a room with 20 people and asked them to describe what a party bus is, what it looked like, and what you do with one, you would get 20 different answers. As the most searched for bus term on the web, there are definitely a lot of interpretations of what someone is looking for when they type it into google or ask Siri.

The first thing that needs to be straightened out is that there is a major difference between what bus companies think of when they hear party bus and what the average consumer thinks of.

What bus operators think a party bus is:

Limo… bus… where people go to party… Basically that sums it up.

(Photo of the interior of a party bus here)

A lot of traditional bus operators know the above style of bus as a party bus. Most traditional operators do not run this type of equipment, because it has historically been… well, an issue. From drunk frat parties to cleaning crews having to spend crazy amounts of time cleaning unimaginable messes up after a night out, traditional charter fleet operators have shifted away from this type of equipment. Pair that with increasing challenges with commercially insuring this type of vehicle and the vast majority have bowed out. However, these vehicles are still available in many markets like more traditional limo operators (who are also on busrates.com) and are a lot of fun.

If the above picture is not what you think of when you say party bus, you are not alone! A lot of consumers think that party buses are any of the below vehicle types.


What bus operators call charter buses, mini buses, motorcoaches, and even executive coaches, many consumers think of as party buses.

The reason this distinction is important is because sometimes translation can stand in the way of someone getting what they want.

Picture Jim. Jim has been tasked with getting the “party bus” for his family reunion to take everyone to surprise grandma at the bingo hall and then go to the beach for the afternoon.

Jim picks heads to BusRates finds an operator in Grandma’s home town and gives them a call.

“Thanks for calling Sea Shore Charters, how can I help you”

“ Hi, I need to see if you have a party bus available on July 24th and how much it would cost?” Jim says.

“Sorry, we don’t do party buses.”

“Oh, but I was on your site and saw…” he responds before getting cut off…

“We don’t have any party buses, we don’t run that type of equipment.”

“Oh… ok… thanks” Jim says before hanging up, confused.

The truth is that what Jim wanted, Sea Shore Charters has, but there was confusion.

Knowing what you really want, and what bus companies call them, will help you make sure you are not like Jim… because lets face it, no one wants to be like Jim!

Click here to see all the types of equipment available on busrates.com and what each vehicle is called!

How to Crowdsource a transportation event.

Bus travel is the most affordable way to move a large group. Period… but that does not make it any more or less challenging to deal with the question about who is the one who is going to actually sign the contract and put their credit card down on the “table.”

Imagine a group of friends who are looking to head to a concert or festival. Maybe your family is having a reunion and you want to go on a tour of all the places from grandma’s life. Perhaps you area soccer parent trying to coordinate the bus for the team and  their families to head to the out-of-town tournament. Having one person responsible  for the entire fee can be a daunting commitment, but there are options and we are here to help.

Option #1

Sometimes simplicity is the key. Sending and receiving money has never been easier. From services like Venmo to PayPal andFacebook to Apple Chat, sending money to someone is simple and fast. Simply break the total transportation cost into a per seat or per person fee based on the quote and get people to pay before the actual booking. Keep in mind that most companies require a deposit before the charter can be booked, so doing this far enough in advance so that you do not run the risk of not being able to book once you are ready is important.  Hey, as long as you are at it, charge a few bucks for your time in coordinating… maybe you will not end up having to pay anything because you coordinated for the group!

Option #2

The GoFundme.com route: Traditionally crowdsourced services like gofundme.com are thought about when raising money for nonprofits and charitable organizations, but they are, at their core, a tool for a group of people to come together and raise money for an end… even transportation costs. From small groups wanting to put together a night out on the town to a road trip to Disney for a group of 100 students, this tool lets you gather money from those interested in going. When using this, simply start a “campaign” on the funding site,  send out the information that they can donate to the cause, and that the cost is X dollars per person to participate. Simple as that, you are on your way to a crowdsourced trip.

Option #3

PayPal Money Pool. A relative newcomer to the group payment model, but one of the pioneers in the online money game, PayPal now offers a way for people to collect money for a common goal. Simple and effective, this will give you and your group a fast way to get this done. Set a total amount you need to gather, how much each person needs to contribute, and the date it needs to happen by.  See the video below for more information.

What you need to know when booking transportation for a group.

Booking group transportation does not have to be hard! If you want to know how to work with those companies who offer this service, here are five tips that will make your next group transportation booking go smoothly.

Tip #1: Know what you want… or at least what you think you want…

When it comes to transportation you will be asked a lot of questions., even if you are just a casual shopper. From where you want to be picked up to where you want to go to if there are any stops and how many passengers you will have… the list may seem longer than you want to answer when you are simply trying to do some price shopping. However, the reality is that some of these little details can mean huge differences in price and availability. Taking a few minutes to provide a more accurate picture of what you are going to be doing will ensure that the prices you get back are meaningful and represent what you can really expect for a trip like you are planning.

Tip # 2: Compare apples to apples.

One of the most difficult part of shopping for transportation is getting four or five quotes for the same service that are priced wildly differently and not understanding why.Like most businesses, not all transportation providers are the same or offer the same service or equipment. What may look like the same bus on the outside may, in fact, be totally different once you step aboard. From late model coaches vs. older coaches, the caliber of drivers and sales staff, types of equipment, maintenance programs, the size of their insurance policies, DOT/FMCSA ratings, and etc. the list of things that you will want to think about before you book is extensive. If a new coach with all the latest technology onboard is important to you, make sure that you are shopping for that. If you are only interested in moving your group from A to B for the least amount of money possible, make sure you shop for that. Transportation is definitely not a commodity. If you see one operator who’s price is higher than another there is most likely a reason for that. Ask the companies you are shopping why their prices are what they are and you will be surprised to learn just how different one is from another.

Tip #3: Avoid brokers. Go Direct.

Brokers are companies who represent that they offer transportation services to the public, but who do not own or operate vehicles directly. These companies make money on the difference between what you pay them and what they are able to pay the companies who ultimately operate the equipment you will be riding on. This means two things. First, their motivation is to get the service for as cheap as possible. If you are not interested in the cheapest way to go, then this is not a good choice for you. Even if you are interested in the cheapest choice, you still should not choose a broker because, like we said before, they make money on the difference between what you pay them and what they pay the transportation company. Ultimately you still aren’t getting the most inexpensive deal with brokers. Booking directly is safer too, as many of the issues that we have seen in the industry start with people paying for transportation to a company who does not actually have the ability to deliver that service. Nothing beats going directly to the service provider and negotiating to get the service, equipment, and price that works for you.

Tip #4: Look at reviews

Reviews are not just for buying comfy sheets on Amazon! They are a great tool when dealing with a transportation provider. We all know that things do not always go right, especially when you are dealing with traffic, driving conditions, weather and the like. You can see how the companies you want to work with act when things do not go right by checking online reviews. It is easy to want to judge a company on its best day, but the better way is to judge them on the days where things do not go right!

Tip #5: Shopping is not always looking for the lowest price

You will find that there will be operators who will send you quotes that are significantly lower than others. If they are also the company running the best equipment, who have the most friendly customer service, drivers and sales, and are shining stars with the FMCSA and DOT, then we would say book it and do it fast! What you will find is that most of the time those that are the lowest price are not all of those others things. Trust your instincts and book the company that fits your needs the best. Choosing a transportation provider is a big decision as your safety will ultimately be in their hands. Choose a company who you feel you can trust and that is doing everything they can to keep you and your fellow passengers safe, comfortable, and that you believe will do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it. That may or may not be the lowest cost provider, but will always be the best choice!

Pro Tips for Prime Holiday Travel on a Bus

The weather is changing, decorations are being hung, and events with family and friends are happening by the dozens. It’s hard to believe it, but the holiday season is here again! That means that peak travel season is also upon us. If you want to travel like a pro and have a great experience on your next long-distance motorcoach journey, follow these tips:

Pack Light: Send gifts in the mail instead of trying to pack them all with you and try to pare down your wardrobe options. We know it’s easy to feel like you need 15 shirts for a seven-day trip, but trust us on this one, you don’t! The lighter you pack, the easier it will be to hop on the bus, make transfers, and keep track of all of your stuff. This will make for a much calmer and much more enjoyable trip.

Shop Around for Deals: Traveling during the holidays can be expensive, especially for a group. That’s where busrates.com comes in! We help you compare pricing, amenities, and more so you can get the best bang for your buck with reputable companies.
Avoid Peak Travel Days: Days like the Wednesday right before Thanksgiving are going to be ultra busy and extra expensive. Avoid the rush and book “off days” that will maximize your buying power and have smaller crowds.

Bring Comfort Items: Neck pillows, light blankets, and wardrobe layers are all great things to bring in your personal item. They’ll keep you warm, comfortable, and travel nap ready! 

Bring Entertainment: Tablets, phones, and books will help to pass the time on your long journey. Many buses today even offer optional wifi and streaming options so bringing something that can connect to the Internet will give you an almost endless amount of entertainment options to enjoy.

Traveling during the holidays can be stressful, but it’s worth it if it means being with family and friends. Use our tips to decrease stress and increase your holiday spirit!


Motorcoach Road Trip Packing 101

Road tripping via motorcoach is one of the best ways to experience the US (or any country for that matter.) A coach offers luxury amenity options, comfort, convenience, and the ability to travel with a large group all in the same vehicle. Whether you’re taking a charter bus for your family reunion or for a business retreat, you’ll want to pack these items for ultimate road trip comfort.

Layers: A nice warm sweater, a light jacket, extra socks, and a light blanket are all great items to bring with you in your carryon for your coach road trip. Wear a short-sleeve shirt and then you can layer up or down depending on the temperature of the bus and what’s comfortable for you.

Snacks: This one should go without saying, but it never hurts to have a reminder! Pack your favorite snack to accompany you on your adventure. Chips, fruit leather, popcorn, candy, and jerky are all classics when it comes to road tripping and for good reason. They’re all delicious and easy to eat.

Tech: No matter the length of the road trip, you’re bound to want a little entertainment. Bring your Kindles, iPads, laptops, phones, headphones, etc… with content downloaded to keep you entertained.

Simple Wardrobe and Grooming Routine: It’s easy to overpack your bag when going on vacation, but all you really need are pieces that are interchangeable and your grooming necessities. Try packing a capsule wardrobe and just the toiletries you absolutely need and see how much easier it is to travel.

Traveling is fun and it’s even better when you bring the right items! Follow this packing list to make your next chartered road trip the best it can be.