Make your field trip a memorable and safe one with these pointers for charter bus rentals

You’re planning your next adventure and need transportation, but where do you start? Here are five tips to make your next field trip a memorable one.

Charter Bus or School Bus?

If you’re traveling more than an hour or will have a lot of “stuff,” a charter or tour bus is probably a better option. Longer trips are more relaxing on a tour bus due to the comfortable seats, Wi-Fi and power outlets. Charter buses have ample storage underneath the bus, so whether you’re hauling ski gear, band instruments or football pads, it’s easy to load and out of the way. Plus, a tour bus is fully-equipped with heat and AC, making long trips in the summer or winter much more enjoyable.

Get a Tour Bus Rental Directly

Sometimes you want a tour operator to take care of the details and sometimes you want to take care of the details yourself. Either way, when you book your charter bus rental directly with an operator, be sure to look up their business on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator website. Reputable tour bus operators will be happy to give you their DOT number, then you can Google “FMCSA SAFER” and enter the number. Interstate carriers are required to keep their insurance information on file, so this will confirm both their insurance status and Satisfactory safety record.

Hotard Coaches Inc. driver
Hotard Coaches Inc. drivers are among the top of their class.

Plan your Bus Rental before planning your trip

It’s easy to get excited about your destination or field trip and forget about how you’re going to get there until after the tickets are secured and hotels are booked. Keep in mind that many charter bus operators can be sold out on the weekends or during certain times of the year. Call the bus rental company first to see what they can offer. There may be a significant price difference to travel mid-week compared to the weekend or during the off-season. Share your flexibility with your salesperson and they may be able to help you pick dates that work within your budget.

Is the Charter Bus Rental owned by the company?

It’s best to work directly with a company that owns and operates their own tour buses. If your salesperson can’t promise it will be their driver that picks you up on their charter bus, move on.

All Aboard America Holdings Inc. map shows charter services across the south and west.

How to find a Tour Bus company

I recommend using Google Maps and simply searching “bus company” or “charter bus rental near me.” You can immediately see ratings and click to check out their website. Not all bus rental companies listed will offer charter services, but their website should have a quote form or a phone number to call. Keep in mind that the charter bus rental company doesn’t need to be around the corner from where you’re going – many companies will drive over 100 miles to pick you up.

Try to get two quotes to compare pricing between transportation companies, but be sure to ask the salesperson when they recommend that you book. If they suggest that your dates will sell out and to book now, do it. Many tour bus companies will take a long time to get back to you if they aren’t sure they have availability. If you’re having trouble getting a second quote, go with the first. After all, you’d rather go on the trip than sit home disappointed.

By Trisha Fridrich, All Aboard America! Holdings