The Ultimate Guide To Renting a Charter Bus
If you’ve never rented a bus before, the prospect of getting a large group of people on a 20-ton vehicle may intimidate you. But bus travel has too many advantages to ignore: extra passenger space, privacy from strangers, comfort, amenities, safety, reliability, considerable savings, and—let’s be honest—the only hope for effortlessly keeping everyone together. With the ultimate guide to renting a charter bus, the process will go as smoothly as your trip.
Occasions That Call for a Charter Bus
If you’re still deciding on your transportation, you’re in the right place. A charter bus is a great choice for a variety of outings, including:
- College field trips: Rent a charter for a day to visit a museum or a coach for longer trips and college tours.
- Tour groups: Travel with your favorite companions and take control of your itinerary on a bus tour.
- Sports and athletic events: Simplify game day with a private bus to ferry athletes, the band, and fan clubs to the venue.
- Corporate events: Make more time for team building with group transportation.
Solidify Your Plans
Before looking into what kind of bus you need, firm up your travel plans. Check with the rest of your group if they agree with dates, times, and other details. Changing the itinerary later can lead to a lot of complications. You can’t plan further until you have a list of what’s necessary and what “requirements” may turn out to be optional. Go ahead and include everything for the ideal trip, but be prepared to compromise for practicality and in accordance with your budget. Flexibility is one of the best reasons to use charter buses; you have the last word and the power to make the changes to your itinerary.
Have the answers to these questions at the ready:
- How many passengers will be on the bus?
- How many extra seats are a good idea for last-minute additions? (Careful: Too many empty seats will make the bus less cost-effective.)
- Which amenities are on your wish list? Some buses are equipped with restrooms, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, audio/visual outlets, and extra luggage space.
- Do you have your itinerary finalized, down to the date and time?
- What’s more important: luxury or price?
Planning Strategies for Saving Money
If you’re able to plan well in advance, you have a chance at better pricing during less busy seasons. Charter bus companies traditionally get the most business in late spring and summer because of weddings, graduations, vacation times, reunions, and more. Don’t rule out traveling from April through August, but adjust for a higher budget. Cold months—January and February—are usually less busy. You can also save money by reserving the bus as soon as possible.
Will You Provide Your Own Driver?
This can save considerable money, whether you have a volunteer in your group or book a freelance professional—as long as you can knowledgeably trust the driver’s safety record. Your driver will need to possess a commercial driver’s license as well as the correct insurance. In this case, you can bypass a charter company that takes care of more details and proceed directly to a rental company like National Bus Sales.
Get recommendations for a charter company from people you know and check reviews online for a bigger picture of their services. Get specific quotes from each and have them recommend the best bus for your needs. Different bus models accommodate different numbers of passengers, but this will give you a rough idea:
- Minibus: 8-20 passengers
- Shuttle bus: 12-25 passengers
- School bus: 14-90 passengers
- Coach bus: 36-60 passengers
- Ultra Coachliner: 36-61 passengers
Then dig in with some in-depth questions. You are taking on this responsibility for the entire group, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarity.
- Does pricing vary with additional fees? What are they? What measures will lower a quote?
- Can you see the interior of the bus model you’ll be renting? Get in there and test the seats, especially if you’ll be spending more than a couple of hours on the charter bus. You can also get an idea of how well the company’s buses are maintained.
- Is there a restroom on the bus? If so, it will be so compact that it’s more of a lavatory, so take a peek at that when you tour the bus’s interior. Better yet, take a photo, because your fellow road-trippers are bound to be curious.
- Are pets allowed onboard? You are almost definitely going to get a no, but it never hurts to ask. If you will be traveling with a disabled passenger who requires a service dog, explain the circumstances.
- Can adults drink alcoholic beverages on the bus? If you’re going on a trip to wine country, this is important. Some companies require a deposit for any damages that could be incurred by drinking.
Choosing Your Charter Bus
Be wary of any companies with a quote far lower than the others. They may be cutting corners or not legally licensed in your state. Take your time deciding on a company but don’t draw out the process. Do your due diligence and sign with the best company you can find.
The contract should include their name and your group’s, specific dates, the maximum passengers allowed, and all total costs. If you want to avoid future problems, you may want to run it past other members of your group before finalizing the agreement. Sometimes, though, too much individual input just makes the process harder.
Be ready to make a down payment, get a receipt, and ask how long you have for a refund, if necessary. Request an official itinerary from the company to compare it with your own, then share it with the other travelers. A company may not do this until a few days before the trip, but it’s a helpful tool. Make sure you have the name and contact information of a point person who can help you along the way.
Whether you’re a first-time group traveler, an organizer needing ways to save money, or a driver looking for a charter bus for sale, we hope that our ultimate guide to renting a charter bus answers your questions. If you want more information, contact National Bus’s rental division for a quote.