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Consider a Bus Charter Service for Life Cycle Events

 

When is it practical to choose a bus charter service over car travel?

bus for wedding party

Athletic teams do it. Casino day-trippers do it.  School groups do it.  And, increasingly, other groups—social clubs, businesses, even families—are realizing the benefits of motorcoach travel over driving … and choosing to charter.

Buses for Life Cycle Events

There are certain milestones in life that punctuate the human experience.  Call them “life cycle events”—birth, marriage, and death are the obvious ones; but certain rites of passage, major transitions, and notable achievements seem to call for celebration. In every culture, throughout time, people have always acknowledged these life cycle events communally, surrounded by family and friends.  In plain language: There are times when you just have to throw a party.  

Any time people gather to celebrate, or even to mourn, there are countless logistical considerations; and transportation ranks right up there with food, lodging, and folding chairs. 

When considering your options for transporting a group for your life cycle event, remember that a bus charter can be a convenient and affordable alternative to driving.

Case in Point

Think about your typical weekend wedding—the wedding of “Sheri” and “Jake,” for example. Friends and family will fly and drive from points far and near to attend the summer nuptials. (Of the 150 guests, at least half of them live out of town.) Since Jake and Sheri are young, many of their friends are as poor as proverbial church mice; seeing as these friends are spending their last dime on airfare, hotel accommodations, and a wedding gift, it might be a hardship to also rent a car. Several of the out-of-town guests are elderly—Sheri’s grandparents and Jake’s great Aunt Lillian are all in their 80s—and no longer drive at night. There are five venues and four events associated with the wedding: a headquarters hotel for out-of-towners, the party room of a downtown restaurant for the rehearsal dinner, a house of worship for the ceremony, a country club for the reception, and the private home of Sheri’s parents for a brunch the day after the wedding.

In this case, chartering a bus is not only a gracious and thoughtful gesture; it is the most practical transportation option the couple could choose. No long caravans getting separated at red lights, no parking hassles, no hard-to-follow directions, no late night driving after hours of revelry.

Life Cycle Events

 Here are some other life cycle events when a charter bus makes a lot of sense:

  • Baby naming, christening, and baptism ceremonies
  • Religious and secular rites of passage such as bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, confirmations, and sweet sixteens
  • Graduations
  • Bridal showers and baby showers
  • Weddings
  • Anniversaries
  • Retirement parties
  • Funerals, memorial services, and burials

When does a bus charter make sense?

If you are thinking about chartering a bus, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Do you need to transport 25 or more people? 
  • Would the event be more enjoyable, meaningful, or memorable if people could travel there together?
  • Is a bus charter more cost-effective than driving? 
  • Would chartering a bus be easier and more efficient than coordinating transportation for a large group of people?
  • Would your group members appreciate not having to worry about parking, directions, renting a car, or other considerations?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, consider calling a reputable charter bus company to explore your options. You may find that chartering a bus is the best way to get from here to there.

 

 

Travel and Event Planning Tool
 

 

Plan your next trip with this easy to use organizational tool. It's FREE and we will deliver it to your email inbox immediately. Enjoy the trip! 

 

Charter Bus Safety: Five Things You Must Know

 

Ask anyone what matters most when choosing a charter bus company for group transportation and—hands down—they will tell you “bus safety.”  But how can a travel planner know for sure that passengers will be safe?

Like air disasters and train derailments, bus accidents are extremely rare. Still, when they happen, they dominate the news and shake us to the core; and for a while, everyone is afraid to travel.  But read beyond the headlines and you’ll quickly learn that buses remain the safest transportation around.  Sadly, too many groups hire charter operators who fall short of federal safety standards and put their passengers at risk.

Five things about bus safety

For example, in surveying 333 Division I universities that use charter bus companies to transport athletes, ESPN discovered that more than 25 percent of the schools use companies with a less than satisfactory rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It’s just as easy—and much smarter—to confirm that your charter bus company meets the necessary criteria to transport your group safely.

Here’s a safety checklist for groups to use when choosing a charter bus company.

1.  Ask for their ID.

Ask the company for their U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) identification number.  Any company that crosses state lines must receive “interstate authority” from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Having an ID number tells you that the company is in compliance with USDOT’s insurance requirements and that it is subject to review and inspection by federal and state authorities at any time.

2.  Check their records.

Review the company’s safety record.  Go to at http://www.safersys.org to see a snapshot of the company’s safety record and its safety rating (satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory).  Choose only those carriers with a satisfactory rating. 

In addition to the safety rating, this snapshot will allow you to:

  • Verify that the carrier is authorized to transport passengers for hire.
  • Verify that the charter company carries the minimum amount of insurance required ($1.5 million for carriers transporting 15 or fewer passengers, $5 million for companies transporting more than 15 passengers).
  • Review the carrier’s record of regulatory violations or “out of service” incidents compared to national averages.
  • Review the carrier’s accident record.
  • Check the date of the company’s last “compliance review” or onsite inspection by authorities.

3.  Your Driver is Important.

You need to know that your driver is healthy, rested, trained, and road ready.

  • Verify that the company’s drivers possess a commercial drivers license (CDL) issued by your state.
  • Verify that your driver has a medical certificate indicating that he or she has passed a qualifying physical exam within the last two years.
  • Verify that the company requires its drivers and other safety-sensitive employees (such as mechanics) to undergo drug and alcohol testing.
  • Verify that the company’s drivers adhere strictly to the DOT’s hours-of-service regulations, as follows:
  • Bus drivers may drive a maximum of 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.
  • Bus drivers may not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours.  “On duty” means driving or doing any other work for the charter company (or any other employer) – including record-keeping, maintenance, or even sitting in the bus waiting for your group.  When the 15 hour “on duty” limit has been reached, the driver must take at least eight hours off.
  • Drivers may not drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period, or more than 70 hours in an eight-day period.

4.  Expect an Inspection.

All commercial buses must be inspected at least once a year to ensure compliance with state statutes and federal regulations for mechanical fitness, driver qualifications, hours of service, and other requirements.  Many states perform this inspection.  In the absence of a mandatory state inspection, the company must arrange for its own annual inspection.  Ask to see the most recent inspection report.

 5.  Be Sure You Can Reach Them.

Confirm that the company has a 24-hour emergency dispatch system, with live people on duty who can handle last minute changes, emergencies, or any unforeseen issues that may arise. If you need help in the middle of the night, the last thing you want to hear on the other end of the phone is a recorded voice telling you to “call back during normal business hours.”

 These are the five simple steps to ensuring safety—and the peace of mind that goes with it—the next time your group travels by bus. 

 

 

 

Professionals Guide to Bus Trips with Kids  

Bus trips with kids require more planning. Have a great trip and cover your liability with this comprehensive guide. Click on the button above to get yours free.

Charter Bus Companies: Leading the Way in GPS Technology

 

Every day, we routinely use technology that a few short years ago was the stuff of science fiction … and in many ways, charter bus companies are at the forefront of the technological revolution. 

Consider just a handful of the things we take for granted. Every time you check your e-mail, use your smart phone, scan your groceries in the self-service lane, or start your car without a key, you are using technology that was unheard of a generation ago. How would our ancestors react to such innovations as Google Glass, household robots, human genome sequencing, and Skype (not to mention seedless watermelons)? Imagine how the first passengers of London’s 1829 horse-drawn omnibus would react upon entering a modern day motorcoach with its wireless Internet service, DVD players, and global positioning systems!

 What is GPS?GPS on Charter Buses

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense (beginning in the 1970s and completed in 1994). At a cost of $12 billion, the system was originally intended for military navigation but became widely available for civilian use in the 1980s. GPS works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day.

GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day, in a precise orbit, 12,000 miles above us. They are powered by solar energy, with backup batteries onboard to keep them running in the event of a solar eclipse. Traveling at 7,000 miles an hour, these satellites transmit signal information to receivers on earth (like the one in your car); the receiver triangulates this information to calculate the user’s exact location and display it on the unit’s electronic map.

Once the users’ position has been determined, the GPS unit can calculate other information—such as speed, bearing, track, trip distance, distance to destination, and more.

Directional GPS

If you drive a car, you are probably familiar with GPS navigation systems that provide turn-by-turn directions and route instructions on an in-dash monitor. The GPS can show (and tell) a bus driver exactly where the bus is at any given moment, how to get to a specified location, what direction the bus is driving in, how fast it’s going, and when it will arrive at its destination. In the case of detours or a wrong turn, the GPS makes adjustments and gets the driver back on track. Most systems talk out loud, in whichever calm, pleasant, and authoritative voice the user chooses.  (This explains why people sometimes give their navigation system names like Nigel or Amelia.) Sophisticated systems allow the driver to pinpoint the vehicle’s location on a street map, stay abreast of traffic conditions, and specify preferences (such as “no toll roads” or “fastest route”). The bottom line:  fewer delays, less fuel consumption, and no danger of getting lost on unfamiliar back roads.

Diagnostic GPS

Many of today’s motorcoaches are also equipped with diagnostic global positioning systems, providing all kinds of real time data on every aspect of the bus trip. For example, a diagnostic GPS can:

  • Track the exact location of any bus at any moment.  Should a bus break down or go off course, the company can locate it immediately.
  • Respond to emergencies.  Rare as they are, accidents occasionally happen; and when they do, every minute counts. No matter where the bus is, a diagnostic system will supply the precise GPS coordinates (not just a vague landmark or a mile marker) to an emergency responder. 
  • Monitor bus speed, mileage, and driver performance—including braking, acceleration, and steering habits. The implications for passenger safety are clear.  A driver who knows that he or she is being monitored is a better driver.
  • Stay on top of maintenance.  A diagnostic GPS can monitor engine speed, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and other factors, telling the maintenance department when vehicles are due for service.

GPS technology has changed how buses are operated and managed. Rather than having to rely on radio contact and guesswork to keep track of drivers and vehicles, it's now possible to have live accurate updates on your buses wherever they go, leading to increased passenger safety, better driver performance, and lower costs.

 

The Complete Guide to Booking a Bus

Professional event planners helped us compile a guide for people that are booking a charter for their group. It is a quick read and a wonderful reference for creating the right travel experience for your group. Click on the image above and your FREE guide will be emailed to your in box immediately. 

The End of the Driving Boom – Millennials Would Rather Rent a Bus

 

When the Pew Research Center set out to identify the characteristics of Generation Y – the Millennial Generation – little did they know they’d uncover the first young adults in 50 years who would rather rent a bus than drive a car.

Millennials – so called because they are the first generation to come of age in the new millennium – are now between the ages of 18 and 33.  Like generations before them, they are politically and socially more liberal than their parents; they promise to be the best educated generation in the nation’s history; and, despite record levels of education debt and a tough job market, they are they are optimistic about the future. 

In a 2013 research study – “Generation Next” – (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change.pdf) The Pew Research Center found the Millennial Generation to be “confident, connected, and open to change.”

Time magazine, in its May, 2013, cover story, (http://nation.time.com/2013/05/09/millennials-the-next-greatest-generation/) called Millennials “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

So, who are the Millennials, and what sets them apart from other generations?

According to the Pew Research Center study, the thing that distinguishes Generation Y is “hyper connectivity.”   At least 95 percent of Millennials use the Internet.  Seventy five percent have profiles on social networking sites like Facebook.  And more than 60 percent of the Gen Y cohort stays online 24/7 -- via smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices. Eighty percent of Millennials sleep with a cell phone next to their bed.

They are social.  Millennials put a lot of stock in friendship – and not just their 1,000 Facebook friends.  E-mail, instant messaging, social media, and texting have made it easy for young people to stay connected to their friends – and they communicate constantly. Maybe it’s because they’re marrying later than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, but Millennials – more than any other group -- tend to think of their friends as extended family.

Millennials vote.  They care about the environment.  They have more body piercings and tattoos than any other generation.  They are pioneering the new “sharing economy” – a model of sharing products and resources rather than owning them.  They are picky consumers.  They travel in packs. 

And when it comes to cars … they’re just not that into them. 

In a 2013 study about America’s driving habits, the U.S. Public Interest Group (PIRG) (http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/A%20New%20Direction%20vUS.pdf) stated flatly, “The Driving Boom is over.”  Americans, in general, are driving less.  Per-capita VMT (vehicle miles traveled) peaked in 2004 and has been on the decline ever since.  Younger Millennials (in the 16-24 age group) are driving 23 percent less than those their age in 2001. 

There are a number of reasons for this trend.indian trails bus

Other priorities

Getting a driver’s license at age 16 used to be an almost-mandatory rite of passage. Millennials are the first generation to take their time.  In 2011, only 67 percent of 16 to 24 year-olds had drivers’ licenses -- the lowest percentage in 50 years, down from a high of 85 percent in 1983. 

Unlike generations past, Millennials aren’t that keen on car ownership, either.  In a survey commissioned by the car sharing company Zipcar last February, (http://zipcar.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=298) Millennials said they’d sooner give up their car than their cell phone.  In a similar study, the computer networking company, Cisco, (http://blogs.cisco.com/news/2011-cisco-connected-world-technology-report-the-greatest-hits/) found that most college students would choose an Internet connection over a car.

Expense

Millennials may have heard from their Baby Boomer parents about a mythical America where gas could be purchased for 35 cents a gallon … but those days are gone. With pump prices at ten times the 1965 rate – plus the expense of parking, maintenance, and insurance – there are cheaper ways to get around. 

Lifestyle

More Millennnials are opting to live in urban neighborhoods where they can walk, bike, ride a subway, or take a bus. 

Environmental concerns

Global warming isn’t just for tree huggers anymore.  Most Americans (and a vast majority of Millennials) believe that climate change is real, that human activities contribute to it, and that we need to do something about it.  Many see driving less as a step in the right direction.

The Internet

Rather than always driving to shop, socialize, work, or attend a class, Millennials are content to conduct many of their daily activities on line.

The Zipcar survey found that 57 percent of Millennials would drive less if options like ride sharing, mass transit, and carpooling were readily available. 

For a generation concerned about the environment and seeking alternatives to driving, buses make a lot of sense.  With Millennials’ desire to save money, their preference for socializing in large groups, and their need to stay connected, it’s no wonder that they love motorcoaches.  Motorcoaches are affordable, convenient, and surprisingly luxurious, with DVD players, WiFi, and power outlets that make it possible for Generation Y to stay “plugged in” in every way.

How to Evaluate Charter Bus Rental Rates

 

Of all the factors to consider when choosing a charter bus company—price, amenities, selection of motorcoaches, and company track record, to name a few—let’s face it: most people’s minds go straight to charter bus rates.

charter bus rental rates

It goes without saying that shoppers want the best possible value for their money.  But savvy travel planners know there’s much more to a purchase decision than just cost. 

They know it’s also important to consider the value of certain “intangibles,” such as:

  • The charter bus company’s safety record.  Have they received the highest possible safety rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?  You should expect (and accept) no less.
  • The company’s reputation.  Do they get good reviews from their customers?  Are they reliable, consistent, and professional?  You can do a simple internet search by typing the company’s name plus the word “reviews” into your preferred search engine.  And don’t hesitate to ask for—and check—references.
  • How long the company has been doing business.  While a start-up company can be perfectly legitimate, most people find it reassuring to know that their chosen bus company has logged a few miles!
  • The company’s maintenance practices.  A well-maintained bus is a safer bus. Does the company you’re considering have its own maintenance facility? Does its maintenance schedule meet or exceed state and federal requirements?  Are buses routinely checked before each and every charter?
  • The experience and professionalism of the company’s drivers. Do the company’s drivers possess a current commercial drivers license (CDL) and an excellent driving record?  You have a right to know.

After factoring these considerations into the mix, there is still that all-important question:  What will it cost to charter a bus?

Charter bus rates are based on a number of factors:

  • Amenities.  A brand new, state-of-the-art luxury motorcoach is going to be more expensive than an older bus.  Amenities like WiFi, DVD players, equipped restrooms, and individual temperature controls are part of the price you pay for a luxury coach. 
  • Distance and duration of the trip.  Obviously, the more miles you travel, the more time and fuel you expend.  So distance will be a factor in the price of your charter. But the length—or duration—of the trip is also a consideration.  If you are on the road for more than 10 hours in one day, for example, you’ll be switching drivers. If your trip involves one or more overnights, your driver’s lodging must be factored into the price.
  • Motorcoach size.  A bus that seats 45 passengers is more expensive to manufacture, fuel, and maintain than a bus that seats 29 passengers.  Accordingly, you can expect to pay more to charter a large bus.

Other factors that will affect the price of your charter:

  • Gas prices.  As gas prices rise and fall, so do charter bus rates.
  • Time of year.  Like all travel, charter bus travel rates can fluctuate depending on seasonal demand (with the possibility of higher prices during high volume times of the year and discounts during low-demand periods).
  • Age of the motorcoach.  Newer coaches—especially luxury coaches with all the bells and whistles—are likely to cost more to charter than older buses.
  • Special features. You may pay more for a bus equipped with a wheelchair lift, hearing loops, or other accessibility features.
  • Other costs.  Special taxes or surcharges, tolls and parking fees, and insurance are additional costs that are typically passed along to the customer.

With so many factors affecting cost, it’s important to know what is covered in the charter quote and what expenses you may incur above and beyond the quote.  For example, does the contract include tolls and parking?  Will you be charged a fuel surcharge?  Is a gratuity for the driver factored into the charter quote, or is it extra?  What about the driver’s food and lodging?  Keep in mind, an estimate that sounds low at first glance could increase significantly when all the extras are added to the bill.  Expect the company to be completely transparent about how it calculates prices and how it bills.

Make sure you understand the company’s policy regarding deposits, final payments, discounts, refunds, cancellations and fuel surcharges.

Here’s the bottom line:  When you are comparing quotes, be sure you’re comparing apples with apples … and you won’t end up with a lemon.

 

  The Complete Guide to Booking a Bus

Professional event planners helped us compile a guide for people that are booking a charter for their group. It is a quick read and a wonderful reference for creating the right travel experience for your group. Click on the image above and your FREE guide will be emailed to your in box immediately. 

Rules of the Road When You Plan Bus Groups With Teens

 

So, you’ve agreed to plan a bus group with teens. Or maybe you’ve volunteered to be a chaperone. Besides setting you on the track to sainthood, being a chaperone means keeping tabs on kids, monitoring behavior, and making sure everyone on the bus stays safe.  You may also have to be a surrogate parent, mediator of disputes, and—should the need arise—a disciplinarian.Plan bus groups with teens

Keep in mind, the rules and expectations that apply to classroom behavior should also apply to behavior on the bus. Chaperones should be familiar with the code of conduct for the school or organization sponsoring the trip. 

Put it in writing

Along with permission slips and medical emergency forms, it is a good idea to have students and their parents sign a contract specifying the code of conduct that will be observed during the trip—on and off the bus, at the event, in public, at the hotel, and so on. For example:

  • No weapons, or anything that could be used as, or mistaken for, a weapon.
  • No cursing, bullying, or hate speech.
  • No fighting or roughhousing.
  • No alcohol, drugs, or smoking.
  • No gambling; no pornography or R-rated movies; no music with explicit lyrics.
  • No PDA (public displays of affection).
  • No vandalism.
  • No throwing things out the window.
  • No food fights.

Expect the unexpected

Have we forgotten anything? You bet we have. If you’ve ever raised a kid—or if you’ve ever been one—you know perfectly well that there’s no way to anticipate every possible behavioral infraction, every conceivable lapse in judgment. And frankly, we’d be hard pressed to find an idea so outrageous that no kid, anywhere, would dare to try it.

Do we really need to tell kids to exit the bus through a door, not a window? Is it actually necessary to make a rule against taking a nap in the upper luggage compartment? Must we explicitly prohibit snakes, reptiles, and other unauthorized passengers? The short answer is, “yes.”

But you can’t think of everything.

Therefore, before the trip begins, the trip leader should make it clear that the adults (driver and chaperones) are not required to justify, rationalize, or even explain their decisions. If they say a certain behavior or activity is unacceptable, it just is. The bus driver’s job is to transport your group from point A to point B; he or she has the right (and responsibility) to stop the bus if passengers are doing anything that could interfere with safe driving. Long before the bus doors close, it should be made explicit that the bus driver has the ultimate authority when it comes to matters of safety.

Onboard basics

Teen passengers should never do anything to distract or disturb the driver. For most group trips, there is no prohibition against walking through the bus to switch seats, get a snack, or use the restroom. But students should stay seated whenever possible, and should return to their seats promptly if the bus driver or a chaperone tells them to.

Passengers should clean up after themselves, using the trash receptacles provided.

Students should respect one another’s space. There is plenty of room on modern motorcoaches for everyone to sit comfortably in his or her own seat. There is no reason to crowd another passenger or block anyone from moving through the aisle. If someone needs to get by, the passenger in the way should move.

Aisles should remain clear for walking and—on rare occasions—emergency evacuation. Luggage and personal items should be stowed in designated areas, not in the aisle.

Off the bus

At rest stops and meal stops, no one should be permitted to wander away from the group.  In public places—gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores and thelike—young people are expected to represent their school or organization with respectful and appropriate behavior. The buddy system works for kids of all ages, including teens.  Chaperones should take attendance each and every time the bus stops and starts.

In the unlikely event that a student must be sent home—because of a discipline problem, health issue, or other emergency—it is the responsibility of the organization or its chaperones (not the driver or bus company) to arrange for that to happen.

With a few basic rules and expectations in place before the trip begins, chaperones should be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. 

  

Professionals Guide to Bus Trips with Kids

Professional planners helped us compile a complete guide for people that are responsible for kids on buses. Your free guide can be emailed to you immediately. Just click the image above.

Travel Planning: What to Pack for a Long Bus Charter

 

what to pack on a bus tripThere comes a moment during every long bus charter (sometime after you board your motorcoach – fresh and full of energy – and before you actually pull into your destination hours later) when it hits you like a ton of bricks: You’re hungry. Or, you’re tired.  Or, you need desperately to use the facilities. Or, you’re bored. You get the idea. You’re only human, after all, and we humans need to eat, sleep and “freshen up” regularly. And while boredom probably never killed anyone, who among us doesn’t like to be entertained?

The good news, according to travel experts, is that you don’t have to forego your creature comforts just because you’re riding a bus. You simply have to plan ahead. So do what smart travelers do: Pack a few provisions to guarantee a comfortable and relaxing ride, so you will arrive rested and refreshed at the other end. 

Keep in mind, you probably won’t have access to any luggage you stow until you arrive at your destination. So pack a carryon bag or tote where your essentials will be close at hand. 

Eat 

Even if you plan to stop along the way for meals, you’ll still want to pack a few snack items for the long ride – especially if you’re traveling with kids. 

Let’s start with what not to pack:

  • Food that can go bad.  Avoid milk, anything prepared with mayonnaise, and highly perishable foods.
  • Messy food.  Powdered donuts, watermelon, and barbecued chicken are best on a picnic, not on a bus.
  • Stinky food.  Leave the sauerkraut and limburger cheese home.
  • Food that requires preparation.  In other words:  DO bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; DON’T bring jars, knives, and a loaf of bread.
  • Food in storage containers that are not disposable.  Like all “rules,” there are certainly exceptions. (There’s nothing wrong with taking a thermos of coffee or soup if you want it.)
  • Food that cannot be eaten with the fingers.  If you do pack something that requires a fork or spoon, consider using disposable utensils.

Here are a few recommended items: 

  • Bottled water and juice boxes
  • Granola bars
  • Raw vegetables
  • Individually wrapped sandwiches
  • Fresh fruit (like apples and grapes)
  • Dried fruit
  • String cheese
  • Individual portions of nuts, crackers, trail mix, or chips
  • Rice cakes
  • Animal crackers
  • Napkins and/or hand wipes

Sleep

Not everyone is on the same sleep schedule.  When your circadian rhythms signal sleepy-time, others might still be talking, laughing, watching movies, or listening to music … with the lights on.  Plan accordingly.

  • Ear plugs. If you need to reduce the sound of conversation, music, or crying babies, good ear plugs can do the trick.
  • An eye mask.  Also known as a sleep mask, this inexpensive little device shuts out the light and tells your brain to produce melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleepiness.
  • A pillow. Savvy travelers often pack inflatable pillows or those neck-hugging support pillows; but even a make-shift pillow (a rolled-up sweatshirt or towel) can suffice.
  • A light blanket or throw.  (A sweater or hoodie can double as covers.)
  • Nasal strips. If you think (or know) that you might snore, a nasal strip is a neighborly touch. 
  • Ear buds and an MP3 player loaded up with soothing music or white noise.

Freshen Up

If you are traveling on a modern motorcoach, you should expect a clean, well-equipped restroom.  But it’s still a good idea to come prepared.  You never know when you might encounter a less-than-ideal rest area.  And, of course, you’ll need a few personal items of your own.  Here are some ideas from experienced travelers:

  • Hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial hand wipes
  • Disinfecting wipes for surfaces
  • Toilet paper
  • Stain stick
  • Lip balm
  • Contact lens solution, contact lens case
  • Reading glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Oil-absorbing facial sheets
  • Tissues
  • An extra pair of socks. (This is one of those suggestions that may seem weird at first, but seems like a stroke of genius later.)
  • Foot powder or spray. This falls under the category of bus etiquette, which is covered in a separate blog, but if you know your feet are smelly, do your fellow passengers a favor and take preventive action.
  • Medication. Carry a dose of any medication you would normally take during the time period of your travel.
  • Non-prescription meds.  Pack some over-the-counter remedies for pain, indigestion, diarrhea, motion sickness, nausea, or any other torment the universe may inflict upon you or your companions.
  • Sewing kit
  • Feminine products
  • Travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste

 Play

Experienced travelers always seem to have a bestseller, or a book of crossword puzzles, or a knitting project to keep them busy.  Here are the most common take-alongs for long trips: 

  • MP3 player (or smart phone) with head phones or ear buds
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Book or e-reader (with charger)
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Magazines
  • Hand-held electronic games (like Solitaire, 20 questions, etc.)
  • Rubik’s Cube or other puzzle
  • Knitting project or other portable craft
  • DVDs
  • Sketch pad or notebook
  • Camera
Download your free travel and event planning tool that was created by professional event planners. And, have a great trip!
Travel and Event Planning Tool

Looking for a Charter Bus Company in Michigan?

 

Indian Trails BusIf you’re shopping for a charter bus company in Michigan, you have a lot of good choices – so many, in fact, that you can afford to be picky. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve listed nine of the state’s top charter bus companies, using the following criteria to narrow down our search: 

We picked companies that have:

  • operated in Michigan for at least 10 years;
  • earned consistently high safety ratings from the Department of Transportation;
  • have their own maintenance facilities.

Here are our top nine picks.  We organized the list by region (east, west, and central), through most of the companies travel throughout Michigan, the Midwest, and even North America.

Southeast Michigan

Now in its 34th year, Bianco Tours & Transportation operates luxury motorcoaches that can accommodate 26, 47, and 56 passengers.  The family-owned company specializes in customized and pre-packaged tours to destinations like casinos, sporting events, shopping venues, and live performances. They also plan some quirky and creative day trips.  For example, the Rum Runners Tour travels into Windsor (and back in time to the roaring twenties) to explore prohibition and bootlegging from a local vantage point.   Happy Birthday Henry celebrates the 150th birthday of Henry Ford with a narrated tour of Dearborn, lunch at the historic Maccabees Building, and a guided tour of the Ford Piquette plant, where the Model T was born.

For 40 years, the Cupp family has owned and operated Blue Lakes Charters & Tours, with charter service available to destinations anywhere in the United States or Canada. Along with charter bus service, Blue Lakes also offers a number of pre-packaged tours, scheduled runs to Cedar Point, and casino day trips (Four Winds, Soaring Eagle, Little River, and FireKeepers), complete with rewards and vouchers for slot play, food, and shows.  For groups that want to plan their own excursions, the company’s Tour Department can help.

Trinity Transportation Group hit the road in 1981—first, as a provider of van service for senior citizens in southeastern Michigan, then, as a provider of bus transportation for special education students in several Wayne County school districts.  Today, Trinity’s large fleet of vehicles – more than 100 motor coaches, school buses, vans, and sedans -- includes a 28-passenger “party bus,” equipped with limo-style leather seating, a flat screen TV, five mini bars, rear speakers, and strobe lights.

West Michigan

Locally owned and operated since 1983, B&W Charters [http://www.bwcharters.com] offers motorcoach transportation for trips originating in western Michigan and northern Indiana.  In addition to a fleet of vans and motorcoaches, B&W offers fully enclosed San Francisco-style trolleys with brass rails, oak benches, and an authentic trolley bell. They’re also equipped with panoramic windows for sightseeing .  The company’s tour department operates one-day and multiple-day excursion packages, like an upcoming trip to Frankenmuth and Birch Run and a shopping and sightseeing tour to Chicago.

With a fleet of luxurious 57-passenger motorcoaches, Holiday Coach [http://www.holidaycoach.com] specializes in charters for sporting events, winery tours, casinos, and theme parks in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. The luxury buses – built by Volvo and Setra – come with nice amenities like plush reclining seats, TV monitors, reading lights, Wifi, and extra luggage room.  Headquartered in Marne, Michigan, just northwest of Grand Rapids, Holiday Coach has been in business since 2003.

Cardinal Buses [http://www.cardinalbuses.com], a family-owned company with charter facilities in Michigan and Indiana, traces its beginnings to Middlebury, Indiana, circa 1923.  That’s where Branston Shoup operated the family’s first business, the Middlebury Bus Line, which transported locals from Middlebury to Goshen in a five-passenger Model T touring car. Today, Cardinal Buses maintains a fleet of motorcoaches to accommodate 24, 38, 47, 49, or 56 passengers.

With 54- and 58-passenger motorcoaches, Compass Coach [http://www.compasscoach.net] is probably best known for its Lucky 777 Coach buses, with day and evening casino trips (from Tuesday through Saturday) to Soaring Eagle, Gun Lake, FireKeepers, and Little River casinos.  In addition to vouchers for slot play and food (often exceeding the cost of your bus ticket), Compass Coach also gives away free trips: Get your reward card punched every time you ride and your tenth trip is free. Buses are equipped with the usual luxury amenities, plus mini galley kitchen with microwave and a four-person card table.

Central Michigan

Dean Trailways was established in 1994 as a sister company to Dean Transportation, a leading North American school bus company specializing in transporting passengers with disabilities. In addition to chartering buses for group trips, Dean Trailways operates packaged tours to sporting events, amusement parks, shopping venues, and casinos. The company also offers Executive Black Car service, featuring a chauffeured Cadillac.

Doing business since 1910, Indian Trails—with original coaches named after Michigan Indian chiefs—now operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motorcoaches in Michigan. Indian Trails, with three facilities in the Lower Peninsula, serves West Michigan, Central Michigan, and Southeast Michigan. With buses to accommodate from 29 to 56 passengers, Indian Trails offers charters, tours, shuttles, airport transfers, casino runs, and daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan and to Chicago and Milwaukee. In 2012, Indian Trails logged 4.6 million miles, carrying more than 1,000,000 passengers.

  The Complete Guide to Booking a Bus

Professional event planners helped us compile a guide for people that are booking a charter for thier group. It is a quick read and a wonderful reference for creating the right travel expereince for your group. Cick on the image above and your FREE guide will be emailed to your inbox immediately.

Looking for a Charter Bus Company in Eastern Michigan?

 

Indian Trails BusIf you’re shopping for a charter bus company in eastern Michigan, you have a lot of good choices – Blue Lakes, Bianco, Trinity, and Indian Trails, to name a few. You can afford to be picky. When selecting a carrier, considerations such as price, convenience, and amenities will influence your decision, of course. But before comparing the “nice-to-have” features, be sure that any bus company you consider possesses these “must haves”:

  1. A “satisfactory” rating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It’s easy to check. Just go to http://www.safersys.org and type in the company’s name.
  1. A valid Motor Bus Certificate of Authority, issued by the Michigan Department of Transportation.
  1. Insurance coverage (a minimum of $5 million for companies that transport 15 or more passengers).
  1. Drivers who possess a CDL (commercial drivers license) issued by the state of Michigan and a medical certificate (i.e., “clean bill of health”) issued within the last two years.
  1. Mandatory drug and alcohol testing for drivers and other safety-sensitive employees (like mechanics).

To help you narrow down your search in eastern Michigan, we’ve selected a few charter bus companies – Bianco Tours & Transportation [travelandtourstaylormi.com], Blue Lake Charters & Tours [http://www.bluelakes.com], Indian Trails [http://www.indiantrails.com], and Trinity Transportation Group [http://trinitytransportation.com] – that offer additional peace of mind.  It’s nice to know that:

  • They’ve all been in business for at least 10 years.
  • They’ve all earned consistently high safety ratings from the Department of Transportation.
  • They all have their own maintenance facilities.
  • They are all certified as U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) approved carriers, meaning they meet or exceed the most rigorous standards for safety, maintenance, training, and overall quality.

Now in its 34th year, Bianco Tours & Transportation operates luxury motorcoaches that can accommodate 26, 47, and 56 passengers.  The family-owned company specializes in customized and pre-packaged tours to destinations like casinos, sporting events, shopping venues, and live performances. They also plan some quirky and creative day trips.  For example, the Rum Runners Tour travels into Windsor (and back in time to the roaring twenties) to explore prohibition and bootlegging from a local vantage point.   Happy Birthday Henry celebrates the 150th birthday of Henry Ford with a narrated tour of Dearborn, lunch at the historic Maccabees Building, and a guided tour of the Ford Piquette plant, where the Model T was born.

For 40 years, the Cupp family has owned and operated Blue Lakes Charters & Tours, with charter service available to destinations anywhere in the United States or Canada. Along with charter bus service, Blue Lakes also offers a number of pre-packaged tours, scheduled runs to Cedar Point, and casino day trips (Four Winds, Soaring Eagle, Little River, and FireKeepers), complete with rewards and vouchers for slot play, food, and shows.  For groups that want to plan their own excursions, the company’s Tour Department can help.

Doing business since 1910, Indian Trails – with original coaches named after Michigan Indian chiefs – now operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motor coaches in Michigan. With buses to accommodate from 29 to 56 passengers, Indian Trails offers charters, tours, shuttles, airport transfers, casino runs, and daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan as well as to Chicago, Milwaukee, and Duluth.  Now in its third generation of family ownership, Indian Trails is one of the nation’s leading motorcoach companies.  In 2010 – 100 years after its inception in Owosso, Michigan – Indian Trails logged 4.2 million miles, carrying more than 1,000,000 passengers.

Trinity Transportation Group hit the road in 1981—first, as a provider of van service for senior citizens in southeastern Michigan, then, as a provider of bus transportation for special education students in several Wayne County school districts.  Today, Trinity’s large fleet of vehicles – more than 100 motor coaches, school buses, vans, and sedans -- includes a 28-passenger “party bus,” equipped with limo-style leather seating, a flat screen TV, five mini bars, rear speakers, and strobe lights.

 

The Complete Guide to Booking a Bus

Professional event planners helped us compile a guide for people that are booking a charter for thier group. It is a quick read and a wonderful reference for creating the right travel expereince for your group. Cick on the image above and your FREE guide will be emailed to your inbox immediately.

Looking for a Charter Bus Company in West Michigan?

 

IndianTrailsBusIf you’re shopping for a charter bus company in west Michigan, you’re in luck. With companies like B&W Charters, Cardinal Buses, Compass Coach, Holiday Coach, and Indian Trails headquartered there, west Michigan is a veritable hub of charter bus travel.

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve identified five local carriers with excellent track records. On top of luxury accommodations, uniformed drivers, and state-of-the-art technology, these selected charter bus companies also meet the following criteria:

  • They have all operated in Michigan for at least 10 years.
  • They have all earned consistently high safety ratings from the Department of Transportation.
  • They all have their own maintenance facilities.

Here’s the lowdown on our top five picks:

Locally owned and operated since 1983, B&W Charters [http://www.bwcharters.com] offers motorcoach transportation for trips originating in western Michigan and northern Indiana.  In addition to a fleet of vans and motorcoaches, B&W offers fully enclosed San Francisco-style trolleys with brass rails, oak benches, and an authentic trolley bell. They’re also equipped with panoramic windows for sightseeing .  The company’s tour department operates one-day and multiple-day excursion packages, like an upcoming trip to Frankenmuth and Birch Run and a shopping and sightseeing tour to Chicago.

Cardinal Buses [http://www.cardinalbuses.com], a family-owned company with charter facilities in Michigan and Indiana, traces its beginnings to Middlebury, Indiana, circa 1923.  That’s where Branston Shoup operated the family’s first business, the Middlebury Bus Line, which transported locals from Middlebury to Goshen in a five-passenger Model T touring car. Today, Cardinal Buses maintains a fleet of motorcoaches to accommodate 24, 38, 47, 49, or 56 passengers.

With 54- and 58-passenger motorcoaches, Compass Coach [http://www.compasscoach.net] is probably best known for its Lucky 777 Coach buses, with day and evening casino trips (from Tuesday through Saturday) to Soaring Eagle, Gun Lake, FireKeepers, and Little River casinos.  In addition to vouchers for slot play and food (often exceeding the cost of your bus ticket), Compass Coach also gives away free trips: Get your reward card punched every time you ride and your tenth trip is free. Buses are equipped with the usual luxury amenities, plus mini galley kitchen with microwave and a four-person card table.

Holiday Coach [http://www.holidaycoach.com], with a fleet of 57-passenger motorcoaches, specializes in charters for sporting events, winery tours, casinos, and theme parks in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. The luxury buses – built by Volvo and Setra – come with amenities like plush reclining seats, TV monitors, reading lights, Wifi, and extra luggage room. Headquartered in Marne, Michigan, just northwest of Grand Rapids, Holiday Coach has been in business since 2003.

Doing business since 1910, Indian Trails [http://www.indiantrails.com]with original coaches named after Michigan Indian chiefs – now operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motor coaches in Michigan. With buses to accommodate from 29 to 56 passengers, Indian Trails offers charters, tours, shuttles, airport transfers, casino runs, and daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan as well as to Chicago, Milwaukee, and Duluth.  Now in its third generation of family ownership, Indian Trails is one of the nation’s leading motorcoach companies.  In 2010 – 100 years after its inception in Owosso, Michigan – Indian Trails logged 4.2 million miles, carrying more than 1,000,000 passengers.

 

 

The Complete Guide to Booking a Bus

Professional event planners helped us compile a guide for people that are booking a charter for thier group. It is a quick read and a wonderful reference for creating the right travel expereince for your group. Cick on the image above and your FREE guide will be emailed to your inbox immediately.

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