Ultimate Road trip U.S.A without a Car! Taking an Epic Public Transport road trip should be on everyones bucket list, the adventure, the thrills, the scenic stop offs and secret spots there is so much fun to be had on a road trip!
From our Ultimate U.S.A Road Trip: Coast to Coast to shorter pure west coast road trips, there is so many mix matches and variety to get your teeth into!
However, whatever if you would like something very different, No Car, No Rv, No Motorcycle just you and public transport or even hitch hiking! Now that’s a real adventure!
On a practical note is can also be a hell of alot cheaper taking the Bus or train! With no fuel to pay, vehicle maintenance, insurance and of course extortionate car rental prices!In Europe road trips like these are common place with train journeys like inter railing country to country…but in the U.S.A it’s not so common, until now.
Recently the number of people taking a road trip using just public transport has exploded, as people are loving the flexibility, and even the amazing characters you meet on the way!
What is the cheapest way to travel around the USA?
Having done the numbers, a road trip using buses and trains across America is definitely the cheap way to do a large road trip across the USA.
If you don’t have your own car you will save on the extortionate rental car costs, which only usually too bad if you pick up/drop off at the same location!
But try picking up a rental in New York & leaving it in LA…you will be hit with a whopping charge by the majority of rental companies. If you have your own car, the issue lies with racking up the mileage & really putting some wear & tear on your auto.
Thus, in this article, I will outline the plans & itinerary of the Ultimate Budget Road Trip using public transport only just buses & train! without a car!! From Miami to Los Angeles!
Me, my wife and our two friends took this trip in the summer of 2019 and it is was truly epic and an experience of a lifetime.
A Perfect road trip for friends, couples or even solo adventurers if you have the minerals!
Miami – Los Angeles: Public Transport Road Trip
This Epic Public Transport Road trip without a car, from the sunshine state of Florida to Los Angeles, California via New Orleans, San Antonio and of course Las Vegas!!
Via Trains & Buses or even car shares, this is the perfect adventurous trip with a real variety of destinations! It was a fantastic experience, we met some great characters along the way and it was so unique compared to just your standard vacation it was a real exciting, fun adventure!
Public Transport Road Trip Route:
A. Miami (Florida) – B. Orlando (Florida) – C. Jacksonville (Florida) –
D. New Orleans (Louisiana) – E. Lake Charles (Louisiana) –
F Houston (Texas) – G. San Antonio (Texas) – H. El Paso (Texas) –
I. Phoenix, Arizona – J. Las Vegas (Nevada) – K. Los Angeles (California)
LEG 1. FLORIDA: Miami-Orlando-Jacksonville
Starting in the Sunshine state of Florida at the hotspot of Miami is the perfect place with great flight connections it makes for a fantastic spot to start your epic Road trip without a car.A real key point to remember when traveling without a car is big cities at heaven! With great, fast transport it’s actually much cheaper, easier and effective to get around without a car. Memorable Food Spots Include:
– Seaside Cafe at the Mansion (Key West)
– House of Food Porn (Miami)
For seeing the sites of Miami there are plenty of options to choose from so I suggest you book in advance. When I was there a few of the best trips sold out! Which was really annoying!Here is a list of my favourite trips, while in Miami suitable for varying budgets!
1. Taste of Miami Helicopter Tour
2. Speedboat Sigtseeing Tour of Miami
3. Little Havana Guided Food & Culture Tour
4. Bahamas Day Cruise! This is great for couples!
After you have finished getting to know Miami for a few nights, (three nights minimum is great) there is a bus from Bay side marketplace to Orlando for around $20 pp person! Taking close to 5 hours.Alternatively there are many group transfers/taxis which run from Miami to Orlando especially if you wish to head to Universal Orlando Resort, this is fantastic for all ages but especially if you have young ones with you. Memorable Things to Do in Orlando include:
Orlando Helicopter Tour
Kennedy Space Centre
Wild Florida Everglades Airboats & Wildlife Park
Mucky Duck ATV Experience
Sea World Orlando
After all the fun and Excitement in Orlando, hop on to a great hound USA bus:
Greyhound USA – Numbers 1014, 1002 or 1006
The will only cost you around $20-$30 and take approximately 3hours.
Despite Jacksonville being very urban, it also has a few nature and wildlife reserves and lots of golf courses! When you arrive in “Jax” as its known to the locals you will find plenty of options for things to do.
From brewery tours to the fantastic entertainment complex along St Johns River to Bronson Motor Speedway!Also being part of the Sunshine State, it has some lovely beaches with soft sand & warm seas great for taking a swim, or even try your hand at some kayaking or surfing (I was terrible!).
LEG 2: New Orleans (Louisiana)
When you’ve done with the Sunshine state, its time to head to Louisiana or even take a stop off at the Gulf shores of Alabama along the way.
You have two options here:
Option 1: Flight – Jacksonville to New Orleans (6hours)
You can take a 6 hour flight from Jacksonville to New Orleans this can cost anywhere from $150-$600 so just be aware when booking flights as there is a big range is prices. If you can get a cheap flight and want more luxury then this is your best option.
Option 2: BUS – Jacksonville to New Orleans (13.5hours)
Taking the bus is obviously the cheaper option at between $70-$100. Obviously it will take twice as long 13.5 hours. However, I still prefer this option if there if there are no cheap flights, as you can just go to sleep or even stop off at Gulf State park and check out the fantastic gulf shores of Alabama which is great in the summer and perfect for Crab fishing.
For more on Crab fishing, check out our Epic state by state guide to Crab fishing.In reality there are three different buses which you will have to take, to make it to New Orleans. The first runs twice a day from Jacksonville.
The other two run for Tallahassee, Florida and Mobile, Alabama every 2 hours. A great thing about this is you have the option to stop of in Tallahassee or Mobile along the way which are quaint little places to check out.
New Orleans (Louisiana)
New Orleans is a city with soul, history and great locals who really go out of there way to make sure your have a fantastic time. Expect that famous “Southern Hospitality” to not disappoint!
With “Let the Good times Roll” as New Orleans Unofficial motto this is a true symbol of the vibes expected. From the Garden District and Jazz clubs to the busttling Bourbon Street.After the rebuild from Hurricane Katrina the city has been injected with a new lease of life with the people more optimistic and welcoming than ever.
One of me and my wifes favourite things to do here was the Evening Jazz boat cruise with dinner. This was a perfect excuse to freshen up after that long bus ride from Jacksonville!
- New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise
- Other Great things to do include:
- Louisiana Bayous 2 Hour Swamp Tour
- High Speed Airboat Ride (This is great for groups of friends!)
- New Orleans Day Cruise – Steamboat Natchez
- For something a little difference the Hurricane Katrina tour is a real eye opener to what went on in the great city.
- Hurricane Katrina – New Orleans Neighbour tour
I suggest staying in Louisiana for a minimum of three nights to really experience what the place has to offer!
Lake Charles (Louisiana)
After checking out the big easy head up the wonderful Lake Charles.
Transport: New Orleans to Lake Charles
Here you have two options bus or train they both a similar amount of time around 4.5 hours, with the bus being a little cheaper.
We chose the train just to mix up the trip a bit. Having said that though the bus is both faster and cheaper so does make more sense!! I would recommend that for you.
Option 1: Train (4 hrs 50 mins)
The Amtrak train costs between $35-$55 per person but only runs 3 times per week so make sure you double check your dates or book in advance.
Option 2i: Bus – FLIX BUS (4hrs 10 mins) – BEST OPTION
The Flix bus USA is a great option taking just 4 hours 10 mins and it only costs between $8-$17, (SO CHEAP!!) it would cost you more than that is gas if you were driving!! The bad news about the Flix Bus is it only runs 6 times a week.
Option 2ii: Bus – Greyhound: 4hrs 35mins: If you miss the Flix!
Bus Numbers: 1259, 1265
If you can’t make the the Flix bus your best bet will be to take a GREYHOUND, bus it takes slightly longer at 4hours 35 mins and costs a little more $26-$40. However, it RUNS EVERY 3 HOURS!! So perfect if you missed the Flix.
Lake Charles – Things to do
Lake Charles is a great bustling city known for its large casino hotels such as the Golden Nugget and L’Auberge Casino resort!
Other great sites here include the fantastic Mardi Gras Museum in downtown and also a host of arts venues.
Such as the Historic 1911 City Hall Arts & Cultural Centre to the Imperial Calcasieu Museum (A visual arts centre)
LEG 3. TEXAS: Road Trip without a car!
After hopefully winning big at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles head to Houston Texas.
TRANSPORT: Lake Charles to Houston, Texas
Option 1. Flight: 2hours 10 mins- ($190 – $700)
Taking a flight is a faster option however the prices can vary massively depending upon when you book. So best booking way in advance or just take the bus like we did…it was ok!
Option 2. BUS: 3hours. ($7-$30)
Like the New Orleans to Lake Charles route.
i. Flix Bus is the Cheaper & Faster alternative ($7-$15)
But runs just 6 times a week!!
ii. Greyhound (1247, 1259, 1265) runs every hour
But takes slightly long (3hours 55mins) and costs between ($21-$30) dollars.
Houston is a vibrant city, Downtown includes a cultural theatre district widely known for the Houston Grand Opera in addition to a great historic district.Houston is also tightly linked with the Space Center Houston, (where the phrase, “Houston we have a problem comes from!”
Houston space centre is a visitor centre located at NASA’s astronaut training & flight control setup.
Houston – Attractions include:
- Houston Space Center Visit/Tour
- 2 Hour Downtown Brewery Tour by electric Cart!
- Galveston Island Tour (6 hours)
- Houston Art Mural Tour by Electric Cart!
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, is a really cool place stepped with rich colonial History, famous for the infamous Alamo.
Transport Houston to San Antonio (Texas)
There are plenty of options running between Houston and San Antonio.
Option 1: MEGA BUS (3hr, 30m)
This is the Cheapest and most regular option. Running 5 times per day this bus takes around 3.5 hours to travel the 200 miles to San Antonio. Costing between $10-$35.
Option 2: Greyhound BUS (3hr, 15min)
Bus Numbers: 9087, 9095, 9341
This and Flix bus are the fastest at just 3 hours 15 mins. Costing between $25-$35. Running 4 times per day.
Option 3: Flix Bus: – BEST Option (3hr, 15 mins)
The FASTEST and CHEAPEST option costing between $8-$17. However it runs slightly less frequent than the others at 3 times per day.
San Antonio: Things to do?
San Antonio is a great southern Texas city with immense colonial heritage. From the iconic Alamo the 18th Century Spanish fort is now a museum. Which marks the infamous battle for Texan independence from Mexico during 1836. Other great spots to check out include the San Antonio river a wonderful river walk filled with quirky cafes & shops.We purchased a “Go San Antonio Explorer Pass” which gives us 40% of a selection of attractions & tours.
Other great things to do include:
Texas Hill Country & LBJ Ranch Tour – Great to Explore the wineries & ranches.
Morning site seeing tour with Lunch.
Full Day sigh seeing Tour with Lunch
El Paso (Texas)
El Paso has finally chilled out for the most part and is an interesting place for a one night stop over.
Transport: San Antonio to El Paso (Texas)
Option 1: TRAIN (FASTER but Less Frequent!) – 11.5 hours
We took the train from San Antonio to El Paso, it was more comfortable & roomy than the Bus. Virtually the same price ($65-$100). However, be aware that it does not run as frequent only 6 times per week! So make sure you book in advance and time your trip correctly.
Option 2: Bus (Slower but More Frequent!) – 14hr 45 mins.
The Bus should be used if you’ve missed the train! As it’s virtually the same price but takes a few hours longer. The Great news is it runs four times a day.
El Paso – Is it safe?
El Paso is known as Sun City these days. However, historically It was known as the “Six-Shooter Capital” because it was lawless!! These days things are alot safer. However, like any city there are not so good parts.
I suggest staying away from Cuidad Juarez, that’s where the most crime is. Tourist areas are fine! El Paso is a great place to try out some hiking at the Franklin Mountains State Park. El Paso zoo is also great at 35 acres!
LEG 4 – Phoenix, Arizona
Transport – El Paso to Phoenix
Once you have survived El Paso, head on over to Phoenix, Arizona. Your best option here is to take the bus.
Greyhound bus numbers: 1403, 1415, 1419 runs every 2 hours and costs just $50. It takes around 6 hours 50 mins.
Phoenix, Arizona – Things to Do?
As the capital of Arizona, Phoenix is a great place to check out. Known for its year round sun and spicy temperatures, its city area was nicknamed the valley of the sun. There is also a variety of high end spa resorts & nightclubs. Popular attractions include the Desert Botanical Garden.We also took the day tour up to the iconic Grand Canyon which was a great experience. In addition, to a HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE over it! Check out this epic article on 5 golden reasons to try a Hot air balloon ride over the Grand Canyon.
Popular Things to Do in Phoenix:
- Grand Canyon Tour from Phoenix
- Grand Canyon Helicopter tour
- Sonoran Desert: Guided 4 seat UTV adventure
- Phoenix Hot Air Balloon – Half Day Adventure
LEG 5 – Las Vegas:
WELCOME TO SIN CITY! Just make sure you don’t turn this into a hangover movie!
Transport: Phoenix – Las Vegas
Bus (4 hours):
Best option here is to hop on the bus which takes 4 hours straight to Las Vegas! For just $50. The only thing that you need to be aware of though is that the bus only runs once per day. So check times and prices at the Phoenix Bus station.
Las Vegas – Things to Do?
WELCOME TO SIN CITY! Bright Lights, Big City! You’ve made it to Vegas. The iconic Casino paradise. For a list of the Best Las Vegas Casino Hotel Resorts, check out this great article. State by State: Casino Guide.If your after a really unique experience I suggest taking a helicopter ride over Las Vegas, at night! Its the best way to see Sin city come alive.
If you missed the Grand Canyon while in Arizona take a Helicopter tour from Vegas to check out the skywalk famous.
- Helicopter Grand Canyon Tour – From Las Vegas.
- From Las Vegas: Grand Canyon Half Day kayak Tour.
- Antelope Canyon & Horse Shoe Bend – Las Vegas
- GoodSpings Ghost Hunt!
- Hot Air balloon Ride in Las Vegas
LEG 6: Los Angeles, California
The Capital of the West coast, home to the rich & famous…welcome to LA.
Transport: Las Vegas to Los Angeles
Option 1: Bus (5 Hours)
There are a few 5 hour Greyhound Buses running every 4 hours. Bus numbers: 6013, 6023, 6005. They cost between $30-$50 per ticket. So are not a bad option at all.
Option 2: Flight: (3.5hours)
Flights are fairly regular from Las Vegas to LA. Costing between $54-$200 so this is definitely a great option if you book a good one in advance.
Los Angeles – Things to do
LA is a bustling metropolis and really easy to get around without a car. In fact you don’t wan’t a car here at all with it’s notoriously bad traffic. As the center of America movie industry.
You can check out the classic Hollywood sign, and have behind the scenes tours of studios such as Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers.Afterwards head down to Hollywood Boulevard, where the TCL Chinese Theatre displays celebrities hand and footprints, and the Walk of Fame honors many.
For shopping experience head down to rodeo drive. The two mile long street in Beverley Hills at the intersection with Sunset Boulevard. We took a surfing lesson at Venice Beach and hiked up to the famous Hollywood sign which were great experiences and perfect way to end our trip!Hollywood Hills Hike
Universal Studios Hollywood – Early Access Ticket
Warner Bro Studio Tour: Skip the Queue.
Surfing Lessons Venice Beach
Hollywood & Celebrity Homes Tour.
Wohooo!! The feeling is eutrophic after traveling nearly 3000 miles on such an epic adventure!
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Whats your favourite thing about a public transport road trip? Leave your answer in the comments below.
If you decide to follow in our footsteps or take another public transport road trip…let us know and we will feature you!
Epic Road Trip with a Car?
If you have not been won over by our Public Transport Road trip and still want to hop in a car. Check out Epic Coast to Coast Road Trip USA. For driving directions and full itinerary, for this road trip (Miami to LA) drop us an email.