The Complete Guide to Charter Bus Rentals
Your group trip is coming up soon. How are you going to get everyone to and from your destination safely and on-time?
Some trip coordinators look to carpooling or air travel to transport their group, but these options leave them wide open for group members to arrive late, get lost, lose their luggage, and more.
These options also don’t guarantee that your group will travel together, completely defeating the purpose of a group outing.
The safest, most cost-effective option for group transportation is a charter bus. To help you learn how to rent a charter bus for your group, we’ve put together a Complete Guide to Charter Bus Rentals. Check it out below!
What is a charter bus?
A charter bus, also called a motorcoach, is a vehicle that is reserved for the private use of a group, organization, or business. They are hired to take people to the destination of their choice instead of traveling along a set bus route.
What does a charter bus look like?
On the outside, large tinted windows wrap around the buses for natural lighting and sight-seeing. Under the side windows, doors open to reveal storage bays for luggage and equipment. Often, the bus company’s logo will be painted on the side of the bus.
When you walk through the doors of a charter bus, you’ll find the driver’s seat at the front and rows of cushioned seats for passengers throughout.
Who rents charter buses?
Charter buses are rented by businesses, organizations, sports teams, and more to transport their groups to and from a particular destination. Groups who rent charter buses include:
- Schools and universities. Students, teachers, and chaperones ride in charter buses for field trips to museums, cultural centers, and more. College students travel by bus for extracurricular activities like campus tours, fraternity and sorority formals, club events, and sports tournaments.
- Couples and wedding planners. Brides and grooms favor charter buses for bachelorette road trips, shuttling wedding guests, and transporting the wedding party to the venue in style.
- Businesses. Corporate travel planners prefer charter buses to public transportation and carpooling for conferences and company events. With a bus, everyone arrives safely at the same time and can often use WiFi along the way.
- Churches. Congregation members rent charter buses for youth retreats, service projects, domestic mission trips, fellowship activities, and conferences.
- Sports teams. Athletes and coaches often travel by charter bus to out of town tournaments to keep everyone together, on time, and pumped for the big game.
- Entertainment companies. Event organizers arrange for minibuses to shuttle music festival attendees to and from the venue.
How many seats does a charter bus have?
Charter buses come in a variety of sizes with differing seat capacities. A typical bus will have around 56 seats depending on the manufacturer and model, but they can have anywhere from 36 to 60 seats.
Looking for something smaller? A mini bus typically holds under 35 seats. These are perfect for shuttling groups around for weddings, festivals, tours, and more.
What is the difference between a charter bus, minibus, party bus, and entertainer bus?
Standard charter buses, minidbuses, party buses, and entertainer buses are all contracted out and are driven by a professional driver. The primary difference between the four are their sizes and uses.
As discussed above, a mini bus is best for groups of 35 or less, and charter buses are best for groups of 36 or more. Because of its larger size, the standard charter bus often comes with more amenities like a restroom and extra luggage space.
A party bus, like a mini bus, holds under 35 passengers. It’s seats, however, are arranged along the edges of the bus instead of in rows. This allows for more room to chat with friends, dance, play games, and more.
For music artists and celebrities, entertainer buses hold 8 to 12 passengers and provide luxury amenities. On board, you’ll find a master suite, sleeping bunks, lounge area, kitchen, restroom, storage space, satellite TVs, wifi, and more.
What amenities are included in a charter bus rental?
Nearly all charter buses are outfitted with:
- Reclining seats
- Air conditioning
- A compact restroom
- TV monitors
- A DVD player
Most modern buses also have add-on wireless internet and outlets for devices. Since not every bus is equipped with the amenities above, tell your bus company which features your group needs to be comfortable.
Can we bring food and drinks on a charter bus?
Food and drinks are allowed on most charter buses, but it’s best to verify with your bus company before your trip. If your bus company does allow outside food and drinks on the bus, be considerate of your fellow travelers and leave the smelly or messy foods at home.
If your group leaves behind spills or trash on the bus without properly cleaning them up, you may be liable to pay cleaning fees. Most buses come equipped with a waste basket at the front of the bus so your group can collect trash before leaving the bus.
Can we drink alcoholic beverages on the bus?
Many charter bus companies will allow adult passengers to drink alcoholic beverages on their buses, but most will require a refundable deposit. This covers any expenses from any damages that occur from passengers having a little too much fun.
Safety is the top consideration for charter bus rentals. Remind group members who are planning to drink that any behavior that distracts the driver puts everyone on board at risk.
Are pets allowed on charter buses?
Unfortunately, the majority of bus companies have a no-pets policy. Service animals, however, are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and may ride on the bus with a person who is disabled.
What items are prohibited on a bus?
Generally speaking, it’s best to leave weapons, explosives, flammable materials, and dangerous chemicals at home. Your bus company can provide you with their specific policies, and don’t be afraid to ask if you aren’t sure about a particular item. Smoking is also prohibited on charter buses, but you can smoke at rest stops along the way.
Are there beds on a charter bus?
Standard charter buses don’t have beds, but they do have cushioned and reclining seats to help you relax. If you want to sleep during the drive, you can use a comfy neck pillow or simply lean against the window.
If your group requires beds, you can charter an entertainer coach which often has between 8 to 12 bunk beds and a master suite in the back. Standard entertainer coaches come with a lounge area, kitchen, restroom, satellite TVs, and wifi, making them perfect for touring artists and entertainment groups.
Do charter buses have storage space?
Unlike other forms of group transportation, charter buses have a generous amount of storage. Inside, overhead bins above the seats keep passengers’ personal belongings safe and out of the way.
Under the bus, there are open containers known as storage or luggage bays. These compartments hold larger items like luggage and equipment.
Because of their size, mini buses have less storage space on board and are best for small groups. If extra storage is important to your group, ask your reservation specialists which options are available before making your reservation.
What are the restrooms like on a charter bus?
A restroom on a standard charter bus is compact and includes a toilet and hand washing station. Space inside these restrooms is limited, and usage is difficult for some because of the movement of the bus. If they can help it, it’s recommended that passengers only use the bus’s restroom sparingly.
Do charter buses have seat belts?
In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated that all new motorcoaches be built with seat belts starting in November 2016. Buses built before the rule went into effect are not required to have seat belts. All buses, regardless of when they were built, are subject to federal safety regulations to ensure a safe ride for passengers and drivers alike.
Are charter buses wheelchair accessible?
All charter bus companies are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide wheelchair accessible coaches when they are requested. However, bus companies don’t always outfit every bus in their fleet with wheelchair lifts, so you’ll need to request one specifically.
Who drives a charter bus?
Don’t worry about asking Uncle Jerry to obtain a bus license before your trip. Your charter bus company will provide you with a safe, professional driver. Your bus driver is in charge of your group’s safety, so find companies with excellent driver standards and reputations.
If your trip will include nights, you’ll need to factor in the cost of your driver’s hotel room. Even if your bus company doesn’t specify hotel requirements, we recommend budgeting for a 3-star hotel or higher. Your bus driver is responsible for your safety, so make sure he or she gets a good night’s sleep!
Will my driver make last minute stops?
When you book your charter bus, you’ll submit an itinerary with every destination’s address, drop-off times, and pickup times. If you would like for your driver to make a stop that will take a significant amount of additional time and/or mileage, you may be subject to additional fees. Ask your bus company about their policy in advance if you think you may need to add a stop in your itinerary.
If you simply would like for your driver to stop at a rest stop or gas station, many will be happy to accommodate your request. Often, bus drivers will stop every few hours regardless to give everyone a break from the bus and allow passengers to grab a snack.
How far in advance should I book my bus rental?
To ensure you get the best bus at the best rate, we recommend booking your charter bus rental at least 1 to 3 months in advance. For busy months like April, May, and June, book at least 6 to 9 months in advance if possible.
We know last-minute trips happen. You can book a charter bus with us at any time of the day, and we’ll pair you with a bus in two hours or less.
What does a charter bus rental cost?
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “How much is this going to cost us?” The rates for your bus will depend your trip’s mileage and duration. If you’re traveling over a long distance, you will likely be quoted a rate based on mileage. If your trip will take place over multiple days and the driver will need to wait along the route, you’ll be charged by the day.
Do I have to tip my driver?
You aren’t required to tip your driver, but it’s an excellent way to thank them for a job well done. The industry standard for gratuity is 10 to 20% of the cost of the bus. Since gratuity is rarely included in your quote, ask your reservation specialist what options for tipping your driver are available.
How do I rent a charter bus?
Before calling a bus company to get a quote, write down the essential information for your trip. Have these details on hand to help the bus company staff quickly match you with the best bus for your group.
Key information you’ll need:
- What are the names and addresses of your trip’s destinations, and what are your pickup and dropoff times?
- What day does your trip begin, and what is the duration?
- How many passengers are in your group?
- Will you be picking up additional passengers along the way? If so, how many?
- Will any members of your group require a wheelchair-accessible bus?
- Which bus amenities are most important to your group?
Which bus company should I hire?
Choose your bus service provider based on location, reputation, and availability. First, look for a charter bus company that’s located as close to your pickup location as possible to save money. If you choose a company in a different city, you’ll have to pay the cost of travel from the company’s garage to the pickup location in addition to the cost of your actual trip. The extra mileage is known as deadhead. Because we service over 300 cities across the US, we can provide you with bus services without the extra costs in many cases.
Next, compare the online reviews and testimonies of the companies you find. Find out if past customers felt safe on their trip and if they were satisfied with the level of service they were given. Read any contracts and agreements carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask questions before signing on the dotted line.
Knowing the basics of renting a charter bus will help you make an informed decision without missing any crucial details. Now that you know what to expect, you can book your first charter bus trip with confidence.
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