When you want to travel, you have many options for transportation, but when you're traveling with a group, chartering a bus is often your best bet. It's a great way to travel while hanging out together as a group. It's also considerably safer than flying or driving. Before you book your bus, though, there are a few things that you should know.

1. Avoid brokers.

When you do a search online for charter bus companies, you're going to get a lot of listings for brokers. You can book your charter with one of these brokers, but you'll pay extra for it—as much as 38% extra. Instead, save your money and call or contact a local charter bus company in your area directly.

2. Do your research.

Yes, traveling by bus is a safe way to travel. It's even safer if you take the time to choose a company with a good safety rating. There's an easy way to find out everything that you want to know about a company's safety rating. The Federal Motorcoach Association's Company Snapshot will let you know what the safety rating of the company is, and also give you information about insurance status and inspections.

3. Ask lots of questions.

Especially if you've never chartered a bus before, there are several things that you may not think of. Ask if the fee you're paying includes parking fees or tolls, or if you will have to pay those separately. Find out what the charge is for going over the estimated amount of miles. Be sure to ask about the cancellation policy as well.

If you're going to be away overnight, ask if you need to book the driver's hotel room, or if the bus company will take care of that. Don't worry if the bus company says that you need to do it; many hotels will comp the bus driver's room when they're checking in a group. Just be sure to communicate with the hotel ahead of time if you need this service.

4. Book in advance.

As with any travel arrangements, the further in advance you book your charter bus, the better off you'll be. There is no such thing as booking too early, but if you wait until it's too late, you may find yourself without a ride. At best, you'll end up paying more if you make last minute arrangements. Booking three weeks in advance is reasonable, but it's fine to book earlier too.

5. Tip your driver.

Some bus companies may have a set gratuity for their bus drivers included in their fees. If they do not, however, tipping the driver is still a nice thing to do, if not strictly required. According to Travel Tips at USA Today, having each person chip in a set amount, such as a dollar per person per day, should equal an appropriate tip.

Now that you know more about charter bus services, it should be easy to plan your next group trip.  

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