How to Take a Midwest Getaway – Without a Car


My first-hand experience courtesy of

Midwest Getaway No Car RequiredI travel a lot. In fact, travel is my life – or at least my job. So you could say that I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to making travel fun, affordable, and relaxing.

One of my favorite “travel hacks” isn’t really a hack at all – it only requires a bit of organization.

Because, with a bit of planning, you can get a family of four to Omaha for $20 or to Chicago for $40 – less than a tank of gas – on Megabus.

A Relaxing Midwest Getaway on Megabus

Before you stop reading, let me just tell you that Megabus is not like the other bus that comes through Des Moines (which you might recognize by the dog on the side). Nearly as quick as driving yourself, Megabus makes no stops between Des Moines and Omaha, and just two between Des Moines and Chicago. The double-decker bus is very clean, and there are usually plenty of open seats so you can relax comfortably. Bring along a few snacks for the ride and you’re set!

Midwest getaway on Megabus
The double-decker Megabus has a moon roof completely across the top. My husband likes Megabus travel because he doesn’t have to drive!

Catching the Megabus from Des Moines is easy. With pick up and drop off at the parking garage on 7th and Center Streets, you have a safe garage for parking and shelter while you wait for the bus. You can check a bag and take a carry-on to stow under your seat – just like flying but without the checked bag fee. After boarding you just sit back, relax, and watch the Iowa landscape pass as your family enjoys the ride.

Exploring without a Car – It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

It’s really quite liberating to be in the city without a car. Yes, really. First, you don’t have to pay crazy parking fees. Second, you tend to explore places you might pass by if you had wheels. And third, you can completely justify having both ice cream and a magnificent cupcake in one day because you are walking everywhere!

Just a few points to keep in mind as you begin planning your carless Midwest getaway:

  • Choose your hotel wisely. Make sure it is central to the locations you want to visit. In Chicago I recommend Michigan Avenue, and in Omaha I recommend the Old Market.
  • Inquire about a hotel shuttle. Is one available? Will it pick you up from the bus stop and will it take you to and retrieve you from any of the attractions you want to visit?
  • Contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). The CVB is your best local resource for the city you are visiting. They can help you find the best hotel for your family, direct you to attractions everyone will love, and often have money saving coupons for attractions and restaurants.
  • Family fun in Chicago. Just a few of the fun things to do in Chicago that you can get to on foot.
Chicago family vacation
Taking a family selfie in ‘The Bean’ at Millennium Park is a must in Chicago!
Henry Doorly Zoo Omaha
Yes, you can get to the Henry Doorly Zoo without a car!

So, how about it? Would you ride the Megabus with your family?


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