Roadtrip in the North Eastern States Without a Car

Just finished working on a Summer Camp in one of the North Eastern states, or looking to frugally explore this corner of America? Then this road trip will let you experience cosmopolitan cities, sleepy towns, chocolate box islands, pristine beaches, and best of all, you don’t need a car. Perfect if you are under 21, don’t have a license or just need a cheap way of getting around.

You could start this trip at either end but I will explain it in the order I experienced.

Boston (3 nights) – Nantucket (3 nights) – Martha’s Vineyard (2 nights) – New York City (5 nights) – Washington DC (3 nights)


How to get there?

Take a bus to Boston. You’ll find that many buses go to Boston as it’s such a major city. If not, you should be able to get a direct bus to Albany, the capital of New York, or New York City itself and change onto a direct bus from there.

Approximate cost?

Will fluctuate depending on where you are coming from.

Where to stay?

Boston can be a little on the pricey side, but there’s a huge HI hostel where you can bag a dorm bed for much less than the going rate of a hotel room.

Click here for their website

What to do whilst in Boston?

Get your historical geek on through walking the freedom trail and visiting significant historical buildings. Or just get your general geek on by visiting world renowned Harvard and MIT.

Check out this blog entry for more information on what to do in Boston when you’re on a budget.



How to get there?

Plymouth and Brockton buses will take you from Boston bus station to Hyannis. Journey time is approximately 1.5 hours.

From the bus station you can walk for a matter of minutes to reach the ferry port. On my first trip, I hadn’t realised the bus didn’t go to the ferry port so jumped into a taxi with a couple of other girls who were travelling on their own. Thankfully we split the fare, but it was silly to have done this given the tiny distance between the two. When you get off the bus, you’ll head in the direction of south to get into the bus terminal building. Exit via the doors straight ahead of you and you’ll find yourself walking alongside the railroad. This will quickly bring you to an intersection. Cross straight over, still heading south along Old Colony Rd. At the next intersection, you’ll see the harbour. It’s at this point where the ferry you wish to take will determine your next move. For the more expensive fast hydrofoil, cross straight over this intersection, still heading south, and you’ll quickly see the ferry terminal on your left. For the slower and cheaper car ferry, turn left, then follow the signs to the right for the ferry.

The hydrofoil takes 1 hour to reach Nantucket and the slow ferry takes 2 hours 15 minutes.

Approximate cost?

$62.50 or $44.50 total depending on the boat

$26 one way bus fare,

$36.50 one way fare on the hydrofoil or $18.50 one way fare on the slow ferry.

Tip: When I did this trip in 2010, I bought a bus and ferry combo ticket from the bus station in Boston. It didn’t state I had to be on the slow ferry so I used it on the Hydrofoil. It was, however, considerably cheaper than buying the 2 separately.

Where to stay?

Nantucket is incredibly expensive. The only budget option I could find was the HI hostel on the south side of the island. It’s stunning, a hop skip and a jump from a pristine beach and they are in cahoots with a bike rental shop who will deliver a bike to the hostel should you want more flexibility with how to get around. The hostel has a self-catering kitchen so you can save money by making your own meals and breakfast is included in the nightly rate. The island bus costs $1 from Nantucket town to Surfside Beach and it’s a 3 or so minute walk from the beach’s bus stop to the hostel.

Click here for their website

What do to whilst on Nantucket

A bike ride to the village of Sconsett is a must. You can spend a day or two lazing on the beautiful beaches, and perhaps a day spent in town.

Check out this blog post for tips on how to visit Nantucket on a budget


Martha’s Vineyard

How to get there

Take the high speed hydrofoil from Nantucket town to Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Journey time is 1 hour 10 minutes

Approximate Cost

$36 one way hydrofoil ticket

Where to stay

Whilst nowhere near as expensive as Nantucket, your best bet is still the HI Hostel in West Tisbury. Not quite as cute as the Nantucket hostel, and the location not as charming, it’s still an excellent place to stay with self-catering cooking facilities and a free breakfast in the mornings. To get from Oak Bluffs, you’ll need to take a bus south to Edgartown and then change. Be sure to tell the bus driver that you’re going to the HI hostel in West Tisbury. They will radio to the other driver, so if that bus arrives in Edgartown first, it will wait until you have transferred onto it. The next bus will drop you on the main road right outside the hostel.

Click here for their website

What to do whilst on Martha’s Vineyard

Gay Head lighthouse at sun set is a must. A visit to Menemsha is quite special to see a working fishing village. Oak Bluffs is stunning with its Victorian sea front mansions and gingerbread cottages set a few streets back. Edgartown has cute galleries and a quint light house, whilst there are beautiful beaches all around the island. The most famous beach is ‘State Beach’ where you can jump off the ‘Jaws’ bridge. Edgartown was of course where the Jaws movie was filmed.

Check out this blog post for more information on Martha’s Vineyard


New York City

How to get there

Take the ferry from either Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs to Woods Hole on the mainland. 45 minute journey. When I made this trip back in 2010, I had the option of taking a direct bus from Woods Hole to NYC. There were 2 snags. The bus took longer than the one where I would make 1 change, and the ticket was more expensive than the 2 separate tickets on the other route.

Take the bus (Peter Pan) from Woods Hole to Boston, 1 hour 45 minutes. Change onto an express bus from Boston to New York City. Many bus companies run this route as an express. I have done it once with Greyhound and once with PeterPan, both were as good as each other with free wifi on board. 4 hours 20 minutes.

Tip: Plan on getting a bus into New York later in the evening to avoid Manhattan in rush hour. (Otherwise the journey will not be 4 hours 20 minutes) As far as US bus stations go, Port Authority isn’t as bad as other’s I’ve experienced. You can walk straight to the subway so there’s no need to head out onto the street looking for a taxi in a ‘dodgy neighbourhood’ (which, 1 block from Times Square is in my opinion, not particularly dodgy).

Approximate Cost

$46 total

$4 one way ticket on the ferry

$22 single bus ticket from Woods Hole to Boston

$20+ single bus ticket from Boston to New York City

Where to stay

Possibilities are endless. There are a plethora of backpackers hostels. Those in Harlem and Brooklyn tend offer a good balance between price and location. Of course you can go further out again to the likes of Kings, Queens and the Bronx. Check out for ideas, or see if you can get something through AirBnB.

What to do whilst in New York City

What isn’t there to do? Shop till you drop, see the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Central Park, Times Square, Greenwich Village, trendy Brooklyn, pay your respects at Ground Zero, go up tall buildings, see a show on (or off) Broadway, experience rooftop bars with views to die for, hit up museums and galleries, the list is endless.

If like me after summer camp you are trying to stretch the dollars and cents as far as they can go, then check out this blog post for tips on how to get lots out of New York either for free, or very little money.


Washington DC

How to get there

Many bus companies run this route as an express, MegaBus, Greyhound and Peter Pan are just a handful. 4.5 hours is the norm for express buses.

Approximate Cost


Where to stay

Similar to New York City, there is a choice of backpackers hostels you could stay in, or try and find something through AirBnB.

What to do whilst in Washington DC

Museums (including the zoo) and monuments.


Possible Variations of the Road Trip


Only visit Nantucket OR Martha’s Vineyard. If you’re looking to save money, I’d cut out Nantucket, but Nantucket is my favourite of the 2 islands.


Cut out Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard altogether. Instead take the hydrofoil from Boston to Provincetown at the very end of Cape Cod. The down sides are: lack of affordable accommodation, and because it’s on the mainland, it’s difficult to get around without a car.


Instead of going straight from New York City to Washington DC, you could stop off in Philadelphia along the way.




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