Going Greyhound Without Going Crazy
Advantages to Bus Travel
Homeward bound, Oh I wish I was homeward bound... What about you? Are there times times you yearn to go home or to visit some other loved one far away? Do you ever find yourself with enough time on your hands, but not quite enough money? And does the cost of that airline ticket drive you to distraction -- or to tears? If so, you might well find that you can save money by going Greyhound. If you set your schedule (in stone!) weeks in advance, you may find that the airline travel is not a lot more expensive than bus travel. But if it's last minute (or day or week...) planning, the Greyhound may be a much more viable option. If you're a college student, a member of the military -- or traveling with one companion -- you may get some very friendly fares indeed.
The trip may not be so bad. Greyhound travel is changing. Some routes have refurbished coaches with wifi access and seat belts. Find out more about Greyhound travel in this lens: reasons to travel by bus, things to pack to make the trip more enjoyable. But first, some songs to listen to as you read...
Why Go Greyhound?
It's not just a matter of money.
There are other advantages to going Greyhound, and many nondrivers will choose bus over airline for relatively short distances, like from Seattle to Portland. Some will choose it for long distances, as well. My aunt always liked to take it easy and see the sites along the way -- yes, all the way from Kentucky to Arizona. As for me, sometimes I like to get on the bus and just go -- few starts and stops, few hassles, no endless winding through security check point stations. Of course, many people are fearful of airplanes, and just prefer to keep their feet on the ground.
And let's not forget -- the bus is at least a little more green. So let's say, for whatever reason -- inspiration or necessity -- you will be going Greyhound. How do you make the trip as comfortable as you can? Here are some tips from an experienced bus rider
December 2012 Update
I will be going to my brother's house by plane and returning by bus this year. The bus is getting more like the plane in some ways! I have been aware for a long time that there are discount rates for advanced purchase (something that wasn't available back in my college days). I didn't realize, though, that there were a limited number of them available on each trip. I will be going from Phoenix back to Seattle. The prices varied a good deal. Checking on different routes that were all within about a one week period, I found fares ranging from $108 to $187.
The Return Trip: New Year's - Writing from the Bus
What a difference a year makes! The first change I noticed was this: When I entered the Phoenix station, I saw that sign about Wifi, courtesy of Greyhound. Yes, they meant right there in the station.
I knew that there were now express buses with Wifi serving a portion of my route, but didn't know whether I would actually be on one. I hadn't seen anything, though, about there being Wifi in stations. I encountered more in stations than on buses, but when I got to LA...
Wi Fi Enabled Bus
En route on one of the new Greyhound buses between Los Angeles and Sacramento! Wifi, plugs... and, yes, a spot for my drink bottle.
Travel Tips: Bring Layers and Comfies on Bus Trips
The time does tend to drag at night when your teeth are chattering. The Greyhound can be a bit like the desert: Temperatures drop sharply at night. So bring a couple more layers than you think you'll need. Depending on the season, you'll want a cardigan and a jacket or coat -- you might even want a small blanket if you have the room. Some people find they can sleep easily relatively easily in a sitting position as long as their head is supported. If that's you, be prepared!
And Don't Forget Your Tech Toys!
If you're like me, you can while hours away on your netbook, your headphones... or both. Bring that netbook along in a comfy sleeve. If you don't have wireless -- and you're not traveling on one of those new coaches with wifi access -- you may want to use a word processing program like Zoho that has online and offline options. You can synch your documents when you get the chance.
Student? Study! Download some flashcards from Cobocards . You'll have plenty of room for MP3's and ebooks. If you're studying from textbooks that have pages (I recall seeing some of those), you'll still have room for one or two. The bus does provide some lighting, but you might want to purchase one of those little book lights.
If you blog, squid, or otherwise write, you'll find ample material along the way. Document your trip with photos. No digital camera? I use FujiFilm cameras, and scan later over coffee.
You won't find a place to plug in your netbook at every stop or layover -- but some you will. If you do the trip more than once, you start to know the territory and can plan accordingly. I found a very comfortable place to sit and plug in at the Sacramento station. It was the scheduled "Everyone off so the bus can be cleaned stop," -- rather a long layover and not a bad one at all.
Greyhound Links and Resources
Coaches on some lines have really entered the modern age: wifi, power outlets, safety belts... Find out more here!
Some Greyhound stations give priority boarding for five extra dollars. It's easier to snooe when you have a window seat! Be sure to arrive 20 minutes early, though.
Some Munchies For the Road
Of course, the trip is also more pleasant if you have a good stock of the right munchies -- mainly ready-to-eat -- and some beverages that you can mix into your water bottle. I like to visit the Grocery Outlet before a bus trip. Some things I keep an eye out for: prefilled bagel snacks, envelopes of tomato soup, hard candies or vitamin C drops, powdered Super C drink mixes. Prepackaged egg rolls, pizza snacks, or burritos will thaw along the way -- but it's still safer to pop them in a microwave. Keywords for Greyhound food: affordable, compact, nutritious, and (as in the case of those hard candies) long lasting.
One or two good size water bottles may be enough -- fill them with water and drink mix at 'statiion breaks'. Easier to carry, better for the environment... better for you.
Yes or No?
Would you Leave the Driving to Them?
Video: Homeward Bound
Really Like Greyhound? - Visit the Greyhound Museum!
- Greyhound Museum
Stop by when you're in Minnesota... or drop in on the website any old time.
More Travel Tips
- Yahoo Answers
Tips on Greyhound comfort -- from Yahoo users.
... or about this lens?