There’s something “zen” about long bus trips; being an anonymous face in the sea of travelers, being away from all the stresses and distractions of your every day life, losing yourself in a good book or allowing yourself to kick back and “zone out” as mile after mile rolls by you– sometimes for days– demanding patience and affording leisure time that you will rarely find elsewhere. Bus travel is inexpensive, flexible, and widely available throughout the continental US, parts of Canada and Mexico. With a bit of knowledge aforehand, your itch to wander can be satisfied on a motor coach.
Before purchasing a ticket, look into all possible options for the best deal. Students, seniors, persons in the military and children can usually ride at discounts. Companion fares offer a discount on one fare with the purchase of a full fare ticket. Advanced purchase tickets are usually cheaper than last minute. For the more free-spirited adventurer, Greyhound Discovery Passes can be purchase for virtually unlimited traveling freedom within your chosen region for anywhere from four to sixty days. Be sure to inquire about limited time specials that might be running; even if you are making a round trip, sometimes taking advantage of sale prices on two one-way tickets can save you money. Keep in mind, however, that tickets purchased for limited sales usually have traveling limitations, such as blackout dates during which the ticket will not be honored.
Rules regarding baggage are very strict, so it is to your benefit to make certain that the amount, size and weight of your luggage are within required limits to avoid hold ups at the terminal or additional fees (contact the bus company before departure to ensure your luggage is within restrictions and get details on insurance and reimbursement policies). Carry on bags must fit in the overhead rack or under your seat. Special rules apply to such items as skis and bicycles; contact the bus company for specifications before your trip. Remember that, when transferring buses, your bags are not handled for you by employees. You are responsible for claiming your baggage when you leave one bus, keeping it with you and checking it when you board another bus.
Greyhound suggests arriving at the terminal at least an hour before departure; get there even earlier, especially when traveling during busy seasons. Seats are not assigned, and boarding is usually on a first-come-first-serve basis. The earlier you arrive, the more choice the seating options will likely be. When choosing a seat, remember for your own comfort: the back row does not recline, and, if you plan to read while traveling at night, the very front seats do not have working overhead lights. If you like to get up and down a lot, you might want to choose an isle seat to avoid bothering any passenger that might sit next to you. If you don’t like to get up and down a lot, you might prefer a window seat to avoid being bothered. In my experience, if you want to try to get two seats all to yourself so you can really stretch out, sitting on the isle seat seems to discourage others from squeezing into the window seat next to you (unless the bus fills up and they have no other options). Also remember that in coaches equipped with lavatories, the bathrooms can sometimes get– well, rank!– and getting stuck sitting near them can be unpleasant, to say the least.