Taking a long bus journey with children in tow can be challenging, but with some planning, you and your child can enjoy a bus ride with a minimum of fuss and muss. When planning your trip, try to avoid traveling on weekends or during peak tourist seasons. This will help prevent having to wait for the next bus when one is full, and give your child a chance to stretch out across seats when the bus is not crowded. For trips lasting less than half a day, consider going overnight so that your child will sleep through the majority of the ride.
Children up to age two can ride for free; however, if the bus is full, the child must be seated on your lap– which can get uncomfortable for parent and child as the hours pass. It is worth the investment to purchase tickets for all children (usually offered at a discount). Even in the slowest seasons, one broken-down bus can mean doubling up of passengers on the next, and seats may not be available for everyone. With a ticket, even on a crowded bus, your child will be entitled to his/her own seat.
For young children, child seats or harnesses with manufacturer-approved strapping or webbing is recommended, to ensure your child will be safe and stay put for the ride. Greyhound does not provide child seats or restraining devices for children, and it is the parent’s responsibility to install and remove them in seats. Make a “goody bag” for each child that contain a variety of activities and a few non-perishable snacks and beverages. Include toys that are inexpensive and would not be missed if lost, crayons, activity booklets, etc.For young ones who need milk for their bottles, purchase brands such as Parmalot in serving-size packages, which, due to special packaging, don’t require refrigeration. If a child is still on formula, it is best to invest in the ready-to-feed 6/8 oz cans to avoid mixing, or the single-serving powder packets. Always keep your children close at hand and in sight when changing buses, checking or reclaiming luggage, or at stop overs. For younger ones, a harness with a strap is recommended so they don’t wander off in a crowd. At any stops, point out a “meeting place” your child will recognize and tell them to go there immediately if they can’t find you. Keep a recent photo of each child in your carryon bag for emergencies. Immediately seek out an employee if you believe your child is lost, and don’t be afraid to call for them– loudly.
For your child’s safety, point out the employees in uniform at the beginning of the trip. Tell them that, should you be separated from them at any time, they should seek out someone dressed like that, or a uniformed police officer. Tell them if they don’t see anyone in uniform or can’t find a counter, to seek out a mother with children (their safest bet with strangers) and ask for help. Explain to them that they are NOT to leave the terminal or go outside of the bus station for any reason– make sure they understand that you would never leave without them and will be inside looking for them. Also make sure they understand not to play near, behind, or– especially– under the buses. Rehearse them to make sure they know their phone number, address, and your full name before you leave. If your child has been recently potty trained or still has occasional “accidents,” make sure to equip them with Pull Ups, Goodnites, or even Depends, to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Encourage them to go to the bathroom periodically, especially after meals or having a drink, rather than waiting until the last minute, so they won’t get stuck waiting for the lavatory to be free. Always escort young children to the lavatory in the back of the bus, and make sure they wash their hands with sanitizing gel or baby wipes when finished.
A roll of quarters in your pocket is convenient to have during stops so you can use vending machines, coin-operated televisions, let your child play video games, or make phone calls without dragging your child around the terminal looking for change. Even for short stops, escort your child off the bus to take advantage of a few moments of fresh air and leg-stretching. If you stop for a transfer and have a couple of hours or more to spare, and if it is early enough, secure your luggage in lockers and take your child for a stroll around the neighborhood or a bit of sight-seeing.