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Here are some life lessons I’ve learned so far as I bus across America.
My #BussingUSA adventure began on 30th September, when I departed from New York to Boston. I have been on 15 buses so far and have about nine to go (woohoo). So I thought I would give you an update on the lessons I have learned so far from bussing across the great big expanse that is the . I would also like to note that most of these lessons I was taught the hard way. Of course.
What I’ve learned as I bus across America
1. When people comment that I am an old soul (it weirdly happens occasionally), they must see a grandma hiding in a youthful body. #BussingUSA has helped me realise I cannot do overnight bus rides. This has meant a slight change in my itinerary, but for me, it’s worth it. I have done two and both times I have had to write off the following day: I feel sick in the stomach (still unsure why), my feet swell up like an old person’s, and I am, of course, tired. Damn you, old soul.
2. If the bus looks busy and you may need to share your pair of seats with someone, you have to grab the aisle seat. I am 120% a window seat person, but I have since discovered that when you are in cramped quarters by the window and you want to work on your computer, you can’t. My elbows need more room to type freely. If I could be bothered to type with one hand, maybe…
3. In saying this, if you are motivated enough, you can get some serious work done on the bus if you have the room. Most times you will, as I can count on one hand how many times I have had someone sitting beside me. If you’re feeling lazy, then you can totally get some television viewing in also. I usually do a combination of both.
4. On the rare occasion the electrical outlets and/or the WiFi are not working, you will get frustrated and pout and then sigh and get over it. I usually ask the bus driver when it isn’t working, but most of the time they really don’t give a sh**, to be honest. Another lesson learned as I bus across America.
5. Speaking of not giving two hoots, Greyhound lost my bag between Savannah and St Augustine. Fortunately, I’m only travelling with the small black suitcase below. The customer service people you call are completely hopeless too and just don’t care that your luggage a.k.a YOUR LIFE is missing. So do it yourself: call the stations you stopped at, as most often it would have gotten off but not back on with you. This is what happened to me – my suitcase was in Jacksonville. I did get my bag back after two days, thanks to the one friendly and helpful person that works at Greyhound (Tony in Jacksonville, FYI). I also learned my lesson: check your bag when you arrive so it gets a claim number, which I hadn’t been told to do on the 14 other buses I had taken previously. Learn from my fails, friends.
6. Except for Charleston (sorry, but seriously, for America’s Best City, your station is in woop woop) all the bus stations I have been to are in close proximity to public transport, which is so helpful when you are a budget traveller and really, really, really hate spending money on taxis.
7. Before beginning my trip, people mentioned Megabus to me continuously. However, even though they lost my luggage and their customer service sucks, I have found that a) Greyhound travels to way more places and b) Greyhound is also usually the cheapest option. Yes, they may lose your luggage, but so may Megabus. Always check both before buying the ticket; don’t assume Megabus will be the best for you.
8. If you are travelling as regularly on buses as myself, make a bus bag. I bought a cheap satchel in Chicago where I now have my journal, computer, book, chargers and food items always. I was getting tired of trying to squeeze it all into my backpack, but now I just place my backpack in the overhead baggage storage and have the handbag at my seat. Best idea ever. Note that Megabus does not have overhead storage so you basically have to place it at your feet or pray no one sits next to you. But someone will always sit next to you.
For more information on what I always pack when travelling, visit my Resources page.
9. The best seat on the newer leather-upholstered buses is the three at the back. Here’s why – extra legroom, people! Plus, usually, no one wants to sit next to you because then they’d be right next to the toilet. However, the one negative about sitting at the back is people thinking you are the toilet police, so they ask you constantly (when you clearly have your headphones in) if it’s vacant. A) It says push not pull, so do that first. B) There’s a symbol that lights up like on planes, so I’m always clueless why people think just because I’m sitting there I know all that’s going on inside. I don’t know and don’t care.
10. A random number 10, but I’ve only used the toilet on the bus once in a moment of weakness. Those toilets freak me out. I will pee on a plane but on these buses, oh no. Luckily we always have a break on our route, so that’s the relief zone. That’s all.
Overall, the bus life has been good to me, except for that minor lost luggage hiccup. I just need to get more productive and pump out a few more blog posts! If only I wasn’t such a TV junkie. But that’s another story altogether 😉.