Bus Travel at Home and Abroad (Vámonos Vol. 11)

Technology advances faster and faster.  Devices, gadgets and lifestyles keep getting  shorter and shorter lifespans as progress speeds up.  Phones make way for smart phones, CDs are pushed aside for mp3s, pagers which reached there peak usage in 1990 are a total anachronism.  But, some times the right tool for the job is not the newest one or even the top of the line.  Is there anyone who prefers bus travel over all other modes of transportation?  Maybe the CEO of Greyhound, but I would have trouble imagining anyone else does.  Still there are times when the bus is the best or only option.

In international travel there are many off the beaten path locals that are only available to bus travelers, rental cars are not always available, sometimes fiscal concerns make the choice for you.  That said buses are not always the economy, bottom of the barrel choice.  Busses can be a crapshoot.  I have been surprised both positively and negatively about the quality of busses that I have ridden on in the US and overseas.

So if you find yourself preparing for a bus trip here are a few tips to arm yourself with.


Trip Tips

Don’t miss the Bus

An advantage of bus travel is that there isn’t as much fuss about getting on board as there is on a plane.  Security is easy (if it exists at all), bus station are often much smaller and easier to navigate than airports, and bus stations are often more centrally located than airports.  All that said if you miss the bus, you miss the bus.

Pay attention to Who you Sit Next To

Did you ever see heartbreak ridge?  If you don’t want to find yourself in a hilarious mix up with a delightful scamp or a generally uncomfortable situation with a person whose sanity is in question pay attention to your seatmate.  Try and figure out who you are going to sit with.  For this reason traveling in pairs can be ideal for bus travel.  If you have a buddy, show up a little early and you know you’ll have a friend to accompany you.  If you are traveling on your own, use your intuition or common sense to find your ideal seatmate.

Take Advantage of your time

The main complaint about bus, or train travel is it takes so long.  But think of all the time you are not spending driving or standing on the side of the road waiting for AAA to tow you.  If your taking a day trip to see something this is your time to read the guidebook, and plan out your day, write your postcards, or catch up the sleep that you missed when you were out at the club the night before.

Think about your Safety

Different parts of the world have their own concerns.  There are horror stories of busses that were stopped and robbed.  And while that is certainly a rare occurrence its worth asking around to find out how rare that is where you are.

Factor in your Size

As a large person I think more about leg room than some of my smaller friends. When traveling by bus at home or abroad legroom is rarely ideal.  When I lived in Guadalajara I often found myself bending over double just to look out the window.

Book in Advance if you’re looking to save money

If you’re traveling by bus to save money make sure you maximize your efforts.   Some domestic bus lines have a certain number of one dollar or very inexpensive seats that they sell.  If you can take advantage of these savings look to book in advance.  However, I have been in the position where I am traveling by bus because of the freedom it allows.  Because short trips can often be in the thirty dollar price range sometimes I elect to pay full fair because I hear about and want to take advantage of.