Thought Catalog
February 21, 2014

8 Reasons Why Bus Travel Is Much Better Than You Think It Is

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What is the issue?
Forget the smelly Greyhounds of yore.  Ignore the stories about megabus drivers who try to kick you off mid-trip. Bus travel is back, bitch.  

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1. The Price

Okay, we’ve all heard the “you get what you pay for” mantra before, but do you understand that on an average day, it costs about fifteen bucks to get from New York City to Washington, DC. That’s average.  You okay with taking a midnight bus? FOUR DOLLARS, BABY. FOUR.

Put that latte down and go to a poetry reading in the East Village.

2. The Sights

Nothing sucks more than having to focus on an endless highway while driving, staring at the asses of 18-wheelers. And, if your car doesn’t have cruise control, it can cause some serious foot cramps. On a bus you can sit back, relax, and take a gander at whatever gorgeous, desolate or bizarre vistas you pass on your way from point A to B.

3. The Wi-Fi Is Free (When It’s Working)

And if you’re not on a megabus, it’s probably working.  If it isn’t, here are some suggestions on what to do with your time:

  • read a book (you’re up high so carsickness is lessened)
  • write a book
  • creep on your fellow passengers

WHICH LEADS TO:

4. THE PEOPLE ON THE BUS.

Riding on buses has taught me more about humanity than practically any other life experience.  The kind of people who take buses, especially buses going to weird places at weird times from weird destinations will show you corners of the world you’ve never imagined.  Some of these revelations admittedly terrifying (like the army of colostomy bags and Betty Boop t-shirts featured on my Grand Rapids- bound Greyhound bus), but sometimes there can be incredible and unlikely connections.

Example:  I once shared a megabus table with a woman who spoke only Spanish, and was eating kimchi out of a thermos. She was next to an adjunct professor from NYU, who was doing research on black holes and on his way to meet his girlfriend, who ran a doggy daycare in DC. What could the three of us possibly have to talk about? Everything.

Look, I’m just saying—in this world where we are surrounded by people and yet so lonely, there is nothing like a bus to encourage random conversations, which can often turn into a really life-affirming, “people are so incredible” revelations.

5. The Tolls? What tolls?

Your ticket is paid, bitch! Especially if you’re coming from New York City to practically anywhere, the $$ and time saved is astronomical.

6. TSA doesn’t have a security line at Union Station.

This means that you can bring your wine key onboard the bus! FINALLY.  And, the two hours you “save” by taking an airplane are wasted waiting in line to be stripped searched anyway, so why not just sit on the bus?!

I am fairly certain that This also contributes to the interesting nature of bus characters AKA I am pretty sure everyone on my overnight bus to Pittsburgh was drug dealer.

You do miss out on having sexy flight attendants give you snacks, but it’s a worthy price to pay for being able to keep your shoes on.

7. The smaller carbon footprint

Okay, I know—buses are still gas guzzling, Fern Gully villain-esque planet killers. But thirty people in one of these, verses thirty SUVs? If that’s not a great opening line to a pro-bus, eco-friendly folk song, I don’t know what is!

8. The adventure

There is something about catching a bus to somewhere, even if It’s just for the day, that feels more adventurous than just hopping in your car or reserving a flight. The spontaneity that bus travel allows makes you feel like life isn’t just some endless loop of the same old, same old. After all, if you’re in a rut, you can always just hop the last bus to DC and go to a free museum.  Or truck over to Cleveland and visit an old friend. OR hop the Canadian border and see what Toronto has to offer!  Bus travel has the power to make nomadic bohemians of us all.  I mean it. It can be late, it can be a nightmare, it can be dirty and smelly, but eventually, bus travelers learn to just sit back, hold on, and pack light.

Eventually, you arrive at your destination, and you are always happy that you took a little bit more time getting there.

I’ve taken buses in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Canada Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and a particularly odd journey from Sevilla to Cadiz, where I just wept on a beach and then turned around.  I know buses, and I want you to love them

PS: I wrote this on a bus. TC mark