For twenty-somethings the main hindrance to planning a vacation is the getting to and from your destination of choice. Yes, it’s always enjoyable to take short road trips outside of your current location, but sometimes a trip far from home can be extremely rewarding. You give yourself a chance to learn about culture differences and see what the world looks like outside of your comfort zone. Traveling by plane and even renting a car can be incredibly pricey, which keeps dream vacations from becoming a reality. There is another way to travel around the United States and that is the Megabus. Although the bus may not be the most ideal situation, it is incredibly affordable and can actually be an all right experience.
Here are a few reasons why the Megabus is worth a try and ways to make it an enjoyable travel experience:
Nothing beats the price of the Megabus. Just the other day I took it from Chicago to Iowa City for 33 dollars. 33 dollars! At first I hadn’t even thought of taking the bus because I thought I could find a reasonably priced rental car, but I was so wrong. The rental car was going to cost me 200 dollars, so I then checked flights which were 300 dollars. When I saw the price for the Megabus, it was a done deal. Often times you can get a ticket for even just a dollar. A single dollar!
What to expect:
Honestly, every ride can be a different experience. It’s important to be open-minded, flexible and patient, because sometimes the bus arrives late or sometimes the bus driver will pull over to the side of the road for no apparent reason. Sometimes traffic is terrible and the bus driver will take a different route. All of this will push the guesstimated arrival time back, so don’t let it drive you crazy. Taking the bus does take more time, but it’s part of the experience so sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. Blog, listen to music, catch up on your book, or just enjoy the quiet time you have to yourself. Lastly, wear layers. I am always cold on buses, but there was one time the air conditioner was broken in the middle of July and I was a bundled up hot mess. From now on I wear lots of layers so I don’t sweat or freeze to death.
When to arrive:
Definitely always arrive 15 minutes early if you don’t know exactly where the bus is located. When I first took the bus I arrived by train and ran around an entire city block frantically searching for the bus. The stops are always located in between two blocks, so don’t expect a obvious bus station. Also arrive early to scope out who your fellow passengers are, because if it is a packed bus you can quickly choose possible candidates to sit next to if you can’t find an open row to yourself.
Where to sit:
Some people say they like to arrive early so they can be at the head of the line and board the bus first. That allows you to pick your favorite spot, but then you have to hope that no one sits next to you. I think that technique works against me, because I am a small girl and I don’t look intimidating. Usually someone chooses me out of the group to sit next to, so I personally like to sit back and find my spot in between the middle and the end of the line. The Megabus also has two levels and I personally prefer the top level, because I don’t feel as claustrophobic and I am no where near the bathroom. Allows stay clear of the bathroom, you never know when it was last emptied and you don’t want to be smelling that your entire trip. If you do decide to stay on the bottom sit closer to the front. If you follow my lead and head to the top immediately look for an open row and if there is one chances are you will be sittin’ by yourself.
What to pack:
Of course it’s important to pack light, because similar to flying you are allowed only one bag to be placed underneath and a small carry-on that must be able to fit under your seat. But the best part about riding the bus is that they aren’t too strict about these rules. I am not saying go crazy and bring everything you own, but the last time I took the bus I had a massive bag with two tennis racquets and a yoga mat securely tied around it. Technically it was one bag. I’m just saying you can bring a lot on those buses and get away with it. It’s also important to pack snacks and water. The Megabus doesn’t send you a print out of the scheduled stops along the way, so you won’t find out until your bus driver tells you or when they are pulling off the interstate. I personally like to bring granola bars, trail mix and water, because I’m never sure when the next stop is and usually once the bus driver does stop only fast food is available.
If you have taken the Megabus or a different brand, please let us know in the comments what your experience was like and if you have any tips for future travelers. Also it would be great to know what region of the country you have traveled on the bus, because I have mostly traveled in the midwest and once in Oregon. It would be interesting to know if they are all fairly similar or if there are some areas to stay clear of.