Guest blogger Colleen Setchell is a writer, photographer, and enthusiastic explorer who's happiest when she's living out of a suitcase. She writes about her travel adventures on her blog, Write Around the World, and freelances for various magazines and websites. Her travel photos can be viewed on her website or on her Flickr page. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.
For a recent East Coast trip, I researched a lot about the best and cheapest way to travel. Most of the time, it was better by bus. It meant I was able to travel through the night, saving me both money and time. It was, however, challenging. And after sleeping for roughly 18 hours after arriving at my first destination, I decided to share some tips on how to survive those long journeys.
Always research and compare prices. Sometimes there are good deals available and you can catch a flight or train cheaper. Also check different bus company websites—I once was quoted a trip with Greyhound for $100, and when I compared the same journey doing half with Peter Pan Bus and the other half with Greyhound, I got the same journey for just $60.
Pack light. Sometimes you have to change buses and it’s no fun lugging a huge suitcase through an airport or bus station and finding somewhere to stand with it while you wait for your next bus. Take a small suitcase on wheels and store that under the bus with the main luggage, then take a small bag on the bus with you.
If possible, travel through the night to save your vacation time. Make sure you pack one of those blow-up neck cushions to use on the journey—they make a WORLD of difference and you’ll find you can sleep easier. If you don’t have one of these, a rolled up jacket or jersey can work just as well. But watch out, having nothing will leave you grumpy with a stiff neck. If you’ve travelled all night, when you arrive at your destination, have a shower and sleep for 1-2 hours. No matter how rough you feel when you wake, just go with it. You’ll be grateful later on in the day, trust me!
Pack some snacks. The bus usually stops at garages, bus stations and other places, but most of these are expensive and have a very limited selection of food. Pack some hardy, filling snacks such as apples, nut or cereal bars, mixed nuts and seeds or simple sandwiches. Make sure you bring drinks too.
Bring tissues. Lots of them. Bus toilets are, how can I put it ... interesting. Lots of tissues and a little bottle of hand sanitizer should prepare you for your bus toilet experience.
Take off your shoes. You might spend a very long time on the bus and taking off your shoes just allows your feet to breathe a bit. You’ll feel fresher for it when you arrive, honestly.
Stretch. As mentioned above, the bus does make a few stops so try and get off a few times to stretch your legs. It helps you to feel a little less exhausted at the end of your journey.
Take advantage of the Wi-Fi. Surf to your heart's content! There are also power points so you can charge your devices. If you listen to music, make sure you wear head-phones or the driver will consider throwing you off the bus (don’t laugh, it can happen!).
Always sit in the aisle seat. When you board the bus and you find two empty seats, opt for the aisle. When new people board, they are less inclined to climb over you and will search for another seat. This might increase your chances of sitting on your own and having two seats to yourself for the journey.
Talk. If you do end up sitting next to someone, talk to them! I met, and chatted for hours, with a lovely lady from New York who gave me her email address, phone number, and address, and told me to go and visit her whenever I was in New York. You never know where a bus friendship can lead.
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