Monday, June 19, 2006

HOWTO Ride a Greyhound (Bus)

[I've taken a few Greyhound buses in the past few weeks. In a weird way, I kind of love them. They are completely and utterly off the cultural radar, and they're totally utilitarian. There are so few things like that. Also: I'm cheap and don't drive. Anyway, riding Greyhound does have its pitfalls. Here's how to minimize them.]

1 - Rework the way you quantify your time. People will be all, "It took us four and a half hours to drive here" and you'll be all, "It took me six on the bus. I'm sad." Bullshit. They had to drive for four and a half hours and you got to read and sleep for six hours. If someone randomly gave me six hours to read and sleep, I'd thank them.
2 - Put your wallet in your front pocket.
3 - Traveling by Greyhound is cheap. You will be placed in a bus with an odd collection of working stiffs, college students, and the insane. Oh, and one (1) family with numerous small children. Where am I going with this? Several places. But first: try to ride with someone you know. If you are alone on the bus, the person you sit next to, might be one of the insane. And they'll want to talk to you. Remember, you're going to be on the bus for a while, and what might start off as "This guy is awesome. I am going to have the best story," will quickly turn into, "I hate my life." Which brings us to:
4 - Bring music and headphones that block sound. Nope, iPod earbuds won't do; they'll allow you to hear the weird little kid sitting behind you repeating "Mommydaddy, mommydaddy" for hours at a time. If you want to get fancy, you can get the noise canceling type. I have a pair of Sony headphones with soft (rubber? silicone?) buds that seal my ears up. They are awesome. As a bonus, if you do get a seat right next to a crazy person, you can put them in your ears and ignore him.
5 - Also: Sit near the back of the bus. The closer to the back of the bus, the less likely you'll be seated in front of someone who doesn't have an indoor voice, and who projects forward so everyone can hear them. This gets a little complicated because: 1) the seats in the very back do not recline; 2) the further back you sit, the closer you'll be to the restroom. Before you commit to a seat in the back take a good, long sniff.
6 - Bring more music and reading materials in more genres than you think you'll want. Getting antsy on a bus is the worst thing in the world. And then you turn into the shifter-guy who can't get comfortable. Sometimes switching the type of reading material or music I'm consuming makes my brain less twitchy.
7 - Bring a sweatshirt. It's like a towel in the Hitchhiker's Guide - it has many uses. Okay, it has two: You can keep yourself warm when a sadistic driver turns the A/C all the way up, and you can ball it up and use it as a pillow. Remember: there is nothing as bad as that feeling when you lean your head directly on the window of a moving vehicle (vibrations, vibrations, BUMP).
8 - Set your phone to silent. This will make your life as well as everyone else's better. If it rings and you're on the verge of's going to wake you up. And then you're going to do that weird sitting dance while you get it out of your pocket. It's just not worth it.
9 - There is a difference between comfortable and uncomfortable jeans. Know it.


Anonymous said...

you left out the best part -- where did you go?

LOCAG said...

Cool stuff to know!

Anonymous said...

You also left out the part about the pushy drug dealers at the bus stations and road head!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips dude. I found this article from google and really like it. :)

Anonymous said...

At the end of August, I'm leaving Ohio to go to Arizona on greyhound. I've been reading, to decide between the bus or Amtrak - so far, everything I've read about the bus has been remarkably negative (grandma having the back of the head blown off, lost luggage, drugs...) yours is refreshing and lets in a little light in what is, an otherwise pitch black room.

chomie3 said...

This is awesome! I am in the middle of uber changes in my life right now, most of which consists of traveling to take exams, traveling for job interviews, getting the job, then traveling for apartment hunting...The final trip will be in my car with my stuff. But in the time being, I've been doing a lot of first including experiencing traveling on a budget, aka taking the Greyhound.

Guess my google search word that led me to your blog- 'best place to sleep in a greyhound bus'! Your blog came out first.

pay per head said...

Fantastic post.I like your article.Very informative post.