How to survive long-distance bus travel in the USA

It's not the fastest or most comfortable way to get around the USA, but bus travel is undoubtedly one of the most affordable. These tips will help your experience go seamlessly...

6 mins

1. Check prices with different companies

Having been in business since 1914, Greyhound is one of the most frequently-used bus companies in the USA and runs thousands of services across the country. Greyhound offers budget-friendly fares, especially if you are flexible and can play around with different routes on their website.

That said, like most things in life, it pays to shop around to find the cheapest prices. Megabus is catching up to Greyhound quickly in terms of available routes and low prices – check both before booking.

2. Plan ahead to save money

While you can just turn up at the bus station and buy a ticket on the day you want to travel, it will be at its highest price and you're not guaranteed a seat on the next bus out. Booking via the company's website as far in advance as possible will save money and help you avoid the chaotic rush of people buying tickets on the day.

If planning that far head doesn't suit, it's still worth buying a ticket online or at the station a day or two before departure to make sure you get a seat on your preferred bus.

3. Expect frequent stops and vehicle changes

Especially on longer journeys. Rest stops are made every few hours at stations where food and drink is sold, and toilets are available. If you're going on an especially long trip of around 10 hours or more, you might find yourself stopping in a major city en route. This is to switch around the drivers and vehicles – you may need to get off the bus and on another. These longer stops are usually listed on your tickets when you collect them, so take a look before departing and buy food and drink provisions accordingly.

4. Don't bank on leg room

Tall travellers might struggle with bus travel in the USA – there's about as much space as you would experience on a cheap flight. Try to be one of the first on the bus to get the pick of the seats, as some have a little more space than others. Failing that, consider travelling at awkward times of day in the hope that there will be fewer passengers and more space to spread out.

5. Keep valuables with you

Most of your experiences on buses in the States will be hassle-free, but there's no harm in being careful. When bags are bundled in and out of the hold at the beginning and end of the journey, there are lots of people around and a chance of theft. Split your luggage into two loads like you would do for a flight – keep clothes and toiletries in your main bag and have it stored in the hold, and take your valuables with you onto the bus.


Emma Higgins is a British travel writer with a penchant for interesting stories. She has been travelling for three years and has lived in Spain, Canada, and Thailand, collecting tales along the way and sharing them on her blog, Gotta Keep Movin'.

Main image: Old Greyhound bus (Shutterstock)


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