In this brave, new world that we live in, with all our technology and gadgets and time constraints, many travelers overlook cheap and readily available bus travel. We have grown accustomed to finding the best deals, yet many of us, myself included, only scramble to find the best flights. Traveling by train had lost its luster as well until only recently, when high-speed rail started to make a comeback.
Buses are slow and malodorous, but traveling via this medium is not as bad as you may think. For example, I love to travel, but I am fairly impatient. I like to get from point A to my point B as quickly as the pilot can manage. Last week, I was looking to book a trip to Boston to visit some friends for the weekend, and I immediately went to various airline websites to look for the best deal. From my hometown of New York City, Boston is almost exactly a one hour flight, which is perfect for me. However, another one of the bad qualities that I am known for is procrastination. I tend to book a weekend getaway many times less than 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the plane. Airlines tend to jack up the price towards the last week before the flight departs, as they figure many businessmen book late and can afford the higher prices.
Needless to say, many times I find last-minute fares to be out of my budget. That is when I turned to a dear old friend who was with me when money was a lot tighter: the bus. A bus from NYC to Boston is advertised at having a 4 hour and 30 minute travel time. That is quite a bit more than the one hour on the plane. But let me continue, if I may. I rode on MegaBus, which is a low-cost bus carrier in and around the Northeast and Midwest United States. MegaBus has many double-decker versions of their buses, which allow for 25% more passengers than a normal bus. When I boarded the bus I went up the little staircase to the upper level. I was surprised at how spacious each seat was, as well as at the convenient features. The bus offered free Wi-Fi, whereas I would have had to pay $16 on Delta to use the in-flight internet. There were many available outlets scattered throughout, to keep your devices powered during the trip. When I went to use the bathroom down on the lower level of the bus, I found it to be larger than any airline bathroom, as well as refreshingly clean. And, I saved the best for last: the one way trip with MegaBus was only $19!!!
The bus was still slow, but at that price, it could be overlooked. The same trip with an airline, though only 1 hour in length, requires much extra time that many fail to factor into the itinerary when planning. You are advised to get to the airport an hour before the flight, and many times you can spend up to an hour after arriving at the gate, especially if you checked baggage. Furthermore, most airports tend to be located to one far corner of the city, or not in the city at all, which makes it a hassle to get to your final destination. Buses often drop passengers off in the heart of the city, such as Chinatown in Manhattan.
In many countries, bus travel is the most popular form of getting from one place to another. It is cheap and reliable, and is the backbone of many working class communities. Throughout numerous underdeveloped countries, buses are a great way to journey from one city to another. Striking up a conversation with a fellow traveler can be a great way to learn about your destination and the culture and customs of the country hosting you, though I do not recommend this in New York City, as you may get offended by the responses. Buses move fast enough usually, yet you get to stay at ground level and see scenery and neighborhoods that you had never seen before. I am often inspired when I look out the window during my adventures, so imagine the inspiration my mind receives when I am not staring at the black of the subway tunnel or the whites of the clouds!