Last night I took my last Greyhound bus while in the States on this journey. This was a fairly big deal for me. I have used the Greyhound to complete 5 legs of this journey, during the course of which I’ve been to 10 different Greyhound stations and spent a total of around 46 hours on the bus. It’s been such an important and central part of my journey here I felt that reaching the conclusion of my time on it warranted a moment of thought.
I cannot drive. I never learnt. When I got to 17 driving lessons were something that I couldn’t afford and I couldn’t justify because there was never the chance I would be able to afford a car. I also never needed one. Living in Manchester and London often a car can be a hindrance as much as a help. So when I decided I would make this journey this year I had no option but to fly, take the train or take the bus. The cheapest option in many cases has been the bus especially when I’ve been able to take it overnight and been able to save on the cost of accommodation for that night.
Before I ever caught the Greyhound I read and heard a lot of conflicting stories about this method of transport. I read on online forums and heard many stories about the different characters travelling and the conditions on the buses and the locations of the stations. I truly believe everyone’s experience of the bus is probably different and this is probably due to the research they put into it and the level of expectation they have (and of course other external influences they cannot predict).
All of my journeys have been extremely straightforward. I knew exactly when my transfers were so I was prepared for them. I packed food to take with me so that I wouldn’t have to eat junk food from the stations or gas stations the buses stopped at. I ensured I was at the station at least an hour early so that I could get to the front of the line (seats are first come first served) and ensure I was sat up front near the driver. I was never overly friendly to anyone on any journey because to me these journeys were about getting somewhere, not particularly about making friends though I did have a couple of interesting conversations.
Is the Greyhound a glamourous way to travel, not necessarily but it is exactly what you pay for and so I don’t really think you should expect more. That is what leads to exasperation. All the staff have been courteous, helpful and friendly to me and I’ve been grateful of that. Other passengers for the most part have been more concerned with getting to their destination that worrying about me. I’ve always been able to plug my earphones in, go to sleep and not feel harassed or bothered in anyway. Yes, you need to have your wits about you – this is true of any course of travel – be aware of your surroundings and ensure you know how to get help or inform anyone if you feel unsafe at all but again I think this is true of any situation.
The best bit of advice I can give about getting the Greyhound is to be realistic about the experience, make the most of the situation and you will no doubt get to your destination with little trouble. Often when I’ve had long overnight journeys at the time I’ve been desperate for them to end but the next day once I’ve arrived at whereever I was going and had a shower all is forgotten. It was just a means to an end. And this is the situation for many people.
I’m proud I’ve completed all of my Greyhound journeys and I’ve had a very quintessential travel experience across the USA. This journey would not have been the same without it. In fact I wouldn’t have been able to make this journey without the Greyhound. It feels quite monumental that that part of my journey is now over. From now on, it’s all about flying…