When deciding how to get to New York City from Columbus at the last minute earlier this week, airfares were hefty, even for flights with connections that may or may not happen according to schedule. Fly to New York from Columbus and you’ll see what I mean. Frankly, when tossing in the realities of making my way through airport security, Greyhound was a better option. Last summer I traveled from New York to Columbus on the bus, and I’m still a fan of bus travel.
One advantage to bus travel was being able to leave at 11:25 p.m. Because it was a last minute trip, I had much to do before heading away from home for a few days. There wasn’t a flight that fit my needs.
Before embarking on a night bus, however, there are a few items to consider. Here are some tips to having a more restful, relaxing and enjoyable ride.
- Bring a neck pillow. Yes, I know a neck pillow looks sort of dumb, something that Mike could josh about in SkyMall Monday, but the one I brought along made a difference to how well I was able to sleep. Whether you’re in an aisle or a window seat, it works well.
- Bring socks if you’re wearing sandals. It feels good to slip off shoes. When my feet started getting cold I put socks on and was glad that I had them.
- Bring water. Unlike the airplane, you can buy water beforehand and bring it with you without a hassle.
- Bring something for listening to music. Sure, this might be obvious to most you Gadling readers, but I’m not a person who plugs into music. For this trip, though, I scrounged around the house for a portable CD player, bought a new pair of earplugs and grabbed some batteries along with a couple of CDs before I left the house. I only listened to a CD when I wanted to go to sleep. It helped relax me.
- Bring an apple or two. Apples travel well. Fresh fruit on a bus trip feels healthy.
- Bring a lightweight blanket–like maybe one you took from an airplane, by mistake. Or a shawl. The shawl I had was lightweight, but it helped give me a sense of comfort.
- Bring a few snacks. Even though you can buy snacks at rest stops, you may not find what you feel like eating and the rest stop may not have power. When we stopped in Pennsylvania, the electricity at the rest stop was out so I couldn’t get some of that yummy machine coffee I was so looking forward to.
Things to keep in mind:
- Keep your toothbrush and toothpaste handy in your carry-on bag. Brushing your teeth in the morning at the breakfast stop helps you feel fresh.
- If you do bring your toothbrush and toothpaste into the breakfast stop bathroom, don’t forget them there. Particularly if they are with your makeup bag. If you do that, be glad it wasn’t your money that you left behind. I know I’m glad.
- If the bus driver tells you not to get off the bus because it’s a quick stop, don’t get off the bus. One man got off in Newark, New Jersey and was left behind. People on the bus told his wife to tell him to take the Path train in order to meet up with her in Manhattan.If this happens to you, the Path train is on the second floor of the Newark terminal. At least, that’s what I heard.
- If you are stuck waiting for the transfer bus, like in Cleveland, Ohio at 3:00 a.m., for example, take the opportunity to people watch and be glad that there wasn’t enough room for everyone on the first bus. If you are on the 2nd bus, you might be lucky enough to sit by yourself. I was.
- And, best of all, enjoy the scenery as you roll by. Think about what it would be like on a wagon train. At least you have air-conditioning and a cushioned seat.It could be worse. You could be stuck in an airport wondering when your connecting flight will ever take off.
- One more thing. Even if you do put your bag under the bus, you can keep track of it since you are the one to transfer it from one bus to the next. After you pick it up after the luggage handler has set it next to the bus, put your suitcase in the line for the gate, chat with one of the people standing in line along with you, ask “Would you mind watching this for a second?” and then go to the bathroom. Everyone does this. At least they did in Cleveland.
- If there is an artist in you waiting to come out, release the muse. Look at these lovely sketches of people at the Cleveland bus terminal by Emily R. Feingold that I just came across.
I’ll be heading back to Columbus on another night bus tomorrow. Because it’s a bus ticket, as long as I’m heading from New York to Columbus, I can go on whichever bus suits my schedule.
Not a bad deal for $169 round trip, the cost for a last minute ticket. If I had purchased it a week earlier, it would have been cheaper.