Cheap Bus Travel and other Transportation
Besides being cheap, bus travel has other advantages. Busses
go where planes don't go, they are relaxing for those of us who
really don't like to drive, and you can carry a lot of luggage
on a bus, if you want to. Unfortunately, there is only one major
bus company left that has service across the United States.
Greyhound Bus Lines
I would like to tell you all sorts of good things about cheap
travel by Greyhound bus, but to be honest, the great deals seem
to be gone, and the drivers get ruder every year. Still, at times
it will be the least expensive option to get where you are going.
Also, passengers who talk out loud to themselves and girls who
flash everyone to prove they are strippers (some of my Greyhound
experiences) make bus travel into adventure travel, of a sort.
There are some good things I can say about Greyhound.
They're still easy about what you can bring on the bus. If you
want to bring your pillow, and your portable DVD player, you
They are also still flexible about their tickets. If you decide
to stay an extra few days in Denver before returning home, you
can change the date on your return ticket for a $10 transfer
charge, which they may forget to collect, as they did the last
two times I changed dates.
Cheap bus travel by greyhound is possible if you buy the 7-day
advance purchase tickets, so plan ahead. They also have some
student and senior citizen discounts, and from time-to-time run
specials. Their companion-fare deal (the second person travels
free) will probably be gone by the time you read this, but ask
anyhow, if you aren't traveling alone, and you can buy 7 days
in advance, and are only going a short distance, and...who knows
what rules they have now. For tickets, information, prices, schedules
and more, visit Greyhound.com.
A couple warnings:
You are responsible for your own luggage. When you
switch busses, you'll normally be asked to carry your things
from one bus to the other. This is a good thing, since Greyhound
is trying to compete with the airlines in the luggage-losing
competition. Watch your things!
Always bring food and water. They will tell you that they
stop every few hours so passengers can get something to eat,
but the stops may not be where you want to eat, and if they are
running late, the driver may not give you time to wait in line
for bottled water. The drivers love to brag about the passenger
they left behind because he was thirty seconds late to the bus.
Don't ever drink or smoke on the bus. The drivers are authorized
to leave you on the side of the highway if you do, and are just
waiting for the opportunity to do so. If your smoking habit is
bad, hope for a driver that smokes. Then you'll get plenty of
Cheap Bus Travel in Other Countries
Because it is less common to own a car in most other countries,
the bus systems tend to be much more developed than here. Since
there is demand, there is supply. Even the smallest towns often
have several competing bus lines serving them.
We were happy to see, on our last trip to Ecuador, that not
only were most of the crazy drivers gone, but the cross-country
busses were far more comfortable than the Greyhound busses in
the U.S. They showed movies and had reclining seats, and curtains.
They are still cheap, as well.
While the cross-country busses in Ecuador are safe, it is
not as safe to use the city busses. This is probably true in
most countries. Cities are more convenient than highways for
criminals. You can learn from my mistake if you read the story
of how I was robbed on a bus, on the page "Travel
Money Belts and Other Security Measures."
Some Tips For Cheap And Safe Bus Travel
Don't keep money and documents in easily-accessed pockets.
Pickpockets often work through the crowd on busses in the cities.
And don't be too sure that your pockets are such a challenge.
It was forty minutes after the fact when I realized that my wallet
had been taken from my zippered-shut pocket while I was packed
on the Trolley in Quito. Fortunately, it was a "decoy wallet"
put there for just such an occasion.
If you have luggage, keep it with you if at all possible.
Also keep the straps wrapped around your arms, so it isn't easy
for a thief to grab it. I see travelers putting their packs into
the hold below, not knowing that if they asked the driver they
could probably take them on the bus. Their luggage is exposed
to theft as the hold is opened and closed at each stop. Once,
when I was traveling in Mexico, someone was down below in the
hold, cutting open the lining of the jacket in my backpack, removing
the travelers checks inside, and sewing the lining back up. It
was many hours before I knew that I'd been robbed.
Crowded busses are the most likely to have thieves on them,
because it is easier to pick your pocket when you are standing,
or it is loud and busy. Cheap or not, let the bus go by if it
is too full, and wait for a less busy one. Alternately, travel
Taxis in Foreign Countries
Be sure to ask the locals what the rules and rates are before
you use taxis for the first time in another country. Taking a
taxi is almost always safer than using city busses, but the taxi
driver may not be the most scrupulous businessman. So take some
First, if it is allowed, negotiate the price in advance. Clarify
exactly how much the fare will be to take you where you are going.
If this isn't possible, be sure what the rate per kilometer or
minute is, and watch the meter closely.
If you are at all familiar with the city you are in, watch
where you are taken. Your hotel may be three times as far by
the route the driver takes, and you will pay three times as much.
This is an old trick of taxi drivers everywhere. At the very
least, pretend you know the streets of the city, or ask a local
how far it is to your destination before you get in the taxi
Finally, just use your common sense and intuition. Don't get
in cabs that don't seem "right." As long as you take
some precautions, using taxis is safe, and almost as cheap as
bus travel in some countries.