The United States of America is huge. From the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific it’s going to take you about a week to get across if you’re going overland, and you’ll do 2,680 miles at its shortest point. If you’re going north to south you’ll clock up 1,582 miles. To get an idea of the scale, Texas is twice the size of Germany. The country’s total area is 3,794,083 square miles, so there’s a lot for you to explore, and boasting the longest road network in the world (nearly 5 million miles of it) it’s best done on wheels!
While hiring a car and taking the great American road trip might seem like the stuff dreams are made of, there are less strenuous and cheaper alternatives – namely bus travel. Here’s why you should give this resurging mode of transport a go.
Car hire is pricy to begin with, especially when you include gas and insurance on top of the initial fee, and that’s not to mention any repairs you might have to cover along the way. Prices are generally rising too. Trains can set you back a fair bit and we barely have to mention flying. Getting from city to city by us in the US can be incredibly cheap, with some carriers offer $1 fares for some routes. Just don’t expect to be in the lap of luxury!
Bus timetables generally offer more options than train and flight counterparts, so you’ve got more flexibility when it comes to your departure time. If you’re looking for multiple bus schedules from Atlanta to Houston for example, you know you’ve got it. It’s a lot easier to organize the departure of a bus than it is an aircraft, so for the most part, they’re more reliable and you should be leaving on time too. Wherever you want to go, whenever you want to go there, you’ll be able to find an option.
With easy hop-on hop-off choices across the country, bus travel is super convenient. You’ve got total peace of mind, as someone else is doing all the driving and ferrying you wherever your little heart desires.
You don’t have to worry about directions, breaking down, running out of gas or (heaven forbid) getting into an accident or being pulled over by the police. It’s just nice and easy, so you can relax and enjoy your journey. Which is how it should be.
Beat the Queues
It doesn’t take hours to get through security to board a bus, which is, unfortunately, a necessary evil when it comes to flying. You’ll rarely be waiting longer than a few minutes before you can take your seat, and that can be a godsend when it comes to weary travelers.
Added to this, you don’t have to turn up to the depot hours in advance before departure, as you can literally rock up with minutes to spare and board with minimal fuss. Bus travel is considerably better for your blood pressure than any other form of transport!
Watch the World Go By
There’s nothing quite like the ability to stare out of the window and take in the scenery as you’re traveling overland. You certainly can’t do it if you’re driving – and we wouldn’t recommend trying. Trains are useful for this too, but as we previously mentioned, the US has the most tarmac in the world, so you’re likely to see more from the road than you are from the rail. So, sink back into your seat and let the view from your window sooth your troubles – you’re going to see some amazing sights, that’s for sure!
Now don’t scoff at this please, because bus travel is a lot more comfortable than you might think. Gone are the days of rattling across the country on an old boneshaker while someone blows cigarette smoke in your face.
The quality of the coaches and the investment companies have made has come a long way in recent years. Seats are modern and comfortable; more legroom is available and most long-distance services will have toilet facilities on board. There’s even free Wifi available – which is awesome when it works!
Cleaner and Greener
Bus travel is considerably better for the environment than taking an aircraft, so that’s something to take into consideration the next time you’re trying to offset your carbon footprint.
A bus full of people is a lot more pleasant for mother nature than the same amount of people all driving separately in cars. US bus stalwarts Greyhound have been doing their bit to reduce their emissions and have significantly improved their fleet down the years – and not just for the environment either.
It’s extremely rare for a bus service to lose your belongings, as everything is loaded up in the cargo hold right below where you’re sitting. Aside from that, with security not being as tight, you can bring more “prohibited” items onto a bus. Like a bottle of 300ml shampoo. And if you’re transporting a four-legged friend a bus can be a more viable option – although you might have to check with the carrier beforehand, just to be on the safe side.
There’s something wistfully romantic about budget bus travel, even (and often especially) if you’re traveling solo. It’s a great adventure that can lead you to some wonderful experiences in any country, but there’s a nostalgic, magical air about taking a bus across the US. It’s been sung about in a gazillion songs that’s for sure! And as Jack Kerouac said; “the road is life!”
And you never know, you just might meet that special someone in the seat next to yours while laughing about the guy snoring like a bear behind you.
What do you guys think about bus travel around the world? Let us know your thoughts!