The Greyhound bus service is a truly iconic American institution – and for good reason. It connects hubs across America and Canada; it is pretty affordable, and the buses themselves are also fairly luxe for what they are.
If you are planning on catching the Greyhound for the first time, you might be nervous or full of questions. But fear not. It isn’t as nerve-wracking as it may seem! Here are some things you need to know on how to catch the Greyhound like a pro for a smooth and safe trip as a first-timer.
What to Do When Getting the Greyhound for the First Time
- Get there early
The Greyhound buses usually run on time, so you shouldn’t really be worried about them leaving the bus station before their allotted time. You also don’t necessarily need to buy the ticket there; you can find the best transport deals using Wanderu.
However, you might be surprised that the Greyhound bus stations themselves can be a little complicated sometimes. This is why you should strive to be there at least thirty minutes early.
You can get yourself oriented, check in, find the departure door, and work out where the line will be. If you get there early, you can also be first in line and first on the bus, meaning you can get your pick of the seats too.
- Taking a bag
You are allowed one checked bag for free on a Greyhound bus, with additional bags costing more.
If you are traveling for long enough to need a bag, try to choose one that is somewhat unique looking. You want it to stand out because bags are easy to lose track of.
If you haven’t got a unique-looking bag, or you don’t want to buy a new one, then tie a small scarf or bandana on the handle.
If you don’t need to take a bag with you, then you can avoid this altogether. You are allowed to take a small bag with you on the bus itself, which might be enough.
- Choosing a seat
Growing up, the cool kids always sat at the back of the bus, and this mindset tends to stick, so most people’s instinct is to get on the Greyhound and head straight to the back. This means the back tends to fill up more quickly than the front.
This is rather fortuitous though, because, on the Greyhound, you should try to sit nearer to the front. Sitting near the front of the bus often means a quieter trip, and you can get on and off the bus more quickly and easily.
- The bathroom on the bus
While every effort is made to clean the Greyhound bus before each trip, it won’t be cleaned during the trip itself, so a long journey can make for a gross bathroom.
You also don’t know who else has used it either. As such, if you aren’t among the first people to use the bathroom, it is better to try and avoid doing so later. Instead, you should do your best to go to the restroom before you get on the bus and wait to use it again until the bus stops.
Also, try not to drink too much on the bus if you can avoid it. It will help you prevent or reduce the number of bathroom trips you make during the journey.
- Your carry-on
While crime on Greyhound buses is rare, you should never leave your carry-on luggage unattended lest it be stolen or misplaced.
When the bus stops, and you have the opportunity to get off the bus for a toilet or food break, you should always take your carry-on with you. This might seem like an annoyance, but losing your bag would be more stressful. Your carry-on luggage should be pretty small anyway, making it easy to bring along wherever you go.
- Taking a break
Depending on the route and how long the journey is, you are likely to find that the Greyhound bus makes stops for you to get off, use the bathroom, stretch your legs, and get something to eat.
During these stops, the driver will usually tell you how long the break will be, what you can bring back with you, and maybe even recommend a few places you should head to or advice for where you should get food or find a bathroom.
Listen to the driver; they will not wait for you if you aren’t back on the Greyhound bus in time.
- Your ticket
You obviously need your ticket when first boarding the Greyhound bus, and you would be forgiven for thinking you won’t need it again, but this is not necessarily the case.
Your ticket might be checked at every stop or whenever you try to re-enter the bus. This is why you should keep your ticket on your person and keep it safe until you reach your destination and get off the bus for the last time.
The Greyhound bus is a great option for both local and cross-country travel. It is accessible, and it very much allows you to take the scenic route. All-in-all, traveling on the Greyhound does have a lot to recommend it.
However, if you have never done it before, then there is the possibility of a couple of things going awry. But with the above tips, you now know what to do when getting the Greyhound for the first time so you can have a smooth and safe trip.
This is a contributed post.
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