The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Bus Travel


Welcome to “A Complete Idiot’s Guide” where you will be guided by me, a complete idiot. This week? Bus Travel. Please enjoy this advice, which differs from all the other idiotic advice out there in that instead of being for a complete idiot it is written by a complete idiot. I think that makes all the difference.

Considering a vacation anywhere in the United States? Look no further than your local bus depot. Greyhound or Peter Pan: what says reliable transit better than skittish dogs that are highly sensitive to the cold or a fantastical character that kidnaps wealthy British children? If you’d rather ride something that sounds like it should be fighting Crocosaurus — or another prehistoric sea creature in a terrible made-for-TV movie — then Bolt, Neon or Megabus are okay choices. However, if you really want to get anywhere, then you’d better go with Ultra F-cking Galactic Infinity bus — which coincidentally is the English translation of “Fung Wah.”

With a wealth of destination possibilities, perhaps even including the one you requested, the bus is a traveler’s best friend. You know how your best friend always makes you meet them in a dirty building full of pigeons, or underneath a rusty bridge nearby an open-air fish market on a swelteringly hot day with your rolling suitcase and a backpack that’s sagging from the weight of your laptop, water bottle and the hairdryer you probably don’t need? Well, the bus does exactly the same thing only they charge you for it. Here are some of the best tips around for before you take your next bus vacation:

Make sure to choose a bus that offers free Wi-Fi.

That way you’ll have an instant conversation starter with your seatmate when the Wi-Fi does not work. And the Wi-Fi will definitely not work. It will not work at all. Don’t even bother trying it.

A lot of people don’t know this, but it is actually illegal for buses to provide free Wi-Fi. It is due to article 16 of the Declaration of Independence that reads “Buses will always be terrible.” That is why most bus companies use the brilliant loophole of merely offering free Wi-Fi. The offered Wi-Fi is one that they never, ever, ever plan to actually provide to their riders.

In fact, if you read the fine print on your tickets, buses also offer many other amenities including the following: free organ transplants, free single-use flame-throwers, free a million dollars underneath your seat, free bus, and free electrical outlets. In reality, you will not find any of these things available. However, all buses, no matter what company, do provide a free and incredibly comprehensive course in managing expectations.

Leave your headphones at home.

How will you ever hear those three collegiate nerds arguing about the top computer science programs in the northeast if you’re busy listening to music? Don’t you want to know why the woman behind you is never going to set foot in Filene’s basement again and how it relates to the Bachelorette finale? If your listening canals are blocked up by a pair of stupid earbuds, then you’re going to miss those wonders and that five-year-old’s temper tantrum — which would be sad for you because it’s probably juice-related and going to last several hours.

Dress Appropriately

Your best bet is a parka over a bathing suit. The bus has two temperatures: “industrial freezing” and “Egyptian tomb stifle.” You will get to know both of them very well, no matter how long your trip may be. While you may literally be on a bus, figuratively, you are on a rollercoaster of temperatures. That means they plummet and skyrocket in quick succession as if a fire and an iceberg were attacking you. Even more figuratively, you are on a bus of temperatures. That means unlike a rollercoaster, you can never, ever get off and these highs and lows will be endless.

Avoid learning how to tell time.

This is probably the most important bus travel advice anyone can get anywhere. Whatever you do, do not learn how to use a watch, calculate distances, or even how to ask people what time it is. Yes, if you’re planning to ride the bus, try not to learn how to talk. If you already know how to tell time, your bus travel will be drastically impinged on by the fact that time stops on buses. The most simple method of calculating your arrival is to wait until your bladder is so full that the tears pouring out of your eyes might, in fact, be urine, then add that to the number of times someone kicked your seat, divide by the parts of you that are not numb and then multiply by the number of cars surrounding you in this bumper-to-bumper traffic. Or you can just take the estimated trip length and double it.

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