Travel Tips United States of America

Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

When most people think of travel, planes, cars, trains, and even cruises come to mind. Bus travel is almost never considered as a way of long distance travel, at least in the United States. Is it time to consider booking a bus for your next trip or should you stick to whatever you normally do? I can’t give you a direct answer for this, but I can tell you all about my own experience!

A few months ago, I decided to take a Greyhound bus from Florida to New York. This was because I had already spent quite a bit of money to fly from New York to Germany, as well as fly back home. I’d never taken a bus out of state before, but as someone who loves saving money (who doesn’t?), it was time to give it a try! Here are some bus travel pros and cons I learned from my journey:

traveling by bus is really cheap!

The only reason I considered taking the bus from Kissimmee to New York City in the first place was because I assumed it would be affordable and I was completely right! It was actually cheaper than I expected. I’m not sure about other bus lines, but Greyhound actually gives you a discount code for your first ride if you create an Road Rewards account with them (this is NOT a sponsored post by the way, just a useful fact). In total, I only paid $59.20 for a one way trip. This means that if I had chosen to do this round trip, I would have only paid $118.40. Considering the fact that a round trip to New York by plane would normally cost me hundreds of dollars, this was amazing. 

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The bus has wi-fi and charging outlets

As a blogger (and just a 20 year old in general), having wi-fi and a way to keep my devices from dying on the road is a great perk. As I was booking my bus trip, seeing that I would have access to these things actually brought me some relief. I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping myself entertained on this incredibly long trip (I’ll get to the length of it soon).

…but the wi-fi sucks & the outlets might not work

Sadly, the Wi-Fi was worse than just using my phone’s data, so I just ended up not really using it. It worked because I was able to use it on my laptop to finish a quiz for one of my classes at the last minute (oops), but it was very annoyingly slow. You can forget watching Netflix on the bus because loading videos was pretty much impossible, at least for my ride. To make things worse, the outlets on the entire side of one of the buses I was on didn’t work at all. I had to transfer buses a couple of times and the first one was fine, but this was only about an hour trip. On the second bus I couldn’t charge my devices at all and neither could anyone else on my side. This was apparently due to some outage problem on the bus, so it’s probably not a common issue. However, I’d advise taking a portable charger.

the ride felt extremely long

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this bus ride felt like forever. I’ve taken planes to other continents and these didn’t feel half as bad as this bus ride up the east coast. Driving to New York from Central Florida (where Kissimmee is) takes about 16 hours. Taking the bus ended up taking about 30 hours. This is because there are constant stops along the way, many of them requiring you to get out of the bus and wait for hours to board again. From Kissimmee to New York City specifically, the stops included Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah, Fayetteville, Richmond, and Newark. If you’re feeling adventurous I suppose you could try and check out what’s nearby during the longer stops, but the bus driver made it very clear that they leave right on time and wouldn’t wait for you, so it’s not a risk I was willing to take.

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the food at the stations is decent

Unless you bring your own food, you’re going to have to buy something at one of the stations to eat. Honestly, I was a little worried that the food would be gross, but it’s not. I remember having fries with cheese and bacon bits at one station, chicken tenders at another, and buying some juice. The quality of the food is comparable to what you’d get at a fast food restaurant, which to me isn’t bad. The prices for food are affordable, too. Basically, your meals won’t be anything to brag about, but you definitely won’t starve.

comfort is extremely limited

You’re going to want to bring a neck pillow and blanket if you plan to take a bus trip because the seats are nothing special. I would compare them to your standard airplane seats; nothing awful, but nothing extremely comfortable. The awful thing is actually that when you finally manage to fall asleep, you’re randomly woken up to get off of the bus and wait at a station. Trust me, being woken up at 3 am to sit on a freezing cold bench in a tiny station is definitely not a fun time. When I think back on this bus trip, I vividly remember being cold and tired beyond belief.

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Conclusion: you get what you pay for

Like most things in life, you really get what you pay for when traveling by bus to another state. The price is extremely affordable compared to other methods of transportation, but it will usually take much longer to get to your destination. By the time you arrive, you’ll probably be exhausted. The bright side is that you can use the money you ended up saving on transportation for activities or accommodation. For me personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to take the bus to travel again because it was a long and uncomfortable experience. That doesn’t mean I would never do it again, but I would only do it if I desperately wanted to go somewhere and really couldn’t afford any other way of getting there. While it’s an annoying experience, it’s not so bad that I would miss a trip somewhere just to avoid it.

I do recommend this mode of transportation if you’re missing out on traveling simply because plane tickets are too expensive for you, but I wouldn’t do this just for the fun of it, because there really isn’t much (if any) fun to it.

Have you ever taken a bus to another state? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

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Comments (10)

  1. I often travel by bus in Europe and also travelled on a night bus in India. The longest I’ve ever been on one is 13 hours which felt like ages. Great to read about what it’s like travelling on a bus in the US.

    I think a 30 hour journey sounds very tiring, no matter what facilities and comfort options the bus offers. Great effort on doing it though. Life is all about experiences such as this.
    Mike recently posted…Favourite Pictures from my Travels in 2016My Profile

  2. This is a very interesting idea for a post. I can’t believe how cheap the bus fares are though. In Canada, 60 bucks would get you probably a 3-4 hour bus trip. I always enjoyed riding the buses when I was making trips home from college. It was a good way to unwind and clear you mind while not being stuck in front of a computer. Watching the landscapes is enjoyable as well. 30 hours is a long ride, though. Not sure I would ever do that. Maybe once!
    ADAM DOOLITTLE recently posted…MacMillan Provincial Park: The Gorgeous Grove of GiantsMy Profile

  3. I have personally traveled by bus many times from New York City to other cities that are 4 to 7 hours away. I agree that it is not the most comfortable way to travel but you can score pretty good deals and travel for cheap.

  4. Great post. Different perspective on traveling. I did my first Amtrak trip back in December. It’s certainly different from flying. Would love to try Greyhound some day, maybe on a solo trip.

  5. I’m pretty sure I’m going to take a bus trip over the next year from somewhere in the South to New York, where my mum lives. I think it would be a lot of fun and I was so impressed with the busses having WiFi and power outlets. So much better than the trains I’ve travelled on.

  6. Buses are definitely cheap, but I traveled by bus across New York once. I’ll never do it again. I ended up sitting next to a man that had just gotten out of 3 years of solitary. I was trying to be polite, but he talked to me the whole way to NYC then tried (rather aggressively) to convince me to do drugs with him outside of Port Authority. No thank you! I would personally not recommend long-distance bus travel unless absolutely necessary here in the US. Props to you for riding that thing all the way from Florida to New York! Phew that must have been quite the journey!
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  7. I imagine a bus would make me stir crazy, especially if I ran out of power in my electronics. With that said it seems like a good budget tip if you are in a crunch. I like the pros and cons. I guess you have to take the good with the bad 🙂

  8. 30 hours! That’s insane! I’ve taken a bus from Hungary to the UK before (and from Hungary to Greece on another occasion), which was roughly 36 hours, but only because we stopped in France overnight, and also in Belgium for a couple of hours. The journey to Greece was 20-something hours, but even that felt like it was taking forever! It *is* a cheap option, though – flights are so much more expensive!
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