I’ve been lucky enough to have had many opportunities to travel in the U.S. as well as abroad. When I travel, I take trains, planes, automobiles, busses, bikes, boats, and even my own feet. If I had to pick a favorite, though, I would definitely choose to take a bus. Here are six reasons why:
1. The Scenery
Most of us travel because, well, we want to see something new. When you’re wandering around new cities, you certainly see the sights. But what about when you’re traveling between cities? Most people opt for a flight because it saves time. It can be fun to watch the clouds outside the airplane window, but after awhile it gets boring. On a bus, you never stop seeing interesting sights out the windows: people’s homes, farms, animals, children playing, cities, mountains in the distance, a small town square... Sometimes I wish bus rides were longer just so I could keep looking at the scenery.
2. The Company
Airplanes have this strange effect on people – everyone just falls asleep as soon as they get on (except the babies; they scream). Busses have less of a drowsy effect, and you’re more likely to get the opportunity to chat with your traveling companions. I once met a fellow traveler on a bus in Spain, and we ended up exploring Sevilla together and having a great time. Traveling by bus is a good way to find new travel buddies.
3. The Price
There’s no argument here: Bus travel is the most affordable option. Not only that, but these days most long-distance busses offer all the same (or more!) amenities you would find in a train or airplane. In Turkey they served snacks on the bus, and on Megabus in the U.S. they offer Wifi. I’ve also found that using a promo code when you book bus tickets is a good way to avoid straining your travel budget.
4. The Flexibility
When I travel, I like to leave my plans open for changes or adaptation. If you’re depending on train or air travel, you usually have to make reservations in advance. Then if you want to change or cancel your reservation, there is usually a fee or at least some hassle. Busses make your travel plans much more flexible. They usually leave several times a day from big cities, and generally you can just show up at the bus station and get on the next bus without any advance planning involved.
5. The Unpredictable
If you’re like me, you seek out adventure when you travel. You want to see something interesting and strange, something that will make a great story when you get home. Trains and planes tend to be very predictable. They leave on schedule (usually) and take you to where you are going. On busses, however, you might get the opportunity for adventure. When I took a bus to Istanbul, Turkey, the driver decided to let us off on the outskirts of the city instead of the city center where we needed to go. Not knowing any Turkish, my friend and I were completely lost! Luckily some friendly locals helped us find our way, and we had a funny little story to tell. Which gets me to my next point:
6. The Locals
Whether you’re traveling in a foreign country or the good ol’ USA, the truth is that you’re more likely to find locals on the busses than in the sky. A lot of times, they can really help you out on your travels. I one befriended a local on a bus in India, and he ended up directing me to the best affordable hotel in town and showing me the local places to eat momos and drink chai. He even showed me the way to the town temple, a beautiful sight to see. A bus is a good place to meet locals and get their recommendations and insights for your travel plans. After all, they know best!