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Cheap Bus Travel and other Transportation

Besides being cheap, bus travel has other advantages. Busses go where planes don't go, they are relaxing for those of us who really don't like to drive, and you can carry a lot of luggage on a bus, if you want to. Unfortunately, there is only one major bus company left that has service across the United States.

Greyhound Bus Lines

I would like to tell you all sorts of good things about cheap travel by Greyhound bus, but to be honest, the great deals seem to be gone, and the drivers get ruder every year. Still, at times it will be the least expensive option to get where you are going. Also, passengers who talk out loud to themselves and girls who flash everyone to prove they are strippers (some of my Greyhound experiences) make bus travel into adventure travel, of a sort.

There are some good things I can say about Greyhound. They're still easy about what you can bring on the bus. If you want to bring your pillow, and your portable DVD player, you can.

They are also still flexible about their tickets. If you decide to stay an extra few days in Denver before returning home, you can change the date on your return ticket for a $10 transfer charge, which they may forget to collect, as they did the last two times I changed dates.

Cheap bus travel by greyhound is possible if you buy the 7-day advance purchase tickets, so plan ahead. They also have some student and senior citizen discounts, and from time-to-time run specials. Their companion-fare deal (the second person travels free) will probably be gone by the time you read this, but ask anyhow, if you aren't traveling alone, and you can buy 7 days in advance, and are only going a short distance, and...who knows what rules they have now. For tickets, information, prices, schedules and more, visit Greyhound.com.

A couple warnings:

You are responsible for your own luggage. When you switch busses, you'll normally be asked to carry your things from one bus to the other. This is a good thing, since Greyhound is trying to compete with the airlines in the luggage-losing competition. Watch your things!

Always bring food and water. They will tell you that they stop every few hours so passengers can get something to eat, but the stops may not be where you want to eat, and if they are running late, the driver may not give you time to wait in line for bottled water. The drivers love to brag about the passenger they left behind because he was thirty seconds late to the bus.

Don't ever drink or smoke on the bus. The drivers are authorized to leave you on the side of the highway if you do, and are just waiting for the opportunity to do so. If your smoking habit is bad, hope for a driver that smokes. Then you'll get plenty of smoking breaks.

Cheap Bus Travel in Other Countries

Because it is less common to own a car in most other countries, the bus systems tend to be much more developed than here. Since there is demand, there is supply. Even the smallest towns often have several competing bus lines serving them.

We were happy to see, on our last trip to Ecuador, that not only were most of the crazy drivers gone, but the cross-country busses were far more comfortable than the Greyhound busses in the U.S. They showed movies and had reclining seats, and curtains. They are still cheap, as well.

While the cross-country busses in Ecuador are safe, it is not as safe to use the city busses. This is probably true in most countries. Cities are more convenient than highways for criminals. You can learn from my mistake if you read the story of how I was robbed on a bus, on the page "Travel Money Belts and Other Security Measures."

Some Tips For Cheap And Safe Bus Travel

Don't keep money and documents in easily-accessed pockets. Pickpockets often work through the crowd on busses in the cities. And don't be too sure that your pockets are such a challenge. It was forty minutes after the fact when I realized that my wallet had been taken from my zippered-shut pocket while I was packed on the Trolley in Quito. Fortunately, it was a "decoy wallet" put there for just such an occasion.

If you have luggage, keep it with you if at all possible. Also keep the straps wrapped around your arms, so it isn't easy for a thief to grab it. I see travelers putting their packs into the hold below, not knowing that if they asked the driver they could probably take them on the bus. Their luggage is exposed to theft as the hold is opened and closed at each stop. Once, when I was traveling in Mexico, someone was down below in the hold, cutting open the lining of the jacket in my backpack, removing the travelers checks inside, and sewing the lining back up. It was many hours before I knew that I'd been robbed.

Crowded busses are the most likely to have thieves on them, because it is easier to pick your pocket when you are standing, or it is loud and busy. Cheap or not, let the bus go by if it is too full, and wait for a less busy one. Alternately, travel by taxi.

Taxis in Foreign Countries

Be sure to ask the locals what the rules and rates are before you use taxis for the first time in another country. Taking a taxi is almost always safer than using city busses, but the taxi driver may not be the most scrupulous businessman. So take some basic precautions.

First, if it is allowed, negotiate the price in advance. Clarify exactly how much the fare will be to take you where you are going. If this isn't possible, be sure what the rate per kilometer or minute is, and watch the meter closely.

If you are at all familiar with the city you are in, watch where you are taken. Your hotel may be three times as far by the route the driver takes, and you will pay three times as much. This is an old trick of taxi drivers everywhere. At the very least, pretend you know the streets of the city, or ask a local how far it is to your destination before you get in the taxi cab.

Finally, just use your common sense and intuition. Don't get in cabs that don't seem "right." As long as you take some precautions, using taxis is safe, and almost as cheap as bus travel in some countries.


Other Pages:

United States Travel
Cheap Family Vacations
Cheap Solo Vacations
10 Cheap Vacations


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