A cross-country bus trip is one of those things that can either be an incredibly fun and positive experience or a total nightmare. It all comes down to a few key factors, like what bus company you book a ticket with and how well you prepare for a long trip. If this is your first time traveling cross-country on a bus, don’t board without arming yourself with these four helpful cross-country road trip tips.
1. Map Out Where You Want to Go
Although you may not be the one doing the driving, you’ll want to have a firm plan for where you want to go. Are you starting somewhere in the Midwest and traveling to the state of California? Are you planning to travel from coast to coast? Decide how many destinations and cities you want to hit along the way, and plan scheduling and accommodations accordingly. There are several routes you could take, like a drive through the Black Hills of South Dakota off Exit 131 on I-90 or a stunning scenic adventure over 469 miles of scenic foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway that takes you from Shenandoah to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Let your imagination run wild. Dream up all the places you want to visit on your cross-country road trip, and then plan the logistics of your route.
2. Bring Your Sense of Adventure
When you’re on a cross-country bus trip, you’re never really alone. Literally. That even applies to solo travelers. You will be on this great adventure with plenty of strangers who are interested in seeing and experiencing the same things as you. Obviously, you want to keep your wits about you and still exercise some self-preservation street smarts. Don’t blindly trust anyone you don’t know, but also don’t shut yourself off from a potentially great experience talking to a fellow traveler. Strike up a friendly conversation with the person riding next to you. You never know what new things you could learn and what sorts of interesting people you will end up meeting. Who knows? You may even end up with a new travel buddy or a lifelong friend.
3. Splurge on First Class
Didn’t realize that, like trains and planes, there are first-class options on buses too? It’s important to keep in mind that not all bus companies are created equal. Some companies have buses that are outdated and rundown and might not have the best and safest travel options. When it comes to bus travel, don’t try to pinch a penny. Be open to spending a little more in order to gain a lot more. When you are on a long road trip, the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable by riding a bus with cramped seats, no Wi-Fi, and no toilets. Your trip will be that much better and more memorable if you shell out a few extra bucks for plush seating with lots of room, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, TV, restrooms, and refreshments.
4. Do Overnights Right
It takes three days to travel from the East Coast to the West Coast, which means it also takes at least two nights. If you’ve never ridden on a bus overnight before, it pays to come prepared. Anyone who has ever traveled by train or plane overnight will find that riding a bus is not much different. There are a few cross-country road trip tips that can make a night away from your bed a bit more comfortable.
Start by initiating your typical bedtime routine. If you are wearing makeup, clean your face with soothing cleansing pads to give you a fresh, clean feel before falling asleep. Brush your teeth and settle down with some music or a book. Keep your electronics away from you for at least 30 minutes prior to falling asleep since smartphones tend to keep you stimulated. Pack a neck pillow to keep you comfortable and prevent being unpleasantly awakened by a stiff neck in the morning.
Some people require sleeping pills or a natural alternative like melatonin to get a restful night’s sleep on the road. You may also want to pack earplugs and an eye mask if you are a restless sleeper. Finally, pack a hoodie or a small blanket since it will likely get cooler in the evening. If overnight bus travel is absolutely out of the question, purchase a few bus tickets along the route that you’re taking and stay overnight in hotels instead.
Feeling prepared enough to embark on your first cross-country bus trip? Start by buying a ticket from BusTickets.com today!