The bus sucks, but it is an order of magnitude cheaper than flights and allow your attention to stray more than driving a car (at least for the next few years).
In order to get through a long bus trip as stress free as possible, you need to plan ahead. Here is my strategy for every trip.
Red Eye buses and planes got that name for a reason. An overnight trip is a guaranteed fitful night of sleep leaving you groggy and unproductive the following day. However, a day trip is total waste of your day and inspires violent cabin fever. The best strategy is to get a trip that either arrives late (think 10p-1a) or leaves early (4:30a-7a). This way you can plan to get 4-5 hours of base sleep in a real bed, and catch another 2-3 on the bus. If it takes 4 hours to get 3, all the better, you just cut your ride in half.
24 Hours Prior
The key to comfort is as much seat space as possible (the main selling point for first class plane tickets).
To maximize your probability of getting a free seat next to you, you're going to have to employ some GAME THEORY.
Step One - get in line early enough to snag your own pair of seats.
Step Two - Defend your turf. Right of the bat, men are going to have an advantage. We are larger and generally perceived as less friendly or hygienic. Your fellow passengers are looking for a quiet, no-drama ride when choosing someone to sit with. You need to look loud, large, stinky and/or rude.
Ladies, this is the time to let loose your crazy cat brain or pack twenty extra unnecessary things. Throw on headphones and apply resting bitchface.
Dudes, manspread and stack everything you own on the seat next to you. AVOID EYE CONTACT AT ALL COSTS. The eyes are the gateway to the soul so make like Donald Trump and put up a wall.
If you fail, be polite, the person sitting next to you isn’t excited about this either.
You need to dress in layers. The bus can and will go from freezing cold air-conditioning to a non-ventilated sauna in the blink of an eye. It is the will of the gods and most bus drivers will not be bothered to adjust any settings for you.
Pack non-perishables that are not going to be temperature dependent. Nuts, PBJs, and water are staples. Chocolate and guacamole are luxuries.
Congrats, you got your own pair of seats and crushed a 3 hour nap. We are now 5 hours to our destination with only one rest stop.
Do Not Count on Wifi
Just trust me. While I'm sure the technology to provide adequate wifi on a moving bus has been figured out, no company has made the considerable requisite investment.
Pack two books
I know you usually don't read, but this is a special case. It can be brutally boring and the solitude of a long journey will actually allow you to be absorbed by a medium that you have sacrificed in favor of Insta-pics, moderately witty tweets and useless blog posts. Show some discipline and bang some literature out.
If all else fails, just listen to people talk.
Bus people are neurotic and or crazy. Enjoy the ride.
Disclosure; Everything written above was transcribed in the back of a 114 degree Megabus somewhere in eastern PA by a dehydrated, malnourished, sleep-deprived blogger. Apply these principles at your own risk.
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