If you are planning a trip on the Greyhound bus there are a few things you need to know.
Below are a list of things I wish I had known before I took my first trip on Greyhound.
1. Your Ticket is Your Lifeline
While you are traveling on Greyhound keep your ticket with you at all times. You will have to show your ticket whenever you change buses and you may be required to show it to get back the same bus. If you lose your ticket you will have to purchase another ticket to your final destination. So hang on to your ticket at all costs.
2. Carry on Bags Must Fit in Overhead Bin or Under Seat
You are allowed to bring one carry on bag on the Greyhound bus free of charge.
There are no weight restrictions on your carry on bag but it must fit in the overhead bin or under your seat.
Greyhound doesn't publish any exact dimensions for it's overhead bins but they are about the standard industry size.
If you purchase a suitcase that is listed as 'carry on size' it will fit in the overhead bins on the Greyhound bus.
Here's a extra tip: While Greyhound's official policy is that you are only allowed one carry on bag, you usually can get away with bringing an extra bag. Provided you can find a place to store it on the bus that isn't in anyone's way. I usually travel with a small carry on sized suitcase as well as a backpack and I have never had any issues.
3. Checked Bags Must Weigh 50lbs or Less
You are allowed to bring one checked bag on the bus free of charge. Your checked bag must weigh 50lbs or less. When you check in at the station before your trip your checked bag will be weighed and if it is overweight you will have to pay an additional fee. While the first checked bag is free you will have to pay extra for any additional bags.
4. Trips Take Longer Than Flying or Driving
Your Greyhound bus trip will take way longer than the same trip would if you were flying or driving. Greyhound buses make lots of stops to pick up and drop off passengers along each route. The bus also stops every few hours for bathroom and food breaks.
If you are taking a long trip you may even have to transfer buses which usually involves a layover at a Greyhound bus station. Layovers can vary in length from 15 or 20 minutes up to several hours. Be sure to look into the total length of you trip, as well as any transfers and layovers you may have, before you make your ticket purchase.
5. Most Greyhound Buses Board on First Come, First Serve Basis
Most Greyhound buses are boarded on a first come, first serve basis, which means that the first person in line gets on the bus first.
There are boarding numbers on the tickets and a few stations use them to board buses but it's more the exception than the rule.
I always recommend being as close to the front of the boarding line as possible since this means you will get first pick of the seats on the bus. This also means that you will probably not be affected if there is an overbooking issue.
So as soon as you figure out where the boarding line is going to form for your bus-get in line! Trust me, standing in line for a few extra minutes will be well worth it.
6. Expect Delays
Greyhound buses are notorious for being behind schedule. A 15 or 30 minute delay is common, and sometimes your bus may even be delayed an hour or more. This can be frustrating especially when you have transfers to catch later in your trip. But if you are expecting delays it makes them much easier to deal with.
I always book my trip so that I am scheduled to arrive at my final destination hours, if not a whole day, before I need to actually be there. That way if there are delays I won't miss out on my reason for traveling.
7. Don't Expect Much Customer Service
Greyhound isn't known for having the best customer service, so don't expect too much help during your trip.
The sheer number of people who travel through the Greyhound network on a daily basis makes it hard for the few people at each station to provide adequate help to all passengers.
And to be honest I don't think customer service is as high a priority to Greyhound as getting passengers on buses and on their way.
So don't expect the same level of help and support that you might be used to if you usually fly or take the train. My advice is to learn as much about traveling on Greyhound as you can before your trip so you won't really need any help.
8. Food & Drinks Are Permitted
You are allowed to bring food and drinks on the Greyhound bus. The only drinks that are prohibited are alcoholic beverages. So feel free to pack snacks and/or meals to eat while you are traveling. Bringing along a water bottle you can fill up from time to time is a good idea as well.
The bus stops every few hours at either a fast food restaurant or a convenience store so alternatively you can buy something to eat and drink then and bring it back on the bus. Most Greyhound bus stations have vending machines and some even have food courts but keep in mind that the prices are a little steep and the selection is limited.
9. You Will Meet Some Interesting People
One of the best things about riding the Greyhound bus is the people you will meet. People of all walks of life ride the Greyhound bus and it's a great opportunity to interact with people who are different than yourself. I have sat next to and had conversations with people that I probably would have never met otherwise and really enjoyed it.
Now on the other hand you will run into some folks who are 'interesting' in a negative way. Greyhound seems to attract people who may not be at the best place in their lives. You will see drunks, drug addicts, homeless people, and some people who are clearly suffering from mental illness. Most of the time they are harmless, but always stay alert. You don't need your trip to be delayed because of an incident with a fellow passenger.
10. You Are Responsible For Your Luggage
Throughout your trip you will be responsible for making sure your luggage is safe and gets on the right bus.
Keep your carry on bags with you at all times, even during food breaks, and especially at the stations.
Watch your checked bag and make sure it gets loaded under the bus you are boarding.
Try and get off the bus as quickly as possible to claim your checked bag when you are transferring buses and when your trip is over.
Never leave your bag sitting alone even for a few moments because there are people who frequent Greyhound just to steal bags from unsuspecting passengers. If you do lose a bag immediately tell a Greyhound employee or your bus driver.
Hopefully you will be able to use the tips listed above to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip the next time you ride the Greyhound bus!