Have you ever used Greyhound – If so how was it?

Submitted question: I’m looking at what it will cost to see my parents in the Nashville, TN area over Christmas. I’m traveling from New Jersey. It’s pretty depressing to look at the discounted prices even 5 months out. Anyway right now Greyhound is far and away the cheapest but they say the trip is 25 hours long. If anyone has every used Greyhound for a trip in that length range, how was it?

I’ve collected a few responses. Please add your comments below if you can help.

Response #1: Of course my suggestion is to either take a cheap flight or train ride to your destination. But if you have no choice but to take the bus for budge reasons, here are tips I picked up after riding Greyhound on a consistant basis.

1) Try to schedule taking Peter Pan bus as much as possible. It’s the same company but Peter Pan buses have better and more comfortable seats (leg room is important).

2) Try to enter the bus somewhere in the middle of the line, never early. Reason being, if you get in the bus too early, you can’t control who you sit next too. If you enter the bus somewhere in the middle, you have a decent shot at picking an OK person to sit to.

3) iPod, cd player are a must. Make sure you have enough music to pass the time properly.

4) People who pick YOU to sit next too, they can have body odor, or eat fried chicken and wipe their hands on their shirt to clean…….in the process smell like greesy fried chicken for the entire lenth of your trip.

To combat this, carry an orange in your backpack/jacket pocket. Peel the orange slowly durning your trip if someone sitting near you smells. Each time you peel the orange, the citrus scent will mask most of these odors.

5) Finally, don’t sleep on the bus. Even prior to that horrific Canadian Greyhound story, I never felt it safe to sleep on those buses. If your trip is 20 hours, try to sleep\nap prior to you leave on this trip and stay awake the whole time.

Response #2: took it when I moved from San Fran to NY in ’02. Did it b/c shipping my stuff with greyhound was the cheapest way back then. My horror story is that my bus broke down in the middle of the Utah desert on a 95 degree day, and we had to wait 3 hours standing around an exit ramp for a replacement bus to pick us up. But besides that, the rest of the ride wasn’t bad. For about 80% percent of the way, I could get my own seat, so there weren’t any smell issues, and I didn’t see a lot of sketchy people, though I watched my backpack like a hawk. I remember staying in a hotel in Chicago, where I met a nice Tibetan family from the bus. Still, I’d keep looking for a cheap flight.

Response #3: I’ve taken buses all over and not just greyhound – I often take the “Chinatown bus” from D.C. to NYC when I visit family – that costs as low as $15 each way.

On Greyhound I’ve done countless ~4 hour trips, as well as Nashville to DC, Vegas to LA, and the Ironman Seattle to Denver which topped out at 50 hours. I don’t mind them at all – I don’t get bored very easily (music, reading, or just space out for hours at a time) and I find Amtrak prices just offensive. Flat out absurd. $110 one way D.C. to Penn? Gimme a break. I’ve also ridden all over the country via craigslist “rideshare” including from Denver to Vegas with a guy who turned out to be an amazing person and from San Fran to Denver with a raging hippie who was driving all the way to NY State.

I’ve never had any problems with travel (knock on wood) and enjoy the aberrations that buses or rides with random people tend to bring. Plus since I don’t have any kids, I have little to lose. That said, if you have the coin – train rides are always preferable since they’re faster and you can get bombed in the cafe car.

Response #4: What they don’t tell you when you buy your tickets is that you aren’t reserving a spot on a bus. You’re buying the right to ride that bus, or a bus after that to your destination. If the bus is full at your connection, sorry next bus isn’t for 6 hours. Oh, and we wont tell you what gate ahead of time, that way all the people that show up right before then can beat you to the line when it is announced.

Response #5: I had a “one and done” experience with greyhound and mind you this is only from Albany, NY to Port Authority, NYC which is a 2 hour 30 min ride tops.

I could not stand how crammed in it was and the type of crowd that was on the bus. Some really really weird people on the bus. Crying babies for the whole ride. I ditched my ticket for the way back and opted for Amtrak instead. I could have just had a one time bad experience but I’ve heard from other people, they haven’t faired too much better.

Look into how much an Amtrak ticket would cost you but, because I really wouldn’t wish a 25 hour greyhound trip on anyone.

Anddd…to add to that, there was an article maybe a month ago about a guy getting decapitated on a greyhound bus trip. Obviously that’s pretty extreme, but it’s not suprising.

So I did some research for you. Looks like you can fly round trip for about $300, not including car service to Newark or Phily airport if necessary. You could also rent a car and drive yourself down there. Anything is better than a 25 hour Greyhound bus trip.

OK, add your comments if you have anything to share.

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  1. Roberto says:

    In 1988 the cheapest way to crossing USA was the Gray’s, we traveled from Laredo Texas to Montreal in twenty days… Stayed at New Orleans, Atlanta, DC, NYC and Montreal with Quebec City Inclusive. Back trough NYC, Phildelphia, Nashville, Dallas, San Antonio and finish Laredo to cross the Border to my town in Monterrey. How Much? $199 Ameri-pass ticket, Gallon Gas price then? sorry I can’t remember. Nice times at USA. USA is always a Big place to take a Ride.


  2. Donald Reid says:

    I am an American, presently resident in Brazil. Last year I traveled to the states for my daughters high school graduation and took Greyhound from Miami to Houston – 36 hours at a discounted price of $ 98.00 for senior citizen. I am used to taking long bus trips in Brazil and I remember when Greyhound was the way to go when I was younger. I couldn´t believe this trip. They treated everyone like prisoners in the bus stations and the only things to eat unless you got away from the stops was from machines. In Brazil the cross country buses are great; stopping every two hours enroute for a break; decent food (hot) at quality resturants; clean luxary buses, etc. When I returned to Miami from Houston I took the plane – 2 hours at $ 108.00 – great.

  3. Carol Malin says:

    Rode the bus from Columbus OH to Buffalo NY..no leg room, or any room for that matter, so don’t bring a carry on pc of luggage…there’s no place to put it! Check your bag(s). Bus was dirty and so were most of the passengers….try to take the train or fly….

  4. k says:

    i traveled just about that length on greyhound a couple of years ago to save money on a trip from milwaukee to columbus, mississippi. the ride was so long, i was exhausted, we had to switch trains at about 2 or 3 in the morning, and a guy sitting in front smelled like he had not bathed in weeks. ever since, i traveled on amtrak and would highly recommend looking into it.

  5. Cat says:

    Renting a car sounds like a great option. At least you can stop when YOU need to, and can find bathrooms along the way that aren’t rocking, and can stop at a store instead of a McDs (healthier options, anyone?)- you just generally have more control over your options. Priceline got me a car for $12 a day a couple months ago – great resource. If you are skittish about driving in snowy conditions then sometimes it is better to just hop a bus – Jersey to TN cant be that long of a trip. Plus its Xmas so there will be a lot of students trying to get home for the same reason you are- a sometimes smelly but safe bunch!

  6. Butch White says:

    I went fron Gulf Port MS to Grand Rapids MI. an found the trip was fine you had rest areas along the way an the price was more then fare MR WHITE

  7. Austin says:

    Took a Greyhound from Kankakee, Illinois to Evansville, Indiana several years ago. It stopped in Lafayette, Indiana for Lunch and while I was in the Restaurant, my Suitcase was Rifled and Jewlery stolen. Never took a Bus again. Try Amtrak !!!!!!!!

  8. Kim says:

    My aunt just went from Chicago to Texas and checked into greyhound and decided to do the train because it was cheaper,She has done greyhound before and when she got back she said she was glad she did the train because she said the seats where more comfortable! I could not imagine being stacked all on top of eachother on a small bus, gross lol. And just to add a note I dont know if you have a car or not but I do go to Nashville alot because Iam moving there, and Iam also on the outskirts of Chicago and if you have a compact car the gas really isnt that much to go back and fourth.

  9. Lee says:

    My son ( 6ft, tall) while in college some years ago would travel from Ohio to Ala. a 22 hour trip by Greyhound. He has never said why but you can not pay him to travel by Greyhound now. Last year my daughter and I travel from Ohio to NY,NY at night. The driver fell asleep about 3 times.(at the wheel) Almost killing us all. I don’t think you could pay me to travel Greyhound now either.

  10. Pat Wilson says:

    I took the Greyhound bus in 1968 from San Antonio to Houston, and I have never been on a Greyhound since. Maybe things have changed. It was dirty and the smell from the bathroom was outrageous.

  11. me says:

    Traveled from Memphis to Atlanta on the Greyhound bus. The smell was bad, passengers were filthy, seats too small, dirty restroom, the driver was a horrible driver…. Needless to say I don’t reccommend riding the bus long distance. Los Angeles to Vegas was okay but just bareable.

  12. Rick Kelsay says:

    I have used greyhound a few times, and had no compliants. You don’t have assigned seats so if you board a little early, you can chose your seat. Passangers and driver are curteous, and for a long trip I would prefer G-H.

  13. B says:

    I’ve traveled around the eastern states a fair bit with Greyhound and had no problems with them. I had visa trouble coming back into the US from Canada on an overnight bus and had the driver offer to buy me food and give up his hotel room in NYC for the night if I needed it. None of the passengers I’ve come in contact with have had personal hygiene problems, and many of them have been really friendly.

    I always try to get a window seat so I don’t have to move whenever the passenger next to me needs to get up and use the bathroom. I also keep all of my valuables on me, under at least one layer of clothing (I had money stolen from my hand luggage on a train once and have been wary ever since).

  14. Aundria says:

    I spent three days on a greyhound bus from Columbia, SC to Los Angeles, CA. It was horrendous. We stopped so many times, all along the way. The only thing nice I can say is the scenery was gorgeous through the desert. BUT, I ended up taking a straight thru flight back to South Carolina from LAX, because I could NOT imagine sitting thru three days of that cramped, noisy, smelly bus ever again! I’d much prefer to go by plane, heck even train would be better because you can at least walk around and stretch. If you book a flight at least 3 weeks in advance, you can usually get a pretty good rate. Good luck!

  15. Sue B says:

    I took Greyhound from central PA to DC in the 60’s with a co-worker. The driver tried to pass when he shouldn’t have and then wrecked into a steel I-beam. A lady who was asleep in the front of the bus on that side (by the I-beam) had to have her arm amputated in order to be removed from the wreckage. That thing (Greyhound)crumpled up like a soda can! It was absolutely a bizarre accident. The driver was fired. My friend and I were in the first row of passengers who were not injured, but quite shaken up (maybe 4 rows behind that lady/accident amputee). I never took Greyhound again, and do not advise anyone to do so. Take any other form of transportation you can….take a train or drive yourself. I don’t even take bus trips at all. I would prefer even to drive to NYC and even in the city to taking a bus, and I am 65 now.

  16. Beno says:

    Greyhound – from my 8 hr trip experience in 1998

    Pros: Low price, save money on gas and from putting miles on your car

    Cons: Uncomfortable seats, small legroom, have to sleep sitting straight up, everytime someone uses the bathroom – the whole bus stinks, claustrophobic

    Imagine riding in a packed school bus full of unknown people for 8 hours.

  17. Roger C. says:

    I used Greyhound several times during a two week period in July and August this year. It was a mixed good and bad experience. The ticket agents that I encountered were all very very helpful. The drivers were good humored, but that’s were my good experience ended. Do not plan on being able to get ANY sleep. With screaming kids, loud voices and other disturbances, it will be impossible. Be prepared to get off and change buses in the middle of the night (don’t forget your luggage, which you have to carry and move yourself) or 30 minuted rest stops that turn out to be 5 minutes because for some reason or another the bus is not on schedule and the driver has to make up the time. In that two week period I only got about 10 hours of good sleep time and that was broken up into not more that one or two hours at a time.

    It may be the least expensive dollar wise, but not in any other way. You will find that Greyhound is the transportation of choice for most of the minority population. (I use the term “choice” loosely because they probably really don’t have any other options either.) So, I would encourage you to think of using Greyhound as a true learning experience if you have never traveled this way before.

  18. Jake says:

    I take Greyhound between Boston and Montréal pretty often and it’s fine, 5 hours, same as a car, $30 each way, very good deal, never had any problems on it.

  19. Lenora says:

    Greyhound is the worst form of travel available i give them a 1 on the scale of 1-10 10 being the best.i would never travel with them or recommend anyone to travel with them again.

  20. Dawna says:

    I traveled from WA State to southern Louisiana, which took about four days, a little over four years ago. My husband and I are planning a trip and I am trying to convince him to make the same trip with me because I really had a great time. The only issue I had was that of a lack of quality sleep, but other than that I really enjoyed my trip – and the first tme I traveled alone and was on my way to meet who is now my husband. I loved the scenery and I knew the adventure would be a blast because of it. This next trip contains a six-hour layover in Denver that I look forward to making into a pleasant day trip and hit Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner before continuing on to Louisiana … I can’t wait!

  21. worried mom says:

    My son went to see his grandmother for spring break in Port Lavaca, Texas. We recently moved to Kansas and he was on his way back home, to go thru San Antonio–he has been stuck in Alice, Texas since 530 pm and is now 1030pm as the connecting bus never showed up, next one leaving is 130 am and he is hanging out in a convenience store until then. my eldest son has just left on his way to San Antonio-my mother will pick my youngest up in San Antonio at 415 am.

    I couldnt reach anyone that could tell my squat about what we were supposed to do.

    I dont think we will be using greyhound again.

  22. […] know many travelers think of buses as just a notch above […]

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