A couple of weeks ago, I rode the Greyhound bus for the very first time. I’ve been on numerous planes, a few trains, and multiple different subway systems in my life, but the Greyhound was a new experience for me. Wanting to be prepared on what to expect, I perused the web reading blogs about others’ experiences riding the bus. Many people talked about how since the bus is relatively cheap compared to other transportation, the passengers can be some interesting people. They also mentioned the poor quality of bus stations, especially the bathrooms. Naturally, all of these things made me nervous about travelling alone, especially as a female, on the Greyhound, but I have to say, my experience was not all that bad.
The most uncomfortable part for me was waiting at the bus stations in between legs. Throughout my trip, I spent time at three very different stations. I would use the word station loosely to describe the stop in Joplin, MO. It’s really just a desk inside of a gas station on the outskirts of town. The waiting area is a like one of the little sheds you buy at Lowe’s with some extremely uncomfortable seats inside, along with a couple of old video games to waste your money on. Although the bathroom inside the gas station was the nicest of the three, this was my least favourite station due to not having any staff inside of the waiting area. It was quite uncomfortable. The second station I waited in was Kansas City, MO. This was an actual station, and although it’s in a rough part of town, I was the most comfortable waiting there. The station was quite busy despite it being after midnight when I arrived, making it somehow seem safer. The bathrooms weren’t spectacular, but were no worse than your typical public restroom. My final station was in Omaha, NE. When I arrived, it was dark out, and I did notice that it was also in a not so nice area, but I didn’t notice anything else until a few days later when I was leaving. The station itself wasn’t terrible, just very clearly an old building that felt dirty, especially the bathroom. Overall I’d say that yes, Greyhound stations are not the nicest of places, but all together not horrible.
Before I began my trip, I was most worried about the people. I read a lot about how a lot of drug addicts and ex-convicts use Greyhound, and was nervous to travel alone around these types of people. When I was waiting in Joplin, I did end up meeting an ex-convict who was arrested for drug possession along with two other former drug addicts and a truck driver. The truck driver was a young respectable looking man and had he not been there, I may have been really uncomfortable. I was already uneasy being the only female in the station with these four men even though two of them mentioned that finding faith in Jesus Christ helped them overcome addiction. It was actually really cool to hear the witness of these two men though. Eventually another lady showed up which helped me relax. I witnessed extreme generosity from this woman. One of the men didn’t have much, so she gave him here hoodie to keep. I also met a couple of people while boarding my bus from Kansas City to Omaha. One was a man from Texas who was on his way to visit his son in Omaha. The other was a guy about my age moving to Omaha from Atlanta for a fresh start. He was really nice, and even offered to share his snacks that his mama packed for him. My point here is that no matter the background of people, they’re just there to travel too.
Was my experience taking the bus bad? No. Am I glad I experienced bus travel? Of course! Would I choose to travel by Greyhound alone again? Probably not. With another person? Possibly. Do I recommend it? If you can’t afford a plane and the train doesn’t go where you need to go, it is a viable form of transportation as long as you’re cautious of your surroundings and open to meeting interesting people! If its more than a day’s trip, it might be worth making a vacation of it. Take a day or two in the cities where you’ll switch buses the explore if you can swing it. It could end up being like a road trip where you don’t have to drive if you take someone with you!