Ten Reasons Why Taking a Bus Is Better than Flying

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Thursday 7th October 2010
In this article
  • Why taking a bus has more advantages than taking a plane.
  • What it costs to various U.S. travel destinations.
  • How to get the most out of your bus trip.

Congested airports, frantic people, delayed flights and bad food. Count these among the not-so-sharp attributes of traveling by airplane. Throw in rising ticket prices, increased safety concerns and shrinking leg room, and many SharpMen have just about had it with traveling by airplane.

While flying is necessary for many busy business travelers, there is another travel option for the vacationing SharpMan: traveling by bus. Go ahead and laugh it off, but it’s pretty popular. In 1999, over 19.4 million people traveled by Greyhound Bus (http://www.greyhound.com/). In fact, Greyhound, North America's largest bus company, has more than 21,000 daily departures. Sure, flying is quicker, but traveling by bus might be the change you need. Here's a look at SharpTravel’s top ten reasons why traveling by bus may be a better option for you:

One: The Cost

In real estate and business, the motto is "location, location, location." In travel, the first thing that comes to mind is "price, price, price." While a round trip flight can cost anywhere between $200-$500 on average, the average ticket price on a Greyhound bus is $36.

"Our demographics study showed that people value money more than time," said Kristin Parsley, Manager of Corporate Communications at Greyhound's headquarters in Dallas. "While it might take more time traveling by bus, people have found it to be more economical, and that's why it's such a popular option."

Here's a quick look at what it would cost you for one round-trip ticket to various U.S. destinations via Greyhound bus. Prices are subject to change:

Phoenix to Las Vegas: $71
Boston to Buffalo: $60
St. Paul, Minnesota to Branson, Missouri: $108
Raleigh, North Carolina to Memphis: $121
Amarillo, Texas to Tallahassee, Florida: $125

If you’re headed to more remote regions with small airports, you’ll find that the cost difference between flying and taking the bus can be significant.

Better still, at certain times of the year, competing bus lines will slash prices to certain destinations. Watch for these. One summer, a price war between Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines brought the cost of a round-trip ticket from Boston to Washington D.C. to $5! At that price, many SharpMen overlooked the time they’d save by flying.

Two: The Scenery

Let's face it: on a plane, you might fly over the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, or other scenic landmarks. On a bus, you'll go through them. Have your camera ready. Instead of saying you flew over a popular city or destination, you can drive through it — and come away with photos.

Three: The Food

While most cross-country buses don't serve food, they do stop at restaurants along the way. You won't be eating a bag of peanuts and drinking a flat Coke; diner home-cooking is where it's at. For example, Greyhound has partnered with over 60 quick-service and cafeteria-style restaurants nationwide that provide travelers value for their money. It’s also not uncommon for drivers to stop at other restaurants at the request of their passengers.

Four: Comfort

While the economical aspect of traveling is a key decision maker for travelers, so is the comfort level. Unless you're traveling first class, buses provide more legroom, bigger seats, and more space. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the trip. You won't be going elbow to elbow with the guy next to you, and if you lean back, you won't find that your head is in the lunch of the person behind you. As with commercial airplanes, commercial bus lines provide a restroom at the back of the vehicle, so there’s no need to wait for a scheduled bathroom break.

Five: Convenience

Are you traveling to Kiln, Mississippi? How about Minot, North Dakota? When traveling to smaller towns, you’ll often find that a bus can get you there a lot faster — and with much less hassle — than a plane. Instead of flying to a major city, having to change planes and then renting a car to drive two or three hours to your final destination, many bus routes head straight into smaller towns and less populated regions. In fact, Greyhound has more than 3,700 destinations in the 48 contiguous United States and Canada — far more than most airlines.

"We'll take you to the small rural towns," Parsley said. "If you need to get there, we'll get you there, or awfully close."

Six: No Fear

Some SharpMen just don't like to fly (see Facing Your Fear of Flying). John Madden, infamous NFL analyst for Fox Sports, is one example. Madden travels to each week's destination via the Madden Cruiser, his own luxury travel bus. While most of us don't happen to have our own SharpMan Cruiser on hand, taking a commercial bus can help get around a discomfort with air travel.

Alternatively, SharpMen are required to fly on business so often that beginning a vacation on a plane just seems like more of the same. Bus rides offer a welcome change. Tired of air sickness and dose after dose of Dramamine? Get on the bus, Gus!

Seven: Road Trip!

Taking a tour bus is an opportunity for you, your family or friends to travel together and see the country. Whether you're heading to Las Vegas, down the East Coast or through the Midwest, taking a tour bus is a great group experience for a family or just for you and your SharpWoman. It’s a road trip without the hassle of driving. And as with any road trip, you’ll get the benefit of seeing the comical figures at a convenience store, the amusing highway signs and the regional road food. You know, all the good stuff.

Eight: Less Hassle

While bus travel still requires you to get to the bus station and check in, many other airport-related hassles don’t apply. Often bus depots are located right in the city, easily accessible to mass-transit systems. Many bus routes also include a second stop farther out of town, saving a trip for those who dwell in the ‘burbs. You’ll still have to wait in line, but since bus check-in procedures aren’t as complicated, lines are generally shorter and faster. Worried about your luggage? Your bags stay with you until you hand them to the guy who puts them under the bus. Baggage "loss" and delay is rare.

Another plus: one bus’s problem on the "runway" generally doesn’t affect the departure times of other buses. As a whole, bus travel is less of a "production" because bus stations are smaller, less hectic and more accessible. Take advantage of it.

Nine: Pit Stops!

Nothing beats the pit stops of a road trip. Grab a new magazine, some fresh air or a quick snack. Got an emergency? A bus can stop. A plane can’t.

In addition, many bus companies will stop at various attractions at the request of the passengers. Compare that with a plane: once you leave the gate, the only stops will be those that are scheduled…

Ten: Sheer Novelty

Come on, everybody flies. Be different. Take the bus and enjoy the trip. Relax, read a book, make a new friend or check out the scenery. You just never know what you might find.

Travel tips from Greyhound (http://www.greyhound.com/)

  • Travel Tip One: The best place to sit for taking great photos is at the front of the bus where the windows are less tinted. Don't forget your film!
  • Travel Tip Two: Bus temperatures are kept to the comfort level of most passengers. Bring appropriate clothing in case your comfort level differs.
  • Travel Tip Three: Bring any medications and other necessities with you on board. You may not have access to your luggage in the baggage area during the trip.
This article last updated on Thursday 7th October 2010
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