Photo by xraven1
When I was growing up taking lots of family vacations just wasn’t part of my family’s budget plan. My parents worked very hard all their lives raising my brother and me and we had everything we needed, but we just didn’t have a lot of wants – like vacations. And that was alright.
In later years, once we kids were out on our own and dad finally was able to retire, they were fortunate enough in their golden years to travel a little bit. My parents were always social and had a network of family and friends living around them and fortunately their vacations took on the form of group trips organized by our church with these family and friends – on the bus. This was perfect for them. They never had the worry of mapping trips, driving on unfamiliar roads, figuring out how to book hotels, planes or any of that. They just signed up and away they went. And they had wonderful times, visited many and varied places and collected lasting memories. I am so happy that they were able to do that. I had terrific parents and they sure deserved a little fun and excitement together in their lives.
That got me to thinking – about buses.
Just about this time, I came upon an article written by Peter Greenberg while paging through a recent issue of AARP Magazine touting the advantages of bus travel in the here and now. Whether you are going to join a group on a planned tour like my parents did or just using the bus as a means of transportation on your way to your own planned trip, going by bus may just have an attractive appeal.
In general, you buy your ticket, hop on while your bags are stowed, with no extra baggage fees I might add, and take your place in a roomy, leather reclining seat. Sometimes, I used to catch a bus home on breaks in my college days, when I didn’t have my own car, and found it actually quite pleasant. The bus made regular stops where we could stretch, grab a bite to eat and while on board, get to see a lot of just beautiful scenery along the highways and through those quiet little towns. I loved it.
Maybe if you are in a hurry, this might not be the ideal choice. Yet, if you figure in driving to the airport, parking in a satellite lot, catching the little van to the terminal and then going though all the lines before waiting to board, that all adds up too. But face it, we are all so much in a hurry to do everything that just the idea of slowing things down and enjoying the trip sounds real good to me. Even better, some of the intercity buses, like Greyhound or Peter Pan and others, looking to compete with trains and planes, are adding such amenities as wireless access, cell phone reception, drop down videos screens and even attendants who will serve you a snack or beverage. Pretty cool, huh!! Another advantage is that the fares are really very reasonable. Only down side that I can see is that for now at least, the bus still does not serve every route and you might not find service to the place you need to go. But if you can make your connections, be prepared to save big. Greenberg said that a typical round trip from New York to Boston, for example, might cost $225 on American Airlines, $124 on Amtrak and drum roll please, $42 on Greyhound.
If you are curious about looking into bus travel, there are a few sites where you can plug in your route and get a comparison of various bus companies and fares, some with package deals as well.