Timothy is a frequent Greyhound bus rider who has made many cross-country bus trips in the last 10 years. He currently resides in Montana.
Planning on taking a Greyhound bus trip in the near future? But not sure what to bring with you and what to leave at home?
Don't worry! Listed below are 10 of the most important travel essentials that you should bring with you to ensure that you have a great trip!
1. A Water Bottle
A water bottle is very important when riding the Greyhound bus. There is no running water on a Greyhound bus, so even though the bus stops every few hours for meal and bathroom breaks, it's very easy to find yourself getting thirsty if you didn't bring anything to drink with you on the bus.
You can pick up a cheap water bottle off Amazon or at your local dollar store before your trip. Or you can buy something to drink during your trip and keep re-using the bottle.
Most Greyhound stations have a water fountain; you can use these throughout your trip to keep water in your bottle. There are some exceptions, however, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, you should probably fill up on liquids.
2. Spare Change for Vending Machines
Before you head out on your Greyhound bus adventure you might want to raid your change jar and pick out all the quarters, dimes, and maybe even nickels you can find.
Not all Greyhound stations have cafes or restaurants in them, but most do have vending machines. And while most modern vending machines take dollars, and some even take credit and debit cards, these seem to be the areas that have the most issues. How many times have you stood at a vending machine watching it spit your dollar bill back at you over and over again?
The coin slots seem to be the most reliable way to get goodies out of the vending machines in most places, and Greyhound stations are no exception. Bringing enough change to last you throughout your trip is a good way to ensure that you don't end up hungry for hours while you travel to your next meal stop. Plus what else are you going to do with all that change you've been saving for years?
3. A Backpack as Your Carry-On Bag
You are allowed one free carry-on bag and one free checked bag when you ride on the Greyhound bus. There are a number of options that you can choose from for your carry-on bag but the best one is probably a backpack.
Backpacks make a great carry on bag on the Greyhound bus because they are very easy to travel with, they fit easily in the overhead bin on the bus, and they usually have several different compartments to store an assortment of items.
Keeping your luggage safe throughout your whole Greyhound bus trip can be an issue with the numerous stops, layovers, and transfers that take place. It's much easier to keep up with a backpack that is secure on your back than it is to lug a traditional suitcase on and off the bus every few hours.
Most backpacks also come with special compartments for such valuables as laptops, tablets, and phones. Which keeps them more secure during your trip than they would be just thrown in a duffel bag or suitcase.
Lastly, backpacks are much easier to get into to find your belongings during a trip than a regular suitcase. You can just unzip the compartment your item is in and retrieve it, whereas with a standard suitcase with just one or two large compartments you will have to open the whole bag and rummage through half your things (with fellow passengers watching) while you look for your item. A backpack is just easier, quicker, and safer!
4. A Blanket or Light Jacket
You might be wondering why blankets and jackets are put in the same category seeing as they are so different. But on a Greyhound bus trip, a light jacket and a travel blanket serve pretty much the same function. They both allow you to stay warm if the bus is too cold and they both are great for snuggling under when you want to get some sleep.
Also, both of them can be balled up and used as a pillow, and they both provide an extra shield of protection between you and the smelly guy sitting next to you.
Temperatures on Greyhound buses vary from bus to bus so you always want to be prepared for the bus being Artic-cold. A light jacket can easily be carried on the bus with you either in your hand or in your carry-on bag.
5. A Portable Charger for Your Devices
The good news is that there are power outlets on all Greyhound buses that you can use to charge your electronic devices. The bad news is that it's a crap-shoot as to whether they will be working on your bus or not.
Don't risk ending up with a dead phone, tablet, or laptop because you couldn't find anywhere to plug them in. Plan ahead and bring along a portable charger in case of a power emergency.
You can buy a decent portable charger for around $10, and while it may not be able to fully charge your device back to 100%, it will probably keep it juiced up until you switch buses or make it to a Greyhound station.
6. A Checked Bag With Wheels
As was mentioned earlier, a typical Greyhound bus trip of any length will involve quite a few stops, layovers, and transfers. And during many of these, you will be required to take your bags off the bus and keep them with you until you board your next bus.
It is WAY easier to roll a checked bag with wheels around a Greyhound bus station and off and on buses than it is to have to lift and carry a traditional suitcase. The convenience of being able to roll 40+ pounds instead of having to tote it will more than make up for the few extra dollars you might have to pay for luggage with wheels.
7. Luggage Locks
Despite your best efforts, there will be times during your Greyhound trip when fellow passengers or employees might have access to your luggage. And while the majority of the people you encounter on your trip will probably be law-abiding citizens, there is always the possibility of running into the criminal element.
The best way to ensure that your valuables in your luggage don't get stolen is to invest in some luggage locks. These fairly inexpensive locks fit through the zippers on your bag and make it so that no one can open the compartments unless they have the combination code or key.
This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that even if you are separated from your bag for a few moments, or if you dose off to sleep, or if you are targeted by pickpockets, no one will be able to open your luggage.
8. Some Snack Foods
While traveling on Greyhound your bus will stop frequently for bathroom and food breaks. Usually, every 2 or 3 hours your bus will either pull into a station or it will stop at a fast-food restaurant or convenience store.
Food at the Greyhound stations can be overpriced, however, and you might not want to wait three hours to eat unhealthy gas station food. So it's recommended that you bring your own food and snacks on the bus with you.
You don't have to bring a full meal with you, but make sure that you have something you can eat to keep you full between the food breaks. Or if you are picky about what you eat, bring along foods that are more to your liking than you will find at burger joints and roadside cafes.
You are allowed to bring and eat whatever you want on the Greyhound bus but please keep in mind that you will be in close quarters with other passengers. Any foods with extreme smells or odors won't be appreciated by your fellow travelers. And on the Greyhound bus, they won't hesitate to make a scene and let you know about their displeasure. So avoid the drama and just bring simple foods that you can eat without any issue.
9. Toiletries (Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Wet Wipes)
You might think that it would be obvious to bring toiletries on any trip, let alone one on the Greyhound bus. But anyone who has been on Greyhound can attest to the fact that this apparently isn't the case for all passengers. You don't want to be the smelly guy on the bus that everyone tries to avoid sitting next too! So be sure to bring whatever you need to stay fresh and clean.
You can use the bathrooms at either the greyhound stations or at other locations where the bus stops for food and bathroom breaks to brush your teeth, re-apply deodorant, and freshen up with moist towels or wet wipes.
10. Headphones or Earbuds
A few of the best ways to pass the time on a Greyhound bus trip are listening to music and watching movies, TV shows, and videos. However, the people around you probably have totally different taste than you when it comes to entertainment. Which means they have zero desire to hear what you are listening to or watching.
So please be considerate to your fellow passengers and invest in a decent pair of headphones or earbuds before you start your trip.
Make sure you buy a quality pair of headphones/earbuds that can stand up to the rigors of your trip. You will be using them for hours at a time, and probably taking them on and off on numerous occasions. Cheaper is almost never better when it comes to headphones or earbuds, so even if you have to pay a few extra dollars for a quality pair, it will be worth it.
Be Prepared Before You Ride the Greyhound!
The Greyhound bus is one of the best ways to travel North America if you are on a budget. And you can have a great trip if you are prepared in advance and know what to bring along.
Hopefully, the tips listed in this article will allow you to make it to your destination in comfort, with all your valuables, and without any issues.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Timothy Ward
Timothy Ward (author) from Bozeman, Montana on November 20, 2019:
@Linda Crampton It is sad to hear that Greyhound closed it's doors in certain parts of Canada recently. I've been saying for years that I wish there was another large bus company, with rates as low as Greyhound, that could step in and fill it's shoes.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 19, 2019:
You've shared some useful tips. I think your ideas would be helpful on any company's bus trips. Greyhound ceased operating in British Columbia last year, which I wasn't happy about. I do drive, but we have only one car in the family. I can't take the car away for multiple days. We still have some long-distance buses in the province, but their fares are higher than Greyhound's were. It's a shame.
Timothy Ward (author) from Bozeman, Montana on November 19, 2019:
Thank you @Liz Westwood. I agree that it seems crazy that Greyhound's parent company is loosing money on it's operation. But they are, and so they are closing bus stations and routes all over North America.
Liz Westwood from UK on November 18, 2019:
This is a great list of suggestions. Thanks for sharing your experience to help others. These items would also be useful on other trips such as journeys by train. I recently saw a news item in the UK about the company that runs Greyhound buses making a loss, which surprised me.