10 Tips for Your First Greyhound Bus Trip

Updated on February 20, 2017
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Timothy travels the U.S. full-time with only a small backpack and a suitcase. He spends his evenings writing, and filming Youtube videos.

Your first time on Greyhound can be a great experience!
Your first time on Greyhound can be a great experience!

If you are riding on the Greyhound bus for the first time you undoubtedly have lots of questions. And if you are anything like me you are probably just a little nervous too.The good news is that help is on the way! Below I've complied ten tips that I use whenever I travel on Greyhound that I know will help you have a successful trip as well as ease some of your pre-trip jitters.

1. Arrive at Least an Hour Before Departure

On your first Greyhound bus trip you will want to arrive at the station well before your bus is scheduled to depart. This is because you will need to get checked in, find your departure gate/door, and find where your boarding line will form.

Most of the time you can get these tasks accomplished in a fairly short amount of time. But there are times (especially on weekends and other high traffic travel days) when just getting checked in can take up to 30 minutes or more.

That's why I recommend getting to the station around an hour in advance so you have time to do all the things you need to do. Plus this will give you time to sit down and get your bearings before the bus arrives.

2. Get in Boarding Line as Soon as Possible

Once you learn where your boarding line is going to form, try and get in line as soon as possible. At some stations you will have to wait for a Greyhound employee to tell you that the line for your bus is now forming. At other stations it's a more relaxed process and people just kind of start lining up.

Whatever the process, you want to be at the front of the boarding line! The people in the front of the line get to get on the bus first and therefore get the first pick of the seats. I can't stress to you how much of a difference where you sit can make on a Greyhound bus trip.

Getting on the bus first can mean the difference between spending 4 hours sitting next to a crying baby or getting a seat by yourself up near the front of the bus. So try to be one of the first passengers in the boarding line!

**Note: A few Greyhound bus stations board passengers by the boarding number on their tickets. This doesn't happen often but when it does you won't have any control over when you get on the bus. Side note: The earlier you book your ticket, the lower your boarding number will be and the sooner you will board. This is another reason to buy your bus tickets in advance whenever possible.

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3. Make Sure Your Checked Bag(s) Stand Out

You are allowed to check one bag for free with each Greyhound bus ticket. (Additional checked bags are $15 apiece).

When your checked bags are being loaded and unloaded under the bus it can be easy to lose track of them.

There will be dozens of other bags being looked after, as well as fellow passengers waiting for bags, and if your bag doesn't stand out you may not be able to tell where your bag is exactly.

This can lead to your bag being put on the wrong bus, or worse, someone walking off with your bag(s).

I usually tie a scarf or bandanna around the handle of my bag and sometimes I even tape strips of paper down the sides. It looks super tacky but I always know where my luggage is even if I'm watching over it from some distance away.

Another way to make sure your bag(s) stands out is to purchase one that looks different than all the others. A bright colored bag, or one that's an odd shape will allow you to be able to separate your bag from all the others in an instant.

4. Sit Near the Front of the Bus

Most people get on the Greyhound bus and immediately head to the back of the bus. I don't know why this is but I've noticed it on every single bus trip I've taken. For some reason people like the rear of the bus more than the front.

But this means that the back of the bus always fills up quicker than the front. So if you are looking to sit by yourself, the chances are farvbetter in the front of the bus than they are in the back.

Sitting in the front of the bus also ensures you will have a safer trip because most people won't act up that close to the bus driver. Greyhound drivers don't play and some of them are quick to put people off the bus for misbehaving. So most of the shenanigans go on in the back of the bus.

One last reason to sit near the front of the bus is that you get off the bus quicker. There will be times during your trip when you will have to make transfers to other buses. And sometimes a few minutes means the difference between you making your transfer and missing it.

If you are all the way in the back of the bus you have to wait for everyone else to get off the bus before you can get off and get your luggage. If you sit near the front you can be off the bus and heading towards your next bus in a relatively short period of time.

5. Don't Trust the Bathroom on the Bus

You DO NOT want to ever have to sit down on the toilet in a Greyhound bus bathroom!

You have no idea what the people who used that bathroom before you did in there (but you can usually guess by the smells) and you don't want to find out the hard way.

I recommend going to the bathroom before you board the bus and then again when the bus stops for food breaks. Even if you don't think you have to go, check and make sure. If you get a sudden urge while you are on the bus and have to use the on board bathroom, you may regret it for quite sometime.

I avoid drinking too much water or soda when I'm on the bus, and I only eat light snacks until I get to a station or my destination.

The bathrooms at the Greyhound bus stations vary from station to station. But even the gross ones usually have one decent stall. Or at least some paper towels that you use to do some quick cleaning before you use them in an emergency potty situation.

6. Keep Your Carry-On Bag With You

One of the biggest crimes on Greyhound is the stealing of carry on bags that people leave sitting around when they walk off to do something else.

ALWAYS keep your carry on bag with you!

Even if you are just going to walk around the corner and come back, take your bag with you. It only takes a few seconds for someone who has been scoping you out to snatch up your bag and run with it.

When you are traveling and the bus stops for breaks, I recommend taking your carry on bag off the bus with you then as well. I know it's a pain, but it's less of a pain than having your bag stolen.

One of the reasons I always use a backpack as my carry on bag is because it's so easy to carry around with me. I just sling it on my back and I'm off!

7. Follow the Bus Driver's Rules During Breaks

When the bus stops for food and bathroom breaks the driver will typically give you some instructions about:

  • Where to go to get something to eat.
  • When to be back on the bus.
  • What not to bring on the bus when you return.

Listen to and follow these instructions!

I've seen at least a half dozen people kicked off the bus for not following instructions. And I've even seen the bus leave people who didn't come back from break on time. You don't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to wait 12 hours or more for the next bus to come through to pick you up.

So follow all the drivers rules and instructions. They have them for a reason.

8. Don't Lose Your Ticket or Re-Boarding Pass

This may seem like common sense but after a few trips on Greyhound you will realize how often people lose or misplace their tickets. And it's always an ordeal for them to get back on the bus, and in some cases they even have to buy a new ticket.

So keep your ticket on you at all times. If someone were to steal your ticket they could use it instead of you and you would be left stranded. I keep my ticket in my front pants pocket and I check it often to make sure it's still there.

There will be times during your Greyhound trip when you will have to exit a bus for it to be serviced or cleaned. The driver will give you a reboarding pass so you can get back on that same bus, before any new passengers, when it's ready to go again.

Don't throw this re-boarding pass away!

If you lose this pass, you may have trouble getting back on the bus. And if you can convince the driver to let you back on the bus it will probably be after everyone else is already on the bus and you may have lost your seat. So keep up with any and all reboarding passes you are given throughout your Greyhound bus trip.

9. Ask Greyhound Employees If You Have Any Questions/Concerns

If you have questions, concerns, or security issues at any time during your trip, ask the nearest Greyhound employee you can find.

Even if it's not their department they can point you in the right direction to get your issue resolved.

Greyhound gets alot of bad press about it's employees and it's customer service.

But I've found that the majority of the time you will be able to get the help you need.

I've only ran across one or two employees who just downright refused to help, and in those cases I just asked another employee and got the information I needed.

Bus drivers are a great source of information since they typically drive the same route every day. They have probably heard any questions you can think to ask 1000 times over so they will definitely be able to help you.

Fellow passengers are a good source of information as well. If you can't find a Greyhound employee try asking someone around you that looks well-traveled.

10. Stay Inside the Bus Station at Night

During your trip you may have layovers and stops at Greyhound bus stations after dark. These stations are not always in the best neighborhoods so exercise caution when going outside.

If I'm in a city I'm unfamiliar with I never go outside the bus station at night unless it's absolutely necessary. And when you reach your final destination, make sure you have made plans for a ride and don't go outside until it arrives.

You are pretty safe inside the Greyhound bus station but outside is a whole different ballgame. I personally know of people that were robbed right outside Greyhound bus stations. So stay inside and don't even risk having an incident end your trip or worse.

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