Hop On, Hop Off: The Perks of Busing It

Traveler Editor at Large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Over the past 15 years he has helped countless readers fix their trips.

Here’s his latest advice:

Reader Question: Airfares are expensive, so I’m thinking of taking the bus. Am I going to regret it?

My Answer: You’re watching too many movies.

The only thing true about the cliché—of the fugitive on the lam or the plucky protagonist boarding a cheap, smelly interstate bus—is the cheap part.

If you haven’t been on one lately, check out Greyhound’s new Blue service between Dallas and Houston (soon to be expanding to the Pacific Northwest on sister company BoltBus)—it’s a full Wi-Fi entertainment system incorporated into stylish and spacious new buses. Indeed, these buses live up to the name the industry prefers to use—motor coaches. The distinctive, double-decker Megabus offers similar amenities, and its route map covers eastern and central states and the West Coast.

BoltBus, which operates between major metropolitan areas in the U.S., even removed some of its seats to make the journey more comfortable–and operators around the world are following suit. When’s the last time you saw an airline do that?

Finally, buses can make you feel virtuous: They generate significantly less carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than driving a car.

Christopher Elliott serves as consumer advocate for National Geographic Traveler and writes the “Problem Solved” column for the magazine (this exchange appeared in the November 2013 issue). Follow his story on Twitter @elliottdotorg.

Do you have a burning travel question? Share it with us in the comments section below for a chance to appear in Traveler magazine.


  1. Chris - PartTimeVagabond.com
    January 9, 2014, 9:27 am

    Buses are great for shorter journies, but they still are less than comfortable on the majority of vehicles. Although coach buses are probably equivalent to coach airplane seats in terms of roominess. Greyhound’s new endeavor will be a step in the right direction. Buses beat planes for convenience and cost, but planes beat buses for speed.

    Now trains, on the other hand, are fantastic.