It was with great disbelief that my friends listened to my claim that I would be traveling to Nashville from Atlanta. On a bus. Most people’s experiences, if they have any, on long-distance bus travel involved cramped spaces, unsavory fellow passengers and so many stops that travel time was generally doubled. “Never again,” is what most people said after relaying their last experience. So I explained that Megabus, the low-cost, express bus service isn’t like that. They are comfortable, clean busses that generally make just one stop if it stops at all, they offer free wireless and plugs for your electronics, and you have to have a credit card to ride one so you generally see people who have familiarity with a washcloth on them. (Okay, call me a snob but I’m no fan of spending hours in close proximity with the great unwashed.)
At this point people show mild interest. “And,” I say. “Our fare for two people round trip to Nashville is $16.” Now, I’ve got their attention. With gas prices these days, $16 worth of gas barely gets you beyond the perimeter.
At my suggestion, my husband took Megabus to Charlotte a few weeks ago. After boarding the bus, he sat down, opened his laptop and began working. Before he knew it, the non-stop bus was there. He saved wear and tear on his car, money that would have been spent on gas and got eight hours of work done by the time he returned.
My inaugural Megabus trip was last weekend. We scouted out a parking space close to the MARTA Civic Center Station where the bus departs from and checked in with a nice lady taking reservation numbers. We handed over our luggage to Lewis, our friendly driver, and hopped on board. We opted to climb up to the top deck where we settled into our comfortable seats.
A few minutes later we were off. Lewis came on the speaker and introduced himself as our motor coach technician, and promised he would take care of us like his own family. I relaxed, got out my iPad and began watching a movie on Netflix. After one brief stop in Chattanooga, we arrived in downtown Nashville that afternoon, relaxed and refreshed.
I would definitely ride Megabus again and am recommending it to everyone. Here are a few tips for you newbies.
1. Book early
. The earlier you book, the cheaper the fare. I booked our trip to Nashville about five weeks out and got the $8 round trip fare. I just checked the site and if I booked today to leave tomorrow the round trip fare is $40. Still not bad. But if you think you’ll be taking it, go ahead and book. If you do have to make a change to your trip, the fee is $1. Way better than the $150 the airlines charge.
2. Take your own food and water
. There is no food or drink for sale on the bus but you are welcome to take your own. We packed a lunch and I made sure to take plenty of water.
3. Try to avoid the bathroom on board
. There is a bathroom but it’s cramped and doesn’t have a sink. There is sanitizer in there but I suggest you take hand wipes with you. On the way up we stopped in Chattanooga in a mostly deserted shopping center. But we spotted a Starbucks and hoofed it over there for tea and a restroom break.
4. Take noise-canceling headphones
. On our trip up, the bus was less than a quarter full and no one was sitting close to us. On the way back, however, the bus was full. A few people play their music so loud you can hear it despite the fact they are wearing headphones – very annoying. Next time I’ll take my own noise-canceling ones.