The Mega Bus
I’ve spent many hours on the road over the past eight or so years that I’ve been playing violin and road managing. I don’t mind driving, but anytime I have the opportunity to fly or take other transport where I’m NOT behind the wheel, I jump at it. A few weeks ago I was asked to come to Indianapolis to shoot a creative element for a church (more on that in weeks to come) and thus began the great debate of how to get there. It’s about 4 a four and a half hour drive which isn’t too bad, but it’s kind of JUST far enough that you don’t really want to drive it, (although I have made the drive many times.) But flying takes about just as long and even if you get cheap flights it’s still expensive…the one time I did it I found these $40 each leg flights on Southwest from Nashville to Chicago and then Chicago to Indy. But they were separate tickets so I couldn’t check luggage. Sigh. So when this trip to Indy came along, I jumped at the chance to try something I’ve wanted to try for a while but have had an excuse/the guts:
I’ve heard rumours of MegaBus and it’s $2.50 round trip tickets and free wifi for several years now since it made it’s way from UK to the US and on down to Nashville. But I had serious doubts. There had to be a catch. Had to be. But when I realized that I could either drive to Indy and spend lots of money on gas and add lots of miles to my little 2004 Hyundai OR pay $35 to lounge around surfing the web, I decided to give it a whirl. And I’m OBSESSED! Here’s how the whole thing unfolded…..and some tips for your own Megabus riding pleasure.
- Buy Your Ticket Online: Megabus doesn’t have “Stations” or a storefront so jump online to buy your ticketlike I did, which was super easy to do and then just print it out to bring with you just like you would a boarding pass for a flight (Megabus could kind of be the bus version of Southwest airlines.) Printed on the ticket is the address of where you meet the bus. In Nashville it picks up in a parkinglot off 4th Ave.
- Pack Carefully. The luggage allowance is 1 checked suitcase up to 50 pounds (just like an airplane) Plus one carryon that has to fit under the seat in front of you. I was super nervous about this as I needed two carry-ons, my computer bag and my violin. While my violin fits in the overhead compartment of a plane, the Megabus doesn’t have overhead compartments so I was worried they wouldn’t let me on with it. Had the bus been full, it might have been a problem, but I was lucky and the bus was far from full so I buckled my violin into the seat next to me with the seatbelt. If I travel with an instrument again, I will probably purchase two tickets just to be sure….something I didn’t think of until after I read the luggage policy. And if you’re traveling with anything big like a cello or guitar, two tickets would be a necessity as I wouldn’t want to chance it and have to put my instrument in the hold. Fortunately, with tickets starting at $1 each way, you could EASILY afford to buy two. 🙂
- Choose Your Seat Wisely. It’s open seating so you just pick where you want to sit. In my case, the bus was only about 1/4 of the way full the whole trip so I had a whole row to myself…and the rows in front, behind and next to me were all empty. My friend Annie takes the bus from Atlanta to Nashville all the time and said that she’s never had someone sit next to her. On the contrary, when I took a “Megabus experience poll” via Facebook status (as any good researcher would) the night before my trip I got lots of responses cautioning me that my Megabus excursion might not be a good idea. What I found though was that most people who had had bad experiences weren’t due to Megabus, but to an undesirable seatmate or fellow MB patron. Friends recommended to me that I a) sit near the driver b) “make a friend” (ie, deliberately sit near/next to someone who looked kind and safe. Again, I got lucky as the bus was mostly empty. Although, I bet wearing a surgical mask over your mouth and coughing would be a surefire way to make sure no one sat next to you!
****update. So. It’s Friday night and I’m back on the Megabus headed home. The first half of the blog was written yesterday, but I didn’t have time to post it. And I’m kind of glad, because tonight’s bus experience is slightly different from yesterday’s. I’m still obsessed…..don’t get me wrong. But, I’ve seen a little bit of the down side to things. First of all, the bus was an hour and a half late. This was totally not MegaBus’ fault as there was a wreck on 65 that slowed things down. But, standing on the sidewalk an extra hour and a half was not super awesome. It’s not like being delayed at the airport where you can just pop over to Starbucks for a coffee or lounge in the climate-controlled gate area until your flight leaves. Also, the bus is much fuller than yesterday. Not every seat is taken, but every row had someone in it. So I chose the best seatmate I could find…..a tiny, nice-smelling highschool aged girl who already had her headphones on and her nose in a book. Cha-Ching. And the lady next one row in front and across the aisle offered to strap my violin in the seat next to her, so I was good to go in that department. Just not ideal. And the bus smells a tiny bit like pee. I’m thinking the bathroom got some extra traffic during the hour and a half they sat on the highway not moving. And the wifi isn’t working at the moment.
But STILL. I mean. People. Lets review. Yes, I’m getting home late, but that happens on about 50% of the flights I take. And who cares about the wifi? I’m blogging from my phone. While it’s plugged into the charger. While someone else drives.
So all in all, I still ❤️🚍. A lot. Just maybe don’t take it if you’re on a time crunch.
Listening to some music on the way….went to log on to the internet and found “FBI Surveillance Van #420” as a network option. Um, that’s not very stealthy of you, FBI. Unless you aren’t the FBI. In which case it’s hilarious and props to you, creative driver.
The view out of the skylight in the roof. Love being able to see!!!