Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Taking Greyhound to Oz

I wrote this post on the bus on the way home from Winkies and saved it to post sometime. At least two other people used Greyhound to get to Winkies this year and I had some suggestions I wish I could have shared with them ahead of time. While it might be awhile before you might be using the advice here, I thought it might be worth posting sooner than later.
I recall that my mother once told me she saw a Greyhound bus with a celebratory Wizard of Oz wrap decorating it. I've never seen further confirmation, but it is true that Greyhound is an option to get you to your favorite Oz events. Perhaps you don't want to drive your car that far, or perhaps you don't want to fly, or maybe you've deemed it the more viable option over Amtrak.

But anyway, whether you're traveling from another city or halfway across the country, having traveled to Winkies by this service for five years, I have some advice.


Greyhound is notorious for running late. Don't aim for a tight arrival and travel to location time. Choose an earlier route so you aren't pressed for time on arrival. I now attempt to arrive at least the day before the event so if I'm late, I'm not missing anything.


The cost of your ticket can be quite nice compared to competitors. However, Greyhound will only get you to your destination. However, you will want a snack or a drink at some point, unless your trip is only a few hours. Greyhound does make stops to allow you to purchase food. Alternatively, you can bring your own snacks, but note that you will have to carry these in your carry on and you're allowed one piece. So, budget for stops or prepare something to take along.


As said, Greyhound is notorious for running late. While sometimes the driver might have gone a different route or made a mistake, more often than not, it's out of their hands. Losing your cool at the driver can have consequences, including being stranded or further delayed.

You are also going to be traveling on a bus with other people. Sometimes you will have to share a seat with someone or be subject to loud passengers or even rowdy children. If you are traveling alone, you might want to bring some headphones and a music player to drown out the sounds a bit.

Always be courteous to other passengers. If they're not so courteous, ignore them and try to enjoy the trip as best as you can. There's no point in starting a war on the bus.


If you're carrying luggage (and you probably are) ALWAYS make sure it's transferred when you change buses. Unless they explicitly tell you they are moving it for you, claim it and carry it to your new bus yourself. Lost luggage from not being claimed usually arrives on the next trip, but they are notorious for not notifying you unless you actually visit. A little vigilance goes a long way towards saving you trouble here.

If you're bringing something for sale and you can't fit it with your luggage, you might arrange to ship it to someone to bring, or Greyhound offers a package service and can ship it with you for a fee. Definitely do not attempt to transport fragile items like this.

Finally, if you have a lot of new treasures to take home, you might consider shipping them through the mail if they can't fit in your luggage.


Greyhound only travels from station to station, so once you arrive, you still have to get to the site of the event yourself. You could get a taxi, or maybe someone else going might help you out, but a cost effective way is to check local public transportation. It's never been easier as Google Maps has the routes of many public transportation systems added to their site and even tells you how much the fare will be.

Most smartphones have Google Maps and other navigation apps to help you find your way using GPS capability. For those without a smartphone, you can look up directions ahead of time and print them out.

Definitely do your research ahead of time. A good number of Greyhound stations are adjacent to public transportation, but this is not a rule. You don't want to get there and wonder what to do next.

If you are traveling with a lot of luggage, then I'd definitely suggest calling a cab. You should research services and prices ahead of time.

Note: if you'd like to try asking a friend who is also attending to pick you up, ask around and make plans quite a bit of time in advance (try a month or two), and it's always nice if you can chip in a little for gas. Don't blame a friend if they can't do it. In many cases, they have their plans, and so do you, and sometimes they don't quite work well with each other.


If you use your phone quite a bit, I would recommend investing in a portable power bank to give it an extra charge. A lot of new Greyhound buses include outlets for charging devices (and so-so WiFi), but not all do and some of these outlets (and WiFi) prove faulty. They do not promise these services, so you really shouldn't complain if you find you can't use these amenities or if they are not available on your bus. A number of stations also offer free WiFi and charging stations, so if you need to watch your data plan, you might want to limit your phone use to when you're at one.

If you often get headaches or nauseous, carry some cheap ibuprofen and bismuth tablets. Some supermarkets and grocery stores sell value brand packages of these for as low as $1 each. (Note: I do not suggest abuse of over-the-counter medication. Use only as directed and if you're not sure if it's safe for you, consult a doctor.)

Enjoy the view of the country!

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