Should you Greyhound into summer?

Karen Kwaning /Staff
Los Angeles Freeway at 5 A.M. through Greyhound bus window

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Summer can mean watching beautiful California sunsets on the beach, kicking back with friends, enjoying some “me time” and having lots of adventure! Whether you plan on heading to the Central Valley, Southern Californian or just want to explore a season made for California, plane tickets are expensive (especially considering all that cash you spent on post-meal-point dinners). But the Clog’s got an affordable alternative. Why not take Greyhound?

1. $1 Greyhound fares. Sound too good to be true? Although Greyhound’s $1 fare deals realistically add up to around $5 if you’re purchasing a round-trip ticket, traveling across the state for a price less than a GBC crispy chicken sandwich is a pretty good deal. Just remember the unspoken golden rule of ticket-buying: Plan trips early! $1 fare ticket deals are available almost a month beforehand, so if you’re already sure where you’re going, don’t hesitate to grab those tickets before they’re gone. If you’re an avid bus rider, look into Greyhound’s Student Advantage Discount Card. Special advantages for having the Student Advantage Discount Card include saving 20 percent in ticket fares. The more money you save, the more you can splurge on souvenirs, dining and at other events during your vacation.

2. Your personal tour of California. If you’re lucky, plane seats offer a window that lets you admire how the sunlight caresses the tops of soft, milk-white clouds. Although the window is small and you can find clouds almost anywhere, bus rides offer much more than the sky. Because buses offer larger windows, bus riders can easily look out and enjoy sights of unknown lakes, secret streams that cut through hills you never knew existed in Central Valley, views of cities that lead up to Oakland and Berkeley — and, if you get there, Los Angeles’s notable skyscrapers and graffiti. Holding off the cheesy tour-guide narration, this bus ride gives you a few hours to relax and take in some of California’s gorgeous and diverse landscapes.

3. Nighttime bus rides. One of the major things to consider before purchasing a Greyhound ticket is the ultimate bus-ride con: the seven-hour ride. It seems a bit silly to fool yourself into believing that your butt won’t get sore. But there is usually a half-hour break — if not more — during the ride to stretch your feet and buy some soda and other unhealthy snacks. This free time also allows for napping and continuing that Netflix marathon you started during dead week. If you insist that the ride feel shorter, you can choose a departure time during the night. This allows you to sleep through the ride and magically wake up to a new morning at your desired destination.

4. Does it all add up? The closest Greyhound station to us in Berkeley is in Oakland, which means that there’s a little more planning involved than just scheduling departure and arrival times on Greyhound’s website. This takes careful time management. Knowing the times the 18 bus leaves is just as important as having your ticket. And be careful to consider what you’re actually paying for before you leave. Additional charges from paying for a taxi and that second suitcase might equate to the price of a plane ticket (or not really saving as much money as you thought you would save).

Whether you’re concerned about how you get to your summer destination and how much dough you’ll be able to save — or if you’re too tired to care — remember that cliche travel wisdom says that the journey is just as important as the destination. Sit back, relax and savor the moment of the ride.

Have any tips when choosing to travel via bus? Know of any other cool (and cheap) travel services in the Bay Area? Let us know in the comments!

Contact Karen Kwaning at [email protected]