I’m not a snob. Okay? Sure, nine times out of ten when I visit New York, I fly. But life is about experiencing new things, right? Which is precisely why I decided to board a Greyhound bus and make the 10+ hour journey to the Big Apple. However, my first time taking the bus to New York City wasn’t what I expected.
First, let me explain why I took the bus. Not everyone can afford to fly to every single place they go. It’s just not realistic. Personally, I feel that a lot of “bloggers” single-mindedly focus on living luxe. Is it a gorgeous lifestyle? Of course. But is it always relatable? Definitely not.
Sometimes all you’ve got to spare is $91 and that covers a one-way ticket to New York. After all, you’ll be spending a hell of a lot more than that once you get there! But I will make a disclaimer right off the bat: I flew back. I mean, come on, I write for two airport publications! It’s only right.
Planes, Trains and… Greyhound? My First Time Taking the Bus to New York City
I boarded the bus at 10:30pm from the Greyhound bus terminal in downtown Toronto. We were supposed to arrive in Manhattan at 8:45am the following morning. However, we ended up getting off the bus-from-hell after one o’clock in the afternoon.
In other words, everything that could have gone wrong during my first time taking the bus to New York City did.
First, attempting to leave Toronto
The first mishap was my friend losing her passport at the bus terminal. Thankfully, someone found it but I was already getting in the mindset of having a solo vacation – and let me tell you, it didn’t seem that bad. Finally we arrived at the Buffalo border at 12:30am. I texted my boyfriend to let him know we made it, fell asleep, woke up, checked the time and it was 2:30am and we still hadn’t moved. I thought I was dreaming.
Then trying to make it to Buffalo
We spent three hours sitting at the border before we could go through customs. Nobody had any explanation for us as to why. When we finally got back on the road, the bus driver got lost and we ended up driving in circles around the sketchiest and darkest streets of Buffalo trying to find the bus terminal. I believe the driver’s exact words were, “Well, I’ve only driven here in the day time. It looks so different in the dark!” Seriously.
Followed by a disaster in Buffalo
Eventually we made it to the terminal. We were told we could get off the bus, get some food and use the washroom. I was all too happy to oblige. But after my disappointment of there being no food available to purchase, I decided to head back to the bus. Only to discover it wasn’t there.
Tears started welling in my eyes, I thought I was going to throw up, and my heart was beating insanely quick. I was in full-fledged panic mode. Not only was I not going to make it to New York, I had been stupid enough to leave my bag with my laptop and camera on the bus. (I don’t even like admitting that because I feel so dumb, but there you go.)
I guess I must have had a look of sheer terror across my face because a guy who recognized me from the bus came over to tell me that the bus had moved to the opposite side of the terminal. But seriously, why would they do that and not tell anyone?! So rude.
And then departing Buffalo – only to return
We switched bus drivers in Buffalo. I think every one was relieved to have someone new – someone who (fingers crossed) wouldn’t get lost on the way. But we got our hopes up too high, too soon.
After driving for about an hour, the driver came on with an announcement. He said, “Attention everyone, I’ve just noticed that the bus is running on empty and we’ve gotta turn around the head back to fill up at Buffalo terminal.” No one – and I mean no one – could believe it. People actually started yelling. I put my head phones back in and tried to sleep.
Finally arriving in Manhattan
I always get super excited when I see the Manhattan sky line. If you’ve never driven into the city before, I’d definitely recommend it. (But also would recommend renting your own car to do it.) However, I’ve never been more excited to see New York than after a long and drawn out 15 hour bus ride. I could have flown back to Vancouver Island twice in that time.
But no matter what happened, it was an experience and now a story to tell. At least we arrived to New York safely and ready to take on the week! And, it was less than half the price of a last-minute flight.
Things I learned from taking the bus to New York City:
- Bring more snacks (and maybe some sort of alcohol to drown the pain)
- Try your best to get a window seat but at the very least bring a neck pillow
- It’s probably better to fly
All things considered, this could be the first and last time taking the bus to New York City. Although it was cheaper, I’d rather book far in advance for a flight and get something around the same price. What do you think? Tweet me your awful bus experiences!