the why of the greyhound discovery pass

Sam and I are back home and readjusting to stationary living and with our recent adventures fresh in my mind I wanted to write a post that attempts to sum up why we used Greyhound Discovery Pass and some of the invaluable things we learned about spending 2 consecutive months on the road.
Because I still plan on posting about the rest of the cities we visited, I won't spend time on that here.

(never travel without your towel)

We loved the 2 months of traveling and we loved the Greyhound Discovery Pass.  Here's why:

-The Discovery Pass is cheeeeeeaaaap.  we paid about 550$ per 2 month pass. (at the time of writing a one month pass is 461$ and a 2 month is 564$)  We couldn't have even bought a single roundtrip flight to the east coast for that price, so cheap.  The only thing that might be cheaper is a car full of people willing to chip in for gas. maybe.

-We traveled together.  Before leaving we heard a different greyhound horror story from almost everyone we talked to.  Online forums confirmed that the prevailing opinion of greyhound is pretty awful.  Some of the most common complaints were of sitting next to strange people, being uncomfortable, busses breaking down, busses without air conditioning, busses being late, stations being located in dangerous parts of town, and my favorite, getting minor but strange diseases from greyhound seats.  Our experience pretty much confirmed that these things do happen occasionally, but traveling in a pair, and traveling on an extremely loose schedule almost completely eliminated most of these problems. (and although I'd like to share greyhound horror stories, we rarely had anything more eventful than a late bus happen)  ----Sam and I were able to sit next to each other on almost every bus we took which meant we could sleep on each others' shoulders, etc which means we had much more space together.  Also because we were not on a schedule, a late bus here and there didn't matter at all to us. (I would never take greyhound if I had to be somewhere on time, you get over that quickly when using the discovery pass)  Generally speaking we were prepared for the worst and had a good attitude going into it, and that made a huge difference.  (see the forthcoming 'how of the greyhound discovery pass', on what we brought and our travel techniques)

-The Discovery Pass is flexible.  To get on a bus with the pass all you have to do is get in any line and then show ID when boarding.  Greyhound's website says that sometimes you need to acquire a ticket at the ticket counter before boarding, but not once did we do this.  The flexibility of the pass allowed us to hop busses and change plans quickly.  On our longest leg of the journey (Salt Lake City to Boston) we arrived in cleveland 2 hours late and missed our bus which was going to take us to Boston.  If we had normal tickets we would have been forced to wait overnight until 5am or so to get on the next Boston bus.  Instead we immediately boarded a bus going to New York and worked out a transfer to Boson when we got to NYC.  We also were able to spend an extra day with friends in Chicago when we felt too exhausted to pack and ride the bus that day.

-Greyhound is frequent.  We mostly stuck to large cities on our trip, and greyhound had several busses each day going where we were going.

-Greyhound Discovery Pass allows you to travel slowly.  When traveling I usually try to make the most of every hour and see and so as much as I can.  This is exhausting (albeit fun) and is a great way to spend a week or so, but traveling for 2 months meant we had to relax more and take 'break days' which involved sleeping, eating and lounging around a park usually.  This was pleasant and new to us and I highly recommend taking a trip long enough that you have to take it easy sometimes.

-Greyhound busses (many of them) have improved since the 70's and 80's (which it seems to me is where many of the above mentioned horror stories originated from).  We estimate that about 60% or more of the busses we rode were newer, had lots of leg room (I'm a slim 5'9") outlets for computers, ipods, phones and free wireless internet.  The older ones were less comfortable, smaller seats, no wifi or outlets, but most of our longer trips were on newer busses so it wasn't much of a problem.

-We took the bus at night.  We loved riding at night.  We sacrificed some sightseeing, true, but we saved on lodging and both Sam and I were usually able to sleep decently on overnight rides.

-We had friends in almost every city.  This is not directly related to greyhound, but made such a huge difference on our trip.  I plan on posting a complete breakdown of our expenses soon, but i'll tell you that we could not have afforded this trip without generous help from friends, relatives and friendly people on couchsurfing.org.

-Finally, we have come to the predictable conclusion that attitude made all of the difference for us.  Greyhound busses are full of vocal people who are mad about greyhound busses.  Don't be one of those people.

Ask questions!  I'm sure I've left things out and I'll respond quickly.



ps: we're happy to be home and on our bikes again. :-)


  1. Great having you in Boston. I'm definitely jealous of the trip you guys did, can't wait to read more.

  2. I live in Oregon, and would like to visit the florida keys -
    would that work on Greyhound?