Surprising Things About Taking a 19-Hour Bus Ride + Photos
- I took a Greyhound bus from Virginia to Indiana for $68, and the trip took 19 hours.
- The bus was more comfortable than I thought it’d be, but I’m glad I brought a blanket and a book.
- My bus drivers were amazing, and I felt safe stretching my legs at the various stops along the way.
I took a 19-hour Greyhound bus ride from Lynchburg, Virginia, to Indianapolis, Indiana, to visit one of my best friends.
My ticket cost $68, and the ride wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared.
Here are the things that surprised me the most:
I was comfortable right when I stepped onto the bus
It was a frosty 27 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of my trip, but one of the first things I noticed while climbing up the stairs of the bus was how cozy the temperature was inside.
Double chairs stretched down each side, and I made my way closer to the back. Riders were scattered here and there, but the seats were mostly empty.
There was plenty of legroom — enough to easily put my stuffed backpack down and still have space for my feet. There was also a lot of overhead storage for people to keep their bags and under-the-bus storage for larger suitcases.
I was able to breeze through hundreds of pages of my book
My trip was scheduled to take a whopping 19 hours.
I’m a busy college student and journalist, so I took the chance to do something I don’t often have time for — leisure reading.
I brought along Frank Herbert’s “Dune” because I knew it would more than last the trip. I ended up reading over 500 pages just that day.
Other passengers were making use of the time, too. One woman on the bus knitted for a while, and others slept, read, or talked among themselves.
I kept my headphones in and listened to music while I read.
I was relieved that the stops felt pretty safe
Around lunchtime, the bus made its first real stop near Wytheville, Virginia.
It was just a Love’s truck stop but, if nothing else, it gave everyone a chance to get out and stretch their legs. The other passengers scattered for snacks and food.
Thankfully I didn’t feel unsafe, but if it had been nighttime or there were fewer people, I may not have ventured out of the bus by myself.
Later, during my four-hour layover in Knoxville, Tennessee, most of the other people waiting just stayed in the transfer station fending off hunger with chips and soda from the vending machines.
I decided to walk into the town and found a bustling market with a lot of food options.
A bowl of pasta hit the spot after the long day of travel, and I was elated I wasn’t eating stale Doritos. The other passengers stared enviously at the cookie I brought back to the station.
The landscape was way more entertaining than I expected
I was lucky to have some cool views during my trip. The snowy Appalachian Mountains were often in the distance as unfamiliar towns passed by.
The highlight of the sightseeing was the sunset — a red-gold sun lit Tennessee in fiery beauty.
It got cold at night right when I was trying to sleep
I’m thankful I thought ahead and packed a blanket in my backpack.
When I got back on the bus at 10:30 p.m. after the layover, I was exhausted and wanted to sleep.
The blanket helped ward off the evening chill and made me feel more comfortable.
But it was too noisy on the bus for me to get any real sleep
If you’re hoping to sleep on the bus, headphones might be even more important than a blanket.
I ended up getting only two or three hours of dozing sleep mostly because of the noise. The bus made occasional stops to pick up more passengers as we passed through Kentucky and Ohio, and each time the bus driver would make an announcement for the stop.
It would’ve been much less disturbing if I kept my headphones in, but I was too paranoid I’d miss some important announcement.
Some of the passengers were also less considerate with their volume levels. One man played music just loud enough for everyone but the bus driver to hear. A young girl a few rows behind me cried loudly and played games on a phone at full volume.
I was still able to doze a bit here and there, but the extra noise prevented much rest.
The stations I went through weren’t super clean or exciting
I had to make two transfers during the trip. One was the four-hour Knoxville layover. The next was a shorter but more miserable stop in Cincinnati.
Trash was everywhere, and no one was happy at 4 a.m. except for the bus driver.
I wouldn’t want to spend more time in the stations than I did. Thankfully my friend was waiting at the final Indianapolis station to pick me up.
My bus drivers were super entertaining and made everything run smoothly
My bus driver from Knoxville to Cincinnati was iconic.
When she yelled the names of the people who were supposed to get on the bus, I didn’t hear mine at first. But I made it on the bus because she made sure everyone was there.
Beneath the loud jokes and swift efficacy as a driver — she got us to Cincinnati half an hour early — she also seemed to have a heart of gold.
The driver made sure a single mother with a kid was at the front of the line to board and watched over her at the next transfer. And when no one budged to let newcomers sit next to them at stops, the driver made everyone make room.
I was blown away by how kind some of my fellow passengers were
I wouldn’t mind doing this ride again, especially if I had a friend along and didn’t have to spend the night on the bus. Overall, my ride was comfortable, and I never felt unsafe.
The kindnesses and good-hearted scenes I witnessed along the journey really stuck with me. This trip showed me that people will often do what they can to help others.
There was a man who realized a fellow passenger didn’t speak English, so he translated the bus driver’s instructions. I heard another passenger offer to help pay for someone’s ticket. And one man even gave someone half his food from the previous stop.