I recently took my first trip on Megabus to Chicago to visit my lady friend, and the trip was thrown together pretty last minute (I bought the ticket on Thursday and departed on Friday). As a result, I had some interesting experiences on the five-hour ride there, as well as on the way back. Some good, some bad – most of them worth sharing. Without any more introductions, here are 5 things I learned on my bus trip from Detroit to Chicago, and back.
1. Pack snacks
There is nothing worse than being unprepared for something. This being my first significant use of public transportation, I was woefully unprepared, without even a water bottle. More experienced travelers came on board with entire dinners, selections of beverages, and buffets of snacks. On a five-hour bus trip that departed at 6:30 p.m., any type of food would have been very welcome. Thankfully, we made a pit stop in Marshall, MI, where I was able to grab a bag of Fritos and a drink. I learned from my lesson and grabbed a bag of jerky for the trip home which was incredibly delicious.
2. Charge your iPod
Do you know what a screaming baby sounds like? Imagine it for three hours straight. While I’m pretty sure I witnessed a world record for loudest and longest-maintained fit by a child, I have to say that I would have been very okay with missing it. In fact, I was able to block it out for about a 45-minute period before my iPod died. After that, it was all screaming. This could have easily been avoided if I had charged my iPod before heading into work on Friday. Once again, I took advantage of the chance to learn from my mistakes for my return trip and charged up my iPod. As a result, I missed out on a good portion of a 4-year-old attempting to break the record for screaming set by the child on my first bus trip. Not such a bad thing to miss out on…
3. Bring your own light
Buses have lights, so if I’m going to read why do I need to bring my own light? Because if a company has a lot of buses, and each bus has a lot of lights, you are bound to run into at least a few of them that don’t work. Luckily, I checked my light before settling into a seat and was able to move to one with a working source of illumination. If I were stuck without a light, no iPod, no snacks and a screaming baby, I think I would have just given up and tried to walk home. If you are someone who travels often, you might even want to look into investing into a book light for trips.
4. Don’t be afraid to talk to people
The screaming baby proved to be an easy source of common ground, and before I knew it, I was arguing college football with a med student on his way to visit his girlfriend. While I clearly won the battle, (how can he possibly think that Michigan actually beat my Notre Dame team this year without ND giving them the game?) it helped pass the time, and showed me that I wasn’t on a bus with a bunch of nameless, faceless figures, but other people who were on their way to visit friends and family. On my way home, the same guy was on the bus, so we spent the trip cheering for the Lions as we received updates via texts from friends and our smart phones. Never pass up a chance to expand your network. Who knows who you’ll meet?
5. Enjoy the ride
Despite all of the minor issues that piled up on my ride, I have to admit that it was an enjoyable part of my trip. After all, it was another new experience and it took a giant amount of stress off of me since I didn’t have to focus on driving, filling up my gas tank, or parking my car in Chicago for the weekend. There was something to be said for having five hours to sit back, read a book, and unwind on the drive. The crying baby, lack of snacks, and no iPod all served to teach me a lesson for my next trip, and were just a different part of my weekend adventure.
So there you have them, 5 tips from my trip. While I’m sure that every visit to Chicago will leave me with more new lessons, I’m not about to let potential mishaps and crying babies keep me from visiting friends. What other tips do you have from your travel experiences?