Tips for an overnight bus trip from Montreal to New York
I’ve yet to have the pleasure of some of the more luxurious bus experiences we’ve come to find in our South American partners like Itapemirim that offer seats that recline into beds. But as a seasoned red eye rider and regular of the New York to Montreal route, I can share a few tips that can make your bus trip a whole lot more enjoyable.
Know your seat count
There are typically 25 pairs of seats on Greyhound and NY Trailways buses. And since seating is first come, first serve, you’ll want to figure out where you stand as soon as you queue up.
I like traveling by bus because I don’t need to show up 90 minutes before the departure. For the night bus runs, you can show up 20-30 minutes before departure and still have a good chance of being the first to sit in a pair of seats.
And if you show up later and there’s quite a crowd boarding your bus, ask the driver or gate agent if they’re planning on sending out a second bus. This happens very frequently for popular routes and times. And when it does, you can be the first one on that shiny new bus so you can pick your favorite seat.
Always take the window
I travel with a pillow (and I am very particular about my pillow, it’s a memory foam pillow, which packs a wallop in a pillow fight but is just dreamy to rest your head upon) and wrap it in a transparent recycling bag while it’s not in use. When I do use it, I wedge it between the seat and the window and rest my head against it, preventing the dreaded head conk against the glass, instead replacing it with memory foam slumber goodness.
Some windows can have a greasy border by the AC vents, so I put the bag on the window frame to cover the lubricant, and then rest the pillow on top in the wedged position.
And if ever you can’t fall asleep, the bus’ windows offer great vistas at night too. I’m particularly fond of the view a few minutes out from Montreal and New York where you can appreciate the cityscape in all its night time glory.
Choose your carrier wisely
Not all buses are created equal, and not all carriers run all hours. Greyhound offers a low-cost bus ticket with more daily departures whereas NY Trailways buses run less frequently and cost a few dollars more but offer a more comfortable ride. I’m partial to their seats, which have a deeper recline.
Know your itinerary
You can easily book the first bus you find online, but if you want to get some good shut eye, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting on a bus that will make as few stops as possible. Every time the bus stops, you run the risk of the driver turning on the lights and announcing the location – which is great for those about to sleep through their stop, but not so good for those of us trying to get maximum dream time.
Busbud is working with carriers to bring this information to your finger tips, and you’ll find it in the departure details for an increasing number of partners like Greyhound, NY Trailways, Flixbus, National Express and many more.
In the screenshot below, taken from Busbud.com, you can readily tell which departure is the milk run and which is the express run.
Pad your back
This is the secret move that made the difference between getting off the bus with bloodshot eyes after a sleepless night or gently yawning myself awake to the sun rising just on the other side of my precious pillow.
Oddly enough, none of the seats I’ve tried follow the curve of your lumbar spine when reclined, so grab a thick shirt (in the winter time I use my fleece layer) and stuff it between the seat and the small of your back. You’ll be able to relax your back and focus on counting sheep.
Pick your pants
The ladies figured this one out a long time ago with their leggings. The astute red eye traveler will pick a slightly stretchy material, particularly around the waist and definitely soft for maximum comfort. Although I’ll sometimes rock my plaid pajama pants, I’ve recently taken to wearing a nice pair of chinos.
It makes looking at yourself first thing in the morning when you show up at your destination in that bus terminal’s bathroom’s mirror all the more pleasant. As you’re brushing your teeth to get rid of that morning breath, you can honestly tell your reflection “damn I look decent”. Now go travel.
If you’re into traveling and making computers do your bidding, check out Busbud’s job openings. We’re also looking for Product Managers.