North America Bus Guide
1. US Buses
The buses in the US are on the expensive side (just like everything else) and the fare changes based on day of the week, time of the year and routes.
Megabus and Boltbus have $1 seats. But, these seats are limited¬†on each bus. The trick to getting them is booking in advance and looking for weird timings like post-midnight or afternoon.
Another trick is to try standby on Megabus. That is, don’t book a ticket in advance but go directly at the bus stop at the given time of the bus. If a seat is available then you get it for $5 regardless of the actual seat price. It is tougher on the weekends since more people are traveling. But, you can take your chances by standing in the stand-by line.
PS: I tried standby in New York, Boston, Washington DC & Philadelphia. I always managed to get a seat for $5. But, the US is big and other places might have other rules
3. Guatemala and Belize
Amigos and good ol’ chaps, welcome to the land of the chicken buses. For years, our big cousin Sam to the north has been sending down old school buses. The yellow was too pale for our taste so we colored it up. You call it a chicken bus because we transport our farm animals. But hey, they are family.
I didn’t book any buses in Guatemala and Belize online. Because, the chicken buses can’t be booked online. So, I basically got to the bus station following local advice. And, I always got a bus. Never had to wait too long.
But, if you want a less authentic and more comfortable (more expensive) way to travel then –
PS: I highly recommend chicken buses if you have time on your hand. Sack of potatoes, tied up chickens, water carrying women and much more.
4. South America Bus Guide
Cama vs Semi-Cama Seats: Semi-cama is your normal seat. Cama reclines more than your average seat. But, it still doesn’t quite turn into a cama (bed in Spanish). Cama is more comfortable and pricier.
Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay
They have limited online bus reservation services. Andes Transit has online bus reservations for these countries. But, even they don’t have all the bus routes or all the buses on a particular route. And, it tends to only show more expensive buses. So in these countries your best bet is to seek local advice and get to the bus station an hour before you actually want to depart. And one more thing, always bargain/haggle and they will reduce the ticket price.
The rough rule of thumb is – $1 to $2 per hour of the journey
The buses in Argentina give a competition to the US buses for prices. But, Argentinean buses surely shine your penny. Some long routes serve dinner and even local wine. Can there be a better way to ride then a glass of wine and the sunshine.
But, you don’t want to pay for these buses. Then, you can hitchhike like me. Read about my 6000 km hitchhiking experience in Argentina & Chile (Coming Soon). And, do check out¬ Hitchhiking basic guide (Coming Soon)
The buses in Brazil are standard and comfortable. I took the longest bus ride of my life in Brazil, Rio de Janiero to Salvador, Bahia ~ 36 hours. The Brasilians surely brighten up the bus ride, if you ever get bored with the beauty of the landscape out of the window.
Chile is an incredibly long country. Hence, the bus journeys can be long especially if one heads to the pristine heavenly south of the country. The roads in the south traverse some of the best scenery I have ever seen. There is never a dull moment.¬†But, one problem with the buses in the south of Chile is the frequency. There are very few buses that serve certain routes and they sell out fast in the peak season (December-February)
Peru has a good bus network. The quality varies. But what I observed in Peru was that it is almost always cheaper to book buses in person at the bus station than online. And, you can haggle (bargain) the price down. But, if you don’t want to break a sweat then reserve online.
Uruguay is a small and easily navigable country. All the major attractions are within few hours comfortable bus ride from Montevideo, the capital.
There are three ferries between Argentina and Uruguay –¬ Argentina-Uruguay ferry guide