When the Jet-Setting Lifestyle is Just Out of Reach


I travel quite a lot for someone whose disposable income can only be described as "petite".   But unlike so many of my contemporaries, you won't find me lounging on a beach with a drink in hand or riding across the desert on a camel for a photo-op.

Camera Obscura: This is the best shot I can get of the glorious Highway 401 at dusk from my window seat on the Megabus

Instead, If I'm blessed enough to get a car ride in from friends, I'm memorizing all of the ONroute service centres that exist between Toronto and Montreal.   ONroutes are like shining beacons that offer you gas/food/potties when you are road-weary.  They are the only thing that makes traveling back to visit my rents and amis in La Belle Province bearable. Ideally, I like to make this province-hop once a month, twice on a really ambitious month.

That means I'm often spending at least 12 hours in a moving vehicle in one weekend (if I'm lucky...weather and road delays can really stretch things out).  But I'm not here to talk to you about car rides. For someone who refuses to buy a car until I'm able to afford a mint green Mini Cooper and matching Vespa, a lift itself is a luxury.

I'm here to offer you bus ride survival tips, for when the jet-setting lifestyle (or even the four-wheeling lifestyle) is just out of reach.  Because, although taking the bus is sometimes necessary for long trips, a bad ride can really scar you for life.  Here's a bit of bus-warrior advice to make sure you are never hungry, delirious or fearing for your life, when a view from the top means you're riding the top tier of a double-decker.

1# Strategic Seating.  If you have the option of a d-decker bus, always choose the top-tier seat that is right behind the stairwell, passenger permitting (see #2). It's got the most leg room.  Other riders will be so envious, their faces will practically be oozing jealousy.

2# Quick Character Assessments.  Never be the first or last on the bus.  If you're the naive and eager first, people muttering their grocery lists out loud to themselves might sit next to you.  If you are the last, you might have no other option then to sit next to the human task list.  Try to plant yourself somewhere in the middle of the line so you can do a quick eye scan of your fellow passengers.  Avoid: cute babies (remember they cry), emotive people on their cellphones, teenagers in love, men or women with a slight glimmer of unhinged in their eyes.

3# Tickets.  If you are responsible enough to budget and plan, buy your tickets way in advance.  It means the difference between dropping $30, and the whopping $85 I just shelled out for a last minute one-way ticket.

4# Food and Libations. Unlike flying with Porter, not only is it not permitted to drink wine on the bus, but you can get a hefty friggin' fine for doing so.  Make sure you are well caffeinated though, followed by plenty of water.  I'm not even the kind of person who likes to drink water, but traveling through small town Ontario makes me crankily thirsty.  As for food, try to keep it exciting. You'll be so bored by suppertime, that I guarantee you'll want to hurl your peanut butter sandwich at someone's head.  A french baguette with apple and brie, on the other hand, will renew your faith in humanity.

5# Technology.  Make friends with the girl who has a tablet.  While I rarely advocate becoming bus buddies with strangers, one of my fondest bus rides was with this awesome girl who offered me good conversation, and when we grew tired of that, plenty of movies to watch!  Never, ever, walk onto a bus assuming there is wireless internet.  Bus WIFI is amongst the most unreliable kind. Plan ahead, and make sure you bring your phone/e-reader/computer charger.

6# Imagination.  One final piece of advice.  You may have thought you checked your imagination at the door when you became an adult, but no!  In moments of pure desperation, when all of my devices are dead, I've closed my eyes and found that I can actually entertain myself with my good old noggin. Whether it be a fantasy of my Great Gatsby themed wedding set for 2020, or launching my first book of poetry, it's better than eavesdropping on the boys behind you who are likely dissecting the latest video game out there, level by level by level by level.

Mimosas at Lawrence in the Mile-End make even the most whirlwind trips worth it!

Happy Travels! And seriously, if you can afford to fly Porter, do it. Red wine, espresso and ginger cookies. That's all I have to say.

PS. I'd love to hear about your own bus ride adventures! That little space below the post is awful lonely, so be the first to comment.