A last minute business trip to New York City this past weekend saw me give Megabus and the 12 hour trek a test drive. Here are my top 12 tips for surviving such a lengthy voyage on what is considered the most discount of all motor coach carriers, based on this Toronto to New York experience. The lure was the supposed deals of $1 tickets, which never materialized for me, as it was such a last minute trip and those tickets are only available when a new schedule is released.
- Print or save the confirmation email on your phone, with your reservation number to show on boarding (you can make changes to your trip up to 48 hrs of departure – small fee)
- Travel with disinfecting wipes and give your seat a quick cleaning, as the seats are not cleaned between trips.
- Pack a travel blanket or jacket as it can get chilly during an overnight trip – a neck pillow is a great travel companion as well
- Pack snacks and water – you will have rest stops, but if it’s overnight not everything will be open. * We had two rest stops. Ensure you have small US currency as the McDonalds didn’t accept large bills at the stop we made.
- Reserved seats can be booked for a nominal fee – for busy routes I would recommend doing so. BUT.. be prepared to ask people to vacate YOUR seat.
- Table seats seem to have more room, BUT.. you’ll end up playing footsies with the person across from you as you sit facing each other
- Check your bag (50 lb limit) as there are no overhead compartments and the seats are VERY tight
- While the upper deck offer better views, I went both ways on the lower deck as it was less crowded and chances are you may snag a table seat if they’re not occupied. Please bear in mind that the capacity will vary according to the number of scheduled stops you make (passengers leaving and coming on-board) If you do choose the upper deck I would HIGHLY recommend that you wear your seat-belt as you will feel every move of the coach.
- There are over-head (or lower between seats) power outlets and WiFi available. However we only got access to the WiFi after crossing into the US and I found that I had to restart my phone for it to work. You won’t be able to access any heavy-data sites (like streaming media – YouTube | Netflix)
- If you’re crossing a boarder like we did, you will be required to have a passport and you will be required to hit immigration/customs where you will be questioned and your luggage scanned.
- The bathroom is located at the rear of the lower level. It’s recommended that you use the rear stairs and not the front while the coach is in motion. Know that there’s no sink, however antibacterial gel is provided. While I sat near the back of the coach on the lower floor, there wasn’t any scent emanating from there (luck?). But the constant flow of people using the bathroom can be disturbing. Pack headphones to drown out such noise and chatter.
- Boarding starts about 15 minutes prior to your trip, but I’d recommend arriving early to secure a seat of your choice. In Toronto we had a covered terminal (610 Bay St), but in NY you’re let off (7th Ave & 27th Street) and picked up (34 St between 11th Ave & 12 Ave) on the street. You’ll be exposed to sun, rain or snow depending on the season. Dress accordingly. At the drop-off point there are a few cafes directly across the street and the pick-up area is flooded with food vendors.
Overall not a bad experience, but I felt I overpaid. Had I opted for Greyhound it would have been cheaper (I only checked after I booked with Megabus) and from reports (my parents who travel the route quite often) it’s a more comfortable experience. If you can snag cheap tickets, Megabus would be a great option.. keeping in mind that it will be a tight fit, with little legroom and somewhat crowded. I would recommend using the rest stops to stretch your legs or risk experiencing circulation problems as I did.
After a quick check on the Megabus website I noticed that if you book in advance, you can get very cheap fares… I even saw a $12 ticket to New York City from Toronto leaving the first week of September.