Buses are the cheapest way to travel in Canada. Most bus routes to the west of Toronto are hosted by Greyhound, which includes a grandiose trip across the trans Canada highway from Toronto to Vancouver. A few companies of smaller size operate bus transport east of Toronto. Although, you will need to spend a whole night or two sitting on a long bus trip, it is comfortable enough because all the buses are clean and comfortable.
In most greyhound buses, traveling is possible in different classes, divided by the angle of the seat. Semi cama class – spacious seats, reclining 130 degrees, a typical “service package” includes entertainment and cold snacks during the journey. “Executivo” – even more spacious and comfortable seats, the angle of inclination is 160 degrees, additional services often include pillows and blankets, hot dishes, tea/coffee, champagne and wines. The class “Executivo” is served by a waiter. “First class” can be called differently, for example – “cama suite” or “tutto letto”. There are the most comfortable, fully reclining (to a horizontal position) chairs, maximum space, privacy and service.
For some tourists, a greyhound bus ride is just an excuse to save some money. For others, an opportunity to make an exciting journey. Particularly interesting and memorable bus routes go through the Andes mountain passes and connect Santiago, which is in Chile and Mendoza, which is in Argentina. During the trip, you will see picturesque landscapes with vineyards, mountain peaks covered with eternal snow and roads with sharp turns, each of which lurks another adventure. But the most unforgettable experience can be obtained from a “combined” bus-boat trip along the glaciers from Puerto Montt (Chile) to Bariloche (Argentina). This route is a real Andean classic. Another route is much less talked about, but it is almost as good: the enchanting landscapes can be seen from the bus window when you enter the eternal city of Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego province.
A long bus trip will cost you less than a train ride, and, besides, it may take less time. The main operator, Greyhound Canada, transports more than two million passengers annually. Although Greyhound buses run in the western and central parts of the country, many routes connect with bus lines in the eastern US. Greyhound routes connect Pacific and Maverick Coach Lines to the west of Vancouver, Voyageur Colonial and Acadien SMP to the east of Ottawa. Greyhound express routes offer faster travel on more spacious buses with a TV, music, and snacks.
Although smoking is officially banned, most long-distance buses stop every three or four hours so that passengers can get off the bus, stretch themselves and rest. All buses are air-conditioned, there is a toilet room.
DISCOUNTS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS
Passengers are offered a range of discounted tickets. Children under five years old normally travel for free, passengers over 65 years old are entitled to a discount when buying return tickets or season tickets. If to book in advance, the rates are to be lower. Or you may just travel in the low season, from January to June and from October to December.
A Greyhound Canada membership entitles you to an unlimited number of Greyhound bus rides and more. The Canada Coach Pass Plus subscription works almost the same, only provides an additional bonus in the form of trips to Halifax, Charlottetown, Quebec City, St. John’s and Montreal.
Different types of Rout-Pass provide the right to use the services of 25 international bus companies in Ontario and Quebec from mid-April to mid-November. Also, passengers do not have to plan their trip; booking is not necessary. There are many varieties of Rout-Pass, some include a voucher for accommodation. The 16-day Rout-Pass is reserved for members of the International Hostel Association.
BUS STATIONS AND RESERVATIONS
Buses of different operators depart from the same stations. Booking is not always necessary, because often buses are filled on the principle of “who is the first to arrive.”
Passengers are advised to arrive at the station at least an hour before the departure so, that there is much time in hand and you may buy tickets and check-in baggage without haste. Do not panic if the bus is already full, the next one will soon come up. Buying a ticket in advance does not guarantee availability, so if you are late for boarding, you will have to stand in line waiting for another bus to come.
If there is a long trip ahead, be sure to take any food with you, otherwise, you will have to be content with what will be sold at the stations – and the prices here are sometimes overpriced, and the food is not very attractive. At large stations, it is worth leaving your luggage in a storage room so that you can safely walk. When you leave a large city, such as Toronto, you may pick where to sit: in the suburbs or the center. Choose a center, because until the bus reaches the outskirts, it may already be crowded. Always ask if the bus is on the express route or direct (during some trips, the bus makes so many stops that the trip seems endlessly long). A small pillow and a good book or magazine are going to make it to where your journey is going to be more fun.
Several companies are offering special excursion options for different trips. You may pick anything from a city tour and day trips to specific attractions to exclusive multi-day guided tours, meals, and accommodation. There are specialized tours that are dedicated, for example, to hiking on glaciers or rafting on rivers with rapids, or horseback riding. A standard ten-day Rocky Mountain tour can include a cruise to Victoria, a hike around Banff, a picnic on Lake Louise, a trip to the Columbia Ice Field, or an introduction to the Caribou Gold Rush story. Most companies will send you a detailed travel plan in advance, make sure that there will be no additional costs, for example, tips, taxis, entrance fees, since all this should be included in the price of the trip.
About the author
Melisa Marzett is a freelancer who enjoys writing, traveling, is much of a reader and a movie enthusiast. Currently writing articles for writing-help.org/, she dreams of writing a book, which would become a bestseller. She is an animal rights activist and does lots of charity work wherever she goes.