Is riding the Greyhound bus safe?

This is probably the #1 question asked about Greyhound on the Internet.  And for good reason. The only stories most of us hear about Greyhound are the horror stories. Bus crashes, bad drivers, rude employees, people getting robbed, etc.  These are the stories that make the news and get brought up when you mention that you are considering taking a trip on the Greyhound bus.

The truth of the matter is that while bad things do happen on the Greyhound bus, they also happen everywhere else in this world. And this doesn’t stop us from going on with our lives, does it?

Most of us have learned to practice some common sense behaviors that keep us as safe as possible. The same is true with riding the Greyhound bus. By using a few of the Greyhound safety tips that I am going to share below you can make sure that you have an uneventful trip and arrive at your destination unharmed.

1. Don’t Dress For Success – Greyhound is not the environment where you want people to stand up and take notice of you. Instead you want to blend in with the crowd and draw as little attention to yourself as possible.

Wearing flashy clothes or excess jewelry can give the impression that you have money and this may  draw the attention of pickpockets and thieves. You want to appear as just another broke traveler, desperately trying to get home.

For female travelers I recommend not wearing provocative clothes or even too much makeup. You can run into some rude characters on Greyhound and even if no one physically harms you the verbal abuse and harassment can be very annoying. Ladies, I know you want to look your best, but maybe wait until after you get to your destination.

2. Don’t Leave The Bus Station At Night – If you have a layover or brief stop at a Greyhound bus station after dark, stay in the station unless you are familiar with the area!  Greyhound bus stations aren’t always in the best part of town and you don’t know what might be going on right the door. Not to mention people hang around bus stations looking to prey on naive travelers who venture to far outdoors.

I’m not just saying this to scare you. I’ve actually seen these people. I’ve been at bus stations where people went wandering around outside and were robbed. So do yourself a favor and stay inside the station after the street lights come on.

3. Sit Near The Front of the Bus – Most of the foolishness that happens on the Greyhound bus happens from about the middle of the bus on back.  Sitting near the front gets you away from all this and puts you closer to the driver. If you do have any trouble while on the bus it will be much easier for you to alert the driver and get help.

4. Have A Ride Already Lined Up At Your Destination – I’ve made the mistake before of not making plans and just thinking I was just going to take a cab to my hotel when I got to my destination station. When I arrived there was only one cab available and he refused to give me a ride. Fortunately, for me I remembered about Uber and was able to get a ride to my hotel shortly thereafter. (This was my first experience with Uber and I’ve been using them ever since.)

Make sure you have a definite ride to pick you up when you arrive at your destination. A family member, a friend, someone you trust to be there. If you do have to use public transportation like the local bus do your research and find out where the nearest bus stop is and make sure it’s in a good neighborhood.

If you are going to use a cab or a company like Uber or Lyft, call ahead or use your phone to schedule a pickup right after you arrive at the station. You don’t want to be standing outside a Greyhound station for hours waiting for a ride, especially at night.

Never take a ride from a stranger you just met on the bus, even if they seem like very nice people. A few hours on a bus isn’t long enough to get to know someone well enough to gauge whether they have ulterior motives for giving you a ride or not.

5. Keep Your Luggage With You At All Times –  During most of your trip your checked bags will be under the bus. When they are not make sure you keep them with you!  Even when it’s a hassle like taking them into the bus station bathroom with you or toting them along as you stand in line for something to eat. Trust me, if you leave your bag unattended it only takes a second for someone to grab it and disappear. And you won’t get any help from Greyhound retrieving it.

You carry on bag will be with you at all times on the bus as well as at the stations. I have , however, noticed that people sometimes leave their carry on bag(s) on the bus during food stops and bathroom breaks. Most of the time there is no issue with this but I still recommend taking your carry on with you. It’s not worth losing all your valuables. Just take your carry on in the store or fast food restaurant with you and then you are assured of it’s safety.

6. Locate Security at Bus Stations – Some Greyhound bus stations have security guards that patrol the area and look after passengers. If you are at a Greyhound station and it seems particularly sketchy, find out if there is security and if so make a note of where they are located. This way if you have an kind of incident you will be able to immediately get the attention of a security guard. I sometimes go a step further and strike up a conversation with security just so they are familiar with my face. That way if I’m involved in an incident they know that I’m a passenger just trying to get home.

7. Don’t Let People Borrow Your Cellphone – Cellphones are one of the most frequently stolen items in the world. I once talked to a Greyhound employee who had personally seen countless phones stolen by people who claimed they ‘just needed to borrow a phone for a minute’. As soon as they got the phone they would bolt out the door and be gone. Once again Greyhound bears no responsibility for your loss in this situation. So keep your phone on your person.

8. Travel With a Companion or Find A Travel Buddy If Possible – If possible travel with a friend when riding on Greyhound. If this isn’t an option, see if you can find someone who seems like a decent person who is going to the same destination as you, and team up with them throughout the trip.

Having someone to talk with during layovers and sit by on the bus (if possible) can really make the time fly by. You can also watch each other’s backs and look out for each other’s belongings. Two heads are better than one and when issues arise on your trip having a friend to talk with can make solving them much easier.  Just remember to pick your travel buddy wisely and to still be on your guard just in case they aren’t as decent as you initially thought.

9. Don’t Flash Cash – When paying for purchases during your Greyhound trip try not to show off large amounts of money. Either use credit or debit cards or pay with small bills. If I am travelling with lots of cash I usually keep like $20 in my wallet for expenses and then hide the rest either in my bags or somewhere secret on my person. Flashing lots of cash makes you stand out for all the wrong reasons and can put you on the wrong people’s radar.

10. Never Doze Completely Off – Even if you are going to do some sleeping throughout your bus trip (definitely a great way to pass the time) try not to fall into too deep a sleep. I know this is easier said than done, but if you fall too far asleep either on the bus or at the station you will be totally oblivious to your surroundings. This is never good when traveling, and especially on Greyhound.  Anyone noticing how out of it you are can take advantage of the situation and rob you or worse.

I’ve seen people who fell asleep at the Greyhound bus station and were dead to the world and woke up with no clue where their belongings were. Incidentally, this is also a good way to miss your bus. So try not to sleep like you are in your bed at home when you are on the bus. Set your alarm on your phone if you are afraid you will sleep too long. If you are fortunate enough to have a travel buddy , try alternating sleep times with them. That way one of you is awake and alert at all times.