LC^3T: Part II strategy


in Canada, Daily updates, Travel

I learned a few things taking the bus from Ottawa to Vancouver. Firstly, dealing with stopovers and bus changes is probably the most annoying part of the whole experience. It is wise to carry as little carry-on baggage as possible. Indeed, a few Greyhound coaches have such small overhead compartments, they leave you with no choice but to stack bags around your legs. Given that my bag of photo gear simply must ride on top, that means absolutely minimizing all other baggage.

Secondly, bringing changes of clothes is pointless. There isn’t much refreshment to be had from putting clean clothes onto a dirty body, and the Greyound human logistics chain doesn’t offer anywhere you would want to change. Between dirty bus station bathrooms and lurching bus toilets, I will just endure for three days in my woolen longjohns and cargo trousers.

Thirdly, the bus experience is not really compatible with reading, at least for me. I read more in the first two hours than during the rest of the trip. As such, I am cutting back in-bus reading material to one small book and a magazine, and probably even that is more than required.

Fourthly, I found bringing food to be more trouble than it is worth. You don’t need to eat much, since you aren’t moving and don’t need to heat yourself much (the buses are warm). Subsisting off Gatorade and truck stop food may not be glamorous, but it is probably the best approach.

Fifthly, music is critical. If you have an iPod, get a device that lets it run on AAA batteries. Then, bring at least 12 with you per journey. Those available on the route are absurdly overpriced, and often of very poor quality.

Sixthly, at least in the winter, don’t expect the journey to be scenic. During my spans of non-darkness, all I saw was endless snowy boreal forest one day and endless prairies the next. If possible, schedule your trip so it is daylight when you cross the Rockies. If you really care about scenery (and don’t mind the higher carbon emissions), consider taking the train.

On this journey, I won’t have the stopover in Winnipeg that offered a welcome chance to see my cousin and have a shower on the way out. It will basically be one long, often-interrupted run from Vancouver to Calgary to Regina to Winnipeg to Ottawa. Please wish me luck.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Padraic January 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I agree with your conclusion about food, if only because it’s such a pain to have too much carry-on. Good luck with the return trip!

R.K. January 7, 2010 at 12:21 am

This all sounds rather ghastly. Basically, the trip has no redeeming aesthetical characteristics. You just want to numb yourself.

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