By Amanda Festa
The idea of the road trip is magic. It is a different kind of travel, about the journey far more than it is about the destination. The road becomes the trip itself — winding and meandering like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Where you go is up to you, as is how you get there.
When you think of the road trip in literature, you may think immediately of Jack Kerouac’s iconic On the Road or John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charley. And for good reason. Traveling the country is a right of passage, giving you the opportunity to explore the world through your own unique lens. Just as Kerouac and Steinbeck offer startlingly different vantage points as they traverse the same country, no two travelogues are the same.
While the classic road trip usually features car travel, there are other transportation options to consider. After all, the only requirement of a road trip is the road, everything else is up to you.
If you prefer to make your road trip a solo travel experience, consider traveling by bus.
There is something to be said about traveling solo, and a road trip can be an ideal opportunity for reflection and wonderment at the vastness that surrounds us in every direction. Traveling by bus gives you freedom to daydream, to write, to take in your surroundings. A bus trip allows you loosen the reigns, rescind control, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Wanderu is the ultimate way to book bus travel throughout the continental United States. Type in your start and end locations and let Wanderu do the rest, mapping your route and offering the best options available. For example, check out all the options from DC to NYC by bus. And planning a larger scale bus trip is no problem. Wanderu will plot the route and make the connections, choosing buses at each of the connecting locations. With Wanderu, you can book a quick weekend getaway or a cross country bus trip with the click of a button. Wanderu can get you from point A to point B, leaving the journey in your hands.
To find your own inspiration, check out these 5 books that bring bus travel to the forefront, showing that a bus trip is truly about the journey.
Greyhound By Steffan Piper
Piper’s novel centers around a twelve-year-old boy put on a Greyhound bus in Stockton, California by his emotionally damaged mother. He must make the bus trip alone, traveling across the country to live with his grandmother in Pennsylvania. Along the way he meets a number of fellow passengers and travelers, including Marcus, a man with his own story, who becomes an unlikely companion in this touching cross-country bildungsroman.
Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast: 120 Poems from the Subways and Buses Edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Elise Paschen
Started in 1992 in New York City, the Poetry in Motion™ program showcases diverse poetry on public transportation from the likes of William Blake, Sharon Olds, Sherman Alexie, Langston Hughes and Pablo Neruda. This volume compiles an anthology of poems from the program as it expanded to include cities across the county, including 120 poems that were once used on buses and trains, inspiring commuters on their travels near and far.
You may have heard of Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which chronicles the experiences of Ken Kessey and his Merry Pranksters as they traveled cross-country in a colorfully painted school bus. On the Bus further highlights the exploits of their travels, combining narrative, never-before-seen photographs and candid interviews to paint a vivid picture of this iconic bus trip.
Stop Requested By Wyatt Doyle, Illustrated by Stanley J. Zappa
This series of short stories is both witty and heart wrenching, rendering beautifully painted vignettes of everyday life. Tying the book together is the quotidian theme of riding the bus in Los Angeles, and Doyle perfectly captures these simple moments in a jar, holding them up for us to examine and reflect upon.
The White Widow By Jim Lehrer
Written by PBS news anchor Lehrer, The White Widow is the story of a Texas bus driver working the Houston to Corpus Christi line in the late 1950s. His comfortable life is turned askew when a beautiful woman boards the bus and his previously untested hold on contentment is called into question.