So, I’m back! And as such I have quite a lot to talk about as time (and posts) go on, but first things first, a little from Los Angeles.
Whether you are from the greater Los Angeles area or visiting, there is something about driving to The Los Angeles International Airport that causes a headache. If you are from out of town, the traffic – dealing with the LA driving style more than anything – and stress caused by traveling alone is enough to make people avoid this city. And as a local, driving around LAX with people who don’t understand LA driving and the fierce, crazy taxis, we generally avoid it as well.
This is why for years my parents have relied on the amazing service provided by LAX Flyaway. This bus service gives quick, reliable and cheap round-trip or single fare options for getting to LAX from a variety of locations – Van Nuys (our usual drop off location), Hollywood, Westwood, Union Station, or Long Beach. This not only makes traveling to and from LAX easier but makes flying into the city easier. While we may make the drive for long term travel or international destinations – for sentimental reasons – the fact that you can really only pick up and drop off at LAX means there really are no reasons to drive into the chaos especially for quicker trips, ie Kansas.
Of course, if you aren’t looking to go into the city and have other options – like Burbank, if you are more valley-bound – you can avoid the whole mess. However, I have to caution (as always) to research locations. My brother-in-law had an out-of-town guest who didn’t pay attention to this and, thinking the Long Beach airport was closer as well as cheaper, booked a flight there only to need a pickup an hour away with no traffic.
If you are from out of town, this is a great service that can get you to Union Station which can then get you all over the city and beyond.
I know this isn’t about Kansas – but trust me, you will hear plenty about that in the weeks to come – and a little disjointed, but I am still a bit travel-lagged and promise that this service is well worth talking about. But for now,
While I’m currently part way through week 4 (and falling completely in love with Lyon), we’ll start our adventure at the beginning of this travel saga: getting here!
After getting up ridiculously early (at least, I thought that at the time–again a story that will follow!), and making my way through London’s tube system to get to Victoria Coach Station (only getting lost between stations once, I swear!) for my 8am bus, getting me ticket, and following their check-in procedures, the trip over to France was a really positive experience.
While I talked about why I chose this bus system over other means of travel a few weeks back, now that I’ve made the trip, I definitely can say it was not only a good choice but a lot of fun. I mean, I was in a bus that was in a train…. Like, I was looking out of a window and I could see the walls of a train.
Despite this fun – or rather because I want people to enjoy this kind of trip as much as I’ve enjoyed it – I think there are some things that need to be said.
To start, a few weeks back I fount this post I really like which listed some good manner rules of staying hostels (though I may add to this at some point in the future with new examples!), so I thought I’d likewise give my list of dos, don’ts, and basic code of conduct when using coach travel:
1. Get there early—this goes twice for families and groups! Seats are first come first serve so if you want to be together, it’s simple: be the first ones on the bus! This time will also let you get settled in, get out what you’ll need, put your carry on away and otherwise just be ready for the long haul that coach trips tend to be.
2. Stay flexible. Okay, so you came in early, got comfy, but the hear a ruckus about a family that was late and now a five year old will be sitting on her own if someone sitting alone doesn’t move. If you are one of these people (comfy or not), please do everyone a favor and volunteer!
True story: this happened on my coach—I was not sitting alone, but I gave up my seat so the dad could sit closer to the others once it was sorted—and no one moved very quickly which meant scolding and some not very nice glares.
If you can help out in these situations, do it! This may mean asking your seat mate if they would mind if you both gave up your seats (even if they say no, it doesn’t hurt to ask!)
3. Don’t shame people. This is a basic rule of life for me, but linked with coach travel and the example above, this is key.
If the girl sitting by the window alone doesn’t want to give up her seat, she was early and she’s not obligated to move to appease any other passenger. Talking loudly about or pointing out how rude a certain person is not to move won’t do anything but annoy everyone else on the bus.
Shaming only works if the person you are shaming has something invested in the situation which causes them to behave how you want them to—a stranger may not care what you think about them, so why should they do anything to help you out? They don’t and won’t.
Plus, you don’t know their story, so you don’t know why they are doing (or not doing) something. Maybe there is a reason she need to sit by the window or in that part of the bus and she can’t move seats because of that—you simply don’t know so stop fixating and keep going. It’s not the end of the world!
4. Have everything you need easy to access. Or may need. First and foremost, this is important for passports if you are going to be crossing borders. They will be checked, so have it ready so everyone can get through security and back on their way.
You need snacks, a book, your game system, whatever, have it with you where you don’t cause a commotion or too much noise. If you are digging through your bag, you are probably taking up space and jostling the person next you or at least bothering them which does not make a happy travel partner.
Which brings us to…
5. Watch the noise! I don’t care what time of day your trip begins and ends, if it is longer than an hour (sometimes not even that long!), someone will be trying to sleep. Respect your fellow travelers and keep the volume down.
This doesn’t mean you can’t talk or have fun if you’re with people, just don’t yell or listen to music or watch videos or anything else that makes noise without your earphones.
6.And seriously, stop making (constant) phone calls! While I understand you have to contact someone if they are picking you up, letting them know when you are heading out or will be arriving soon, but I don’t want to know your life story so keep it quick and share your news when you actually see them.
There are a lot of reasons not to do this but mostly, just respect the rights of all your fellow passengers to not want to share in your life story/drama. Phone calls should be short, to the point and done quietly, for everyone’s sake!
7. Don’t be late getting back. On long trips, you’ll get a break part way through usually somewhere there is a store and a quick stop café or diner. That’s great: get out, stretch, take a walk, hit the bathroom, grab a bite, whatever you need to do, do it! However, you have to prioritize.
If the driver gives you a time limit, that’s the time limit. Know what you need to get done, go do it, and get back. If you don’t, one of two things will happen: 1. You’ll get back to a bus full of angry people who are going to be late for their plans because of you (unpleasant); or 2. You’ll get back to no bus (most the time this won’t happen—there are count-ins—but seriously, it’s been done!)
So those are my basic etiquette tips but there are undoubtedly many more that can be tacked on.
I, however, have to get running back out because I’m traveling and my day isn’t over yet!
In the meantime: share a story from your travels, good or bad, or some of the hard and fast rules you’ve discovered as you’ve traveled.