Tips for Riding BoltBus

Photo by Flickr user btrandolph
A couple weeks back I had to head up to New York City for an overnighter. Not wanting to deal with traffic, gas prices, and parking, I opted for one of the bus services that run between Washington, DC and NYC. I wasn't sure which one to go with but after a little research I decided on BoltBus. They seemed to have some of the best reviews and a decent track record.

Note: The Washington Post did a great comparison on the bus lines that run from DC to NYC. It's worth a look if you are interested. 

The bus was by far the simplest and cheapest way to get from Washington, DC to New York City. My tickets came to $28 round trip. A ride where I can sleep the whole way, read on my Kindle, or just have room to stretch out is well worth that cost. But like the other bus services, BoltBus offers a decent list of features.

  • Wi-Fi
  • Extra Legroom
  • Electrical Outlets
  • $1 Fares (if you book far enough in advance)
  • Boarding Groups
  • Reserved Seating


Ok, so they seemingly offer a lot but is it really worth it? Most of this stuff is just icing on the cake. The real deal is that you get to sit back and relax for four and a half hours instead of fiddling with the cruise control. I'll break down a few of the features a little bit more though.

The on board Wi-Fi is so slow and can be so finicky that it's virtually nonexistent. Depending on your device, it may take a few tries to connect to it and once you do, you're best if you limit your Internet surfing to a minimum. Since it's an open network, security is important. And due to the low speed, don't count on video chatting with a friend or watching YouTube.

Although the Wi-Fi speed depends on a number of factors, in my two simple tests it was slower than 3G on my iPhone.


The on board electrical outlets are handy but there's only one outlet for two seats to share. Granted both of you can plug in one gizmo each, it's going to be sort of in the way for one of you with the cord dangling by your feet. Also, the slots feel very loose and my iPhone charger wouldn't stay in without falling out.

It's hard not to compare the seat layout with that of an airliner because they are essentially the same thing; mass people carriers. With that in mind, there are two things to note:

  • There is also no flexible little pocket in the seat back. So keeping a magazine or water bottle handy isn't super easy.
  • There are no tray tables so you'll have to set your tablet or laptop directly on your lap if you decided to use them. 
  • The spot for a bag under your feet is slightly limited in size by the fold down foot rest. On an airplane, you can fit a full backpack under the seat in front of you and still have some room but not so much on the bus.
Those aren't huge things but certainly something that feels awkward if you are used to flying. 

At the end of the day, you can't go wrong with taking the bus. I'm sure there are some horror stories of broken air conditioners, mechanical troubles and flat tires but the reward of getting to sit there doing nothing (or even working on your computer) is worth it if pick a reputable bus service. 

If you want my advice, here it is:
  • Book as early as possible. You'll get to board first and have your pick of seats. I like being near the front so I can see the road ahead and it also keeps me away from the noise and/or smell of the bathroom. 
  • Regarding your carry on, pack light. The overhead bin is not as large as an airliners and the spot under the seat in front of you is a lot smaller. 
  • Don't count on Wi-Fi. Pack a few magazines, book, Kindle... something pre-loaded with reading material or games to keep you distracted. Wi-Fi is a bonus, not a guaranteed feature.
  • If you know you aren't going to use the electrical outlet, it may be best to grab the window seat so the cable from your seat mate's iPad doesn't get caught under your feet. 
Have you tried BoltBus or a similar service before? What was your experience? 

Always Be A Tourist

For the past few years, I've spent just about every weekday in Washington, DC. 

Each morning I would ride the Metro and pass the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument... some of the best sights The District has to offer.

It was easy to feel like a part of the rat race that is the commute. But whenever I felt that I was taking it for granted, taking advantage of the place that I live and work, I would step back. 

History was all around me. Adventure. Exploration was to be had and I was acting like it was mundane but it wasn't. It isn't. 

I could see the Capitol to my left as I exited Union Station on the short walk to my office building. I miss that walk.

I urge you to find out what makes your city special. Don't become a commuter. Always be a tourist. 

Countdown to Unemployment

I agree that by using that title, it can seemingly mark me as a pessimist which I am not. It's only stating a fact that is true at the moment of this writing. I guess you could describe me as an 'optimistic realist.' I know the realities of life but choose to look at them in an optimistic way. I refuse to sugar coat. 

Last Friday, the company I work for made an announcement that at the end of this month, they are shutting down. Long story short, 20+ of us are looking for jobs. From a legal standpoint, I can't speak directly on the conditions but I can refer you to the press release

[If anyone is hiring or knows someone who is, here are the positions that my colleagues have recently just held]
  • Executive Producer
  • Producer
  • Associate Producer
  • Community Manager
  • Public Relations
  • Assignment Editor
  • Reporter/Journalist
  • Booker
  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Editor
  • Online Content Manager
  • Media Manager

[Contact me and I'd be happy to pass along their information.]

I'm coming to grips with the idea that everything I do this month could be the last time I do it. If we have to move, I won't be able to enjoy even the little things I've come to experience on a daily basis.
  • Getting on the bus and using public transportation.
  • Reading or even napping while commuting on the Metro into DC. 
  • Running along the Potomac River.
  • Having the ability to visit museums on my lunch break. 
  • Being two hours from family

More realizations present themselves each day. 

My lesson from this is to never take things for granted. Make an effort right now to take advantage of your situation no matter what it is. Someone out there would love to trade you for it and chances are you'll miss it when you leave. 

Back to the main topic at hand, I'm looking for a job. 

This is the first public announcement I've made though I have told a few individuals that I knew I could draw support from. 

The responses I received have been incredible with people offering to help find me a job as well as provide prayer and thoughts. Some of these people only know me in the online world and even though we've never met in person, that didn't stop them from connecting on LinkedIn or helping in the search. 

I feel, in a word, humbled

Right now is when it's easy to feel as if 'the world is over' but I know there is more at work than I can see. Everything happens for a reason and something good will come out of this. 

This will not slow me down.

If you want to connect with me, be sure to hit me up on any of the networks below or even email me at mikepetrucci [at] gmail [dot] com

I look forward to bringing you good news soon.

But wait, there's more...
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Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Stamps

The National Postal Museum was another one of those museums that was right under my nose and I never knew it. I practically walk past it every day and decided I needed to finally take a look inside. What I found was a massive museum with dozens of intriguing exhibits.

There's a lot to learn and might be hard to see everything in one visit (unless you stay all day). Obviously there is a lot of detail due to stamps being small but there are also some bigger exhibits that you could get lost in.

Overall it's a really well done museum with a lot to take in and in my opinion, it's worth checking out the architecture alone.

Museum Entrance

Mailboxes from around the world.




Exhibit Map

Obviously tons of stamps.

'Boring' Details:

Distance from office: 0.1 miles
Door to door time: 5 minutes
Tour time: 50 minutes
Transportation used: Walked
Cost: Free

- Metal detectors (allot a few extra minutes) so leave your knife at home.

But wait, there's more...
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150 Years of Printing History

The U.S. Government Printing Office's 150th Anniversary History Exhibit may be small but it has a few tricks up it's sleeve. I recommend stopping by if you are in the area of Union Station because it's only a block or two away and can be a quick tour if you don't have a lot of time. 

Once inside you'll find yourself surrounded by all kinds of historical documents. I can see how the Government Printing Office would be overlooked by most people. In fact, I initially considered them as just a giant Kinko's FedEx Office.

This post is going to be very short so enjoy the photos and go have a look for yourself. 

My favorite part of the exhibit was the original printed copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation. Very cool to see up close.

'Boring' Details:

Distance from office: 0.1 miles
Door to door time: 5 minutes
Tour time: 50 minutes
Transportation used: Walked
Cost: Free

- Metal detectors (allot a few extra minutes) so leave your knife at home.
- They've crammed a lot of history into such a small exhibit. It's worth going back to read all of the details.

But wait, there's more...
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A view of the District from the Old Post Office Tower

The Old Post Office Tower seemed to be the perfect lunch time tour spot. It was far enough away from the office that I felt like I was in a completely new place yet also perfectly accessible from the Metro which should minimize transportation time. I've heard it is the third highest building in the area and offers quite the view from it's 270 foot observation deck. I wanted to check things out for myself. 

There are [at least] two different exits from the Metro station and I took the one that was farther away; not by choice. Still, getting to the front door of the Old Post Office was only a couple of blocks away.

Once inside, I had to snake my way through the first floor and the food court to reach the series of elevators that would take me to the top. You have to change elevators because there isn't just one that goes straight up and you also have the option to seeing the Congress Bells. 

Once at the top, you have a very good view of the city in all directions. There are metal cables in place (and plexiglass) but that doesn't really hinder your photos of you're careful. Just don't drop your phone over te edge, it probably won't survive the fall. 

If you haven't had a chance to check out the Old Post Office Tower, I highly recommend it. If anything, it's a chance to grab some cool photos of an often overlooked landmark.   

Interesting Facts:
  • The Congress Bells have their own level.
    • Replicas of the bells in Westminster Abbey
    • The bells ring in honor of the opening and closing of Congress and on state occasions, including all national holidays.
  • Was the largest government building in the District of Columbia at the turn of the century and the first with a clock tower.
  • One of the city's first steel frame buildings with a granite skin covering the steel to fireproof it.
  • The electric power plant, capable of driving 3,900 lights, was the first to be installed in a district building.
  • Construction began 1892 and completed 1899.

'Boring' Details:

Distance from office: 1.5 miles
Door to door time: 55 minutes
Tour time: 10 minutes
Transportation used: Metro
Cost: Free

- Metal detectors (allot a few extra minutes) so leave your pocket knife at home.
- Total height is 315 feet with the observation level at 270 feet. 

But wait, there's more...
Photos on Picasa.
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