Riding the Bus for Fun: Safe, Economical, Socially Conscious and Enjoyable


Make riding the bus a fun experience with your kids! But first, check out these great books that will inspire your kids to learn more.

School Bus by Donald Crews
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willem
The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole
The Wheels on the Bus by Annie Kubler
Pete the Cat: The Wheels on the Bus by James Dean

I live in a city where the buses and light rail are very clean so riding the bus is a pleasant experience. However, since I moved here 18 years ago, riding the bus usually meant something was wrong like my car was broken or my husband accidentally took my car keys to work. (true story)

So, a couple of months ago I had to meet a friend in downtown Vancouver for lunch and my husband had the car. Thinking nothing of it, I walked a mile to the bus stop while listening to my favorite podcast and waited for the bus. It was mid-day and the bus was warm and empty. Halfway through my trip I realized I was enjoying the trip for once and wasn’t stressed or worried.

I looked forward to going back and exploring an area I’ve lived in for 18 years…

A couple of weeks later I was taking a class on one side of Portland and my husband was on the other. He won the coin toss on who got the car and I had to find my way across town to meet him. On the bus ride to downtown Portland I found myself in a part of town I had only driven through a few times. It was a rainy day and I looked out the window and took in my surroundings. Everything was plush and green and I noticed stores I had only read about and parks I wanted to explore. The line “I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly.” from Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451 came to mind because I never had the chance to notice the trees and flowers along this route.

The bus made its way through two more neighborhoods and lumbered into downtown Portland. I passed by works of art I had never seen, restaurants I kept meaning to go to, and funky stores I was making mental notes to visit again. It was an exciting day for me and I looked forward to going back and exploring an area I’ve lived in for 13 years but never truly stopped and looked at. I also learned that riding the bus isn’t always fun (especially when someone with a very wet cough is sitting next to you) but it can be.

Here’s how:

#1 There are always interesting characters on the bus, make a list of the people you see every day and write short stories about them.

#2 Sit next to the window on the bus or train and take pictures from you vantage point and make a photo series you can share with your friends.

#3 Have you ever wondered about a particular part of town? Take a bus ride through that area and write down your observations. Start a travel guide on what you can see if you take the bus.

#4 Whenever certain friends of mine travel to new cities they hop on a bus and take a tour of the city. They get to see the real people and places and not the ones the travel guides want you to see. If you do this, make sure you’re getting on a safe route that won’t take you to dangerous areas.

#5 Think about other tasks you do every day that stress you out and how you can make them fun. I don’t like going the Laundromat because I have a tendency to go when I have little money and no clean clothes. Maybe I need to find a funky Laundromat in a new neighborhood and see if I can get some enjoyment from the experience.

Anna Alexander
Staff Writer

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Filed under Activities, Suggested Books

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