The Chicken Bus: Not Your Average Ride to School

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Alright Go! Girls, let’s talk about using the Central American chicken bus.

For those of you not familiar, a chicken bus is one of Latin America’s major means of transporting its people; locals and tourists alike for a nominal fee.

Painted in robust colors, these old American school buses are definitely not what you remember of the good old days of riding the bus to grade school. With that said, even if your mom begs you not to take one of these, here are some funny reasons why you should!

  • Remember how you could NEVER use the emergency exit when you were little? It was the biggest rush to scoot out of the school bus during a morning fire drill right? Forget that! On the chicken bus you enter from the back, or the front, anytime you want.
  • If you didn’t bring a snack for the bus, no worries! Vendors pop in and out of the bus at various stops selling fresh fruit, iced coffee in plastic bags, and candies. For Go! Girls who might have lost a pair of undies, or just in the mood for a posh Puma knock off belt, here’s your chance.
  • On the chicken bus, there is no waiting for the driver to stop at marked stops per se. To get off, simply whistle, shout, or move towards the front of the bus with your pack. Get off fast and stay out of the way as the bus will depart quick.
  • Hands to yourself? Absolutely not mi amiga,that is soooo grammar school. My top pick for riding this bus, besides how affordable it is, is the unabated PDA that seems to occur. Make out sessions are a common occurrence, combined with fun Spanish pillow talk and bad 80’s music playing as the soundtrack. Hace calor!

Overall, as a woman, although I did ride with fellow female travelers, I found the chicken bus to be a rite of passage on the gringo trail. It is cheap, scenic, and a good way to soak up the local way of life. Do not get me wrong, it will be hot, cramped, and awkward at times….but it wouldn’t be an adventure if it was easy, right?

Quick Go! Girl safety tips for this bus:


1. Put your pack on your lap if it can go inside the bus. I have yet to ride on one where your backpack must be put on top.

2. Opt to share seats with women and children.

3. If you are riding with a daypack and you must stand, place the bag in front of you.

4. Carry small change and have it ready for the ride so you are not flashing around your money.

Have you ever taken a ride on the Chicken Bus? What was your experience like?

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About Author

Traci is a bold New Yorker who loves taking her empire state of mind global. She holds a degree in International Business, and bleeds humanitarianism. Traci spent a semester in 2007 living in Italy and bouncing around Western Europe. In the past 3 years she volunteered at a homeless shelter in California, worked construction in New Orleans, and moonlights as a bartender everywhere she goes. She recently completed an epic 7 month backpacking trip through Central and South America and spent a month road-tripping the East Coast. Check out her personal blog at www.alwaysinjourney.com. Based out of: New Orleans, LA