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I traveled on a luxury overnight bus with lie-flat suites from Washington, DC to Nashville for $125 and was shocked by how comfortably I slept

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I traveled on a luxury overnight bus with lie-flat suites from Washington, DC to Nashville for $125 and was shocked by how comfortably I slept
  • Napaway is a new sleeper bus company with seats that turn into memory foam beds.
  • The motorcoach startup is now running overnight weekend services between Washington, DC and Nashville, Tennessee.
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Traveling on a long-haul budget bus isn't stereotypically the most comfortable experience.

Traveling on a long-haul budget bus isn't stereotypically the most comfortable experience.
A Greyhound bus in Texas in 2021.Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

After all, packed rows of seats, almost nonexistent WiFi, and broken foot rests don't make for a luxurious road trip.

After all, packed rows of seats, almost nonexistent WiFi, and broken foot rests don't make for a luxurious road trip.
A Greyhound bus in Texas in 2021.Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
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If you shudder at the thought of sitting sleeplessly on a budget bus for hours at a time, you're not alone.

If you shudder at the thought of sitting sleeplessly on a budget bus for hours at a time, you're not alone.
Two Megabus buses in New York in 2012.Hyungwon Kang/Reuters

And that's why Daniel Aronov decided to start Napaway, a sleeper bus lined with private suites to provide passengers with a restful and comfortable long-haul journey.

And that's why Daniel Aronov decided to start Napaway, a sleeper bus lined with  private suites to provide passengers with a restful and comfortable long-haul journey.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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Napaway isn't the first luxury disruptor in the motorcoach industry — Aronov acknowledges there has been a growing number of premium motorcoach services popping up around the US.

Napaway isn't the first luxury disruptor in the motorcoach industry — Aronov acknowledges there has been a growing number of premium motorcoach services popping up around the US.
Brittany Chang/Insider

In Texas, Vonlane has been a longtime interstate luxury bus operator with a side of meal services and sofa-like seats.

In Texas, Vonlane has been a longtime interstate luxury bus operator with a side of meal services and sofa-like seats.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

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And between Washington DC and New York City, there's the Jet, a newcomer that's been seeing booking success with the help of its motion-canceling seats.

And between Washington DC and New York City, there's the Jet, a newcomer that's been seeing booking success with the help of its motion-canceling seats.
Inside the Jet.Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

But unlike Vonlane and the Jet, Napaway doesn't operate between two nearby cities.

But unlike Vonlane and the Jet, Napaway doesn't operate between two nearby cities.
The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/Insider
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Instead, its primary route is a 9.5-hour redeye between Washington, DC and Nashville, Tennessee.

Instead, its primary route is a 9.5-hour redeye between Washington, DC and Nashville, Tennessee.
US Capitol in Washington DC.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

And while the Jet and Vonlane both have pretty luxurious seats that feel more like plush couches than seats on the bus …

And while the Jet and Vonlane both have pretty luxurious seats that feel more like plush couches than seats on the bus …
Inside the Jet.Brittany Chang/Insider
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… Napaway brings comfort one step further (and flatter).

… Napaway brings comfort one step further (and flatter).
Brittany Chang/Insider

The only thing better than sitting down is laying down. And that's Napaway is lined with seats that can convert into beds with memory foam mattresses.

The only thing better than sitting down is laying down. And that's Napaway is lined with seats that can convert into beds with memory foam mattresses.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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The "key" to a pleasant sleep is laying fully horizontal, Aronov realized after seeing his friend slumber on a business class flight with lie-flat seats.

The "key" to a pleasant sleep is laying fully horizontal, Aronov realized after seeing his friend slumber on a business class flight with lie-flat seats.
Taylor Rains/Insider

And that's exactly what he tried to recreate with the sleeping suites aboard Napaway.

And that's exactly what he tried to recreate with the sleeping suites aboard Napaway.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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These seats don't just lean back a few inches. They lie completely flat.

These seats don't just lean back a few inches. They lie completely flat.
Brittany Chang/Insider

This sleeper bus concept already exists around the world, but according to Aronov, these coaches don't provide the size, comfort level, privacy, or personal space that Americans "expect."

This sleeper bus concept already exists around the world, but according to Aronov, these coaches don't provide the size, comfort level, privacy, or personal space that Americans "expect."
Brittany Chang/Insider
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To create its row of spacious bedrooms on wheels, Napaway tapped a Chinese aircraft and motorcoach seating manufacturer — Butterfly Flexible Seating Solutions — to create the arrangement.

To create its row of spacious bedrooms on wheels, Napaway tapped a Chinese aircraft and motorcoach seating manufacturer — Butterfly Flexible Seating Solutions — to create the arrangement.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Butterfly Flexible Seating Solutions

The startup then tasked a separate coach conversion company to retrofit the interior of its used charter bus, bringing the Napaway concept to life.

The startup then tasked a separate coach conversion company to retrofit the interior of its used charter bus, bringing the Napaway concept to life.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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According to Aronov, the team spent a few years designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the interior of the coach.

According to Aronov, the team spent a few years designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the interior of the coach.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But the actual installation process was "very efficient" because there was no need to renovate anything besides the previous seats.

But the actual installation process was "very efficient" because there was no need to renovate anything besides the previous seats.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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To put it bluntly, spending over nine hours on a bus from DC to Tennesse sounds like my personal hell.

To put it bluntly, spending over nine hours on a bus from DC to Tennesse sounds like my personal hell.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But nine hours on the road in a private suite with a memory foam mattress? I could be convinced.

But nine hours on the road in a private suite with a memory foam mattress? I could be convinced.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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I reserved my $125 seat for the Friday night (10 p.m., to be exact) route from DC to Nashville a month in advance through Napaway's website.

I reserved my $125 seat for the Friday night (10 p.m., to be exact) route from DC to Nashville a month in advance through Napaway's website.
Brittany Chang/Insider

When it came time to travel, I waited for the Napaway coach with one other passenger at the DC pickup location, a dark public parking lot that reverberated the sounds of "Top 100" pop hits from the bar next door.

When it came time to travel, I waited for the Napaway coach with one other passenger at the DC pickup location, a dark public parking lot that reverberated the sounds of "Top 100" pop hits from the bar next door.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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After the bus arrived, I was greeted by Aronov and two bus drivers.

After the bus arrived, I was greeted by Aronov and two bus drivers.
Brittany Chang/Insider

I already changed into my loungewear, brushed my teeth, and finished my skincare routine before I boarded the bus. So by the time I stepped foot into my bedroom on wheels, all I had to do was set up my bed and drift off to sleep.

I already changed into my loungewear, brushed my teeth, and finished my skincare routine before I boarded the bus. So by the time I stepped foot into my bedroom on wheels, all I had to do was set up my bed and drift off to sleep.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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But for those who don't have time to prepare ahead, you can use the small bathroom at the rear.

But for those who don't have time to prepare ahead, you can use the small bathroom at the rear.
Brittany Chang/Insider

After a quick tutorial on how to convert my two seats into a bed, we were off on our 9.5-hour overnight journey.

After a quick tutorial on how to convert my two seats into a bed, we were off on our 9.5-hour overnight journey.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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I had my apprehensions before boarding Napaway. But surprisingly, my small suite felt like a personal bubble aboard the 18-bed bus.

I had my apprehensions before boarding Napaway. But surprisingly, my small suite felt like a personal bubble aboard the 18-bed bus.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Each suite has two staggered seats and tray tables.

Each suite has two staggered seats and tray tables.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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These tray tables also have phone holders to make the onboard entertainment — a library of television shows and movies accessible through your phone via a QR code — a hands-free experience.

These tray tables also have phone holders to make the onboard entertainment — a library of television shows and movies accessible through your phone via a QR code — a hands-free experience.
Napaway

Maybe I was using it wrong, but my iPhone struggled to stay upright in the phone holders.

Maybe I was using it wrong, but my iPhone struggled to stay upright in the phone holders.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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But that was okay with me. After getting carsick while working on the Jet, I've since learned to stay away from screens while traveling in a motorcoach.

But that was okay with me. After getting carsick while working on the Jet, I've since learned to stay away from screens while traveling in a motorcoach.
Working on the Jet.Brittany Chang/Insider

And at 10 p.m, I didn't feel compelled to spend hours scrolling through social media or watching a movie, which was for the best given the fast but spotty onboard WiFi.

And at 10 p.m, I didn't feel compelled to spend hours scrolling through social media or watching a movie, which was for the best given the fast but spotty onboard WiFi.
Napaway
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After a few minutes of sitting upright, decided it was time to turn my two seats into a bedroom.

After a few minutes of sitting upright, decided it was time to turn my two seats into a bedroom.
Brittany Chang/Insider

I spent less than a minute setting up the bed. All I had to do was lock the two staggered seats flat to reveal a 6.5-foot bed.

I spent less than a minute setting up the bed. All I had to do was lock the two staggered seats flat to reveal a 6.5-foot bed.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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I then unfurled the 2.5-inch thick memory foam mattress at the head of the bed to create the base of my nest.

I then unfurled the 2.5-inch thick memory foam mattress at the head of the bed to create the base of my nest.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And after setting up my pillow, sheet, and plush blanket, I finally had my own bedroom on wheels.

And after setting up my pillow, sheet, and plush blanket, I finally had my own bedroom on wheels.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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For some extra privacy, I also pulled down a large but thin opaque screen, which made my suite feel much more secluded.

For some extra privacy, I also pulled down a large but thin opaque screen, which made my suite feel much more secluded.
Brittany Chang/Insider

I had to lay at an angle, but my whole 5-foot, 4.5-inch self fit on the bed.

I had to lay at an angle, but my whole 5-foot, 4.5-inch self fit on the bed.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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And surprisingly, the Napaway bedding was as plush as any typical memory foam bed, a luxury I've never experienced while traveling overnight.

And surprisingly, the Napaway bedding was as plush as any typical memory foam bed, a luxury I've never experienced while traveling overnight.
Brittany Chang/Insider

After a little over an hour on the road, I started lightly drifting off to the sounds of the passing cars and the sways of the motorcoach as it drove down the freeway.

After a little over an hour on the road, I started lightly drifting off to the sounds of the passing cars and the sways of the motorcoach as it drove down the freeway.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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The thick mattress pad, cozy blanket, and rocking motion of the bus made me feel like a swaddled baby being rocked back and forth.

The thick mattress pad, cozy blanket, and rocking motion of the bus made me feel like a swaddled baby being rocked back and forth.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But while my little nook was undeniably comfortable, I wasn't able to stay in a deep sleep during the entire more than nine-hour ride.

But while my little nook was undeniably comfortable, I wasn't able to stay in a deep sleep during the entire more than nine-hour ride.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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Throughout the night, I found myself half-awake and cognizant of my environment especially as the bus pulled into its two pit stops just a few hours apart.

Throughout the night, I found myself half-awake and cognizant of my environment especially as the bus pulled into its two pit stops just a few hours apart.
Brittany Chang/Insider

However, I definitely still had a longer and better night's slumber compared to some red-eye flights and coach rides I've taken in the past.

However, I definitely still had a longer and better night's slumber compared to some red-eye flights and coach rides I've taken in the past.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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It gets bright in the early hours. Luckily, each suite has an amenity kit with a surprisingly comfortable eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipe, and ear plugs.

It gets bright in the early hours. Luckily, each suite has an amenity kit with a surprisingly comfortable eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipe, and ear plugs.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Before I knew it, we finally arrived in downtown Nashville, Tennessee at around 7:45 a.m.

Before I knew it, we finally arrived in downtown Nashville, Tennessee at around 7:45 a.m.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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And while I didn't sleep through the entire night, I still had more than enough energy to go about my day without being cranky or groggy.

And while I didn't sleep through the entire night, I still had more than enough energy to go about my day without being cranky or groggy.
Brittany Chang/Insider

"It's a good way to have the full day at both your origin and destination points," Aronov said. "[When you] leave in the evening and arrive first thing in the morning, you don't lose either of the days."

"It's a good way to have the full day at both your origin and destination points," Aronov said. "[When you] leave in the evening and arrive first thing in the morning, you don't lose either of the days."
Brittany Chang/Insider
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So far, Napaway has seen "pretty positive" reception to this concept, Aronov said, with many travelers leaving happy.

So far, Napaway has seen "pretty positive" reception to this concept, Aronov said, with many travelers leaving happy.
Brittany Chang/Insider

For now, Napaway is only operating a weekend service with Friday night departures from Washington DC to Nashville, Tennessee and Sunday evening returns.

For now, Napaway is only operating a weekend service with Friday night departures from Washington DC to Nashville, Tennessee and Sunday evening returns.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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Because of this weekend service, most of its customers have been leisure travelers.

Because of this weekend service, most of its customers have been leisure travelers.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But this primary demographic could change soon as the startup expands its days of service.

But this primary demographic could change soon as the startup expands its days of service.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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After a scheduling expansion, Napaway will consider more routes in the southeast, midwest, or even upstate New York with the larger goal of operating a national network.

After a scheduling expansion, Napaway will consider more routes in the southeast, midwest, or even upstate New York with the larger goal of operating a national network.
Brittany Chang/Insider

At some point, the company also wants to run shorter daytime routes.

At some point, the company also wants to run shorter daytime routes.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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But for now, Aronov is mum about specific cities he wants to bring the service to and when.

But for now, Aronov is mum about specific cities he wants to bring the service to and when.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Because of its current long-haul overnight route, the startup doesn't see other coach services as its big competition.

Because of its current long-haul overnight route, the startup doesn't see other coach services as its big competition.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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Instead, Aronov says it's competing with airlines and people driving their own vehicles.

Instead, Aronov says it's competing with airlines and people driving their own vehicles.
Getty Images

"People who hear about it usually get it," he said. "And when you consider how much of a crazy mess flying has been this summer, I think it resonates."

"People who hear about it usually get it,"  he said. "And when you consider how much of a crazy mess flying has been this summer, I think it resonates."
Flight delays and cancellations will likely continue throughout the summer, analysts told Insider.James D. Morgan/Getty Images
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He makes a good point: Air travel has been a "hellish" and expensive nightmare this summer.

He makes a good point: Air travel has been a "hellish" and expensive nightmare this summer.
David Young/picture alliance via Getty Images

Airlines have canceled thousands of flights, lost baggage claims have skyrocketed, security lines have grown, and airfare has soared past pre-pandemic levels.

Airlines have canceled thousands of flights, lost baggage claims have skyrocketed, security lines have grown, and airfare has soared past pre-pandemic levels.
Luggage are piling up at Heathrow's Terminal 5.Adam Kent
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So if you have the opportunity to pass on air travel for a more convenient, affordable, and in this case comfortable option, why not?

So if you have the opportunity to pass on air travel for a more convenient, affordable, and in this case comfortable option, why not?
Brittany Chang/Insider

I showed up early, boarded the bus, slept, and arrived in the morning refreshed and ready for my day. It was a completely seamless and comfortable travel experience.

I showed up early, boarded the bus, slept, and arrived in the morning refreshed and ready for my day. It was a completely seamless and comfortable travel experience.
Brittany Chang/Insider
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And that sure beats what we've all come to expect of summer air travel: large crowds, long security lines, and extended waits at boring terminals.

And that sure beats what we've all come to expect of summer air travel: large crowds, long security lines, and extended waits at boring terminals.
Brittany Chang/Insider