We’ve all been there. Cramped seats, bumpy rides, questionable bathrooms (if there is one at all) and loud neighbours are at the forefront of every traveller’s mind when it comes to the wallet-friendly but back-breaking option of bus travel. Luckily, we’ve come up with some excellent ways to make neverending hours on the road slightly more bearable. From gaining that extra bit of space to sleeping essentials, here are some great tips on how to make that long bus trip fly by.
Related article: FlixBus review: Low-cost bus travel in Europe
Related article: Greyhound bus travel in the US
Survival Tip #1: Claim your territory
It’s survival of the fittest out there, so come early and come prepared! Find out where your bus leaves from and make sure you’re there well before departure time to stake your (seat) claim. Throw your shawl, bag, book or snacks on the seat next to you and guard it with your life. Once the bus starts moving, you’ve got yourself a teensy bit more space to stretch out on your mammoth journey.
Survival Tip #2: Best seat in the house
If you can, choose your seat beforehand. A window seat means you can lean on the side for some shut-eye while scoring an aisle seat is pivotal for taller travellers wanting to stretch their long legs out. You definitely want to avoid a seat near the bathroom; confined spaces and strong smells are not friends. If you’re prone to motion sickness, try to nab a seat in the front of the bus, as near to the driver as possible.
Survival Tip #3: Bathroom breaks
Book a bus with a bathroom so you’re not risking too much. If your bus doesn’t have one, check when your driver plans to stop for rest stops – definitely don’t miss out on those! It will give you the chance to stretch your legs as well. It’s also a good idea to pack some hand sanitizer, tissues or wet wipes….y’know, just in case.
Survival Tip #4: Catch the night bus
It may seem like an unlikely pairing given the ‘less comfort’ tag that’s associated with a bus journey, but hear me out. Overnight buses mean spending most of your journey sleeping, so you’re well rested when you wake up in your destination. A solid travel pillow will make this snoozefest attempt that much more achievable, so it’s worth the investment (even if you end up looking like an alien). Inflate that neck pillow, recline your seat, and catch some zzz’s.
Survival Tip #5: Road trip essentials
Noise-cancelling headphones, earplugs and an eye mask are key players in the rest game, as is a pocket torch for reading when the (natural) lights go down. The joys of shoddy (or no) WiFi include not knowing where on earth you are; download Google Maps offline so you’re navigating like a pro even if you’re in the middle of the Atacama Desert. It’s a no-brainer that snacks, water and entertainment are the Holy Trinity of bus ride survival, so stock up, make sure all your electronics are fully charged, and you’re good to go.
Survival Tip #6: Creature comforts
It’s not going to rival a night at The Ritz, but it can be marginally cosy. Like airplanes, temperatures can vary so layer up and BYO pillow and blanket – which can double up as a seat cushion when that hard seat gets too much to bear. Pro tip: Pick up an inflatable rubber ring (the kind kids use for swimming), blow it up and use it as a makeshift seat cushion – instant luxury!
Survival Tip #7: BYO sense of humour
There’s nothing worse than being bored with many hours to go, so a long bus ride is the perfect time to get creative (and friendly). Bring a deck of cards along (Cards Against Humanity is guaranteed to bring the lols), play some fun games with your fellow travellers (Heads Up is always a popular option and doesn’t require a WiFi connection), and plan some easy activities. Not only will it make many hours on the road way more fun, you’ll probably make some new friends along the way – always a bonus!
Popular bus routes around the world:
Berlin → Paris | Buy tickets
Barcelona → Madrid| Buy tickets
Munich → Berlin | Buy tickets
Santiago → Mendoza | Buy tickets
Copenhagen → Amsterdam | Buy tickets
New York → Toronto | Buy tickets
Buenos Aires → Cordoba | Buy tickets