Have a long flight or bus ride coming up? Arm yourself with the best travel accessories for long flights and journeys and stay comfortable throughout.
A long-distance bus journey can sometimes make a lot more sense than a flight. Flights, especially internal flights in many countries, can be extremely pricey and can have awkward departure and arrival times. Rather than arriving in a new city late at night and trying to get to your accommodation in the dark, sometimes it can be much simpler or more convenient to hop on an overnight bus and arrive at your destination in the morning, with a full day ahead of you. If you’re trying to keep costs down, this is also a great way of saving paying for a night in a hostel or hotel.
If you do arrive somewhere new in the morning, however, you want to be able to make the most of your day, and not have had a sleepless, uncomfortable night on board a bus. Having been on a fair few long-distance bus trips ourselves, we’ve learnt a few things about how to stay comfortable, and, if travelling overnight, how to get a good night’s sleep. Here are our top tips for a pain-free long-distance bus journey.
First things first. You’ll never get a decent night’s sleep if you’re unsure about how safe the bus you’re on is. Think twice before just going with the cheapest option. Most countries will have a range of options, from the most basic, where you’ll be mixing with the locals and won’t have air conditioning, to the most sophisticated. In Argentina, for example, there are buses with seats which turn into beds and provide full meals complete with local wine. The first-class bus might seem a lot more expensive in comparison but, in the scheme of things, it’s worth spending a little extra in return for peace of mind and comfort. Whatever you decide, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for when you go to buy your ticket.
You also need to decide where on the bus is best to sit. Right at the back might make for a bumpy ride, and right at the front might mean you have a view of hair-pin bends that you’d rather not see. After all, ignorance is often bliss! If you’re prone to motion sickness, it’s a good idea to stay away from the windows at the front. A seat somewhere in the middle of the bus is normally the safest bet.
Now you’ve chosen the right bus and the best seat, let’s look at what you need to take with you on you on your bus journey to stay comfortable.
- Warm Clothes
If you’re travelling in a hot country, chances are you’ll be wearing shorts or a t-shirt, and people that aren’t experienced bus travellers often get on board dressed like this, and quickly regret it. No matter where you are, if the bus you’re on has air-conditioning, it will be on full-blast throughout the journey, and if you don’t have long sleeves and long trousers you’re likely to freeze and find it hard to sleep.
Most people sleep much better when they have a cover over them, and you’ll feel much cosier on a bus if you have some kind of blanket. If you’re somewhere warm, you probably won’t have a blanket with you, but you might well have a sarong. Sarongs have a million and one uses when you’re on a trip, for both men and women. You can use them as a beach towel, string them between two trees to create some shade, wear them or use them as a blanket on an overnight bus trip!
If you’ve got sandals on, make sure you bring a pair of socks with you, as if your feet get cold thanks to the air-conditioning you’re just asking to catch a chill. What’s more, we don’t know about you, but we find it pretty impossible to get to sleep with icy feet.
- Travel Pillow
A good travel pillow is an essential for a comfy bus ride. You want something that’s not too bulky, as you need to carry it around, but also gives you enough support. Have a peek at our travel pillow reviews article to find the perfect one for you.
- Ear Plugs
Are you a light sleeper? A bus journey could mean blaring music, crying children, animated conversations… You never know who you’ll end up sitting next to, so make sure you bring a decent set of earplugs with you to drown out the noises on the bus.
- Eye mask
Many buses travelling long distances will make stops in various towns along the way. When they do, the lights will come on so that people getting off can locate their belongings, and people getting on can find their seats. To make sure the lights don’t wake you, make sure you’ve got a decent eye mask.
Lots of long-distances buses have ‘in-flight’ entertainment systems on which you can watch films or listen to music. They’ll provide headphones, but they are normally poor quality and don’t slot comfortably into your ears, so bring your own headphones along. If you’ve got them, noise-cancelling headphones can be a godsend.
- Reading light
If you’d like to read to pass the time, make sure you bring your own reading light along, as the one on the bus might not work. Check out our book recommendations for the ardent traveler.
Your long-distance bus journey might include a stop at a road-side restaurant or a service station, but it might not, and you’re bound to get hungry if you wake up in the middle of night. The best thing you can take with you is something like nuts and dried fruit or a few cereal bars. Don’t forget to bring water with you to stay hydrated, but don’t drink too much as you’ll regret it when you need to use the bathroom on the coach.
You’re ready for the off! With everything on this list in your bag, you should be guaranteed a comfortable journey. Remember to get on the bus with a positive attitude, as if you’re convinced you’re going to be uncomfortable and won’t get a wink of sleep, that’s probably going to be the case. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience.