Essentials for Getting Comfy on Long Bus Journeys or Flights
Do you have a long flight or bus ride coming up? Then arm yourself with the best travel accessories for long flights and journeys and stay comfortable for the whole ride.
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, whether too early or too late.
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 our fair share of things about how to stay comfortable, and, if travelling overnight, how to get the best possible 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.
First class buses also normally don’t make as many stops as cheaper buses. That means you’ll be able to sleep more soundly as there won’t be people getting on and off every five minutes, and you won’t be woken by the lights coming on so they can do so.
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 the best place to sit. Sitting right at the back might make for a bumpy ride, and right at the front might mean you have a view of some scary hairpin bends that you’d rather not see. After all, ignorance is often bliss!
If you’re prone to motion sickness then it’s always 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 for anyone.
If I can I always like to grab the seat either just in front of or just behind the stairs in the middle, if there are any, so that I either have a little more leg room or I can recline my seat right back without worrying about the person behind me.
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 during the day, and people that aren’t experienced bus travellers often get on board a night bus 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 on then you’re likely to freeze and find it hard to sleep.
I also always like to take a scarf to make it less likely that I’m going to end up with a bad throat. If you’re prone to throat infections as a result of temperature changes then don’t take any chances.
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 then 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, use them as a make-shift curtain for your bunk bed in your hostel, wear them or use them as a great blanket on an overnight bus trip!
If you’ve got sandals on then make sure you bring a pair of socks with you, as if your feet get cold thanks to the air-conditioning then 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 and stay asleep when we’ve got 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 with you, but also gives you enough support. Some people prefer inflatable ones, and some opt for proper pillows.
Have a peek at our travel pillow reviews article to find the perfect one for you.
Are you a light sleeper? As you’re probably aware, a bus journey could mean blaring music, crying children, animated conversations…
You never know who you’ll end up sitting next to or in front of, so make sure you bring a decent set of earplugs with you to drown out any 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 and settle in. To make sure the lights don’t wake you, bring along a decent eye mask that doesn’t slip off.
Lots of long-distance 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. They’re also a waste of plastic, so do yourself and the environment a favour and bring your own headphones along instead.
If you’ve got them then noise-cancelling headphones can be a godsend.
- Reading light
If you’d like to read to pass the time then 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 the 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 more than strictly necessary.
You’re ready for the off! With everything on this list in your bag, you should be guaranteed a comfortable journey on your bus.
Remember to get onto the bus with a positive attitude, as if you’re convinced that you’re going to be uncomfortable and won’t get a wink of sleep, that’s probably going to be the case. Believing it is half the battle!
Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. You’re on an adventure!