When you're traveling through
certain areas of the world, you develop a complicated relationship with
extra-long bus rides. Sitting on a bus for 5 or more hours is boring and
uncomfortable, and over-night buses are invariably an exercise in sleep
deprivation. Sometimes though, these marathon bus rides are the only affordable
way to get from Point A to Point B.
Although you will probably
never find yourself looking forward to an overnight bus ride through the
Colombian Andes or an all day journey across Vietnam, there are some things you
can do to make your time more pleasant. Here are some suggestions:
For some reason overnight
buses around the world are known for trying to flash-freeze their passengers.
The ambient temperature on a bus can vacillate widely depending on the weather,
location and altitude. To remain comfortable no matter what, dress in easily
removable layers and bring an extra scarf or even a blanket.
Your Own Snacks and Water
Sometimes long-haul buses
stop to allow you to refuel and rehydrate. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they
do but the food at whatever random roadside shack isn't particularly tempting.
Plan ahead and bring your own munchies to avoid being caught starving.
Not Too Much Water
As mentioned above, you never
know when the next pit stop might be. Some buses come equipped with toilets but
not all, so try to keep your fluid intake minimal. Nothing is worse than trying
to hold it in on a bumpy back road for hours at a time.
Are a Must
Local bus rides can get
pretty loud between the passenger chitchat and the usually blaring stereo.
Occasionally buses will show foreign language movies at full volume. Sometimes
they will even show them late into the night. For your own sanity, a pair of
good headphones and some music are a necessity when it comes to tuning out the
world around you.
Your Stuff Close
Unfortunately long bus rides
are a likely target for thieves because after awhile people let their guard down
and pay less attention. Keep all valuables on your person and in your lap if
possible. If you are on an overnight bus try to arrange yourself so you are
always touching your belongings, even if this means spooning your purse or
for Motion Sickness
Even if you don't typically
get carsick, the sometimes erratic starting and stopping of a bus is enough to
make anyone feel ill. This is particularly true when the bus becomes super hot
or the roads are long and curvy. You may want to carry a secret stash of motion
sickness medicine in case your stomach starts to feel queasy. Try to keep your
eye on the horizon and not stare at a book or screen until the feeling goes
Go with the Flow
Odd things happen on long
haul bus rides, from strange vendors climbing aboard to weird pit stops to
bizarre fellow passengers. At the time you may not appreciate the live chicken
in a plastic bag on the seat next to you, but know that at least it will make for
an interesting story later!
Have you been on a long bus
ride? What did you think of the experience?