Bus travel worldwide is becoming increasingly popular. Not only do they to help keep your carbon footprint in balance (unlike air travel, road trips or even cruises), they also tend to keep your travel budget in balance. That’s why we like bus travel so much – because you can discover much more of the country on a bus trip than if you were traveling by plane.
However, a major drawback on bus rides is, of course, the duration of time that you have to spend sitting in a bus. After having done numerous bus trips on 4 continents, I was able to collect some long bus travel tips & greyhound tips to make your next bus trip a little more pleasant and entertaining. Below you can find the best and most important travel tips for long bus trips.
What to find out in this post
- 1 Long bus travel tips
- 2 Sometimes more is… just more
- 3 Be on time
- 4 Enter the bus as early as possible
- 5 Sit in front of the bus
- 6 Mark your luggage
- 7 Have a daypack with you
- 8 Wear comfortable clothes
- 9 Always have a layer more prepared – Just in case
- 10 How to sleep on a bus
- 11 Bring a scarf – even in summer
- 12 Noise reducing headphones
- 13 Bring Snacks
- 14 Other accessories that should not be missing on your next bus trip
- 15 Entertainment
- 16 Tips against Motion Sickness
- 17 Use the breaks
Long bus travel tips
Sometimes more is… just more
The standard of bus companies differs in part strongly. Sometimes it is therefore advisable not to just look at the price and book the cheapest ticket for your bus trip.
In some countries, this is not just about providing comfort, even about the company’s safety standards.
Therefore, be sure to check for reviews on the internet before booking (for example on TripAdvisor or travel blogs).
Be on time
It’s logical – If you arrive too late, your bus is probably already gone. Especially those who leave from places they aren’t familiar with should arrive at the terminal at least half an hour before departure. But sometimes it’s not so easy to find the right terminal – in Japan, we almost missed our bus twice: the bus stations were much bigger than expected and our bus left, of course, both times (once in Osaka and once in Tokyo) from another terminal than we thought. So, if you arrive at the departure point on time, you will have enough time to find the right terminal and other passengers will not have to wait for you.
Enter the bus as early as possible
Another benefit of arriving at the bus in time is that you can get on the bus before anyone else (if possible). So you can choose the best place. Do you travel with someone or even in a group? The sooner you get in, the higher the chances that you can sit (all) together.
Sit in front of the bus
Many bus companies will assign you a seat at the time of booking. If this is not the case, try to get a seat in the front part of the bus if possible. Why? Maybe you’ve already seen it before, but most passengers will automatically go to the seats in the back rows. The chances of the seats remaining empty around you are highest when choosing a seat in the front.
Mark your luggage
Sometimes it is not so easy to find your luggage between the other passengers’ luggage. Especially if you own a black suitcase like about every second traveler does. Especially if the bus ride includes several stops and you have to find your luggage when leaving the bus.
You might want to choose a flashy suitcase, which you immediately recognize. But since you probably already own a suitcase, you should give it a striking tuning. This can be a striking accessory or label, a funny case cover or just a trailer that immediately shows you that this baggage belongs to you.
Have a daypack with you
Most likely, you’ll need to drop off your luggage when entering the bus, so it can be stored in the body of the bus during your trip, rather than having to stand in the middle of the aisle.
However, you should keep your valuables or fragile things with you. Be sure to bring a day pack so you can stow anything you need while you’re on your way.
If you don’t have a day pack, have a look at our comprehensive Daypack Guide, with everything you need to know before buying your day pack.
Wear comfortable clothes
One very important aspect that can make the feel-good factor of your bus trip increase a lot is what kind of clothing you wear during your trip, i.e. you might want to wear something else than your uncomfortable jeans or your super tight top.
The best option, if possible, are sweatpants, yoga pants or another kind of light pants. Additionally, the so-called onion- or layered look is highly recommended, since the temperatures in a travel- or long-distance bus can often vary between arctic and sauna, independently of the temperatures outside of the bus.
A few fluffy warm socks are also always useful, so you can take off your shoes during the trip.
Even safer is to wear compression socks. Especially, who like me, has problems with the circulation, should always have a few thrombosis stockings on long trips or flights.
Always have a layer more prepared – Just in case
Even when it’s warm outside, icy temperatures can often occur inside your bus. Anyone who has been traveling by bus in Asia probably knows what I am talking about. Therefore, it is never wrong to bring a thin jacket, such as to have a sweat jacket, sweatshirt or a hoodie, which you can put on if it gets too cold.
How to sleep on a bus
On some bus trips, it seems impossible to fall asleep. Especially those who travel in developing countries know how bad the roads can be and how much the bus swings back and forth. That really does not help your sleep. A neck pillow can provide a remedy and help you fall asleep better by keeping your head in a more or less stable position.
Bring a scarf – even in summer
Especially who is traveling by night by bus is probably grateful to have a large scarf with them, that you can either put around your neck or use as a blanket. This does not only protect against the cold air of the air conditioning but can also shield you from unwanted glances or light.
Noise reducing headphones
If a crying baby is on the bus or plane, or a passenger thinks they have to spend three hours talking on the phone about their private problems at the highest volume possible, then you can be sure that I’m sitting right next to them. If you are as lucky as I am, always sitting near the loudest person on the bus, then you definitely need some noise canceling headphones. Simply put on your favorite music or podcast and the disturbing noises are blocked. – By the way, even if you have talkative people sitting next to you, just put them on and it’s quiet. 😉
Do you know the best thing about bus travel? Exactly, snacks! As you eat your whole weight in snacks, time flies by and you seem to arrive much faster. Of course, you can choose the snacks according to your preferences. Avoid strong-smelling foods, if possible, in order to not attract the hatred of your fellow passengers.
Other accessories that should not be missing on your next bus trip
Other things that can be helpful for your bus trips:
- Sleeping mask
- MP3 player
- Tablet, laptop
- nasal spray
- hand lotion
- Hand sanitizer
Sure, you can, of course, spend the ride looking out the window. However, this usually gets boring very quickly, especially on long journeys and by looking at monotonous surroundings. That’s why you should definitely consider bringing a bit of entertainment on your trip. Some bus companies offer an onboard entertainment system, as is known from a long-haul aircraft. However, most of the time you don’t get that lucky.
Depending on your interests you certainly have different preferences for this. Eduardo usually loads a few movies or series on his laptop, which he can watch during the trip. If you are more the reading kind of person, a good book or magazine will do.
Also, before your departure, you can download a few apps onto your phone or tablet that you can use to pass your time: for example, I love word searches and sudoku, while others prefer Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, and similar games.
Other options to pass the time during a long bus ride are crossword puzzles and similar brain teasers. Maybe you’re just learning a language? Now is the perfect time to learn vocabulary.
However, those who are prone to motion sickness should perhaps not read. Music, audiobooks or podcasts can provide entertainment instead.
Tips against Motion Sickness
After our trip through Southeast Asia, I know this feeling all too well: motion sickness. Sometimes it helps to switch to a bigger bus especially when traveling by mini-van, because the bigger the vehicle, the less shaking it usually is. Sometimes, though, you don’t have the choice which kind of bus to go with. The following tips might be helpful in that case.
Sometimes a bit of distraction helps with mild discomfort. Talk to your neighbor or listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts. However, reading and similar things should be avoided when you tend to motion sickness.
Chew gum and drink water
It helps many to chew chewing gum during the trip. In your pharmacy, you can even get special travel gum that is specially made for people that get motion sick, which you can chew while traveling. It is also very important to drink enough water and stay hydrated.
Who would have thought it, but the magic word is ginger. Ginger helps against the dull feeling in your stomach. For this, you can drink ginger tea, eat ginger candies or just chew a piece of ginger.
Look out the window
Sometimes it already helps if you are not focused on a fixed point, such as a book or your phone. That’s why it’s best to look out of the window. If you get the opportunity to even look outside out of the front window of the driver: Even better!
If all else fails, pills can help. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice before your trip and let you prescribe a suitable remedy. Note, however, that many pills have to be taken already before entering the bus.
Use the breaks
Even if you do not have to go to the bathroom, it makes sense to use the breaks. Get out of the bus for a few minutes, get some fresh air, and move your legs a bit. The long time of sitting is not good for the circulation and so your body will thank you if you get up and off the bus for a few minutes. Be sure to pay attention to the bus driver’s information and do not stray too far from your bus.