As a budget traveler, getting from one place to another by bus is something that often comes to mind. Sometimes, in certain countries, taking a bus is more affordable than taking a train or airplane, especially if you are planning for the last minute. Unfortunately, choosing this option would sometimes mean being on the road for a long period of time; some with the duration of less than 20 hours and others with the duration of more than 35 hours. However, aside from the cost and the duration, long-distance bus travel is also an interesting journey that any traveler should experience at least once in their lifetime. So, if you are a traveler who wants to experience this journey, here are 5 essential tips that may help you survive.
1. Book smart
Long-distance bus travel is like any other long-distance travel where research comes first. Every country has their own bus companies and it’s important to look for companies that will likely make your journey worth the while. Ask your hostel or hotel about bus companies in the country; usually the staff of your accommodation will be happy to answer your questions. Comparing what was recommended to you with reviews online is also a good idea since there are travelers from all around the globe that share their experience.
When it comes to buying a ticket, it’s always wise to purchase them before your travel day because companies usually increase the price of tickets bought for travel on the same day. If the bus company has a website, be sure to check deals and prices beforehand. This is important because there is a possibility that the online early-bird prices and deals aren’t available over the counters. If you have no choice but paying in cash, then be sure to check online which bus you want to take and write it down on a piece of paper along with the destination, time, type of seat and price. This will speed up the purchasing process at the counter and is very helpful if you are at a non-English speaking country.
2. Always have your necessities near you
When it comes to necessities, it will differ for every traveler. However, there are a few important items that we share such as our travel documents. Although our baggage is safe under the bus, some countries actually check your identity when they want to confirm your ticket so you will need to provide a valid photo ID. Keep all your travel documents safe in your smaller bag and always keep it near you. Even though you are on the bus, it does not mean there are zero chances of getting robbed.
A good way to plan your necessities is by planning ahead of what you are going to do on the bus. For example, if your long-distance travel duration is more than 25 hours, then items such as books, iPods, and cameras would be helpful for you to spend your time. If you have a travel buddy, you may consider bringing a stack of cards or other small games to play with. Be as creative as possible but try to keep it light.
3. Comfort is your best friend
People tend to overlook the importance of their outfit, but planning an outfit for long-distance bus travel will actually make a difference. The trick is to always keep in mind that comfort comes first. So, be sure to choose outfits based on what your are comfortable with, such as loose T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, sweat pants, etc. For female travelers, choosing to wear sport bras is a better choice since it’s comfortable but still does the job. Be sure to bring sweaters and jackets along if your buses has AC; you will be traveling long-distance on the bus and it’s important to not get sick during your travels.
Aside from your outfit, bring along some items that can boost your comfort level. If you feel like bringing a neck pillow, fuzzy socks or even a pair of warm slippers, then why not? Many travelers have done this! At this point, don’t worry about people’s opinions because you are the one who will be going on that journey and you will want to feel as comfortable as possible.
4. Have plenty of water and toilet paper
Just because you are on a long-distance bus ride, it does not change the fact that your body needs to function. That being said, bringing plenty of water on your journey is very crucial. If you run out, be sure to get down from the bus during the breaks and buy a bottle or two. Getting dehydrated is something that happens often during traveling, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be avoided!
Long-distance bus travel is not always pleasant because of its toilets. Sometimes, you can find toilets in medium or high-class buses, but in certain countries, buses lack both air condition and toilet. Therefore, it is a wise decision to bring your own toilet paper, no matter what bus you are getting on. Remember, even medium and high-class buses run out of toilet paper. If you want to avoid smelly toilets, bringing a disposable mask would also be a lifesaver; it’s useful but still easy to pack.
5. Enjoy the ride!
The last tip that is recommended is a no-brainer: enjoy the ride. A long-distance bus ride means the opportunity of seeing a country or maybe countries, if you plan on doing cross-country bus rides. The landscapes that you will be seeing on your journey are sights that you might not be able to see from a plane, so why not enjoy it while it lasts? Besides, you might get great travel stories from the person sitting beside you or maybe some good quality time with your travel buddy.
Overall, those are the most basic things one can do to survive a long-distance bus travel. Feel free to add some of your own and adjust things according to your needs. If you take on your trip with a positive attitude and come prepared, then you don’t really have anything to worry about. Just consider the trip as another unforgettable experience. Happy travels!
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