10 Ways to Prepare for and Survive a Long Bus Trip


I used to take long-haul bus trips in South America because they were the only cost-effective way to get from place to place. As such, I was frequently stuck on the bus for as long as 23 hours.

Before visiting South America, I did not mind long bus trips that much. I liked that I could have private time for myself on the bus. However, overtime, long bus journeys became tiring for me. I once took a 23-hour bus ride in Peru from Tacna to Lima.  I started to feel the urge to get off the bus a few hours before arrival.

If you are planning to take a long bus ride, here are some tips to help you prepare for and survive a long bus trip.

Get off at rest stops

If you are exhausted after sitting on the bus for long periods, it helps to get off whenever the bus makes a stop, even if it is for just a few minutes. This helps to relax your body and make you feel refreshed.

10 Ways to Prepare for and Survive a Long Bus Trip

Station stop in La Serena. The bus ride in northern Chile is exhausting.

Bring healthy food and drinks

Many intercity bus services do not serve food onboard. If they do, I found the food is not always great. Therefore, I usually bring dark chocolate, fruit, mixed nuts, cherry tomatoes, smoothies, and other healthy treats to keep myself full throughout the bus ride.

10 Ways to Prepare for and Survive a Long Bus Trip

Get some sleep

I like that when I am on the bus, I can sleep whenever I want to, especially during the weird hours of the day. However, for some, falling asleep on the bus is not as easy as expected. It can be a noisy environment, and it is not as comfortable as sleeping on a bed.

To remedy this, I suggest wearing a comfortable outfit and shoes. If you are sensitive to noise, bring earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones.

If you are unable to sleep, do not stress about it too much. When you get exhausted, you will doze off automatically.

Enjoy the view.

During a long bus journey, you will be guaranteed to have fantastic views. If you are a travel blogger or photographer, it is worth taking out your camera and recording the views.

From Salta to Cafayate in nothern Argentina

Fantastic view from a bus ride in Northern Argentina

Bring your own entertainment.

The long hours of a ride are a prime time for me to watch movies and binge my favorite TV shows like Reign, Suits, The White Queen, or re-runs of Downton Abbey. This is my favorite way to pass the time and to catch up on shows that I usually do not have enough time to watch.

Work on the road

If you are a digital nomad, a long bus ride offers you good time and space to get some work done. It is a rare occasion to have such a long stretch of undisturbed time. I take advantage of this by brainstorming and writing down the ideas for my blog posts. If you do not have freelance projects, you can write your own journals, read a book, contact your family and friends, or listen to podcasts.

Get your electronic devices ready.

To work on the road and enjoy various forms of entertainment, you need to get all your devices ready. If you plan to use your laptop and camera, make sure they are fully charged. You can also bring a power bank to charge your devices in case some buses do not offer power sockets.

Additionally, I recommend you download everything you need for your work and entertainment. Not all buses have Wi-Fi access, and if they do, I often find them unstable and slow.

Make new friends

As an introvert, bus rides are a favorite personal time of mine. However, when fellow passengers start talking to me, I do not mind taking the opportunity to get to know them. It makes the trip more memorable.

Keep your valuables with you

Be sure to keep your valuables with you at all times. Bus companies are usually not responsible for the loss of your personal items. It is possible for valuables to be lost or broken when they are stored in the luggage compartment at the bottom of the bus.

Upgrade your seats.

If your bus ride is an overnight trip, you have already saved on accommodations for that night, so why not give yourself an upgrade? Some VIP seats have more legroom and can recline to 180 degrees, which is another way to make your journey more comfortable.

Do you have any tips on preparing for and survive a long bus trip? Share them below. 

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10 Ways to Prepare for and Survive a Long Bus Trip

Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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