When we visited New Orleans in May, we opted to take the Greyhound bus there from Virginia rather than flying. The choice was easy for us, because we ended up saving nearly $1000. However, many people thought we were crazy because the bus journey was 24 hours each way.
However, sitting on a bus for 24 hours is not as bad as it sounds and was certainly worth the savings. When you are travelling around the world, you might find that taking the long way somewhere will cost you considerably less. If you can learn how to make the most of lengthy journeys, you can get a lot farther for less.
We have taken many epic journeys on buses, as well as trains, boats and more, so here are the tips that we have learned for surviving a long trip.
Stock Up on Supplies
When you are taking a long bus journey, it is a good idea to stock up on snacks and drinks in advance. Yes, you will get chances to stop along the way but most of the time your only choices for sustenance will be fast food or overpriced convenience store snacks. Eating nothing but junk food for 24 hours will make you even more cranky and tired when you arrive at your destination.
Make a few sandwiches before you leave or buy some healthy to-go meals at the supermarket. You can also bring some fruit to snack on as well as nuts, crackers and other healthy treats. Don’t forget water, as you will want to avoid getting too dehydrated.
Use Your Time Productively
If you are a digital nomad who works on the road, long bus rides can be the best times to get some work done. You will have uninterrupted peace for a full day and you have nothing else to do but sit there and look out the window, so why not get some work done? If you do your work on the bus before you get there, you will have less work to do in your destination so that you can have fun and enjoy when you get there.
You will need to prepare in advance, as not all buses will have WiFi and places to plug in your laptop. If I am planning to get some work done on a bus trip, I will download everything that I need in advance. Set your laptop on the lowest battery-conserving setting and keep as few programs running as possible. You might even consider investing in a second battery to extend your working time.
Even if you are not a digital nomad and don’t have any freelance work to do, why not use this transit time to do something productive that you have been meaning to get to? Work on your novel, listen to a language learning program or write letters to your family and friends about your travels. You will be amazed by how much you will have accomplished by the time you arrive.
Have Multiple Forms of Entertainment
If you don’t have anything productive to do, it can be nice to sit back and relax for a while and enjoy yourself on the bus. When you do, make sure that you have multiple forms of entertainment to enjoy. You might be really into playing Angry Birds on your phone or reading that novel, but after three or four hours of it you will start to get bored and you will still have 20 hours of travel left!
You could bring an iPod with music, a couple of books or a Kindle, a magazine, a laptop with a few films or TV shows on it or anything which can entertain you. When you get bored with one, you can switch to the other.
I tend to always read my book first when on a long journey. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, sometimes buses don’t have reading lights and when evening comes it will become too dark to read. You don’t want to use up all of the battery power on your devices first and then find that it is too dark to read. Second of all, as the long journey progresses you will become more tired and less able to focus on reading anything deep and complicated. You will want to switch your brain off and enjoy something mindless like your favorite TV show or film.
Getting to Sleep
Falling asleep on a bus seat can be difficult and no matter how much of a seasoned traveler you are it will never be as comfortable as a real bed. However, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself get a better sleep.
• Wear comfortable clothes. Avoid anything tight or restricting. You don’t have to travel in sweatpants or pajamas, just wear some loose fitting jeans or khakis which give you room to breathe.
• Bring a sweater. Sometimes when you are in a hot climate such as Southeast Asia the air conditioning on the buses is absolutely freezing. You can also use a sweater or a jacket as a pillow.
• Ear plugs or headphones can help you to block out outside noises and get into a more relaxed state. Choose some calm music, or download a really boring podcast!
• Don’t stress out about falling asleep too much, just get comfortable and enjoy the journey. If your body is tired, you will naturally drift off.
Taking a 24 hour bus journey is not the end of the world and if it can save you a large chunk of money you might find that the time spent is absolutely worth it. With a little bit of preparation, you can make the journey as enjoyable as possible.
What is the longest you have ever been in transit? What do you do on long bus journeys to keep yourself occupied?
(featured image by Posi66)