How to Survive a Long Haul Bus Journey (and still be sane at the end of it)

Ok controversial opinion here, but I love travelling by bus. A lot of people look at me with horror when I tell them this is my main way to travel around Europe, and I guess I kind of understand why. Who wants to spend fifteen hours sat in the same rock hard seat, possibly sat next to a ripe smelling stranger anyway?

But I’ve really found it to be the best way to travel. I love slow travel, you get to see more of the landscape if you’re taking a bus from country to country. I also hate to admit it but I’m a little fearful of flying and feel much safer on a bus usually, and if you book at the right time it can be so cheap! Also if you time it right you can get an infamous night bus and save money on accommodation.

I’ve managed to bag myself journeys for as little as one euro in the past!

Think your up for it? I’ve put together a list of tips to help you stay sane if you’re going to attempt a long bus journey.

A pretzel and Meinfernbus - can you guess which country I was in ?

A pretzel and Meinfernbus – can you guess which country I was in ?


1. If seats aren’t assigned choose yours wisely

Push people out the way if you have to – just kidding kind of – but if the bus is on the emptier side try to score the sought after two seats together, so you can stretch out and / or have a seat for your bags.

If seats are assigned though then you’re on your own. The plus side is that it should be less stressful to board, because they’re no seats to fight over. Try telling that to some people though.  

2. Bring a pillow, or something pillow-like

I didn’t realise the importance of this until I travelled from Berlin – Munich – Salzburg – Munich – Rome in the space of a few days (don’t ask!). I didn’t have a pillow and upon arriving in Rome I felt like my neck had been stamped on. I quickly invested in a small travel pillow when I arrived in Barcelona. The kind which is soft and folds up into a little bag, I can’t stand those inflatable ones!

3. Pack your headphones or earplugs

Pretty self-explanatory. Blocks out the noise of children people.

You can go an extra mile and bring an eye mask too, to block out the lights which will come on every time the bus makes a drop off / pick up.

4. Bring more food than you think you’ll need



See that look on my face, that’s the pure joy I get from eating.

Or some willpower, or better still both. All those snacks you’ve packed will probably be gone within the first few hours, when boredom kicks in and you’ve nothing better to do than eat. So always bring extra. Nothing too smelly though, do you want to be that person eating fish or onions. No I didn’t think so. No one wants to be that person.

5. Remember water

A lot of water.  Keeping hydrated is really important, especially if you’re travelling through hot countries. And if it’s night-time or a really long journey you might not get a chance to stop and buy more water, or fill up your bottle, so always bring plenty.

Keep hydrated kids!

Keep hydrated kids!

6. Don’t forget tissue or toilet paper

The on board toilet will never have toilet paper, or if it does it will be gone about an hour into the journey. Don’t make the mistake of going to the toilet only to find that isn’t any left.

This tip will also gain respect from your fellow travellers, or strange stares, it’s up to you how you interpret these.

7. Bring hand disinfectant or wet wipes

The toilet will also never have soap. Wet wipes / face wipes are great for a long journey too. I like to wipe my face with one before trying to sleep if it’s an overnight bus, and then again in the morning to quickly refresh my skin.

8. Wear comfy clothes + bring a change of clothes for when you arrive

Wearing my most comfy jeans and Converse before s bus journey from Granada to Valencia

Wearing my most comfy jeans and Converse before s bus journey from Granada to Valencia

When preparing for long journeys I always dress in the comfiest things I can find. Also bring a jacket or jumper, even travelling in August through cities like Berlin, Rome, Barcelona and San Sebastian I got cold on board.  Sometimes I will take a change of clothes for the morning after a night bus and change in the toilet – this is an interesting experience to say the least. It just makes me feel more refreshed, and if I know I won’t be able to check into my hostel,  but want to do some exploring first, then I feel better in a fresh set of clothes.


Good Luck – and remember ‘it’s not about the destination sometimes it’s about the journey.’

Or in the case of long bus journeys I bloody hope the destination is worth all the pain it took to get there!



  1. oveyarvay

    SNACKS! Basically my one lesson from bus trips .. always always have snacks! Nothing is worse than being hours away from food, your trapped on a bus, and there is traffic delays!

    1. Pippa (Post author)

      YES! I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way. Trapped on a bus without food and I’ll turn into the worst human being travel companion ever!

  2. NomaderHowFar

    We recently took our first coach trip after 10 months of travel!! We mainly hitchhike which I recommend trying!! 🙂 We had a 12 hour trip…… The tip I would tell me is to stretch your legs! We both ended up with swollen feet by the end of it D: hahaha
    NomaderHowFar recently posted…The Minimalist Life Cleanse [Revisiting your journey to a simplified life]My Profile

    1. Pippa (Post author)

      Hi Taran. Yes I really want to try hitchhiking, it’s definitely on my list I’m just a little nervous about doing it on my own – but I’m sure I’ll be fine 🙂 And that is so true, my feet ended up getting really swollen after all my bus journeys that I couldn’t fit my shoes on anymore.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge