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.
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
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
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.
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
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!