Wednesday, 23 March 2016

How to survive an overnight bus journey (or two!)

How to survive an overnight coach journey |
I don't think it needs to be said, but an overnight bus journey is never going to be a highlight of anyone's trip. But sometimes they are necessary, whether because of time restraints or because of costs. In February, Tom and I did two overnight bus journeys in a row – we didn't have much choice because flights were too expensive and trains were at inconvienient times and took too long, so we ended up travelling through the night. You can read about that crazy trip HERE by the way. Overnight bus journeys are not that much fun, but there are definitely ways you can make them more bearable. Here are some of the ways I make a long bus ride a little less hideous:

What to wear

On the overnight to Paris, I didn't fancy getting changed in the bus toilets, and I really didn't want to sleep on the bus in jeans, so I ended up wearing a pair of extra warm and extra comfy leggings. I changed into jeans later after we'd arrived and changed in McDonald's toilets in Paris and Starbucks in Switzerland. Glam life. But it was such a good decision to wear them, I nearly kept my leggings on for the whole day though as they were so warm and comfy, absolutely perfect for travelling.

I'd also recommend wearing layers, busses tend to have a strange and unexplainable air conditioning, where they're never just right, always too hot or too cold.

What to bring with you

An eye mask and either headphones or earplugs, whatever you prefer, is a good shout. Busses can be noisy – groups chatting, people snoring, you know the drill. And if your bus stops during the night, you can bet those lights are going on, and unless you're in deep, deep sleep, you're gonna be awoken. An eye mask to block out the light and ear plugs to block out the sound will help a bit. A neck pillow or a hoody/scarf you can ball up can also help you feel a little more comfortable. Use the window or your neighbour's shoulder to lean on (I would only recommend the latter if you knew them before the journey), or put your seat back and stretch out.

I would definitely recommend bringing some biscuits or other snacks and a drink with you (though be aware water will make you want to use that toilet that is inevitably out of order or someone's already ruined). But you may get hungry or thirsty and service station stops aren't always that frequent (and heck they can be expensive).

Speaking of dodgy toilets though, I would recommend bringing some tissues and hand sanitiser with you. I don't think I need to explain why, but just in case you're unsure, think festival toilets, but on a bus.

What to be aware of

Safety – boring topic but important. Be aware of your belongings AT ALL TIMES – even when you're sleeping. It's not unheard to have stuff get stolen while you sleep. A bum bag/fanny pack might be a good idea for your valuables, and maybe put a bag strap through your seatbelt so it makes it a bit more difficult to be robbed without being woken up. Also at service stations, don't wander off too far from the bus on your own, especially at night.

Choose your seat wisely! Avoid sitting near the toilet, it can get smelly. The back of the bus is worse for travel sickness (and can sometimes be the noisiest), but you may get disturbed more by people getting on and off at the front. I always go for the window seat, but if you've got long legs you might want to sit in the aisle seat so you can stretch your legs out.

Have you or will you be doing an overnight bus journey? What did you think?

Hannah Lane

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