How to Survive Long Distance Bus Trips

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Whether you’re taking a train, bus, or car, road trips are definitely not for the faint of heart. It is the long haul of transportation, often taken as a last resort for sake of finances or improptuity (yes, I just made up a word).

It’s kind of like the McDonalds of options; there aren’t too many other places to go when you’re leaving the bar at 4 am and you happen to only have $3.86 in your pocket, so it wins by default. You order a small fry and a McChicken – it gets the job done, but you really wish you were eating Chic-Fil-A.

Well, you probably booked that $49, 15 hour megabus from Chicago to Atlanta for similar reasons. Fortunately, like the McChicken, your experience doesn’t have to be a compleeeetttteeee hellish nightmare.


All the advice I’m about to offer derives from personal experience. I recently boarded a bus in Detroit headed to Ontario – a 6 hour trip that somehow became 10. I fell asleep and woke up to the same exact road so many times that I seriously wondered if I had died in my sleep and my own special Hell was this eternal road trip to with no destination. My friends, if I can survive that, you can survive anything. Here’s how:

1 – Preserve Your Phone Battery

If there’s a charging port in your automobile, you won’t have a problem with this. If you’re in a more unfortunate situation like I was on my bus, take heed (my phone lasted all 10 hours without charging once, thanks to these):

  • Charge your phone completely before taking off, and if you can, carry a portable charger/extended battery.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode anytime you aren’t making calls, texts, or using data, and only do those sparingly – this saves major battery life!
  • Turn your brightness all the way down and switch from color view to grayscale.
  • Keep multitasking to a minimum, completely close apps when done and don’t use too much data at the same time (e.g. opening instagram, facebook, and email).

2 – Snacks on Snacks on Snacks

Bring food. You’re going to get hungry and you may not even have the option to stop. Even if you do, you can’t guarantee it will be something you want to eat. When packing, think quality over quantity. Protein bars, fruits and veggies, and nuts will fill you up much better than chips, candy, and honey buns. Imagine how sh*tty you would feel arriving to a 15 hour destination running only on Starbursts, Doritos and Red Bull. Bleh.

3 – Prepare for ALL THE DEGREES

I am the queen of instable body temperatures. Freezing cold with blue fingernails? Give me a light sweater and I’ll be sweating like a pig 30 minutes later. If you’re anything like me, my advice would be to bring a blanket and dress in layers. Warming up is pretty easy, but it’s hard to cool down if you’re wearing a sweatshirt and nothing underneath. Even if you only wear a tank top, at least you always have the option to take one of your shirts off if it gets too hot.

4 – S  T  R  E  T  C  H

As a 5’9″ woman, I take space very seriously. Unless you get lucky and have a row all to yourself, you’re probably going to find yourself at a loss for excess. Before you embark on your journey, I truly suggest getting as loose as possible. Maybe a warm-up and 2 simple minutes of stretching and twisting as much as you can. As far as the actual ride, get up at every rest stop – even if you don’t want to eat, or you don’t have to use the bathroom. Your body will thank you. If you’re feeling the urge to move but the next stop isn’t for a while, do seated stretches or poses like these. If you have absolutely no shame like me, you can stand up and lunge right down the bus aisle, too!

5 – Activities!

Okay, so you aren’t worried about your phone battery. You’ve got a queue of 10 shows on Netflix, just downloaded 5 new games, and put all your favorite songs on a 5 hour playlist. Well what happens if you get a headache, your phone overheats, or you’re just plain tired of using/looking at it? Do you have anything else to do now that it’s gone? What do you like to do that’s not bound to a 5″ x 2″ screen? Books? Crocheting? Poetry? Sudoku? Crosswords? Trivia? Uno? Bring all of it! It may even entice people around you to participate! Trust me, the more arsenal you have in your boredom prevention kit, the better.



What’s the longest trip you’ve taken on a bus? What do you do to keep your sanity?

About Lauren Victoria 93 Articles
Lauren is a Chicago native and budget traveler obsessed with foreign languages, neuropsychology, dancing, and applesauce. She recently quit her full-time job in social services to be a human English dictionary in Madrid, Spain.
  • The longest bus trip that I’ve taken was to New York City. I slept during the majority of the trip.

  • FeeFee

    My longest trip was to New York and all I can remember from the trip is saying I WILL NEVER TAKE A BUS RIDE THAT LONG AGAIN. Uncomfortable is a nice way to describe it. Bus seats are not built for my 5 10 frame for long bus trips.

    • Lol, maybe try some of those stretches if you ever find yourself on a bus again.

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