Taking the Bus?


When you’re on the road for a few months, you have the luxury of taking your time to get somewhere.  What I mean is that if you’re on a backpacking holiday for a month and you plan to see 5 places, then a day on a bus might seem like a waste and you opt for a plane.  If you’re on the road for months, however, you can afford a day on wheels.  Plus, it’s usually way cheaper.

That said, sometimes it can get a little uncomfortable.  Here are a few tips of avoiding getting on the highway to hell:

Food

Moong Dal Fried, crunchy lentils - my favourite snack in Nepal and India.
Moong Dal
Fried, crunchy lentils – my favourite snack in Nepal and India.

Wherever the bus stops for the eating break, is bound to be overpriced or so shabby you don’t dare eating from there, just in case, you know, your belly decides to become a waterslide park, if you know what I mean.

Take snacks with you – crisps, an apple, nuts. My favourite snack in India and Nepal was moong dal.  A handful of them and a few sips of water and my grumbling stomach turned into a happy one.

What’s more, you don’t have to wait for the stop to eat!

Water and its release

Trust me when I say this is gold inside your backpack. Never go without it.
Trust me when I say this is gold inside your backpack. Never go without it.

Three pieces of advice:

1- Go to release before the bus leaves, whether you feel like you need it or not

2 – Drink as least as possible

3 – Go every time the bus stops

Oh, make that 4 – Always, always carry tissues or toilet paper!

Music

Truth be told, some drivers scare the s*£! out of me.  They’re reckless around mountain curves, on rained on slippery roads and/or seem to be in a hurry to get to the destination an hour early (to have time for the lover before they head back to the wife, my writer’s imagination likes to think!)

If your driver is careful on the other hand, the journey might stretch out longer and it might get boring.

So the trick to it all is music, of course, download some of your favourite songs on your phone and if you’re scared or bored, just close your eyes and let the music take you to that special place.

Night bus?

Sure, it saves you having to pay a night’s accommodation but it deprives you of a good night’s sleep too.  Okay, I’m being a little melodramatic here.  Many buses I’ve taken were comfortable and I slept through most of the night, but still it’s never quite the same as a good sleep in a bed.

Also, make sure you will arrive at your destination in the early morning hours.  This way you’re sure to find a place for breakfast as soon as you arrive and you have half a day to scout around for accommodation.

Believe it or not, there are only 15 hours between one pic and the other, despite clear evidence that I took on 10 years on that bus ride from Rishikesh to Dharamshala.
Believe it or not, there are only 15 hours between one pic and the other, despite clear evidence that I took on 10 years on that bus ride from Rishikesh to Dharamshala.

Socks and an extra layer

When I was in South East Asia, it was so hot, you started sweating the minute you walked out of the shower, but the AC on the buses made me think I was in the North Pole instead.

Going from a scorching hot Rishikesh to the fresh mountains of Dharamshala. one window had no glass on it, letting in the freezing cold night air as we drove up.

Regardless of what temperature it is when you leave somewhere, always pack a pair of socks and a long sleeved top or shawl, you just don’t want to be cold.

Bussing it alone

Bussing it with a fellow solo traveller PS Buses in Vietnam are pretty high quality
Bussing it with a fellow solo traveller
P.S. Buses in Vietnam are pretty high quality

Many people travel alone and consequently are on buses alone.  Don’t stop yourself from going somewhere you want to go to, just because no one else seems interested.  Especially on bus rides that take long hours, people get to know each other, you will make new friends and they will watch out for you when the bus is leaving after a food & toilet stop.

Most of the time, buses have a driver and an assistant who will make sure everyone’s on board before they leave, but it doesn’t cost you anything to be nice to fellow solo travellers and check that all the seats are taken before the driver steps on the gas again.

Enjoy the ride wanderer!

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