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5 Tips for Surviving A Long Bus Ride With Your Sanity Intact

selective focus photography of people on bus

Many people will experience the dubious pleasure of going on a very long bus ride. If you plan ahead and follow this list of helpful tips, you may have a better chance of surviving the trip with your sanity intact.

Seating Plans: How to Find the Perfect Seat on the Greyhound Bus

If you are traveling by yourself, search out an empty row for the maximum traveling comfort (and the most foot room). If you wish to keep your empty row for yourself, here is one tip for the enterprising if slightly ill-mannered traveler: once you have safely stowed your luggage, stretch out on both empty seats and try to take a nap. When the bus pulls into the next loading station, don’t get up! Continue to “sleep” as the passengers board. Most people will be unwilling to wake you unless the bus is full and they have no choice. Once everyone has boarded and the bus has pulled away from the stop, you can “wake up” and enjoy your ample (if slightly ill-gotten) space.

Things to Do On the Bus: Practice Your Conversational Skills!

If you are the chatty type and have a seatmate, consider striking up a conversation. This will allow you to polish your conversation skills, possibly make a new friend, and while away the hours. One caveat – play close attention to your seatmate’s body language. If she gives one word answers, avoids eye contact or begins to pay close attention to her book or iPod, take heed! This is most likely a sign that she wishes to be left in peace. Those who persist in continuing the conversation will face karmic retribution at a later date, which may very well come in the form of being trapped on the bus with an odorous and ill-mannered seatmate who persists in chatting them up for four hours. In short – only carry on conversation if one’s seatmate appears to appreciate it.

Brown Bag it: What to Bring on a Bus Trip

The Greyhound bus will probably stop at several rest stops along the way, but your food options may be limited. Unless you want to spend the day dining on Rolos, dubious-looking egg salad sandwiches and bad coffee, pack a lunch. If you have anything that is perishable and you expect to be traveling for most of the day, either plan on eating the perishable food early in the day or consider bringing a small cooler. Reusable ice packs are also a good idea, as they won’t add much weight and will help keep your lunch stay cool and delicious.

Packing a lunch is also significantly cheaper than buying food on the road. Why should you spend $15 on unappetizing rest stop food when you could save your money for the bizarre books and gifts you will find in bus stop rest stations! Have you ever wanted to read about famous British Columbian axe murderers? This is your chance!

Fun Activities on the Bus (Looking for Split-Ends Does Not Count)

Staring out the window should be an option only for the truly desperate. Bring a book, a crossword puzzle, a crochet or knitting project or an iPod or laptop. The workaholic type can also bring work with them and work on that. Do you have essays to grade or papers to write? This is the perfect time to work on them!

Sleeping Pills: Not Just for Chronic Insomniacs

If all else fails, consider bringing sleeping pills with you on the bus. There is no shame in knocking yourself out so as to survive a tedious 12 hour drive. Over the counter products containing diphenhydramine hydrochloride, such as Benadryl and Nytol, work effectively when used on an occasional basis.

That said, you should read the dosage and potential drug interaction information very carefully before even thinking about consuming them. Over the counter sleeping pills are unlikely to cause significant harm if one accidentally goes over the recommended dosage, but they will certainly make one drowsier and harder to wake than is intended. Sleeping through most of a tedious bus ride may be an effective way to make the time appear to go by faster, but sleeping so heavily that one misses one’s bust stop will end the trip on an unpleasant note.