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18 Tips To Survive Long Bus Rides (What To Bring To Stay Comfortable)

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This article includes 18 bus travel tips to make your journey as fun and comfortable as possible. Survive a cross-country bus trip using this ultimate guide based on my own experiences.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the idea of a 12-hour trip can be daunting. Make the most of rest stops and enjoy a stress-free boarding process by following the advice below.

We will cover what to bring on a long bus ride and the key essentials you shouldn’t be without. Use the packing list provided to take everything you need. This post includes tips on what to wear and which seat to choose for the most comfortable long bus trip.

Planning ahead is the key to the perfect travel experience. If you prepare for a long bus ride then it will be easy to relax and enjoy your time on the road. These pieces of advice are easy to follow and quick to utilize.

Let’s jump right in and get you ready for your adventure.

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Bring these essential items on your long bus ride

It is important to prepare for a long bus ride by packing these essential items to make your trip as fun and comfortable as possible. Use this long bus ride packing list to make sure you never forget a key item.

What To Bring On A Long Bus Ride

  • Blanket
  • Neck Pillow
  • Earplugs
  • Eye Mask
  • Water bottle
  • Healthy Snacks or Something Sweet
  • Hand Sanitizer And Tissues
  • Comfortable Clothes
  • Personal Alarm
  • Books
  • Headphones
  • Entertainment Such As A Podcast Or Audiobook

If you don’t have some of the above items, you could consider checking out this Travel Pillow and this Personal Alarm. Something else which is essential for getting some well-deserved rest is a good set of Travel Earplugs.

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Check the travel details the night before and arrive early

Make sure you have your ticket and any other travel documents ready the night before. This is also a good time to pack your belongings ready for the trip the following day. Arriving at the bus station early avoids being stressed before boarding and gives you time to grab a coffee and get to the correct place with plenty of time.

Wear comfortable clothes that will keep you warm

To stay comfortable on a long bus ride you should wear warm clothes that are easy to move around in. Leggings or jogging bottoms are great and so are warm jumpers and cotton jackets. Avoid wearing restrictive clothing that you will sweat in or find it hard to stretch in at rest stops. Wear multiple layers of clothing for flexibility if the temperature changes.

Eat a healthy filling meal before you set off

You should eat a healthy meal before a long bus ride to satisfy your stomach prior to the journey ahead. Keep it light to avoid feeling bloated on the road and prevent indigestion. Rest stops often have limited food options and eating a good meal before you set off can justify a few guilt-free snacks during the trip. Remember to pack a full water bottle and some sweet treats.

Keep yourself entertained with this fun list of things to do

We’ve created a list of things to do on a long bus ride to keep you entertained and make the journey fly by! Take a look and see if you can find something new to pass the time. You can also enjoy one of these games to play on the bus with your fellow passengers.

Pack healthy snacks

Grabbing a few sweet treats from a rest stop is one of the best ways to survive a long bus ride. Packing healthy snacks can help you balance out the sugar with some goodness and let you indulge in a few comforts during the journey. Keep the hunger at bay with some nuts and seeds in between the sugary snacks. Eating too many unhealthy snacks will make you feel bloated which is the last thing you need on a bus trip.

Listen to a podcast or audiobook to stay entertained

If you’re on a long bus ride then a podcast or audiobook is a great way to pass a longer period of time. It also avoids the monotony of listening to the same road trip playlists! Use this link for a free trial on Audible and listen to a range of content.

We also have suggestions for the best audiobooks for road trips and the best podcasts for long drives.

Look after your valuables

Make sure you secure your valuables by keeping them on your person and out of sight. Ensure they are not easily accessible through an open pocket in case you decide to sleep for a while on the bus. Do not put valuables in the main storage hold of the bus. If you have to put valuables in a backpack in the overhead compartment make sure it is in sight at all times.

Try to choose a double seat if possible

Sometimes buses do not run at full capacity and there is an opportunity to have a double seat to yourself. If this happens, definitely take it! This gives you the chance to spread out a little more during the ride. It’s also much easier to sleep if you are in a more relaxed state due to the extra space.

Stay hydrated and avoid too much caffeine

Staying hydrated will help you to feel great and make the journey more bearable. It can be tempting to consume lots of coffee to pass the time but make sure you consider bathroom breaks. If there isn’t a toilet on the bus then it could lead to discomfort.

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Consider the overnight bus to save on hotel costs

If you are able to sleep comfortably on a bus then it is a great way to save on hotel costs. During my US road trip, I took the Greyhound bus from Las Vegas to New Orleans, and it was a massive journey, but I saved on the accommodation costs!

Choose a seat in the middle or at the front

The back of the bus leads to a notoriously bumpy ride so try to sit further up the bus. In addition, this makes it easier to get on and off during rest breaks. There is also often more fresh air towards the front of the bus and it’s less common to have unpleasant smells. If there is a toilet on the bus don’t sit nearby it as this will lead to constant disturbance!

Change your seated position regularly and don’t slouch

In order to avoid lower back pain it’s best to change your position regularly and avoid slouching. This stops there being prolonged pressure on one area and helps to keep the blood flowing. Slouching puts pressure on your lower back and can make things worse. Try to sit up straight for as long as possible with good posture.

Stretch often and exercise at rest stops

When the bus stops for a rest break take full advantage of the opportunity to stretch your legs. Getting the blood flowing will help avoid lower back pain and muscle aches whilst on the journey.

You Might Also Like: How to survive long train rides

Take off your shoes and consider compression socks

If you are someone that doesn’t have great circulation you could consider wearing compression socks to help avoid varicose veins. Either way, provided you have nice clean socks on it shouldn’t be a problem for other passengers if you take off your shoes for a more comfortable long bus ride.

Bring that book you’ve been meaning to read

I don’t know about you, but my home is full of books that I’ve purchased following a podcast or recommendation, only to sit and gather dust. Sometimes life gets in the way. Use this long bus trip as an opportunity to read one of those great books. Need some inspiration? Check out our favorite road trip books to inspire you!

Take advantage of rest stops

Sometimes when the bus stops for the driver to take a break you don’t feel like getting up and moving around. There is nothing worse than the bus getting going again and realizing that it’s hours before the next break! Take advantage of rest stops to eat some food, use the bathroom and take in the fresh air.

Entertain your fellow passengers with some awesome jokes

If you happen to strike up a conversation with someone nearby, why not laugh together at some Road Trip Jokes? These carefully crafted one-liners are great icebreakers. Feel free to comment on the post with your own favorite gags.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

Iain Salter

Founder & Editor of The Road Trip Expert

Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. He first developed a passion for backpacking in 2014 and has had the pleasure of exploring over 60 countries.


Lionel Messi

Friday 19th of May 2023

Thanks for the helpful tips!