5 Tips for Long Dis­tance Bus Travel

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Holly Al­li­son.

As a stu­dent who at­tends univer­sity 11 hours from home, I spend a lot of time trav­el­ling long-dis­tance. And be­ing a stu­dent means that I have more time than money, so fly­ing is not an op­tion. Bus trans­port may be slow but it’s af­ford­able, and I’ve learned how to keep my san­ity and my lug­gage from go­ing AWOL. Here are my top 5 tips to sur­viv­ing long-dis­tance bus jour­neys.

1. Lug­gage

A throw­back to my first bus trip fea­tured me be­ing asked, “Gra­ham­stown to Dur­ban?” I in­no­cently replied “yes” and placed my bag with all the oth­ers. Fast for­ward to a road two hours out­side Port Shep­stone where I was sum­moned by the at­ten­dant to go see the bus driver. I was sternly told that I should have put my bag in the com­part­ment al­lo­cated for pas­sen­gers get­ting off be­fore Dur­ban sta­tion. The re­sult? My fam­ily and the dis­grun­tled bus pas­sen­gers waited over 15 min­utes for the at­ten­dant to rum­mage around in the trailer for my lug­gage.

Tip: Un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween your des­ti­na­tion and where you place your bag.

2. Mo­tion Sick­ness

I suf­fer from mo­tion sick­ness – in the el­e­va­tor, in the car, and un­for­tu­nately, in the bus. Dur­ing my first few trips, I had no way of deal­ing with this so I would keep my eyes closed, en­sure min­i­mal us­age of my phone and try to sleep.

Tip: Chew gum. To my mind, chew­ing bub­ble gum keeps pres­sure from build­ing up in my face and keeps my thoughts off the mo­tion.

On a more sci­en­tific note, the gum gets your saliva pro­duc­tion go­ing which neu­tralises stom­ach acid and keeps nau­sea at bay. I don't rec­om­mend chew­ing gum on an empty stom­ach though be­cause that can have an even worse ef­fect. If you strug­gle eat­ing on the bus, I find snacking reg­u­larly on some­thing light like fruit or an en­ergy bar not too hec­tic, and will also help fight mo­tion sick­ness.

3. En­ter­tain­ment

Trav­el­ling, es­pe­cially long dis­tance, means there's a lot to watch. Be­sides the pass­ing coun­try­side, if you're lucky, there will be good movies to watch. If not, you may end up watch­ing Red Bull com­pe­ti­tions on re­peat with a brief in­ter­lude of ad­verts for each of South Africa's provin­cial tourism attractions. Due to overly loud vol­ume set­tings of bus speak­ers (if not bro­ken al­to­gether), a headache is bound to en­sue.

Tip: Learn to lip read. It will help you keep track of the movie and avoid a headache.

5. Sleep 4. Pas­sen­gers

There's al­ways some in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters on bus jour­neys. How­ever, be­ing in such close prox­im­ity for a long time can get frus­trat­ing. There is of­ten a loud pas­sen­ger who re­counts their trip and lunch choices loudly down the phone. There may also be the un­in­ten­tion­ally noisy pas­sen­ger who re­ceives an as­sault­ing ‘ping' on Wat­sapp ev­ery few min­utes. Trav­el­ling by bus also re­quires a sound ‘chat radar' for the per­son next to you. It's im­por­tant to strike a good bal­ance be­tween talk­ing and quiet. Then there's the silent type who only nod as they awk­wardly shuf­fle past your knees to get across to the aisle. Nev­er­the­less, you're to­gether for a good few hours so be ready for any­thing and keep calm.

Tip: There's al­ways some­one on the bus who re­ally wants to talk, so it's up to you to strike a healthy bal­ance be­tween con­ver­sa­tion, sleep and star­ing out the win­dow.

Sleep is use­ful for pass­ing the time but rigid bus seats can make this some­what un­com­fort­able. Your seat's lo­ca­tion is im­por­tant so try to choose a win­dow seat and bring along a neck pil­low to en­sure at least a cou­ple of hours of shut eye. If you're some­one who man­ages to sleep eas­ily on a bus, the night coach may be your best op­tion but, if not, a day trip can be more in­ter­est­ing for star­ing out the win­dow.

Tip: Avoid sleep­ing with your head on the aisle side, it will get hit by one of the fol­low­ing: a leg, a bag or a child.

Trav­el­ling long-dis­tance by bus is a cheaper op­tion to fly­ing and although it may take much longer, at least your feet don't need to leave the ground. I also find it sim­pler as it saves a lift to the air­port (and my par­ents the bother of a two-hour drive to pick me up). In the end, you will reach your des­ti­na­tion.

About the au­thor: Holly An­der­son is a Chris­tian third-year stu­dent at Rhodes Univer­sity where she stud­ies Jour­nal­ism & Me­dia Stud­ies and Drama. Holly is the News Fea­tures Ed­i­tor at The Op­p­i­dan Press and has a blog called A Nor­mal Af­flic­tion.

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