Are you scheduled for a long bus trip to a distant city for school, business, or pleasure? It doesn’t have to be so dreadful. While nobody wants to be seated for hours on end, there are times when there is no real alternative.
The good news is that we’ve shared some sneaky tips you can employ to make the journey much more comfortable whether traveling in your own country or crossing borders. Shall we delve into it right away?
23 Tips for Sleeping on a Bus Safely and Comfortably
Comfort and safety are the 2 most important conditions you should never compromise on during a long bus trip. Depending on your location and destination, safety may not be much of an issue. But it is still important not to take it for granted because as the saying goes “better safe than sorry” right?
1. Book A Good Time
Buses run day and night in many cities around the world. Unless your destination has limited schedules, booking a trip overnight can be the best time to limit any inconveniences that usually pop up during such long journeys.
Night buses tend to be quieter and are usually devoid of children who may be throwing tantrums every couple of minutes. An overnight line typically features passengers looking to get maximum rest meaning you can expect your peace of mind.
Additionally, booking overnight can be the key to maintaining your strict sleep schedule, ensuring little to no disturbance to your internal sleep clock. This means a limited chance of arriving at the destination fatigued and in need of further rest.
If you’re traveling for work and need to arrive with your A-game in the morning, overnight trips may be the best.
2. Get A First Class Ticket
You’re probably taking a bus instead of flying due to a limited budget right? That does not mean comfort should be compromised. Many bus services offer first-class tickets that deliver access to often better seats as well as complimentary snacks, toilets, and other features.
Ultimately, first-class seats can be the key to getting comfortable seating and the extra legroom required to mitigate the stress associated with long bus rides.
Also, first-class sections are usually less overcrowded hence a lower chance of noisy folks distracting your sleep. More often than not, the opportunity to bag an extra empty seat for your backpacks and other small bags can present itself.
Fortunately, these tickets are usually way cheaper than the cost of flying. Thus, sticking to your budget can become a real possibility.
3. Get an Extra Seat
Looking for the ultimate comfort on a long bus trip where first-class seats aren’t an option? Why not book an extra seat? Yes, you heard that right. Such buses are likely to be overcrowded with seats completely booked.
Getting an extra seat can offer more comfort via the increased legroom and space to maneuver throughout the night. The extra seat can also prevent disturbance from a seatmate while offering more space for any belongings on hand.
In most cases, the price of 2 economy bus seats will be similar to a first-class option so no worries about going off-budget.
4. Pack Some Sports Drinks
Are you traveling on a bus with no toilet onboard? The last thing you’d want is to ask the driver to stop every half an hour or so to pee. That could be embarrassing and time-wasting for everyone.
So does this mean you should stay dehydrated throughout the trip? The answer is no. Staying hydrated is important for a good night’s rest. Since drinking water may not be ideal, this is where sports drink may come in.
Gatorade, Vitamin Water, and Roar are stacked with electrolytes that can help anyone stay hydrated while preventing those frequent urges to empty the bladder. Remember, electrolytes are special minerals that ensure the body maintains its ionic balance.
Packing a few bottles of your favorite sports drinks should not be compromised even if the bus has toilet facilities on board. After all, going to pee regularly can be as annoying as tiring.
The only downside is that these drinks may contain calories that can throw anyone trying to lose weight off their diet plans.
I pack a few bottles of Gatorade Classic Thirst Quencher from Amazon ahead of long bus trips, flights, or during workouts. It provides amazing refueling throughout the journey so I can arrive fresh and energized.
5. Get Details About the Route
Are you traveling on the bus in a foreign country? If yes, booking tickets alone may not be enough in some situations. Finding out more details about the route can be lifesaving or at least stress-saving in the end.
Have there been reports of robberies or life-threatening incidents on the road in recent times? Does the bus route pass through a border? If yes, do you need to show a passport as well as proof of receiving shots for certain vaccines?
Also, are there immigration officers or policemen on the road who regularly stop buses to extort monies from passengers, especially foreigners?
All of these are important details you need to find out especially when traveling on the bus through some parts of Central and South America as well as some areas in Africa and Asia.
Make sure there are absolutely no surprises on the road by preparing for every possible scenario. It could make the trip much more pleasant.
6. Lock Your Valuables
This may sound obvious but locking your valuables at all times is non-negotiable when traveling on the bus to distant places. It is no secret that every city in the world has thieves and other unscrupulous people always on the prowl to steal from travelers.
Taking a bus can put a huge target on your back so beware. In some cases, the baggage handlers and other bus station employees can end up stealing from you. Make sure every zip on the main luggage is locked properly before placement in the trunk of the bus.
Additionally, never put your valuables in the overhead luggage carrier because thieves can easily steal and get away with it. Instead, place any valuables in backpacks and other small handbags, making sure that they’re hidden under other possessions when packing.
These backpacks and carry-on luggage should be placed under your seat or in the extra seat (in case you splurged out on one).
Other vital security tips are as follows:
- Close your carry-on bag immediately after opening to pick up any item and if possible, lock it with a padlock without delay.
- Keep your passport in the back pocket when sleeping because no one can reach for it while you’re seated and in deep slumber.
- A concealed crossbody bag or belt can be a sneaky way to hide important stuff under your clothes. Invest in one for keeping your most important possessions safe throughout the trip.
7. Have Cash in Multiple Places
Sometimes, no matter how vigilant you may be, getting robbed may be inevitable. This is why having cash in multiple places can come in handy. Wallets are an easy target so I suggest not stuffing it with cash.
Instead, fold your cash small and put them in less obvious areas such as your socks or watch pocket if you’re wearing jeans.
Having cash in multiple places means you can hand out something to a would-be attacker in the event of a robbery to appease him or her to back off. This may also eliminate the risk of getting stranded should you lose some cash to a thief or robber.
8. Carry Healthy Snacks
Few things can be worse than starving on a long overnight bus trip when the rest stop is still several hours away. The hunger pangs alone can make it feel like Doomsday is approaching.
You can avoid this hustle by carrying healthy snacks on board. These snacks should provide sleep boosting properties to stimulate the chances of enjoying a great night. Some of the best snacks for such trips include:
- Soy Milk – Contains tryptophan which ramps up the production levels of the sleep hormone Serotonin.
- Yogurt– Contains probiotics that improve the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut, enhances moods, and supercharges sleep.
- Seeds – Another good source of the serotonin-producing amino acid called tryptophan.
- Nuts – Helps the body’s melatonin levels to surge meaning quicker and deeper sleep throughout the night.
- Bananas – Powerful source of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer that calms the mind, and promotes meaningful shuteye.
- Warm Milk – Great for a good night’s sleep
- Almond Milk – provides significant sleep-boosting effects to the body
9. Carry Some Tissue or Toilet Paper
Depending on the location and destination, some tissue or toilet paper may be provided onboard but why not just carry some of your own?
Sanitary tissues can come in handy whether you’re suffering from a running nose or need to clean the hands after eating. Remember, most buses in different parts of the world have no water on board so tissues may be the only way to clean the hands.
Can you imagine trying to sleep with soggy hands after eating a burger or another snack? Toilet paper can also come in handy when the need to take certain sanitary measures arises. They can be especially critical when traveling through a 3rd world country with limited rest stops.
10. Get Noise Canceling Headphones
Noise-canceling headphones are a bus traveler’s best friend. Regardless of what time of the day the journey takes place, having to deal with unpleasant noises can be a real bummer.
The advantage of these headphones is that they can put anyone in control of how much noise to deal with. From the sound of wailing children to chatting and giggling couples while you’re trying to nod off, there can be plenty of unpleasant sounds to deal with especially during the day.
The situation doesn’t get much better at night when the sounds of snoring passengers can keep you awake.
Noise-canceling headphones are engineered to reduce background noises in any environment. This can make it easier to listen to your favorite music playlists or podcasts without the need to turn up the volume to deafening levels.
When it is time to hit the hay, you can use these headphones to listen to relaxing music or white noises such as the sounds of heavy rainfall, thunder, or recorded oscillating fan noises.
I personally use the Cowin E8 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones from Amazon to doze off in noisy environments. It features amazing technology that drowns out background noises so I can focus on listening to relaxing pleasant sounds for satisfying sleep.
11. Take Sleep Aids
Have you ever slept on a bus in the past? If yes, then you’re probably aware of how difficult falling asleep can be. Often, the change in the environment alone can prevent you from being able to close the eyes.
Also, the lack of a traditional bed and the awkward feeling of sleeping while seated can keep your eyes wide open.
This is why sleep aids may be your best bet to get a night of bliss. The good news is that Benadryl and other brands are available over the counter. If you decide to take sleeping pills, make sure the ingredients do not react with any other medication you may be taking currently.
If you happen to be traveling to a different country, double-check that the particular pill you’re taking is legal. A quick verification with your local embassy ahead should provide all the details concerning which substances may be illegal.
12. Get Travel Pillows
If you’re looking for the slightest bit of comfort when traveling on a bus, packing some travel pillows can be worthwhile. Falling asleep successfully is one thing but there are no guarantees of where your head will end up resting as you cruise through La La Land.
This can lead to severe neck pain in the morning after waking up. Fortunately, travel pillows can offer some respite from that by providing a resting spot for your head.
But what if your carry-on luggage or backpack has no space to accommodate one of these pillows? Well, this is where the inflatable models come in. They can be deflated when packing and inflated on the bus when you’re ready to sleep.
You can re-deflate them in the morning when there is little need for it.
I found the Purefly Inflatable Travel Pillows on Amazon. It provides raised neck support that raises the head upright and maintains proper neck support for utmost comfort when sleeping on a bus or airplane
13. Wear Layers of Clothes
This may be quite obvious but wearing multiple layers of clothing when traveling on an overnight bus can be smart. The reason is that you have no idea how hot or cold the room temperature inside the bus can be until after arrival on board.
The multiple layers of clothes can keep you warm in buses with blasting air conditioners. Sleeping can become much easier when you’re not freezing to death.
On the other hand, there’ll always be a chance of removing some of the clothes if the bus ends up being hot. This should prevent night sweats and other uncomfortable scenarios that can inhibit the ability to get some shuteye.
14. Carry Travel Blankets
Looking forward to an amazing night while traveling on the bus? Why not carry some travel blankets?
These are portable blankets that can be wrapped around the body to keep warm when traveling in colder buses.
Sometimes, the air conditioning on the bus can be too cold for comfort especially at night. The extremely low temperatures can ruin the sleeping experience – well unless you have some blankets on hand.
Even if the room temperature on the bus is mild, many of us are used to sleeping with some sort of blankets wrapped on our bodies. These cozy blankets can provide a sense of security to provide reassurance to the subconscious mind that you’re in safe surroundings.
So get one of those blankets and thank me later.
I love the feeling of the World’s Best Cozy-Soft Microfleece Blanket from Amazon on longs flight or bus rides. It provides warmth and comfort during cold trips and available at an affordable price too.
15. Grab An Eye Mask
If you’re desperate to get some sleep on a bus during the day, an eye mask is an accessory you cannot afford to miss out on. Wearing a mask can trick the brain into believing it is nighttime making it easier to begin dozing off.
We recommend eye masks even for overnight travelers because they can block natural light as well as artificial light from other passengers’ smartphones from your eyes. Wearing a mask can also help you resist the temptation of looking through the windows during the journey
Eye masks come in different colors, shapes, prices, and brands there is complete freedom to choose which type can work for you.
The YIVIEW Sleep Mask from Amazon is the number-one-rated model on the market with now. It comprises soft memory foam to ensure no pressure on the eyes while blocking out natural light. With 5-star reviews from over 5,000 verified buyers, you cannot go wrong!
16. Choose a Good Seat
A bad seat can make sleeping next to impossible regardless of your fatigue or sleepiness levels. The best seats for good sleep should be spacious, reclinable, and provide enough legroom to move around during the trip.
If you have the choice of picking seats, choose one that is situated in the middle area of the bus. Avoid those front seats like a plague since that is usually the location of the bus’s engine meaning you may experience loud vibrations throughout the trip.
The back of the bus is usually where the toilets are located (if any). Thus, the sounds of passengers opening and closing the toilet’s doors may prevent back seat passengers from catching a good night of rest.
Also, since the majority of accidents happen either at the front or back, middle seats are the safest (at least statistically).
17. Ear Plugs
You may not be able to control the amount of noise on the bus but you can at least protect your ears from it. Earplugs are the way to go if noise-canceling headphones are not an option for one reason or the other.
They can reduce the noise from passenger chatter, running engine, and snoring from other passengers. Occasionally, some passengers may get into conflicts leading to shouting matches and other disturbances.
This may wake you up even from the deepest realms of slumber and make it difficult to fall asleep again. Having the right earplugs can make the journey relatively quiet meaning a superior quality of sleep.
18. Don’t Forget Your iPod
One of the best ways to set up the body to sleep is through music. Many of us go through our favorite tracks as a pre-sleep ritual. Taking an iPod or another music player can have tremendous benefits for long-distance bus travelers.
Not only can it allow you to stick to a nightly sleep ritual but it can also make the trip more comfortable especially when the bus is too noisy.
Listening to music can calm the nerves and reduce the levels of cortisol in the brain. This can be beneficial because lower cortisol levels promote quick and satisfying sleep.
In the absence of a music player, you can always rely on your iPhone or Android smartphone for sleep-inducing music.
19. Kindle or Book
Have you noticed that reading at any time of the day can make most people feel sleepy? This is because reading is one of the best ways to relax the mind. Even after a long stressful day, reading something interesting can reduce anxiety levels and help put you to sleep.
The fact that you may be traveling on the bus doesn’t mean your reading needs should be neglected. You can bring your favorite book in a carry-on bag or backpack. A Kindle reader can also be a great option to continue reading your favorite memoirs, fiction, or true-life stories.
You could be nodding off even before the realization dawns on you.
My girlfriend loves reading her favorite ebooks on the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon. It is waterproof, lightweight, and reads like real paper. A single battery charge lasts weeks so no need to go through the hustle of regular charges.
20. Recline Your Seat Respectfully
Whichever way you look at it, sleeping while seated can be tricky even in first-class. However, the ability to recline a bus seat can reduce the awkward sleeping angles and make it easier to catch some Zs.
When reclining, it is important to be respectful to the passenger seated directly behind you especially when he or she isn’t reclining. Avoid reclining your seat too far to the point where it interferes with the passenger’s comfort.
This can be a source of conflict on many long-distance buses so be mindful of that.
If reclining isn’t an option and you’re lucky enough to bag a window seat then you can always lean against the window once sleepiness kicks in.
21. Avoid Coffee or Too Much Food and Water
Drinking coffee on a long bus trip can be counter-productive if you intend to reach Dreamland with little effort. Coffee can suppress the brain’s ability to release sleep hormones resulting in insomnia throughout the night.
Coffee is also a diuretic that can cause dehydration. This means constant feelings of thirst and the resultant need to keep drinking water. Unfortunately, drinking more water means the bladder will fill up quickly.
The result is a frequent need to visit the toilet multiple times to empty the bladder. When you’re desperate to enjoy a restful night, a continuous urge to pee can disrupt your momentum which may result in insomnia.
The situation can get even more critical when traveling at night on a bus with no toilet on board. How will you relieve yourself? How many times will the driver have to stop on the route and how would your fellow passengers feel about the constant interruptions on the road?
If you’re addicted to caffeine, trying to wean yourself off the stimulant about a week to the trip can be rewarding. This can help keep the urges to drink at bay and ensure a more comfortable sleeping experience once you get on board the bus.
Have you seen the article we wrote on How To Sleep After Drinking Excessive Coffee? Click the link to read it.
22. Meditate On The Bus
Are you filled with fear, stress, or anxiety resulting in sleeping troubles? If yes, a quick meditation session can be lifesaving. Meditation is a tried and tested mind relaxation technique that has been practiced for centuries.
If you’re an experienced follower of the practice, putting on noise-canceling headphones with meditative sounds should create a conducive atmosphere for you to focus on more positive energies. Even if you’ve never meditated in the past, there are several Mindful Meditation audio tapes available on YouTube and other streaming websites.
This type of meditation involves a more experienced person taking you through what to imagine and focus on throughout the session. You should feel a lot more relaxed and ready to get some shuteye after listening for about 30 minutes.
The BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose 1/2 Inch Extra Thick Anti-Tear Yoga Mat from Amazon is my go-to mat for doing yoga at home and the office. The 71-inch length and 24-inch width make it comfortable for people of all shapes and sizes. With 5-star reviews from over 21,000 buyers (and counting) on Amazon alone, you cannot afford to miss out on it.
23. Stick To Your Sleep Schedule
Many of us have specific sleep schedules meaning we go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you live such a life, sleeping on the bus should not be an excuse to flout your schedule.
You may be tempted to stay asleep longer than usual since there isn’t much else to do on the bus trip. But that can lead to negative side effects such as disruptions to your Circadian Rhythm and sleeping problems down the line.
Remember, your body may be used to the specific sleep schedule and makes the necessary adjustments to ensure you can follow it daily. Why mess up a good thing when it is not broken yet?
Kudos for reading everything we’ve shared here in this comprehensive guide. You now have the keys to amazing overnight trips on the bus.
As long as you follow the techniques listed above, sleeping more comfortably and safely on the next bus trip should be a given.
Always try to pack the essentials, choose the right seats, and observe common-sense safety measures.
Have a safe trip!