Everything You Need to Enjoy a Long Bus Ride

Call me crazy, but I love long car rides. Having to sit in a seat for a few hours has always been something I enjoyed, probably because growing up my mom and dad would make the eight hour drive once a year to take me to Disneyland. When you eight years old and on a journey to go meet Mickey Mouse, suddenly sitting for an extended period of time doesn't seem so bad.

After doing some traveling in my twenties though I've realized that not everyone gets the same joy out of numb legs and depleting phone batteries.

This past weekend I traveled to Philadelphia, which is about three hours away from Washington DC by bus. Knowing that I was going to catch a 6am bus meant maybe my childhood nostalgia wouldn't work its usual magic, which is when I started prepping a bag full of stuff to make the trip a little more enjoyable. If you're about to head out on a long trip, whether it be by bus, train or car, read on to see the things you should pack to make the journey as seamless and enjoyable as possible.

Things to do the night before your trip

Reserve a seat if possible

Some bus companies now offer the option to reserve your seat on the bus, which takes away the stress of having to arrive early to nab a good seat. For long journeys where you want a guaranteed window seat or access to an outlet, spend the extra few dollars and book a space that's guaranteed to be yours.

Charge all your electronics

Even though multiple bus companies now offer outlets on board, there have been a few occasions when those outlets were not accessible from my seat. Spare yourself a long ride without a phone by charging all your electronics ahead of time! Laptops can be used to charge other devices with USB powered cords, so don't forget this item as well!

Buy some snacks and beverages

With bus terminal prices now reaching Disneyland levels, save yourself some money by grabbing your snacks and breakfast outside the station. Plus, you'll probably get hungry at some point during the trip, so be nice to yourself and pick up some food you can take on board with you.

Limit your liquid intake

I don't know about you guys, but there will just always be something weird about using the restroom in a moving vehicle. Plus, these restrooms always feel so cramped and awkward. If you can, limit how much you drink a few hours before your trip. Doing so will prevent you from having to use the restrooms on the bus and leaving your items unattended at your seat.

Download something to watch/listen to

A ton of buses now offer wifi on board, there's just one problem, streaming videos on it is so slow! Spend a little time downloading some things you might wanna watch ahead of time to save you the frustration of a buffering video later.

What to bring with you

Portable phone charger

Even though multiple buses now make the claim to have outlets on board, that doesn't mean your guaranteed access to one. Plan for the unexpected by bringing a fully charged power bank with you.

All your charging cables

My own paranoia that my luggage will be lost means I always keep two things with me when I travel, my hair tools and my charging cables. They don't take up much space and they make watching whatever you downloaded so much less stressful if you don't have to worry about a depleting laptop battery.

Extra layer to keep warm

There must be some secret oath bus drivers take that forces them to keep the temperature ten degrees below what's comfortable. Bringing with you a knit cardigan will not only keep you warm, it also turns into a great pillow once your tired enough to be able to sleep past all the stuff going on around you.

Headphones, unless you wanna be THAT person

Don't be that person. During my last trip there was a man who was mapping us all the way back to DC, as in turn by turn directions! Never mind that he was not the driver and we were on a double decker bus, we all had to hear which exit to take all the way through our route because he clearly has no friends to tell him doing that is absurd.

Extra tips for a seamless trip

Arrive early to avoid delays

If you're new to bus travel, you might not yet be aware of how early certain bus lines board and what their late policies are. On one specific trip my seat was given away purely because I did not check in 30 minutes ahead of time, never mind that I was already at the station waiting to board. Arrive early to avoid situations like this and be sure to read the fine print on your ticket.

Take advantage of the baggage allowances

By some miracle buses still allow riders one free bag to check, which means you don't need to stress about fitting everything you need into a duffle bag or paying ridiculous baggage fees. Bring what you need without the stress of having to pay for it all, just remember to keep your biggest necessities on board with you.

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