Though overland travel seems dreadful to most, I actually do enjoy them. Given the right comfort of course, I love long bus rides. It can be very tiring, but there are times that I can also find relaxation in the middle of it. I haven’t done a full day of traveling because I like to split my travel time between cities, so the most I’ve done is at 12 hours. But even a journey of 4 hours could be just as dire depending on the circumstances.
There are many pros to traveling overland though, whether it be by bus or train, which makes it pretty hard to resist sometimes. Besides getting treated to wonderful sites of stunning landscapes, overland travel is way cheaper compared to flying, the downside being the time you spend. But if you plan it wisely enough, you could actually be saving more time than you think. Read on to find out how to make the most of your overland journey.
1.) MUSIC IS NON-NEGOTIABLE. A good playlist is necessary for me to enjoy the trip. Just like a long plane ride, music can actually save you from sublime boredom and nothingness. I like to have a playlist prepared so when I find myself dozing off, I don’t get waken up and jump up from an aggressive trap mix. Yes, there are times I get over my own music after listening to it for a continuous 6 hours, but it’s a lot better than listening to the drivers’ preference of songs. Especially if you’re traveling through Asia, chances are, you’ll be stuck listening to very cheesy Asian pop music. Sometimes, they’d play popular english 80’s-90’s songs…but in a very obnoxious (and bad) techno-ish mix.
2.) SPLIT YOUR TRAVEL TIME. If you are blessed with the luxury of time, consider splitting your trip into more than one. I know I did say I love long overland journey, but 36 hours of overland travel sounds dreadful AF. If I know it will take that long, I like to read up on the cities or towns that could serve as my halfway point. Not only will I be able to explore a little, but I get to sleep in a bed too. It may cost you more money, but sometimes, a good rest is necessary.
3.) HAVE A SMALL BLANKET IN YOUR CARRY ON. I’m not gonna bore you with the basic rules of dressing comfortably and having your sweater ready because I’m sure your common sense already alerted you on that. A small blanket will actually go a long way because it could get really cold in the bus or the train. A sarong may be thing but it’s easy to carry around, and it does help, given of course that you have a sweater on or at least a long sleeved shirt. It also serves a pretty useful purpose when riding an overnight train bunk. You don’t really want to trust that pillow case enough to have your face rub on it as you sleep, do you?
4.) A LITTLE ANTI-VERTIGO CAN GO A LONG WAY. Have some anti-dizzying pills ready just in case the roads get a little rough especially if you’re heading towards a mountainous area. Regardless of how on point your equilibrium is, it’s best to be prepared because you never know what kind of driver you’d be stuck with. When I’m expecting a rough ride, I usually take it in advance as a preventive measure. But I always make sure I have one in my carry on to avoid any mishaps.
5.) TIMING IS GOLD. It’s something many travelers tend to overlook so I want to include this here. I love overnight trips especially because it’s like a free accommodation for one night as well. But sometimes you have to ask yourself if you’re really going to benefit from this. Do consider the time you’re going to reach your destination. You may be saving a few bucks, but getting dropped off in the dark a few hours before dawn with no establishments open might be a little inconvenient. It only happened to me once, but it was at a pretty safe area so I handled it pretty smoothly. Remember that your safety should always come first, not your budget.
6.) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE STOPS. Trust me, go ahead and pee even if you don’t think you need to. Sometimes, an advertised 4 hour trip is actually 6. I don’t know if it’s just an Asian way of communicating, but somehow, they don’t really meet the promised time. “We’ll be there soon or “we’re near” could mean the very opposite and “we’ll be there in 30 minutes” could very much be equivalent to another 2 hours. So get out, go pee, and grab some snacks and water because you just don’t know.
7.) STAY AWAKE DURING THE DAY. First, because you really need to be wary of your belongings. If there are people getting in and out of the bus, it’s smart to keep your eye on your stuff. I understand that sometimes, you must prioritize rest for later’s activities, so if staying awake is difficult, then just be extra cautious. Secondly, the reason why I urge you to avoid falling asleep is because you might be missing out on some really good sceneries. I like to think that just by looking out the window, we get a glimpse of the locals’ lifestyle and it’s a great little way of learning while inside a moving vehicle. That said, opt for a window seat if you can.
8.) MAKE A FRIEND. Long bus rides will get you weary no matter how much you enjoy it. If you’re traveling alone, it could get quite lonesome. Strike up a small conversation with your seat mate. You never know what you might just learn. It’s also the people we meet along the way that makes our journey even more memorable, right? Share a story and listen to theirs. You’ve got a long way to go. If they start to get annoying, that’s what your earphones are for.
How do you feel about long overland journey? Do you have any weird encounters and stories? Let’s chat! And please follow me on Facebook for more updates. Click here!