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Top Tips For Overnight Bus Travel

Anyone who has studied abroad knows that it’s a great opportunity to travel. But sometimes planes and trains can be too expensive for a student budget. Don’t worry though, there’s another option: the overnight bus (yes you read that right; overnight as in 10pm to 7am)! Buses can sometimes have a bad rap, but they tend to be a cheaper alternative to other forms of travel. And, with the right know-how, the overnight bus can be a great way to fulfill your globetrotting needs.

While they aren’t always the most glamorous form of travel (although let’s be honest, even Beyoncé has a tour bus), the money you save from taking an overnight bus can be used to buy some bomb souvenirs, some delicious local food, or a ticket to that amazing attraction people have told you that you must see while you’re there.

So, while sitting on a bus for 8+ hours might seem like the most horrible way imaginable to get from point A to point B, fear not! I’m here as your overnight bus guru, full of tips and tricks for making your bus experience amazing (or at least tolerable).  Let’s get started!

overnight bus travel friends

First things first, you’re going to need supplies. Having the right arsenal with you on the bus can make your experience a thousand times better (no exaggeration). Here’s what I recommend as a few “must have” products:

  1. Phone charger. Some buses have outlets, while others you might have to bring your own power bank, so look it up before you go!
  2. Mobile phone. You want to make sure that you can be in contact with people, just in case something does go wrong (and also to play games obviously).
  3. Or earplugs if you can’t sleep with music playing.
  4. Face wipes. Essential for when you get off the bus in the morning and want to feel instantly refreshed and ready for a day.
  5. Neck pillow. Seriously, I tried this without one once and my neck and back never forgave me
  6. Snacks, snacks, snacks (or just one snack). Hopefully you’ll be sleeping most of the time, but you don’t want to get stuck at 3am with a case of the munchies and no food in sight.
  7. Sweatshirt (or a jacket). Something that you can also use as a blanket in case the bus is cold, but is easy enough to store away if you get hot.

There are also things you can do to make your bus trip as comfy as possible. If you take enough buses you’ll find what works best for you, but here are some things I’ve found helpful in the past:

  1. Book tickets as far in advance as possible (that’s when they’ll be cheapest). I’ve found tickets from Edinburgh to London for £4 before. Also make sure you have the tickets either printed out or saved to your phone ready to go when it’s time for boarding.
  2. Make sure any luggage you are putting under the bus is clearly labelled with your name and contact information. This will greatly reduce the chance of someone taking your luggage by mistake and help you quickly locate it when you reach your destination. I usually try to pack in a small enough bag that I can tuck it under my seat rather than put it under the bus, but for a longer trip this may not be an option.
  3. Take advantage of rest stops. Get out, stretch your legs, walk around and go to the bathroom. Your body will thank you in the morning if you’ve taken the time to stretch out at least once during the journey.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing and take off your shoes if possible. I’ve seen people in jeans and wedges on overnight buses, but I find that a pair of leggings and sneakers are usually the best for traveling. However, pack a change of clothes in the top of your bag to change into once you get off the bus.
  5. Make sure to do some good research into whatever company you buy tickets through to see what amenities they provide and what you may need to bring to compensate. If you’re in the UK I recommend looking to book tickets through National Express. Compared to other bus lines, I’ve found them to be the most comfortable in terms of seating. They also have WiFi available on some buses as well as power outlets and USBs for charging electronic devices on a long journey.

So there you go! Easy-peasy. Now you should all be running off to book your overnight bus tickets because you’ve got places to see and you know how to get there (for cheap)!

Happy adventuring!

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Hannah

Hannah is a senior at Wheaton college in Massachusetts. She just returned from spending a semester studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland (which she loved every minute of!). At school she is studying biology and is also a member of the field hockey team. Out side of school Hannah loves photography, baking, telling horrible jokes, and petting other people's dogs.


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