Not all bus rides are going to be like the Magic School Bus. Or the Knight Bus. Or any other cool bus rides in literary history. Most are going to be pretty boring. So while spending time on a bus can be the best if you’re with a friend or two travelling through new cities and countries for the first time, it can also be the worst. Especially if you’re on a public bus for ten hours with on-board karaoke, hoards of tone deaf passengers and nothing to do.
I have endured both ends of the spectrum as well as the mundane middle ground so I feel weathered enough to hand over some travel trips for not going berserk while stuck on a bus.
If you are one of the blessed few that that has been gifted with the ability to read on a moving bus without the danger of spewing all over the person next to you, then reading is the most obvious way to keep yourself busy for a few hours. E-books, real books, magazines, newspapers, Tumblr posts about theories on who Uber A actually is on Pretty Little Liars; any thing with words that will occupy your mind. Preferably no stories about horrific bus crashes.
2. Listen to Music
Pop some earphones in (earbuds if you’re from the United States) or headphones on; chuck a playlist on shuffle and the hours will fly by. Tip: make a travel playlist before you leave so you don’t waste your time pressing next and hoping those perfect long journey songs come on while solidly refusing to go into your music list and just click on them.
Eating makes me happy and less likely to death stare every person who does something (aka anything from yawning to breathing loudly) to displease me while we are in close proximity. So hopefully some snacking will help you too. Just please forgo the tuna or smelly cheese rolls if possible. The bus is full enough of stale breath and stranger farts without others contributing their food stank.
If you can ignore the sounds of the bus and the other passengers, sleep is always a winner. Those eye/sleeping masks are a solid investment even if you do look like a bit of a wanker. Some even come with headphones built in so you can fall asleep to some music or an audio book. I got my panda themed sleep mask from Typo.
5. Play phone/tablet or IRL games
Playing 2dots on my cell phone was my favourite way to procrastinate at university. Because I can’t read on the bus without feeling ill, it was also one of my best ways to get through hours of travelling through Europe earlier this year. So phone and tablet games are a great way to waste time. Just make sure you have enough battery left for when you get to your destination. Having no clue on how to get to your hostel then opening Google Maps just to have your phone screen go black is not a great time.
You could also kick it old school with a pack of cards. However Monopoly and moving buses do not mix well.
6. Create a personalised driving tour
This sounds super cheesy but I feel like it could be a fun one if you put in the effort! Look up your travelling route before hand and see if you can find any points of interest. Once you have a few, make a list and check them off along the way to keep yourself occupied and interested during your journey.
7. Have a staring competition with a stranger
See how long it takes for them to: a). play along, b). move seats out of discomfort, c). ask what your problem is, or d). punch you in the face for being a weirdo. Lovely stuff.
8. Play a neat little game of how-close-can-you-get-to-your-mate’s-face-before-they-notice-you
This one is my favourite. The best part is the look of minor horror that flashes across their eyes when they realise you’re right there next to them.
9. Play a lonely game of I-spy
Fun when you give yourself really hard ones to guess. Not fun when you realise you are playing with yourself. Saddo.
10. Replay important moments from your life in your head
With some music playing in the background, busses and cars are the best modes of transport for pretending you’re in a really sad music video. Up the ante by reliving important moments from your life and make it super emotional.
I think some goodies to replay are my first love, first kiss, or first heartbreak. How about that time I accidentally farted in front of the person I liked and had to blame it on the dog. Or that time I got in a drunk fight with a friend’s (now ex) boyfriend and he looked at my freckles and asked if I suntanned with a sieve (brilliant). Or that time I was watching a film at a busy cinema, dropped my cup of Coca Cola and in my despair, instead of pointing out that I had dropped my coke, I exclaimed “Oh I dropped my cock!” for all to hear.
This one comes with the added time-taking activity or reconsidering every questionable decision I’ve ever made in my life. It keeps me busy for hours. You’re welcome.