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How to Survive an Overnight Bus Trip

Woman on bus


You’re one hour into the journey and the group in the back is screaming and giggling and tossing back shots of cobra whiskey and trying not to hurl. You look out the window and see that you’re at the cliff’s edge, a monstrous drop that if taken would certainly end in your mangled and bloody death, and the driver is swerving around like he’s either falling asleep or drunk or both. Probably both. The people in front of you are in a heated make-out session with loinal exploration just around the corner. Out of nowhere somebody’s lost child starts crying and snotting and tugging on your sleeve and then the guy behind you pulls out an old opium pipe purchased in the streets, loads it with dried up and probably ineffective weed and asks, “Want a hit?” And of course you do because all you want to do is calm down for two tiny seconds. So you say “Finally!” and take a long inhale. But when you look back to the front and exhale you see the bus slowing to a stop for a military checkpoint and you remember that conversation you had with that one guy you met at that one back alley bar who said that “illegal substances carry a minimum five-year jail sentence in this country, and jails in this country are the type where your most nutrient-dense meal will be rats and maggots and whatever else you can find lodged into the metal grates that form your cell floor.” Then all of sudden your dope-smoking friend slips something that’s wrapped up and unidentifiable into your backpack just as five muscled dudes in military garb wielding AK47s board the bus and start walking and barking in your direction because you, you fool, wreak of the Mary Jane.

Obviously, this is all fiction and couldn’t possibly happen to anyone. Or could it? Not to scare the shit out of you if you’re currently planning an adventurous journey on foreign soil, but the scenario above most certainly could occur. Luckily, you can avoid the whole mess by adhering to the following simple suggestions.

  • The partyers: While it may be tempting, the bus is not the place to join a party. Drinking copious amounts of booze has many effects, one of which is the urge to either urinate or vomit, and it’s terrible when you discover that the bus you’ll be on for 12 hours doesn’t have a toilet. Buy earplugs; make sure you use the bathroom before boarding and just fall asleep. You’ll avoid pissing everyone off, having a mid-journey hangover and throwing up all over your lap.
  • The bus driver: Depending on your personal belief system, it’s time to either hope or pray, and that’s about all you can do here.
  • The lovers: You’ll need earplugs (again) and an open heart. Let them do their thing. If it’s love, it’s love. If it ain’t, it’s fun. Why ruin someone’s fun?
  • The kid: It’s gotta be somebody’s kid. Hold him up and yell, “Whose child is this?!?” and hopefully by making a scene their parents will be shamed into paying more attention to them for the rest of the trip.
  • The bastard who hides his stash in your pack: Luckily this is where PacSafe has you covered, pick up an anti-theft bag protector for only $95 and rest easy that you won’t be victim to someone using you as a drug mule. $95 is nothing if it saves you from a foreign prison. Amirite?
  • The military guys with AKs: Rest easy. They’re not after you so long as you haven’t been fooled into “hanging onto something” for somebody. Smile and comply and you’re golden.

In the end, some earplugs – perhaps some sleeping pills – and an effective cover for your possessions will allow you to sleep through all this chaos, enabling you to then feel fresh and ready to create your own upon arrival at your intended destination.

By Bryan Schatz


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