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Let's be honest - no-one particularly enjoys a long distance bus ride. It can be crowded, too hot, and most all, incredibly boring.
Though despite being confined to one seat for hours at a time, there are definitely ways to distract yourself so that the time flies, and it feels like you reach your destination quickly.
Dreading an upcoming long distance journey? These activities will keep you entertained throughout the long-distance bus ride.
Write or Draw
A bus ride can offer you the chance to hone your creative skills, because you're not going anywhere for a while and have hours of free downtime.
Most buses won't necessarily have a tray table that swings down for you to work from, so if you do plan to get some writing or drawing done, keep in mind that you may be balancing your laptop / notepad on your lap.
You can actually buy portable smart trays nowadays though that clip onto the back of bus seats and give you something sturdy to work on. Or, you can buy a lap tray in advance of your trip.
Drawing gets a bit trickier if you're traveling in third world nations which don't have smooth roads, so if that's the case it's perhaps best to focus on something else (unless you're going for something abstract!). Who knows, you could create a masterpiece, aided by the help of bouncing potholes!
Listen to Music
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Listening to music is a tried and tested way to stay entertained. And a long bus ride can provide the perfect opportunity to discover a new album, or listen to one from start to finish.
The uninterrupted listening that a bus ride provides can be quite therapeutic, and if chosen selectively, provides a soundtrack to the passing scenery as you look out the window.
Depending on the length of your bus ride, portable batteries are again a good idea, or at least making sure your devices are fully charged before you travel. And actually putting thought into creating a playlist before taking off can often come in handy too. That way you're not stuck with the same 3 songs on repeat for 10 hours straight!
As with mobile games, make sure you keep your volume low, so it doesn't distract other passengers.
Get Lost in a Book
Books are like portals to other worlds. And the nice thing about this is that the require no batteries!
The best thing about reading is that once you are immersed, time passes by very quickly. This can make a long bus ride seem a lot shorter.
If you're one of those people who gets motion sickness from reading on a bus, you can look at options for downloading audio books before you travel. This can be a great way to stay entertained if you enjoy novels but can't read while you're moving.
Also, keep in mind when choosing your book that you'll be surrounded by other people in close proximity; so if you're reading something like 50 Shades of Grey, you better have enough self confidence that you don't mind if other people know!
Catch Up On Movies & TV
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If you don't' feel like reading, catching up on your favorite TV show, or finally sitting down to that movie you missed is a great way to pass the time.
While you can download in advance and pull out your laptop, there are also many applications now that allow you to watch TV on your phone. You can download free apps like Rewinder that are stocked with classic, public domain movies. Or Popcornflix for free movies and TV.
Of course, if your bus doesn't have Wi-Fi you'll be chewing up your mobile data if you go the route of streaming. And if you're traveling in another country this may not be cost effective. So that's always something to consider.
Many long-distance buses though do now offer complimentary wifi. On top of TV & Movies, this can also be a fantastic opportunity to spend your downtime catching up on your social media feeds.
Phone a Friend
The old fashioned phone call may be going out of style lately, but it can be a great way to catch up and keep yourself entertained. And you'll make them feel special that someone cared enough about them just to call and say hi!
If you're traveling within your home country, this can be a relatively cheap way to pass the time. If you're traveling overseas however, using international roaming can quickly become expensive.
If you have a cellphone that supports a GSM SIM card however, you can purchase a new SIM card from a local cellphone provider when you reach your destination. Before you leave home, have your cellphone unlocked so that you can use it with international SIM cards.
Otherwise, if your bus has Wi-Fi available there are a variety of free calling apps like Skype, FaceTime, and even Facebook that will allow you to call any-one you like. Just talk softly so you're not disturbing other passengers.
Sleep It Off
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If all else fails and you really can’t face the stress of sitting through a long haul bus, ask your doctor for a mild sedative you can take while you travel.
If you’re traveling alone, make sure you don’t take anything too strong, as you will need to be awake and aware when you arrive. And you don't want to leave yourself in a vulnerable position being alone in public and not able to wake up.
Anti-anxiety medications can also be good for inducing drowsiness and helping you relax, so research herbal remedies or medications you can try.
Having earplugs and eye masks with you are essential for falling asleep, and you should avoid drinking alcohol and coffee before or during the trip.
You might find these beverages comforting, but they are more likely disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Passing out after having bottles of beer on the bus doesn’t mean you will have a comfortable sleep. It will also make you more dehydrated.