By Sarah Florer
So in an effort to complete all twenty tasks of my Barcelona list, so far I have completed about one and a half – and those don’t necessarily even count. Why? I’ve walked through the Gothic quarter (anciently beautiful, by the way) about every day since I’ve got here, and even though I haven’t swam in the Mediterranean yet, I’ve been to the beach just about every day as well. Both have been accomplished without my camera in hand, so basically I just don’t count either. But I will complete my list! I’m making an effort this week to knock at least two off, so hopefully you won’t be reading the same lame excuses next week as well.
What I did do last week was spend four days in Madrid! I was so excited to head to one of the three largest cities in Europe. The last time I was there was only for one night and I basically just saw the metro route going from the airport to the hostel to the train station. It was an awesome couple of days, getting to see a lot of the city, meeting lots of great people and indulging in tapas, paella, and lots of churros and chocolate 🙂 The way I got to this amazing city was by an eight hour bus, the way a lot of traveling takes place while in Europe. Traveling by bus may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge it can be a great way to get to your destination! So I’ve come up with a survival guide to traveling by bus:
Wear comfortable clothes. This may be my most important tip for traveling by a bus, or really traveling in general. I will never understand the people who can travel in jeans, tight tops and heels- kudos to them but I couldn’t do it. Wearing comfortable clothes makes the long rides easier to sleep and relax. And don’t forget sweatshirts, sometimes the bus can be unnaturally cold, so bringing along a sweatshirt or jacket can be a lifesaver!
Bring entertainment. I don’t know how I would get through 8-12 hours on a bus without some form of entertainment. Always remember to charge your electronics the night before so you can have everything ready to go. Some buses even have WIFI now! So remember to research the kind of bus you’re taking and find out about the WIFI situation so you can bring your computer. If you’re taking a tour bus, like with Bus2Alps, they will most likely be playing a movie which is a great way to pass the time. But if you’re taking a European bus company, the movies will probably not be in English, so be prepared. Ipods, computers, cards, books, and even homework are great forms of entertainment to bring with you!
Pillow. I’m sure everyone has tried sleeping on either a bus, car, or airplane and it just doesn’t work out. Pillows are your best friend! If you can pack them easily, then by all means, bring them with you! Having a pillow to rest your head on rather than the cold, vibrating bus window is the difference between a restful nap and no sleep at all.
Bring your own snacks. Every bus will stop at some kind of rest stop where there will be a ridiculous amount of snacks, sandwiches, candy and chocolate that will look incredibly amazing 10 hours into a bus ride. Don’t fall for it! Bring your own snacks with you and you won’t end up paying an unnecessary amount of money to buy Pringles and a water.
Rest stops. Keeping on the rest stop theme, always get off when they pull up to the rest stop. Take advantage of the time to walk around and keep your blood flowing. Also, there might be bathrooms on the bus, but the risk of no toilet paper and being knocked around while the bus is moving is just too high. Go to the bathroom at the rest stop and avoid that completely. This being said, always remember to get back to the bus on time!
Know your stop. If you’re taking a European bus company, you should research when your stop is. The bus driver will most likely not speak English and you’ll find yourself wondering where in the world you are. Make sure you know ahead of time how many stops till yours, and you’ll be fine!
And those are my tricks of the trade for surviving bus travel. Honestly, I love taking the bus. Avoiding the airports and dealing with checked baggage/weight issues is a wonderful thing. You’ll find that when traveling in Europe, taking a bus is the best way to go sometimes! Don’t be wary, remember these facts and enjoy the ride!