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Bus Trip Comfort

by Laura Kimberly

You hear lots about the bus trip hikes and destinations, but what about the bus part?

Bus seating is configured in booths for the waking hours that turn into bunks for the sleeping hours. The waking hours can be as much as one-third to one-half of the trip depending on the travel distance. Whether sitting or sleeping, how can you make yourself most comfortable? Here are a few tips from trip pros.

Stay hydrated before you hit the trail.

On the trip out, bottled water is provided. The ice chest is open if you want a different kind of beverage. Write your name on your container (no glass) so that others do not assume it’s a freebie. In spite of the limited facilities, drink up. Don’t hit the trail behind on hydration. Cold water, soft drinks, and beer are provided on the way back.

But not too hydrated.

Think about how much liquid you are taking in and time consumption for rest stops. The bus’ limited facility is one chemical toilet. Use it while the bus is moving. Use the facilities in the restaurants and gas stations when the bus is stopped. The leader can tell you if the bus will be stopped long enough for passengers to take a potty break. If the bus is on a tight schedule, the on-board toilet is all you have. Be respectful of those who are bunking near the loo.

Be prepared for the weather—on board and at the trailhead.

The AC is needed to keep the air from becoming stagnant on board; it will be cold. Carry on a blanket and a jacket. At departure, the Dallas temperature may top 90 degrees, but the temperature at the trailhead or an interim rest stop can be 40 or 50 degrees cooler. The jacket will be handy for the journey and destination.

Cover your ears and eyes.

Block the sounds of snoring with ear plugs. Block the beams of passing traffic and street lights with an eye mask. According to bus trip veterans, these are the most important carry-on items for better sleep.

Bring appropriate sleeping accoutrements.

In addition to the blanket or sleeping bag, bring a small pillow or create one from a stuff sack and jacket. Most people sleep in their clothes—loose fitting is more comfortable. Shoes that easily slip on and off make for fast exits and a better place in the line for food or the restroom. Optionally, bring a sheet to cover the bunk and rest assured that your face naps on a clean surface.

Eat well; bring money—or food.

Look in the trip write up for information on food stops. On the way, the stops are usually late—after 8:00 p.m.—and at a fast food joint. For an earlier bite and healthier fare, bring your own snacks or dinner. On the return trip, dinner may be at a buffet or restaurant. Bring enough money to cover your meals.

But not too much.

You can leave belongings on the bus, but leaving valuables or money is not advised. Take change out of your pockets before bunking. Coins tend to fall out as you toss and turn.

Entertain yourself.

Movies used to be the staple of bus trip entertainment, but since the DVD format has overtaken VHS, the bus company has not kept up with technology. Many bus-trip veterans consider this no great loss. Bring your own pass times. Books, cards, games, and conversation are the favorites.

Attend to hygiene

Bring dental care items for a quick brush after dinner. Other items to consider: a washcloth and small towel, soap, deodorant, and clean clothes. Maybe you wear your hiking clothes on the way out, but your neighbor—and you—will appreciate fresh attire for the return. Or wear the same set of comfortable bus riding clothes both out and back; they should stay fresh enough.

Take your medications.

The most frequently packed over the counter medications include aspirin or ibuprofen, antacids, motion sickness medicine, allergy relief, and lip balm. If you take prescription medications, bring them on the bus.

Keep stuff handy.

Don’t pack any of the items you will want or need in your backpack, which will ride under the bus.

Be a true Sierran.

If blue bags are provided, please recycle your cans and plastic bottles. Don’t put trash in the recycle bag.

Have fun.

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