When we were in South America a couple of years ago, we endured many many many hours on the bus – mostly overnight – as it was the most affordable way to travel around the continent. At times, the only way to get around.
Also, travelling anywhere from Australia – being so isolated and all – means that it would take us just a little bit longer to get to the other side of the world.
I see long haul travel as a fantastic experience because I usually consider these as my down time. Yes, it can get very stressful (clock watching being number one, snoring passengers the next) but having something to do on these long haul travel means you probably won’t notice the time so much.
So here’s a list of things you can do to pass time and survive a long bus, plane or train ride:
- Read – books, magazines, eBooks, travel guides
- Listen to music
- Listen to audiobooks
- Play boardgames – I’ve seen other travellers bring mini chess sets that they fit in their backpack pocket.
- Grab a pen and paper and use these to play all kinds of games such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman, Sudoku, Scategories and many more.
- Play word association games
- Catch up on movies or tv shows. Some planes and bus routes have onboard entertainment. But if you’ve packed your portable gadgets (phones, tablets, etc), upload some of your favourite shows.
- Learn some local phrases to get you through to the next day
- Look out the window and pay attention to signage, symbols, road signs, street names, etc – this will help you with #8
- Engage in a conversation with a stranger
- On our bus trips around South America, there is usually the bus driver and a couple of assistants. They are more than happy chat and provide local knowledge.
- If travelling with a partner/friend/family, plan your next adventure or talk about the first topic that comes to mind
- Write or blog
- Go through your photos and delete ones you don’t need or have duplicates of
- Edit your photos (if you have a laptop/notebook)
- Draw or sketch
- Research places to visit on your next destination
- Research food to try on your next destination
- Catch up on the news – what’s happening back home?
- Run an inventory of your back/day packs – have you run out of any hygiene product? Are there any essentials you forgot to pack?
- Catch up on sleep
- Always pack a deck of playing cards – trust me!
- Write a snail mail or postcard
- Take photos. Yes, you may end up taking blurry photos but you may find a diamond among the rough. Also, see #14.
- If you haven’t already done so, learn the different functions of your camera. You’d be amazed how applying different settings to your usual point-and-shoot method enhances your photos. (see also Why These Compact Cameras Are Great For Point & Shoot Travel Photography)
- Sightseeing – look out the window
- Walk around if you can to encourage blood circulation. Prevent deep vein thrombosis particularly on long haul flights.
- Eat and hydrate. When you’re always on the go, sometimes you may not have time to eat properly. This is the time to have some nutritious meals. Also, if you know you’ll be on a bus/plane/train for a long time, make sure you pack some snacks.
- Catch up on your social media. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re global roaming due to data usage costs. However, some modes of transportation have WiFi.
- Learn a song. Without fail, I’ve always associated a song with all of our trips as a way to remember our travel. Lovumba was in my head the entire time we were in Brazil.
- If nothing else, learn to relax and clear your mind
What do you do to pass time on long haul travel?