Any traveller wanting to explore Asia or other destinations around the world may at some point consider a night bus or train. These offer the convenience of being able to sleep on the transport overnight and then wake up at your destination. They are especially good for travelling significant distances such as those that take eight or more hours. When taking these forms of transport there are various ways to make your journey a lot more comfortable and also problem free. Here are 16 tips for travelling on night buses and trains in Asia.
Night buses and trains can be dreadfully noisy and if you are a light sleeper you may find it hard to switch off. To try and make it easier for you to sleep take good quality earplugs to try and drown out the noise.
2. Neck pillow
If you’ve not reserved a flatbed for your journey and are likely to be sitting then take a neck pillow with you. Good quality memory foam ones are generally best and should provide plenty of support.
3. Pillowcase or sleeping bag
When travelling overnight you may get bedding provided but it can sometimes be hit and miss as to how clean it is. For that reason take with you a small and portable sleeping bag liner.
4. Keep bags and valuables close
Ensure your bag and other possessions remain close to you and are not easily accessible to others while you’re asleep. On some night trains, you may be able to book a smaller and more private cabin that you can lock (such as the photo above). Other options for more open plan travelling is to have your bag at the end of your bed with you (top bunk), or under the bed (bottom bunk).
You should also ensure that very important items, such as money, bank cards, phones etc remain on your body, such as in a money belt, zip pockets, or in a small bag under the sheets near your upper body.
5. Set a timer
It’s a good idea to set a timer to wake you up before you get to your destination. This is especially important if you are travelling on a bus or train and your stop isn’t the final destination. The last thing you want to happen is to wake up and you’re hours past where you intended to go.
Being on a long bus, needing the toilet, but the loo not working is a horrible experience and one you definitely want to avoid. To pre-empt this, before getting on a night bus try and limit your water intake and also go to the loo/washroom before you even get on. Once on the bus then limit how much you drink until you are sure the bus has a working toilet. Trains are normally ok for having toilets (although they may not be clean or pretty), but it’s still worth checking they’re usable.
It’s worth taking nibbles with you when travelling on night buses and trains. Although you may be sleeping for most of the journey, once you wake up it may still be a while before you arrive and it’ll make you a lot more comfortable if you have something to eat.
Take water with you to stay hydrated during long journeys. You can also use this water to brush your teeth in the toilets. Remember to be careful on how much you drink until you know there are working toilets (more above on this).
9. Hand sanitizers
Whenever you travel it’s a good idea to have hand sanitiser with you. This helps you have clean hands after going to the loo, before you eat food, and also in case you touch your face with your hands.
10. Portable power pack
Take a portable power pack with you when travelling to keep your devices charged. This is more important if you have your travel tickets and an itinerary on it, or you want to use your phone for entertainment.
11. Cards and Games
If you’re travelling with someone else then taking a pack of playing cards or portable games can keep you busy and entertained during part of your journey before or after you’ve slept. As well as normal playing cards there are other options such as Top Trumps, portable chess and other similar games.
If you are on an extremely long bus or train journey then consider taking entertainment such as Netflix. There are heaps of awesome travels shows on Netflix that can be downloaded and are perfect for inspiration. Or consider a movie or different show to keep you entertained.
13. Take a book or kindle
Another way to stay entertained or help make yourself fall asleep is to take a book or Amazon Kindle. If using a Kindle you should download some books before your journey ready in case you don’t have internet.
14. Toilet roll
Taking toilet roll is a must when travelling on night buses and trains. You never know if there will be any in the toilets and even if there is it might be nicer to have your own with you.
15. Wet wipes
Wet wipes are a good way to freshen up when travelling and are perfect for night buses and trains in South East Asia. You can use these on your face, hands, neck and other parts of your body.
Sometimes trains and buses can get cold. Even in South East Asia and tropical countries when the sun’s gone down. Although they are sometimes provided take a travel blanket in case this happens.