Tips for Surviving Overnight Travel

by Gina Corsiglia

Sep 30, 2014

© Mimagephotography | Dreamstime


When the only way to travel between point A and point B is a 13-hour bus ride, traveling overnight can be appealing. Why lose a whole day to travel when you can get there while you sleep? It should be a win-win. However, come bedtime, travelers unprepared for the journey will be cursing themselves for making such a foolish decision.


But night travel doesn’t have to suck. Below are nine tips for having a decent overnight trip.


Earplugs and eye mask

Make sure to keep these two important items easily accessible. Earplugs are especially crucial. Other travelers may snore or chit-chat through the night. Or the bus driver may decide to play movies and music videos throughout the entire journey. Block out these stimuli to ensure sound sleeping.


Water and snacks

These journeys are long, and in that amount of time you will definitely get hungry and thirsty at some point. Drinking plenty of water also combats dehydration, which can leave you feeling cranky and fatigued. Do stay away from overly salty snacks as they can lead to bloating and further dehydration.


Wear layers

Extra layers can be worn as blankets, or stuffed into a ball for a makeshift pillow. A big winter scarf or pashmina makes an excellent travel blanket and pillow.


Have a good book, movie, TV show on the ready for the inevitable insomnia

Some trips will be better than others. For those off nights when getting any shut-eye seems impossible, you don’t want to be stuck counting the minutes as they slowly pass. Prepare your iPad, laptop, Kindle or whatever with some entertainment in case you should need to pass the time in some way other than sleeping.


Slip-on shoes are your friend

Another way to increase comfort: take off your shoes. It provides instant relief and may help you sleep easier.


Chewing gum and baby wipes

Water from the bathrooms on trains is usually not potable. And many restrooms in European bus and train stations require a fee before entering. So, sometimes it may not be possible to brush your teeth or wash your face the next morning, which is kind of gross. Chewing gum is a temporary fix, but at least you can get rid of last night’s breath. And baby wipes are especially useful after a long night of traveling when you just need some freshening up.


Set an alarm

Figuring out when to get off the train or bus can be challenging even during the day. Fortunately, your bus or train ticket should indicate how long the journey is expected to take. Set a quiet alarm for a few minutes before the estimated arrival, that way you will be ready and alert when it’s time to get off.


Optional: Wine. Or some other sleep aid

Travel can be stressful and falling asleep on a crowded, moving bus is not always (or ever) easy. Wine helps.


Just accept it

At a certain point you will just have to accept that sleep either will or won’t be happening. Don’t get stressed. It’s only a few hours and you’ll get a good night’s sleep tomorrow.



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