Comments 16

How To Pass The Time & Survive Long Bus/Plane/Train Rides

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:

  1. Read – books, magazines, eBooks, travel guides
  2. Listen to music
  3. Listen to audiobooks
  4. Play boardgames – I’ve seen other travellers bring mini chess sets that they fit in their backpack pocket.
  5. 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.
  6. Play word association games
  7. 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.
  8. Learn some local phrases to get you through to the next day
  9. Look out the window and pay attention to signage, symbols, road signs, street names, etc – this will help you with #8
  10. Engage in a conversation with a stranger
  11. 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.
  12. If travelling with a partner/friend/family, plan your next adventure or talk about the first topic that comes to mind
  13. Write or blog
  14. Go through your photos and delete ones you don’t need or have duplicates of
  15. Edit your photos (if you have a laptop/notebook)
  16. Draw or sketch
  17. Research places to visit on your next destination
  18. Research food to try on your next destination
  19. Catch up on the news – what’s happening back home?
  20. Run an inventory of your back/day packs – have you run out of any hygiene product? Are there any essentials you forgot to pack?
  21. Catch up on sleep
  22. Always pack a deck of playing cards – trust me!
  23. Write a snail mail or postcard
  24. Take photos. Yes, you may end up taking blurry photos but you may find a diamond among the rough. Also, see #14.
  25. 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)
  26. Sightseeing – look out the window
  27. Walk around if you can to encourage blood circulation. Prevent deep vein thrombosis particularly on long haul flights.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. If nothing else, learn to relax and clear your mind

What do you do to pass time on long haul travel?


Feature Image Flickr Bart Busschots – under Creative Commons license agreement


  1. that traveling nurse says

    On long haul flights (even domestic ones), I sleep, sleep and sleep then wake up to eat/drink then back to sleep. haha. If I can’t go back to sleep right away, I read or watch movies on the plane. Usually it puts me back to sleep in a few minutes. For some reason, planes make me really sleepy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there long time no hear. How are you?

      Sleep is definitely right up there on the list for sure =) You’re lucky you can sleep on the plane – I tend to nod off every few minutes but not really sleep. What’s you’re trick?

      Liked by 1 person

      • that traveling nurse says

        I am doing great, thank you! Still here on the blogosphere, trying out my hand in Photo 101 (did you join because I didn’t see you in class?) and busy with the daily assignments, ugh. 🙂
        As for sleeping in planes, I don’t have a trick. The sound of the engines just puts me to sleep. Sometimes I fall asleep even when the plane is still on the runway! My husband so envies that talent of mine. hehe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Man you’re so good and so committed. You need to pass some of that on me hehe I’ve recently started contract work (to save for my next adventure) so blogging has taken a semi-backseat. I update Twitter (@ailz01) everyday because it’s quick but otherwise….help! haha

        So proud of you for doing the Photography101. I’m about to check out your work =)))


      • that traveling nurse says

        I appreciate your comments a lot. It’s just that at the moment, we don’t have any travel plans so I have more time to focus on improving my blog and working on my photography skills but I figure once we have something coming up, then like you, blogging will have to take a back seat too. Life works out that way, I guess. As for you, I can’t wait to hear about your next adventure! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this, and especially love #31, it is perhaps my favorite thing to do on those long public transport rides. Just took a couple 8 hour long bus rides in Japan and it is a great time to just calm down and zone out for peace of mind. Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Doing an inventory is a great idea! Have to keep that in mind for my next long journey. On an eighteen hour train journey my friend and I played so many games of Go Fish I think we must have been driving everyone else on the train round the bend! Kept us entertained though

    Liked by 1 person

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