Travel Guides

Surviving an Overnight Bus in India

November 05, 2017

Finally getting around to writing about my trip to India! That’s usually how it goes, wouldn’t you agree? You go on a trip and then approximately 6 months later you finally write about it…

While I was in India I had the great pleasure of taking several overnight (16+ hour long) bus journeys. What a joy it was. The first bus journey wasn’t so bad. We traveled from Bangalore to Goa. This was the longest bus journey. We were told it would be around 12 hours and it ended up being something more like 17 hours. The part that wasn’t so bad though was that it was a proper sleeper bus, so we got to lie down. I was also lucky to have a bunk with Christina (my fab German friend from Birdwinks).

Chris and I curled up to watch Superwoman and after that I was able to get a few hours of sleep though I mostly stared out the window waiting desperately to arrive. The rough news was, I did happen to sleep through the 1 stop we had and wasn’t able to use the toilet for HOURS.

The next overnight bus right we took was miserable. It was on a traditional bus, for 15 hours through the mountains from Dehli to Manali. What made the bus ride even worse though was the fact that we stood on the side of the road for an extra 3 hours waiting for the bus to arrive!

Luckily I had plenty of Dramamine and movies downloaded. Niklas and I watched Stranger Things the whole way and I don’t think I slept a wink.

However, the overnight bus that takes the cake for being the absolute worse was the ride back from Manali down to Dehli. The roads were so windy, I had no motion sickness pills left and to make matters worse, I think more than half the people on the bus were sick. It was nauseating to say the least.

We made one stop on the journey and everyone was sick. I was basically dying. I couldn’t wait for us to be back in Dehli.

That’s why I have decided to share with you everything you need to be more prepared than I was for those treacherous overnight buses in India.

What to pack for an overnight bus in India

  1. Plenty on Motion Sickness medicine. I mean PLENTY. Like basically pack enough for the entire bus full of people and then just hand it out to them as they get on.
  2. Download movies and tv shows. These buses may say they are 9 hours but chances are it’s going to be more like 15 hours. So be prepared with entertainment.
  3. Snacks and food! We did stop for food once on the ride but it’s always nice to have lots of snacks. (The bus to Goa didn’t really stop for food, but it did have a few snack options when they stopped the one time) If you sleep through the bus stopping or your bus ends up taking 5 hours longer than expected, you are going to be grateful for that extra bag of chips you picked up.
  4. Like snacks, take plenty of water and other things to drink. I like to have plenty of water but I am also one of those people who wants to have something with flavor. So I brought water and juice. But remember, the bus only stops one or two times and none of my buses had toilets onboard! So don’t drink too much!
  5. Warm clothes/an extra scarf and sweater to curl up in! I found all the buses to be freezing. Especially if you are sat next to the window. I froze, so I was very grateful to have an extra sweater and scarf with me to curl up in.
  6. Extra battery charger. One of my buses had plugs but in true India fashion, they didn’t work. So take an external battery charger just to be safe!

What to prepare before going on the bus

Here’s just a few things to have done before you get on the bus!

  1. Pack all your valuables so that they stay on your person. You don’t want to store anything valuable under the bus.
  2. Charge all your devices! Like I said before, no plugs. So make sure that you have your computer, phone, tablet and anything else fully charged.
  3. Make sure that your bag fits in the small overhead storage space! I left my bag on the floor under my seat for one ride (The horrible ride back to Dehli) and it ended up covered in throwup! Don’t make my mistake! Take two small bags if you must. Anything to keep those things stored over your head.

Those are my best tips for surviving those long haul overnight buses through India! I hope that you can learn from my mistakes and have a much more pleasant experience!

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