A little planning can go a long way towards a pleasant and efficient ride. That means booking the right bus for your trip, scheduling the ultimate itinerary, and having all your documents in order. These are pretty big items on your travel checklist, but there are many small choices you can make to better your bus experience. We suggest packing smart, making sure you have the best snacks, placing your essentials so they are handy when you need them, and choosing entertainment that is appropriate for the length of your trip.

What to pack for a short trip

If you’re hopping on a minibus or school bus for a trip of less than one hour, you may not think that hard about your luggage choices. Depending on the length of your stay at your destination, you might limit your luggage to a single carry-on or backpack. (Check out our Carry-On Packing Guide for more tips and tricks).

Packing your food

Keep it light and handy. Don’t pack anything that will be too crumbly or require assembly. We suggest trail mix, dried fruit, cut up vegetables, and berries. When choosing fruit, prep ahead to avoid carrying garbage. A few minutes in the kitchen will help you avoid awkwardly carrying banana peels and apple cores to the trash when you disembark.

Entertainment on the Road

If your trip is short, you won’t have to put too much thought into entertainment. Grab whatever book you’re reading, download a good podcast, or put on some music and stare out the window. Stick to one or two entertainment items to avoid taking up valuable backpack space.

Listen to podcasts on your bus trip.

Packing Pro Tips

To make your short trip as quick and painless as possible, follow these packing tips:

Tip 1

Keep your devices accessible—at the top of your bag, in dedicated padded pockets, or in outside pockets. By doing so you won’t be stuck in the aisle fumbling with your bag while other passengers try to find their seats.

Tip 2

Layer your clothing so you are dressed for all weather without over-stuffing your bag. Wear your luggage!

Tip 3

Take out your book, devices, and snacks as soon as you board the bus so you don’t have to leave your seat when you’re on the road.

What to pack for your bus ride.

What to pack for medium trips

Usually trips of one to three hours are serviced by mini coach buses or coach buses. These bus types can be equipped with more amenities than the minibus or school bus. You might have more space for luggage, more entertainment opportunities (like A/V equipment), and on-board restrooms where you can refresh your look. If you’re traveling on a coach bus, take advantage of the undercarriage to split your personal items between a large luggage piece and a carry-on.

Packing your food

For trips of medium length, packing the right lunch container is essential. Be kind to the planet and choose something reusable. We recommend using a Bento box-style container with compartments for pasta salad, sandwiches, and snacks. And don’t forget a reusable water bottle to avoid unnecessary plastic. You’ll save money and the Earth!

Entertainment on the Road

Hit subscribe on a new podcast then get out on the open road with a fresh season on your feed. Check out our post, “How to Make your Bus Trip a Fun and Comfortable Experience,” to see a few of our favorite shows. If you’re traveling on a bus with television screens, pick a crowd-pleaser movie to keep the whole group entertained. You can also use the time to get some work done. Finish editing that article, prep those slides, or study for that big exam.

Bring a book for your long bus ride.

Packing Pro Tips

Make your medium-length trip exceptional by following these packing tips from seasoned bus travelers:

Tip 1

Pack fragile items in your carry-on to avoid damage. Luggage gets juggled in the undercarriage.

Tip 2

Put a sweater in your carry-on, and pack the rest of your clothes under the bus.

Tip 3

Dress in something comfortable, even if you’re heading to a conference or trade show. Choose wrinkle-resistant fabric, take off your blazer, and loosen your belt. There’s nothing wrong with undoing that top button when you’re on the road. Just remember to rebutton before you disembark.

Tip 4

Put sunscreen in that carry-on, especially if you’re going somewhere sunny (lookin’ at you, LA).

What to bring on long bus trips.

What to pack for long trips

Traveling for more than three hours? Going across state lines, out into the woods, or on a cross-country tour? You’ll definitely be set up with a coach bus, so you’ll have loads of amenities to make your trip more comfortable. Go the extra mile for comfort by packing efficiently. Get yourself a good sized carry-on that still fits into a standard overhead compartment. The idea is to limit the times you access your luggage in the undercarriage to zero.

Packing your Food

The biggest mistake that bus travelers make when packing food for long bus trips is to pile on the chocolate, chips, carbs, and candy. Junk food doesn’t sit well on regular days when you’re not on a bus for hours at a time. Go healthy instead. We’re not saying don’t treat yourself, but lean more towards salads than burgers. When it comes to beverages, choose water over everything else. And if you must drink coffee, put it in a thermos and don’t go overboard.

Entertainment on the Road

Most coach buses can be outfitted with wifi. Take advantage of those bars to get work done, upload pics from the road, and binge those shows. But, be aware that reception can be spotty in remote areas. Prep for those off-the-grid moments by downloading your podcasts in advance, bringing DVDs and books, and preparing to play some group games with your friends onboard. In the mood for a movie marathon? Check out “Crowd-Pleaser Movies For Long Bus Rides“.

Packing tips for long bus rides.

Packing Pro Tips

When you’re on the road for this long, you have to be on top of your packing game. Here are our final tips:

Tip 1

Include nap supplies in your carry-on. Bring a light blanket (they fit better in bags), a travel pillow, an eye mask, and ear plugs.

Tip 2

If you have an e-reader, bring that along instead of a book. Lad up on reading material without weighing down your backpack.

Tip 3

Chargers! Bring your chargers onboard! Coach buses often have outlets so you can fill those batteries on the road.

Tip 4

Finally, bring a refillable water bottle. We cannot stress this enough. Water over soda. Reusable over disposable.