A bus journey is perhaps what most of us relate to when thinking of inter-city or inter-state travel and rightly so as it is by far the most convenient, safe and cost-effective mode of transport there is, to travel fairly long distances in India.
The course of the pandemic has reposed our trust in bus travel owing to several advantages that it offers over other means of transport, particularly from the point of view of safety and convenience. Buses offer lesser exposure to people compared to trains or planes, offers multiple pick-up and drop points with lesser crowd and most importantly, it is far easier to sanitize a bus after each trip, making it relatively safer.
With bus travel being one of the most promising forms of public transport during these times, you could make your next bus trip more safe, relaxing and pleasant if you pay attention to a few simple aspects. For the benefit of the bus traveller, we have summed it all up in 10 tips to make your bus travel savvy during these times.
Mask and hand sanitizer are as important as your mobile phone
Can you imagine making a long trip without your mobile phone? Would you undertake that trip if you simply forgot to carry your phone? You probably wouldn’t be able to board the bus, train or plane because you carry your tickets and identification cards in digital form on your cell phone and that’s how invaluable mobile phones are today. It is extremely important to ascribe similar importance to masks and hand sanitizers even if you have been vaccinated. Double masking and frequent hand sanitization greatly reduces the chance of you contracting the virus, which is all the better than contracting and fighting it. Double masks (a pair of cotton and surgical masks) or valve-less N-95 masks are considered to offer the best protection. So when you embark upon your next bus trip, remember the two other essentials apart from your cell phone.
Keep certain essentials
Certain travel norms have changed since the beginning of the pandemic and keeping some essentials will help you stay safe during travel, like a snack, an extra mask, a disinfecting spray which is also skin friendly and effective on surfaces, wet wipes and tissues. Spray nearby surfaces before sitting in any bus because it’s just better to be safe than sorry. Sanitize your hands regularly and the extra mask will come in handy in case the one you are wearing fails for any reason.
This is a guru mantra for travellers, whether you are travelling for fun or as a necessity, this is a rule of thumb that should consider following. While undertaking a journey, most of us are tempted to pack more, but it comes with a burden. Remember, you are the one to carry the weight around. So go with a small bag as the limitation of space makes you take only necessary items and they are generally enough. It is also easy to amble around when you travel light and you need not place heavy luggage trolleys or boxes on the ground or on other surfaces as it increases the risk of contamination due to contact. But ensure to keep an extra pair of intimate essentials and clothes, just in case you need to stay over an extra day.
Dress comfortably and pack layers
Always dress comfortably while travelling, make sure your clothes are not too tight or uncomfortable for the journey as you might need to sleep in them, especially during overnight journeys. While travelling in an air conditioned bus, temperatures may fluctuate, causing discomfort and so carrying a shawl can be beneficial. Also, most buses have stopped offering linen as a protocol at this time. Packing layers is essential when travelling between different climate zones, allowing you to shed or add a layer of clothing depending on the temperature.
Oh! This is something you really don’t want to miss while undertaking bus travel. It is not uncommon to encounter a noisy neighbour, cranky child, or noisy surroundings during the trip. Earplugs are a life-saver while sleeping in these circumstances, or even if you prefer to relax in silence. Listening to music with a pair of earphones is also a good option.
Pack snacks and water
Ensure to pack some healthy snacks and water. Eating a lot of fried or spicy food just before or during the journey can cause severe discomfort for some and make the journey memorable for the wrong reasons. In addition, you cannot be sure of the quality of food you pick on the way during pit stops. However, do try some local delicacies if you are sure of the hygiene and your appetite.
Use the rest stops
Even if you do not have the urge to attend to nature’s call or feel lazy to get out of the bus, push yourself a bit. Get down and walk around, stretch your legs and go to the rest room. Follow this as a norm to avoid making a request with the crew for a stop in the open when it calls for, which can be embarrassing and inconvenient. But ensure to sanitize your hands and any body part that may have come in contact while using public rest rooms.
Keep your valuables close
Always keep in mind to keep your valuable close. Pack valuables in a discrete carry bag which you can keep with yourself all the time. As a precaution never reveal directly or indirectly of what you are carrying or about yourself, to a fellow traveler. If possible keep cash in more than one place.
Remember visual clues about your bus
Rest-stops in most places cater to dozens of buses and it can sometimes be very confusing to locate your bus, especially when there are buses of a particular operator that look exactly the same. The vehicle would’ve also moved to a different parking terminal for various reasons and can cause severe anxiety if you fail to locate it in a few seconds. The best way to recognize a bus is through its registration number. A four-digit number is not difficult for most people to memorize, however if you are one of those who dread doing that, simply click a picture of the registration plate of the bus. Also keep your ticket with you as it may have your bus number.
Have a chat with the person next to you
Talk to fellow passengers, they will be you allies in case your bus starts moving before you have boarded after a rest-stop. Part of travelling is getting to know more people. This will always make you remember your journey more fondly.