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Let’s be honest – no-one particularly enjoys a long bus ride. It can be crowded, too hot, and most all, incredibly boring.

Though despite being confined to one seat for hours at a time, there are definitely ways to distract yourself so that the time flies by.

Dreading an upcoming long distance journey? These activities will keep you entertained throughout the long-distance bus ride.

Ways to Stay Entertained on a Long Distance Bus Ride

Write or Draw

A bus ride can offer you the chance to hone your creative skills, because you’re not going anywhere for a while and have hours of free downtime.

Most buses won’t necessarily have a tray table that swings down for you to work from, so if you do plan to get some writing or drawing done, keep in mind that you may be balancing your laptop / notepad on your lap.

You can actually buy portable smart trays nowadays though that clip onto the back of bus seats and give you something sturdy to work on. Or, you can buy a lap tray in advance of your trip.

Drawing gets a bit trickier if you’re traveling in third world nations which don’t have smooth roads, so if that’s the case it’s perhaps best to focus on something else (unless you’re going for something abstract!).

Who knows, you could create a masterpiece, aided by the help of bouncing potholes!

Mobile Games: Play Bingo

Bus RF

No, this is not your grandmother’s version of Bingo; mobile games these days are a great way to stay entertained, but it you’ve had enough of Candy Crush, you may consider looking at Wink Bingo.

Games like this can provide a nice exhilaration and rush which can make you forget about your surroundings and allow the time to pass more quickly. And there are a million different mobile games you can choose from.

Just browsing the app store in itself ends up being a way to pass the time, deciding on which games you want to download and play. To make it easier to find something you’re actually interested in, use the category filter.

Puzzle games and action games can be fantastic to pass the time. However, you should remember to take your headphones, as many include sound effects, and you don’t want to be annoying other passengers.

Mobile games do eat up a lot of battery on your phone, especially if they’re using phone data, so ask the bus company before you travel if they have power sockets for each seat. If not, travel with a portable charger, or extra battery so your phone doesn’t die on you.

Listen to Music

Headphones tech RF music

Listening to music is a tried and tested way to stay entertained. And a long bus ride can provide the perfect opportunity to discover a new album, or listen to one from start to finish.

The uninterrupted listening that a bus ride provides can be quite therapeutic, and if chosen selectively, provides a soundtrack to the passing scenery as you look out the window.

Depending on the length of your bus ride, portable batteries are again a good idea, or at least making sure your devices are fully charged before you travel. And actually putting thought into creating a playlist before taking off can often come in handy too. That way you’re not stuck with the same 3 songs on repeat for 10 hours straight!

As with mobile games, make sure you keep your volume low, so it doesn’t distract other passengers.

Get Lost in a Book

Books are like portals to other worlds. And the nice thing about this is that the require no batteries!

The best thing about reading is that once you are immersed, time passes by very quickly. This can make a long bus ride seem a lot shorter.

If you’re one of those people who gets motion sickness from reading on a bus, you can look at options for downloading audio books before you travel. This can be a great way to stay entertained if you enjoy novels but can’t read while you’re moving.

Also, keep in mind when choosing your book that you’ll be surrounded by other people in close proximity; so if you’re reading something like 50 Shades of Grey, you better have enough self confidence that you don’t mind if other people know!

Catch Up On Movies & TV

Bus RF

If you don’t’ feel like reading, catching up on your favorite TV show, or finally sitting down to that movie you missed is a great way to pass the time.

While you can download in advance and pull out your laptop, there are also many applications now that allow you to watch TV on your phone. You can download free apps like Rewinder that are stocked with classic, public domain movies. Or Popcornflix for free movies and TV.

Of course, if your bus doesn’t have Wi-Fi you’ll be chewing up your mobile data if you go the route of streaming. And if you’re traveling in another country this may not be cost effective. So that’s always something to consider.

Many long-distance buses though do now offer complimentary wifi. On top of TV & Movies, this can also be a fantastic opportunity to spend your downtime catching up on your social media feeds.

Phone a Friend

Phone Bus Traveler RF

The old fashioned phone call may be going out of style lately, but it can be a great way to catch up and keep yourself entertained. And you’ll make them feel special that someone cared enough about them just to call and say hi!

If you’re traveling within your home country, this can be a relatively cheap way to pass the time. If you’re traveling overseas however, using international roaming can quickly become expensive.

If you have a cellphone that supports a GSM SIM card however, you can purchase a new SIM card from a local cellphone provider when you reach your destination. Before you leave home, have your cellphone unlocked so that you can use it with international SIM cards.

Otherwise, if your bus has Wi-Fi available there are a variety of free calling apps like Skype, FaceTime, and even Facebook that will allow you to call any-one you like. Just talk softly so you’re not disturbing other passengers.

Sleep It Off

Long distance bus RF

If all else fails and you really can’t face the stress of sitting through a long haul bus, ask your doctor for a mild sedative you can take while you travel.

If you’re traveling alone, make sure you don’t take anything too strong, as you will need to be awake and aware when you arrive. And you don’t want to leave yourself in a vulnerable position being alone in public and not able to wake up.

Anti-anxiety medications can also be good for inducing drowsiness and helping you relax, so research herbal remedies or medications you can try.

Having earplugs and eye masks with you are essential for falling asleep, and you should avoid drinking alcohol and coffee before or during the trip.

You might find these beverages comforting, but they are more likely disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Passing out after having bottles of beer on the bus doesn’t mean you will have a comfortable sleep. It will also make you more dehydrated.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. Napping and reading are 2 of my favorite bus past times Meg. I can be spotted snoozing for long haul jobs. Save when I bus from Laos to Thailand over 24 hours and note my drivers almost snoozing too LOL. Many well timed hacking coughs kept drivers awake and me and my fellow passengers, alive, hahaha :) Super tips!

    • Same :D Lol that would freak me out if I saw the bus driver napping though haha – probably not too far fetched in the future though if the world goes the way of driverless vehicles; I don’t see why they wouldn’t bring this to buses too!

  2. Thanks for sharing an amazing information really such a wonderful site you have done a great job once more thanks a lot!

    • You’re welcome Sonia, so glad the post was helpful for you. I hope your next bus trip is a comfortable one!

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