Bus travel is NOT my favourite way to get around

I think it’s well-documented that I love train travel. But what has featured a whole lot less on this blog is bus travel. There is a good reason for this. It’s probably my least favourite way to get around, unless it’s just a twenty-minute trip to a museum or somewhere.

Let me start with the exception, though, because it’s always too general to say that I hate all bus travel (or anything, for that matter). Once, when I lived in Japan, I took an overnight bus trip from Osaka to Hiroshima. I was on a really tight budget (otherwise I would have taken the very speedy and comfortable shinkansen train instead) but a colleague had assured me that this bus was actually very comfortable.

They were right. It was amazing. It was a double decker bus and it was designed for and dedicated to overnight travel – there was a large gap between each seat and most importantly, the (comfortable) seats reclined nearly fully, a bit like a lie-flat seat in an aeroplane (or so I hear), and I was actually able to sleep well for most of the trip.

Of course, 99.9% of bus trips are not like that. I can name a couple of particularly horrid bus journeys I’ve had over the years. One was in Tunisia, returning from Hount Souz on Djerba to the capital, Tunis. I was actually planning to take the overnight train. I’d heard that tickets didn’t go on sale until a particular time and I was ready and waiting at the ticket office at exactly that moment – only to be told that all the seats had already been sold. I never managed to figure out what went wrong but I did figure out that the only way back to Tunis was on a long night bus trip. The roads weren’t great, I was exhausted, the bus was crowded, and after arriving at the bus station at Tunis at around 3.30am I had to sit and wait there until 6am for any transport into the city. I remember that day as being slightly torturous.

A ruin at Houmt Souq … I felt like a ruin after my bus trip away from Houmt Souq

But worse was a bumpy bus ride I had in Vietnam, on the way from Hanoi out to Halong Bay. It was a fairly small bus and again the roads were far from ideal, but what really made it a shocking bus trip wasn’t the fault of the bus as such – I’d picked up some kind of food poisoning and spent most of the trip trying not to vomit (but failed … I won’t go into the gory details). I was immensely relieved to get out on a boat that afternoon – fortunately I don’t get any kind of seasickness and the fresh air out on the water of the bay was just what I needed.

These days, wherever possible and even if it costs more, I try to stick to trains over buses. I feel like I’ve “been there, done that” with bad bus trips and I don’t need to repeat those experiences to remember how beautiful it is to travel in a train.


  1. I get motion sickness on long bus travels.
    That bus in Japan sounds amazing, just like travelling first class on a plane.

    • Oh no – I’ve never had motion sickness anywhere (touch wood!) but it sounds awful.

      I *believe* that bus might feel like first class on a plane – but have never had the chance to compare! (one day?!)

  2. Oh god having food poisoning on a bus like that would have been torture! I prefer taking buses over trains at home, but I agree that trains are the better option when traveling long distance

  3. My worst bus ride was actually in the UK from London to Liverpool as a teenager. Second in was between Cairo and Dahab. However asides from that I have had really good luck with buses. Cheap buses in USA such as Megabus have been a bit of a squeeze but nothing worse than a flight. Buses in New Zealand have been really good to me so far and I even wrote a post about them 🙂 – http://everydaynomad.com/budget-bus-travel-in-new-zealand-my-comprehensive-guide/

    Anyway, maybe you should give the buses one last try!

  4. Wonderful Namibia says

    I tend ride a lot and sometimes when I meet with certain accidents I have to take the stupid bus. I hate the feeling of getting inside a huge metal box. I tend to be claustrophobic.

  5. London guy says

    Buses are also famed for being late and not stopping where you want them to stop.

  6. I sometimes like long travels by bus.. yeah sometimes it’s really annoying.. but if i could grab a seat in a corner, less crowd, then i like to have my ride watching streets and enjoy my journey..

  7. I hate bus travelling. I always had bad experience in my bus travelling. I prefer train than bus. It is very convenient and faster public transport to travel.

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