So you've booked your bus journey for an exceptionally cheap price and now you're wondering how to handle the long bus journey?
I have to say that I am an advocate for the Megabus, I've proudly been referred to as the "Megabus Queen" and I am completely OK with that. I think it is great value for money and I honestly do not mind the length of some of the journeys.
In fact, I would maybe go as far to say that I enjoy them...
I've taken a coach from the north of Scotland to Paris a couple of times, and I would do it again in a heart beat.
First off the Megabus in particular seems to have gained a sort of bad reputation. When I first became a student I heard a lot about the bus company, I had heard they were unpleasant smelling, horrendously hot and just not highly recommended. However, that needs to be rectified, the Megabus is actually more worthy than you might think. Nowadays they have clean seats, they have air conditioning, they don't weigh your hold luggage and they have wifi!
I always say to people, don't knock it until you try it.
Having said that, there are certain tricks and tips that will make your long journey more comfortable and enjoyable.
Prior to boarding the coach, it's a good idea to scope out the potential passengers. If you see children, babies or people who are bearing an unusual scent, then avoid avoid avoid!
Screaming children and babies on a long bus journey are not the best combination. If they are roaring, there is little you can do if you are sitting next to them, or even a couple of seats away. I've had experiences of this on night buses and it makes your head pound and you get to the stage that you are subconsciously staring down the child and parents.
Strategically place yourself away from the mini people and watch where they sit when boarding the coach.
The same goes for passengers who down right stink. There is nothing worse then being in a confined space with someone who smells like mouldy laundry. Therefore, the trick is to sit on the outer seat until departure. Of course if the bus is full and you have your handbag on the second seat, you will need to oblige. But first try to get them to sit somewhere else.
Move along pal!
The key here is to plan, you know you're in this metal moving machine for a long time. There is plug sockets on the newer coaches, however don't rely on them. Charge up your phone, tablet and kindle and charge up at least two battery packs. Remember all the additional cables!
Download television programmes to watch offline, BBC iPlayer is good for this and the same goes for downloading web pages that are lengthy. Reading a long Wikipedia page can fill in 20 minutes.
If you download the Podcast app, you can find a huge variety of interesting things to listen to.
I'd recommend the crime based podcast - Serial.
Another life saver is earphones. Take two pairs, if your good pair stops working, you'll have the rage and you'll be glaring at the noisy kid at the back. Take a second pair on headphones.
The trick is not to look at the time, clock watching the hours until arrival is something you need to avoid. Just sit back and treat the journey like a day off at home on the sofa. You have a seat, snacks, movies and documentaries to watch.
If you're getting off at a destination before the final stop, then set an alarm on your phone 20 minutes before you are due to arrive. That way you won't sleep past your stop.
From my experience the best place to sit on a coach is maybe 3-4 rows up. Check your window view that you aren't sitting in a seat with the Megabus Logo plastered across the bus, the black mesh can obscure your view. You don't want to sit right up the back because that's where the toilets tend to be. You want to avoid sitting right next to them.
I once had a trip from London to Aberdeen on a busy bus and sat right beside the toilets, a passenger came on and sat next to me.
That's when I first smelt it.
I assumed that this guy hadn't washed in a decade and he didn't have a sense of smell. For about four hours, I thought that this guy was the root cause of the smell and in all honesty, I avoided talking to him. It wasn't until we stopped in Manchester that it was discovered that the toilets were actually blocked and we needed to change buses. Since then I've had guilty feelings that I thought this guy could actually smell like that!
Anyways, you get my point here. Don't sit next to the W.C.
I'd suggest that you pack layers, the bus temperature can vary and it's better to take off layers. I'd also try and take a small blanket/scarf and pillow with you.
The bus can get a bit breezy if the air conditioning has been on for a while. The pillow will ensure you that you can actually sleep. If you're a neck pillow person, then squeeze one of them into your hand luggage.
Leave the skinny jeans at home and travel in comfortable clothing. I usually travel in black leggings and a comfy jumper, nobody really cares what you look like on a public bus.
Another thing that you'll need is food. Pack lots snacks that are going to last a while. Plan out your meals, ensure that you have substantial food. Snacking on junk food the entire journey will make you feel like crap. A tip would be to take a couple of empty sandwich bags, one for food and one for trash.
The same applies for tissues, you never know when you'll need them.
I always take on a big bottle of water and have cereal bars for breakfast and remember to pack a plastic spoon/fork.
Leave the tuna or egg sandwiches at home.
If you're enduring an overnight journey, a pack of face wipes, deodorant and your tooth brush will help you feel more human. Remember to pack these into your hand luggage, once your hold luggage is stowed away it is increasingly difficult to retrieve it.
Things to remember
The Megabus will email you your ticket. Print it out or write it down.If you are on a departing journey and heading home and your device is bust at least you can get home. The same goes for your accommodation details, have a physical copy with you. JUST IN CASE.
Depending on where you are going, it's good to have a small amount of local currency. The pit stops can be for a substantial amount and if you see a shop, then having local change is really helpful.
If you are taking the bus from the U.K. to mainland Europe they can occasionally go by ferry. If you are prone to seasickness, take some remedies with you.
Booking cheap tickets
You've heard of the £1.00 ticket?
They do exist and the only tip I can offer is to be flexible with times and book in far in advance as you possibly can. The megabus calender goes up to 4 months in advance. If you are heading home for Christmas, then book your tickets now.
On some occasions, mid week offers the cheapest deal. If you're looking for tickets to Europe, book them from London.
Making a connection in London Victoria is very straightforward, it is well serviced with shops, cafe and toilets.
If you are travelling in North America, the US version of the Megabus exists but also shop around on Greyhound Buses.
Good luck to you all, and remember leave the egg mayo sandwiches at home.