Being able to hit the road and travel from time to time is a genuine luxury; one that we should feel blessed to be able to experience. Sometimes, however, when you’re midway through a 24-hour bus journey from hell and the aircon has just cut out, it can be easy to forget this!
Doing your research, reading reviews and getting first-hand experiences from fellow travellers can help you avoid some nightmares, but quite often to get to your destination you are just going to have to take the hit.
Don’t despair completely though! Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to increase the odds that you won’t arrive a complete broken mess.
We bring to you our top three tips to help combat travel weariness and help you arrive fresh-faced and feeling fabulous…
I’ve met far too many people on the road who seem to think that to be a ‘real’ traveller you have to subject yourself to hardships. Many of these road warriors seem to think any little luxury sullys the true ‘authentic’ experience. Well, that’s fine for those guys. More power to them. But that’s not for me, I’m no Bear Grylls, I’m soft and getting softer. When I board a night bus now I need my accessories to survive!
In my bag of essentials is a pair of earplugs, a fetching eye mask (yes, one like your great aunt Edna would wear!) and a neck pillow. By combining these three super cheap and super lightweight accessories I’ve found I can create a small mobile sensory deprivation chamber that even the loudest in-journey ‘entertainment’ can’t penetrate. And believe me, the bus drivers in Myanmar tried their hardest to succeed.
The same philosophy stands when I go camping. Sleeping outside is uncomfortable enough but doing it on the bare ground or a simple foam mattress is frankly close to madness. These days it’s possible to get cheap and lightweight gear that will make the experience that little bit more enjoyable.
And no, you’re not selling out! Selling out to who?
Don’t Be a Martyr
Now that I am that little bit older and wiser, I look back at some of the things I did as a novice traveller and cringe a little. I’m not going to get into any of the truly embarrassing stuff here because, well – frankly I don’t know you well enough, yet!
One thing I do think about a lot (as I see younger versions of me doing the same thing everywhere I go) are the amount of roadsides I’ve trudged down weighed down by a heavy backpack, sweating profusely, uttering obscenities, simply because a taxi or tuk-tuk driver wouldn’t give me a ‘fair’ price.
Yes, I had enough money in my pocket but that’s not the point. There was the principal at stake! The principal, you hear!
People, listen up… learn from my mistakes and don’t treat the prices you have read in your guidebook or on that blog you like, as gospel. If Lonely Planet (for the three people out there still using LP), Travelfish or Wandering Wilbert says you can a lift into town for $2 and someone at the bus station is trying to charge you $3, don’t just assume they’re out to scam you. Things change, life moves on, prices rise.
Instead of thinking of bargaining as a war of attrition – of you versus them – think of an amount you would be happy to pay and go from there. If arriving at your destination in comfort and a little bit better rested is important to you today, then maybe pay that little bit extra. Chances are, you won’t miss it in a few hours time.
Treat Yo’ Self
Sometimes it simply isn’t possible to travel in comfort and arrive well rested. Often that long-distance bus is your only real option… unless you have the money to hire a helicopter that is. Some towns are just too remote. Some roads just too bumpy. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you arrived in a packed bus or in the back of a chauffeur driven car – you are still wrecked.
So what can you do in these situations? Well, this is where it helps if you have a little bit of time on your side. If you know you’ve got a challenging journey ahead of you, try to avoid planning anything for the following day. Definitely avoid anything that will involve either physical or mental effort on your part. No sunrise treks for instance – rule them right out!
Better yet, why not balance out the nightmare of the journey with something pleasant to look forward to at the other end. Maybe splash out for a slightly fancier private room instead of that dorm you’d usually stay in. Or my personal favourite, get yourself a massage soon after arrival. There is nothing better than finding some magician who can rub you to nirvana and make that horror of a journey a thing of the distant past. Bliss.
And there you have it – three tried and tested tips to help you arrival in slightly better style, ready for new adventures.
And if the prospect of getting on another bus still fills you full of terror then we’ve got a sneaky number four tip for you… why not pay the pharmacy a visit before departure? You didn’t hear it from me but in many countries, it’s perfectly legal to get yourself some nice heavy duty sleeping pills sans prescription. Just don’t blame me if you miss your stop mind!