An overnight bus runs through the night on routes lasting six hours and more. Hopping on a red-eye bus features many advantages, but to fully enjoy the experience, you need to be well prepared. As your bus booking experts, we’ve gathered 10 helpful tips so that your first experience on a sleeper bus will feel like you’re a seasoned traveler. Read on. We’ll tell you everything.
Why take an overnight bus?
The advantage of opting for the night bus service is that you won’t miss out on your first day off! So, even if you’ve planned a short vacation, you’ll be getting the most out of your time away. Taking an overnight bus means you can leave right after work and sleep through the night while traveling. Of course, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you master sleeping on a bus, you’ll be ready to take on anything.
Not only is the sleeper bus service usually affordable, but it’s also usually cheaper than driving, hopping on a plane or taking a train. It’s also a great way to save money on accommodation. You’ll save the price of a hotel every time you hop on an overnight sleeper bus… Not a small feat!
Enjoy the many night bus perks
Overnight buses are much more convenient than planes, trains and automobiles for several reasons:
- There is no need to limit the liquids and gels you bring. You can even keep your toothbrush handy.
- No need to get there hours ahead of time. You can arrive at the bus station 20 to 30 minutes before departure.
- No distractions while you’re snoozing, such as turbulence or meal service. Peace and quiet all night long.
- No expensive gas bills, no bathroom stops and no need to look for parking at your final destination.
- Neatly padded, reclining seats (really reclining, unlike in planes!) and ample legroom.
Oh, and traveling by bus is also the most eco-friendly transportation mode!
Busbud’s most popular overnight bus routes
Check out Busbud’s most popular night bus routes! And remember, your online sleeper bus booking buddy is just a click away. Book your overnight bus tickets today.
- Montreal to New York
- Toronto to New York
- Los Angeles to Phoenix
- Istanbul to Antalya
- Buenos Aires to Mendoza
- Amsterdam to Paris
- Cancun to Campeche
How to get through an overnight bus ride?
Enjoying your time on the overnight bus is absolutely possible. But you can do a few things beforehand to ensure you’re comfortable and increase your chances of sleeping through the ride, and arriving at your destination well-rested and ready to tackle the day.
1. Know your seat count
The sleeper bus seating arrangement typically features 25 pairs of seats. And since seating is first-come, first-serve, you’ll want to figure out where you stand as soon as you queue up. If you have the choice, note that seats located towards the rear of the bus will make for a bumpier ride, while being in the front may be more distracting. Sitting in the middle should ensure optimal comfort and maximize your chances of sleeping through the night. Plus, we hear it’s the safest place to sit on a bus.
Insider tip: If you show up last minute and a large crowd is boarding your bus, ask the driver or gate agent if they plan to send out a second night bus. This happens very frequently for popular routes and times. And if it does, you can be the first one on that shiny new sleeper bus and pick your favorite seat.
2. Take the window seat… And bring a pillow!
If your head is bobbing up and down or if you keep falling asleep on your neighbor’s shoulder, you won’t be well-rested when you reach your destination. To get a good night’s sleep on the bus, it’s best to bring a travel pillow. Inflatable pillows are fantastic as they take up very little space in your luggage, but you can always go precious and opt for memory foam—or even use a bulky sweater to bundle up and rest your head. Wedge the pillow of your choice between the seat and the window and rest your head against it, preventing the dreaded head conk against the glass, replacing it with cushioned slumber goodness. Plus, you’ll avoid neck pain upon awakening!
Some windows can have a greasy border by the AC vents, so if that’s the case, snug a bag (like the one used to store your pillow in) on the window frame to cover the lubricant, and then rest the pillow on top in the wedged position.
Insider tip: If you can’t fall asleep, use the time to watch a movie or catch up on that TV show you’ve been saving. Podcasts are also a good way to stay distracted during the trip.
3. Choose your carrier
Not all sleeper buses are created equal, and not all carriers run all hours. Sometimes, cheaper is better—but in other cases, it’s best to pick according to comfort. In any case, Busbud is here to help you compare options.
- FlixBus: The overnight Flixbus is pretty good because you can buy snacks and drinks on board. Plus, buses are equipped with outlets and Wi-Fi, and there’s a bathroom on board.
- Greyhound: The Greyhound overnight bus is usually an appealing budget option for overnight travel, and they have a lot of routes running frequently. Lights are pleasantly dimmed at nighttime to promote a relaxed atmosphere, and seats have individual power outlets.
- NY Trailways: Not all buses are equipped with outlets, but the legroom is decent, and ambient temperature is usually on point.
- National Express: The National Express overnight bus/coach includes a generous luggage allowance on top of your “carry-on” bag. Their night buses are quite comfortable, and you’ll enjoy sufficient legroom and handy USB ports.
- Ouibus/BlaBlaBus: The BlaBlaBus overnight buses are probably the most comfortable in Europe. With reclining seats, adjustable footrests, individual lighting, and air conditioning, as well as plug sockets and free, limited Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep on their buses.
- FlixBus: Like in North America, FlixBus overnight buses offer snacks and drinks to buy on board. Their seats might not be as comfortable as BlaBlaBus or National Express, but their prices are usually lower.
4. Know your itinerary
You can easily book the first bus you find online, but if you want to get some good shut-eye, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting on a night bus that will make as few stops as possible. Every time the bus stops, you run the risk of the driver turning on the lights and announcing the location, which is great for those about to sleep through their stop, but not so good for those of you trying to get maximum dream time. You can always check the stops and transfers on Busbud, so make sure to take the departure with the least stopping.
Insider tip: Bring an alarm clock in case you have to wake up before the overnight bus reaches its final destination. If you’re stressed out about missing your bus stop, you’ll most likely wake up every fifteen minutes or, worse, miss your stop altogether! Set your alarm clock, watch or smartphone to wake you up 15–20 minutes before you reach your destination. And, if you’ve got a nice neighbor, play safe and kindly ask them to wake you, too.
5. Pad your back & remove your shoes
These secret moves make the difference between getting off the night bus with bloodshot eyes after a sleepless night or gently yawning yourself awake to the sun rising just on the other side of your precious pillow.
- By grabbing a thick shirt and stuffing it between the seat and the small of your back, you’ll be able to relax your back and focus on counting sheep.
- As for shoes, it’s logical, we don’t sleep with our shoes on! Try it; we know you’ll be amazed! Simply removing your shoes will make you feel like you’re about to go to bed. Your body will unwind easily on the overnight bus as you ride toward your destination.
Insider tip: if the idea of removing your shoes on the overnight bus is not an appealing one, simply bring an extra pair of socks along for the ride. You can use these to wear, instead of shoes, on top of your other socks and remove them when you reach your destination. As a bonus, you’ll make sure your feet don’t get chilly as you sleep!
6. Pick your pants wisely
Most women have this one figured out for almost forever, having adopted leggings. The key is comfort, as you can well imagine. And if you combine comfort with style, it will also make looking at yourself first thing in the morning when you show up at your destination in that bus terminal’s bathroom mirror all the more pleasant.
Insider tip: The astute red-eye traveler will pick a slightly stretchy material, particularly around the waist, and soft for maximum comfort. Of course, you can rock your plaid pajama pants, but a nice pair of chinos will also do.
7. Block out the outside world
It’s not because you’re on the overnight bus that you have to feel like you’re sharing a bed with fifty people! Bring an eye mask and earplugs and/or noise-canceling headphones, and block out everyone and everything for a few hours.
- An eye mask is super useful if you are sensitive to light. That way, if your neighbor is reading, watching a screen or if you pass by numerous street lights, your sleep will remain unaffected.
- Earplugs are extremely useful as you attempt to fall asleep, especially if people are chatting close to you or if the unusual noises make you edgy.
- Earphones—the noise-canceling kind, are also quite practical. You can even bring a device to play some relaxing music or simply listen to white noise, such as waves, rain or wind.
Insider tip: you can usually find an outlet on the overnight bus, so keep a charging cable close by in case your source of entertainment runs out of batteries!
8. Pack a snack & stay hydrated
If you’re traveling overnight on a sleeper bus, let’s say, for 12 hours straight, you’ll get hungry—and thirsty. And who can sleep on an empty stomach or if feeling parched? Bring some goodies to munch on, imperishables preferably, like trail mix, granola bars or crackers. A
nd while it’s important to stay hydrated during your trip, we strongly urge you to chuck your water and opt for a beverage with electrolytes, which will ensure you don’t get dehydrated while reducing bathroom breaks to a minimum. And hey, if you do have to go, no biggie. Most overnight buses have bathrooms onboard.
Insider tip: bring a roll of toilet paper along for the ride… Sleeper buses are equipped with onboard toilets, but if you’re unlucky, you may not find TP when you need it the most!
9. Hide your prized belongings
Store your valuables, money, and ID close to you, where no one can reach them. There’s nothing like peace of mind to ensure you fall asleep—and stay asleep. If you keep the bare essentials close to your body in a fanny pack or a deep pocket, you won’t wake up in a panic, wondering if your possessions have been stolen as you snore the road away.
Insider tip: wrap the bag containing your valuables around your arm or hide it in your jacket… Or, for complete peace of mind, opt for anti-theft waist packs (we swear, fanny packs are making a comeback!), which you can cover up with your blanket for added security.
10. Snuggle under a blanket
Last but not least, the blanket. Bring a warm blanket in case you get cold, or even a sleeping bag if you have enough space. It’s hard to fall asleep when you’re cold, and most overnight buses are air-conditioned, sometimes to excess. Being warm will encourage sleep, and you’ll most likely fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer if you feel warm and cozy in your seat.
Insider tip: If you’re packing light, note that silk sleeping bag liners are quite warm and take up minimal luggage space.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments what your favorite tips for taking an overnight bus are!