15 Tips For Sleeping Comfortably On A Long-Haul Bus Trip

Sometimes the hardest part about traveling to a fun destination is getting there. While no amount of money can transport you instantly to your desired destination (yet), budget travelers sometimes have the unfortunate hurdle of extended travel time. Cheaper options, like cars and buses, tend to also be the slower options. If you're trying to save a few bucks by taking a bus, you could be on the road for quite some time – some bus routes in the United States last for days!

For travelers who like to chase adrenaline and find exploring new places thrilling, spending so much time stationary during an overnight bus trip may seem counterproductive. It's quite the way to see the open road, though, and your destination will likely have much more appeal than the inside of a bus. One bonus of bus travel is that you don't have to be in the driver's seat for the expedition. It can get a little uncomfortable as a passenger, though, and nighttime may be better spent in the throes of sleep. If you're planning a long trip on board one of America's long-haul buses, these tips may just help you stay a little more comfortable and get some much-needed shut-eye.

Pay for comfort

When you picture traversing the country via a long-haul bus, chances are that you're imagining one hellish Greyhound ride. While the iconic bus company has changed and upgraded quite a bit in the century-plus it has been around, they are not your only choice when it comes to bus travel. If you are able to open your wallet a little wider, the best way to ensure you have a bit more comfort than what a typical Megabus ticket will get you is to buy an upgrade or splurge for a company that offers a bit more than the bare necessities of bus travel.

You won't find many buses around that have a similar bed situation to sleeper trains, but if your journey is between D.C. and Nashville, the young bus company Napaway offers seats that recline fully to a lay-down position. New Yorkers setting off for D.C. or vice versa may opt for a ride on The Jet, a luxury bus with gel foam, motion-canceling seats that will get you to your destination without so much as a leg cramp (or, at the very least, much less risk of one).

An upgrade doesn't have to break the bank, though, and travelers wanting to stay on a budget can still opt for a taste of an elevated class. Both Greyhound and Megabus, the universal cheap options, allow passengers to choose their seating arrangements when booking. We suggest going for the window seats or those with a "panoramic" view.

Bring a travel pillow

At the risk of looking like the most obvious tourist around, a travel pillow really does make falling asleep while sitting up much easier. It may seem like a given, but a lot of travelers actually don't consider them. In fact, people seem to have a very extreme relationship with the not-so-stylish travel accessory. Some frequent travelers swear by them while others would rather spend their entire journey with the world's worst neck crick than be caught dead wearing one. The plain truth is, though, that a travel pillow may turn a rather uncomfortable trip into one that passes relatively easily, and let's be honest, no one is paying attention to anyone else's fashion choices when facing their own comfort dilemmas.

There are so many different options to choose from when considering a travel pillow, but most are likely better than none when faced with hours of trying to find the right position for your head on a bus. The inflatable pillows will help save packing space, though you may want to opt for one of the most cozy-looking styles. Maybe consider taking your chosen travel collar for a test run before a long trip to help determine if the loss of room in your bag is worth it.

Pack smart

When traveling on a bus, it's best to do so without much in tow. Packing light and keeping all of your belongings with you at your seat or close by could go a long way for your peace of mind. Security, or the lack thereof, is one of the most stressful parts of traveling and especially if you are traveling alone, you may have a tough time falling asleep if you think there's a chance your belongings could be tampered with while you're unconscious and surrounded by strangers. Having a hand on your bag when you drift off could help alleviate that fear and allow you to slip under the veil of sleep much easier.

Packing clothes and similarly soft items into a pillowcase is one way to keep your items close by. Not only does this packing hack save space, but it also ensures that you have a cozy place to lay your head, which is something that doesn't come easily on a bus. Additionally, being strategic while packing your bag can go a long way in how easy your bus ride is as well. Anything you may need on the ride should be packed last so that it is simple to find and grab when you're ready for it — that way if you wake up and need something quickly, minimal effort is being spent retrieving your item and you can then fall back asleep easily.

Have your distractions fully charged

If you're going to be twiddling your thumbs on a bus for any extended amount of time, your phone will likely be putting in some work. There's a decent chance there won't be a place for you to charge your electronics, so make sure you begin your long-haul journey with a fully charged phone, plus whatever other electronics you decide on bringing. This tip is especially important if you are someone who regularly falls asleep with the TV on or uses your phone before bed — your mind and body are used to having that stimulation before falling asleep and breaking that routine will just add to the discomfort of falling asleep in a new place and position.

If you are going to utilize some kind of technology with sound, you'll need to bring some earbuds along. As funny or interesting as the newest episode of your favorite podcast is to you, your fellow bus travelers may not be on board with listening to Joe Rogen's latest controversial guest or your audio romance novel's spiciest scene. Don't forget to charge your earphones as well if they are wireless. Power banks can be a useful addition to your bag, as they can stay charged for quite some time and will likely be good for your entire trip!

Be mindful of your screen time

We've already established that you'll likely be using your phone or another electronic device for some form of entertainment, but that doesn't mean you have to flood yourself with the light they admit. The light emitted from phones interfere with your body's production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for a good night's sleep, so you'll want to avoid crossing paths with the light around the time you want to hit the sack – or, in this case, the overly rigid and upright bus seat.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make use of your phone and technology while also limiting the time you are gazing numbingly at your screen. Place your phone on the lowest brightness setting and use the screen minimally, which if you are listening to music or an audiobook shouldn't be too difficult. iPhones have a night setting and some other phones may have a blue light filter, both of which help eliminate the light that is devastating to sleep. You can also set a timer on your phone for when the screen needs to be tucked away and no longer looked at.

Pack a hoodie and sunglasses

While the light from screens can affect your melatonin production and hinder sleep, the light from outside the bus windows can be just plain annoying and isn't great for sleep either. It's true you may be passing through roads with little to no light pollution, but your route will likely at least pass through towns and cities that have jarring lights in an otherwise dark environment. The street lights and passing headlights at night and the sunlight from the day can be lessened considerably with a pair of sunglasses, a hood, or preferably both. Don't worry, no one is going to give you flak for wearing sunglasses at night. If you're worried about your image, though, a sleep mask is acceptable as well.

As far as the hoodie goes, that is very much a multipurpose tip. Hoodies are most likely the single-most cozy garment ever invented, the hood not only protecting you from light and keeping you warm but also creating a serotonin-inducing, cocoon-like atmosphere. Warm, darkness, and security are all provided simply by putting up a hood, which conveniently are things conducive to a good, deep sleep.

Wear layers

You never really know what to expect on the road, especially when you're traveling in something other than your own vehicle and sharing space with other passengers. Wearing layers allows you to adjust your clothing to whatever conditions you are thrust into. Wearing a light undershirt with another light, but slightly warmer layer on top will keep you moving freely and comfortably while also providing you with the option to shed a layer if you get too hot on the bus. Of course, adding a hoodie on top comes with all the aforementioned perks to help lull you to sleep.

In addition to adding some comfort to your time on the bus, wearing a few layers could also help you save a bit of space in your bag. If you're trying to make the most of what space you have and bring a few extra items of clothing, take advantage of the space you have on your person. After all, the more cushion on you, the less likely you are to wake up with an armrest poking into your hip.

Bring at-home comforts

There is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed and while you can't do such a thing while traveling, you can bring a little piece of your bed on the road with you. Even if you are not the sentimental type, having the pillow and blanket from your own bed can be mighty helpful when trying to sleep in an uncomfortable seat surrounded by strangers who are equally as out of place and uncomfortable as you are. Feel free to combine our pillow tips by taking the pillowcase from your bed and filling it with either the clothes you plan on bringing or your bed's blanket – it may not be the same shape you're used to at night, but it will smell and feel similar.

In addition to bringing something from your bed on board the bus, you can also adapt to sleeping on the go by incorporating your at-home routine. If you are someone who prays before bed, no one is stopping you from doing so before getting some shut-eye. Most other nighttime routines can be altered to fit the restraints of bus travel, you may just need to get a little creative.

Bring snacks

You'll already be stuck in a bus for hours on end and likely finding it difficult to sleep, adding hunger into that equation would likely result in some kind of internal combustion. Bringing some of your favorite, travel-friendly snacks can tide you over until a stop is made.

If you crave a bedtime snack, you are not alone. Cravings come in all shapes and forms, but you should almost expect them when traveling as your body is winding down from what was likely a hectic day of getting travel plans settled and making it on time to your departure. Luckily, a lot of bus companies permit food to be eaten on board, but you should be respectful to your other passengers about your food choices — no one wants to sit next to the tunafish sandwich guy. It's also important to note that you won't be able to refrigerate or heat anything up, so your typical chip aisle fare is not only fair game but ideal.

Drink plenty of water

A lot of people may think it would be better to avoid drinking when on a bus trip, so as to not disturb anyone by having to get up to go to the restroom, but they would be wrong. It's important to stay hydrated and drink water, and not doing so could do way more harm than having to ask someone to let you pass by.

Long-haul bus routes can last for a number of hours and even days, so it's pretty much expected that you'll need to use the restroom every once in a while. What's not expected, though, is needing to stop the bus and journey so a passenger can go to the hospital for dehydration. Please take a water bottle with you and keep it filled whenever the bus makes one of its scheduled stops.

In addition to being absolutely necessary for your health and survival, drinking water can also aid in falling asleep. Being hydrated helps stabilize our core temperature, which allows us to fall asleep easier and have long, meaningful sleep.

Secure your stuff

We all sleep easier knowing we are safe and secure, and when you're traveling, it's important to make sure that all of your things are safe as well. We have already said that packing light is the easiest way to feel secure in the safety of your things, but if you do have more than one bag to keep track of, there are precautions you can take to help make sure they remain intact.

Investing in an AirTag for each of your bags can go a long way in making you feel at ease about falling asleep away from your belongings. If you are bringing anything valuable, keep it either on your person or in the bag you are keeping close to you. All money, identification, or important documents should be kept out of stowed-away bags and somewhere on your person that is out of sight. If the worst case scenario is you being out a bag full of clothes and easily replaceable items, then you've done a great job in making sure that the important things are kept safe. Hopefully, knowing that your things are safe will help you sleep a little more soundly.


We know, we know, what kind of stretching can you do when your knees are practically shoved into the back of the seat in front of you? Actually, you'll be surprised to find out that there are plenty of stretches that can be performed while sitting – yes, even in tight spaces.

There are stretches that focus on your legs, arms, neck, and back that can all be achieved while sitting in an upright position. Just doing a few neck rolls can loosen your body up for a night of better sleep, and engaging all parts of your body will result in a more comfortable and restful ride.

If stretching isn't a part of your normal bedtime routine, maybe it should be. Even as little as five minutes of shoulder rolls before laying down for the night can be beneficial to your quality of sleep. Stretching out your body before committing to hours of sitting or laying in the same position can help make the ride one that doesn't hurt when you get up.

Take advantage of stops

Speaking of the importance of stretching, you'll want to get your body moving whenever you are able to get off the bus. Not only will it help you sleep a bit better, but moving your body and working your muscles a bit will help keep your body from locking up and causing aches, which can sometimes follow you through your entire trip.

Even if you don't need to use the facilities or grab a snack, don't stay on the bus during rest stops. Use the time away from your seat to either do some full-body stretches that require more range of motion than your seat proves possible or simply use the time to walk around. Stops may be short-lived, so be sure to get your blood pumping as quickly as possible and take advantage of every second you're not back in your seat — it will likely also be beneficial to breathe some air that hasn't been shared with various other passengers as well.

Wear ear plugs

If you have been able to block out the majority of the light that has kept you awake, then your other senses are probably working a little overtime. You'll want to get rid of the noise, of which there is probably plenty so that you're able to sleep. Ear plugs are a safe way to improve your quality of sleep on a bus.

Noise is natural, especially in public places, but too much of it can certainly hinder sleep. The bus itself will likely be the loudest noise pollution you face, but you may also be unfortunate enough to book a seat next to someone who has planned for their main source of entertainment to be other passengers. If you've got a talkative neighbor, earplugs will also deter them from chatting and make it clear you are trying to get some sleep while en route to your destination. Of course, AirPods or headphones can be a fun alternative if you don't want silence.

If you are traveling alone, you may want to consider only sleeping with one ear plug or headphones in so you can hear any important announcements that get made. Putting a timer on your phone is another way you can avoid missing out on planned stops while sleeping.

Get on the bus drowsy

The easiest way to get through a long travel period is to sleep through it – since you're here, you likely know this. If your body is unconscious, it doesn't recognize the passing of time. Try to spend as much time on the bus asleep as possible – it's kind of like time travel in that the drive will appear to be over when it has just begun. That's why you should get on the bus fully prepared to sleep as much as possible.

Wake up early, stay away from coffee or anything containing caffeine, and if your departure time is later in the day, refrain from taking a nap throughout the day. Expend as much energy as possible in the hours leading up to getting on the bus. Wear yourself out so that you need a good long sleep right around the time you're set to take off. It still may take some time to fall asleep when on the bus, but if you start out your bus journey tired you should have a much easier time finding comfort there.