Night Buses, the Vegan Edition
Anyone who travels in South America, especially on the cheap, has taken one (or many many many many) night buses. They are nowhere near fun, but they can be survivable with a bit of pre-planning…
I present to you, the Five Must Brings for Night Buses
1. TOILET PAPER.
Well, this is a rule for South America in general. Carry toilet paper. If you’re not paying for a bathroom, you’re paperless. Let’s just say, fifteen hours on a bus with travelers stomach, food poisoning, or even just an overactive colon is not pleasant, even less so if you’re paperless.
I admittedly can’t sleep on buses, particularly with every jerking curve waking me up and reminding me of a bus accident I had when I was in Venezuela. Not to mention the crazy speeding up and braking. Don’t the drivers realize that we’re trying to sleep? Stress eating or midnight munchies become a serious issue. I also bring a few different snacks; crackers and oreos are a general staple. Nothing too exciting because, let’s remember, these are buses in South America. Driving reasonably is not an option.
On some of these buses, particularly on the nicer companies in the more touristy or richer countries (Peru, Chile, Argentina), they will serve food on the buses. You can definitely ask for a vegetarian meal (try for vegan if you want, particularly on the nicer ones). I have had “edible” foods, where I moved off the cheese on a veggie meal, but I would not rely on it. As per usual, I always carry back up on these long buses. Bread and avocado is always a good back up.
You’re gonna regret not having something to wet the whistle on these long bus rides. Particularly if you’re eating oreos. Trust me.
4. WARM CLOTHES and potentially Blankets.
I’d actually say, dress in layers. Depending on the country, depending on the company, the age of the bus, you’re either going to freeze or be stifling hot. There is no middle.
In Colombia, the buses are so cold, locals bring comforters on the bus.
In Ecuador, the windows won’t open and you’ll be praying for a brush of fresh air.
In Bolivia, you’re just hoping your bus makes it.
I always always bring layers. Lots of jackets and potential layers. A t-shirt as a base is perfect.
5. EAR PLUGSLet me tell you the number of times I’ve wished I had ear plugs on a long bus.
- That time the audio system was broken and had a screeching high pitch sound coming out of my speaker. 18 hours. 18 long motherfucking hours.
- That time the audio system was broken and the only sound came out of one speaker, of course, the one above me, screaming at me so that the whole bus could hear.
- That crying kid. (x5)
- That time they played the Prince of Persia twice in a row. Twice in a row. The Prince of Persia. It’s as bad as it sounds.
- All the violent, crazy car chase bus accident loud violent inappropriate movies they always play. Why, why, do they choose all these movies with high speed car accidents? Is it supposed to make me more secure about their reasonably “less” crazy driving?
And that’s just to name a few. Trust me, you’ll be glad.
Night buses are an unfortunate side effect of long term, cheap travel. It’s painful, but you’ll survive. Hopefully.