A common thing we Kenyans have is the presence of a rural family home. Mostly, this is where our grandparents stay, and we go to see them during holidays such as Easter and Christmas. For a few of us in big cities, the trip upcountry can be as short as an hour’s drive. For others, however, this trip can be an epic journey lasting up to ten hours, sometimes more. The preferred mode of transport for such trips is by bus. Buses generally take longer than matatus, but they tend to be significantly cheaper. They also offer more comfort in most cases. If you choose this mode, these eight tips might just be what you need to make your long-distance Kenyan bus ride enjoyable.

1. Travel Light

If you can, travel light. Use a carry-on bag that you can take with you on the bus if possible. That way, you can keep an eye on it throughout the trip. Light luggage also enhances your mobility, especially if you will be connecting buses. At any rate, having your luggage near you makes it easier to access whatever you might need during the trip.

2. Pick a Front Window Seat

Your sitting position will significantly influence your overall comfort. A bus has three main sitting parts. The front, middle and back. Sitting at the back can be uncomfortable, mainly because all the activities on the bus will take place right in front of you. If you suffer from anxiety or motion sickness, this can be much disturbing. The middle part can also feel cramped up with the least air circulation. The front part, however, gives you the luxury of space, less noise and movement, and the ability to quickly move around without bumping into anyone. Take the window seat to avoid passenger traffic as people walk up and down the aisle.

3. Carry Your Entertainment

Whether you are a reader, a fan of music or games, you should always carry some entertainment with you on a long Kenyan bus ride. Doing so helps keep your mind active and alert, especially when you are moving through parts that do not have much to see. Ensure you have a power bank if you do choose to use your phone for music or games because the phone’s charge gets drained faster.

4. Take the Night Bus

Unless you are travelling to areas with security issues, always take the night bus for such a long trip. Night travels are faster and smoother, thanks to less traffic on the roads. There will not be too much noise or activity inside or outside the bus so the trip should be comfortable. The cold night air also reduces heat stress which is common on day trips.

5. Take a Nap

Taking a nap during a long bus ride helps the time go faster. It also helps soothe motion sickness and boredom. However, you should always be cautious because some passengers can be malicious and take advantage of you in your unconscious state. Therefore, before the nap, make sure you have all your valuables on your person. This includes money, valuable documents and your electronics. You can keep them in the inside pockets of your sling bag, and even in unreachable pockets of your clothes. You can also set the alarm so that you do not oversleep past a preferred amount of time.

6. Take Breaks

Most long bus rides in Kenya always provide breaks every few hours. This is so that the driver and the passengers can stretch, use the bathroom and grab a bite. Maximise on these breaks. Going for a 10+hour trip without stretching or moving from your seat can cause severe muscle cramps and fatigue. You should also avoid travelling with a full bladder. Breaks allow you to also check in with your loved ones, replenish your snacks, and get commodities such as medicine if needed. In case you are worried about your luggage, carry it with you. This is why it helps to travel light.

7. Maintain Hygiene

For a successful and comfortable long bus ride, hygiene really plays a vital role. You can ensure you keep clean and safe by having paper towels, wet wipes and a sanitiser. You should also have a small paper bag where you place all your trash before disposing of them in the bus trash can. Observing proper hygiene this way prevents you and other passengers from spreading disease-causing germs. It also keeps the bus from stinking, which can cause you bloating and even nausea.

8. Make a Friend

Although not all passengers are friendly, you can try to initiate a conversation with your neighbour. Having someone to chat with during a long trip can make the journey seem much shorter. You can even take turns looking out for each other’s luggage when the other takes a nap. Such dialogue often leads to lifelong friendships. However, do not force the conversation when the other party is not interested.

Final thoughts

A long Kenyan bus ride can be uncomfortable, especially when you get a bad seat or when you do not have any form of entertainment. On the flip side, they can be enjoyable if you are well prepared and these tips will come in handy.