With air travel suspended after the full-scale invasion, travel abroad for business trips or personal needs usually means many long hours on a bus or train. A journalist at Kyiv Post has made many such trips over the last year and has some useful tips to share with our readers on the road.
During my school years, I had to travel between countries by bus several times. Since I really like sterility and cleanliness, I would say that I am even fixated on it. Especially in the hot season, it’s important for me to take a shower, do my personal hygiene routine and put on clean clothes. Over the years, more and more items have been added to this list, especially in the form of a thousand and one jars of face cream.
So, it shouldn’t be hard to guess that a long bus ride in my imagination seems difficult and uncomfortable. The maximum I was used to was six-hour trips from Kyiv to Odesa and vice versa. But for four years now I have been building a life in Kyiv, returning from time to time to Odesa to visit my parents and childhood friends.
However, you never know what life will give you. Perhaps here you can use the folk wisdom that over and over again in your life there will be situations that cause you anxiety until you learn to react calmly to them.
When the full-scale war began, any air travel in Ukraine became impossible. These days, the train and bus have become my best friends. Especially after I started working as a journalist in the summer of 2022.
Business trips, both within Ukraine and abroad, have been added to my routine schedule. In the latter case, this is equal to approximately 15-20 hours of bus travel just for the outbound leg, not including the return home. This already sounds hard… maybe even on the verge of impossible.
When I talk to foreigners about it, they are genuinely surprised by the length of my journey with the thought of of return trip added in. These lengthy bus rides often are foran insignificant period I spend at my destination abroad.
It’s not what I’m used to. But, I’ve adapted and revised my conceptualization of such a trip.
In November last year I had to make such a long trip for the first time, from Kyiv to Odesa — seven hours and following that from Odesa to Bucharest — another 17 hours. That’s when I realized it’s not so difficult if you prepare properly.
The first thing you should think of is the conveniences on the bus. Today, there are quite a few companies that provide buses not only with a bathroom and electrical outlets, but also with internet, and on some a vending machine with coffee and tea.
In my opinion, the main “privilege” you need is the presence of a bathroom on the bus, where you can at least wash your face. Although the lack of such is not a big problem.
My personal hygiene tip is to take a shower before boarding the bus and put on clean, soft-to-the=body, comfortable clothes that will be relaxing to sleep in. You should also take a T-shirt in case it gets a little hot. In addition, you should wear shoes that can be easily removed and put on.
An equally important point is to choose a place near the window. If you can, choose a seat where the probability of having a neighbor is low. And if you are lucky and you sit alone, you’ll have the opportunity to stretch out your legs.
Next, you need to pack items in such a way that you have access to everything you may need during the trip in your hand luggage. If there is the space, take a blanket with you; if not, then a soft jacket would be enough, which you can use as a sort of blanket.
Most importantly, take a travel pillow: It’ll significantly add to your comfort. The best choice is an inflatable one, because they take up little space in your bag.
I also take wet and dry antiseptic wipes, water, a few bars, and chewing gum. I always make sure to take headphones, chargers, a power bank and cables. I also put a cosmetic bag with hygiene products in my hand luggage to use in the bathroom on the bus. Or if it is not available, then you can use it in the bathroom at any bus stop.
Last but not least, think of what you'll be doing on the road. This could be watching a movie or TV series. To do this, you should download them in advance. Suit yourself with your entertainment: I prefer to read a book, listen to music and, if inspired, write short stories and poems. Sometimes I even have enough strength to work a little. Just come prepared for the long hours on the road.
The crazy thing is that as if you don't do anything on the road, you still get tired to a certain extent. But it’s not too bad. After the trip, recuperation occurs quite quickly. But I do advise you to get off at bus stops whenever possible to take a short walk around the bus, exercise, or at least stand.
To sum up, I’ll just say that a long trip by bus isn’t so difficult and terrible, after all – if you think through the details of your itinerary in advance and prepare accordingly.
If you do it right, in what may have been a boring business trip you can find your own romantic adventure.
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