18 Things to Carry While Traveling Long Distance by Train or Bus

Long distance journeys can be an overwhelming experience. While you can be assured to have some memorable experience, the probability of encountering troubles can never be ruled out. Adequate preparation is the key to a comfortable, convenient and safe trip, especially if you are heading out on an overnight journey by train or bus.

This article is aimed at providing you a checklist of articles to carry while boarding a train or bus for long distance trip in India.

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1. Neck Pillow to Travel in Comfort

Stiff neck and shoulder pain are a common occurrence among long distance travelers. To make the matters worse, public transport in India lacks significantly when it comes to passenger comfort. The best you can hope for is lesser discomfort. Neck pillow may look goofy, but they can provide the much-needed support to prevent cramps in and around the shoulder region.

2. Eye Mask to Sleep in Peace

If you are not among the lucky ones who can fall asleep to their whims and fancies, then an eye mask can be helpful in getting some shut eye. The prospect of your fellow passenger keeping the sun-shade fully open during daylight and switching on reading lamps at night can never be ruled out. An eye mask can be of great help to combat such a scenario.

3. Travel Size Air Freshener

If public transport makes you feel nauseated, it can be a good idea to have a spray of air freshener at your disposal. When you are on a long distance trip by train or bus, the cleanliness of coaches would deteriorate consistently over time. The surrounding would invariably develop unpleasant odor. As such, a refreshing fragrance of your choice can prove to be helpful in recovering some lost aroma.

4. Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

For hygiene conscious travelers, hand sanitizer is an essential commodity. Sometimes water runs out on longer rides, leaving you in a sort of predicament as far as washing hands is concerned. So bring a pack of wipes to clean your hands and a sanitizer to keep the germs away.

5. Ear Plug to Combat Noisy Neighbors

Encountering a happily snoring co-passenger completely oblivious of his/her surroundings is highly likely on an overnight journey. You may also come across crying babies screaming their hearts out. If you are a light sleeper, things like that can prove to be disastrous. That brings a pair of ear plugs into the picture. It can help you keep unwanted noises at bay, especially when you are trying to catch a few winks.

Fun Fact: Why do your ears get blocked during travel?

This happens mostly when traveling in an air conditioned coach or ascending to higher altitudes. It happens due to the difference of air pressure inside the inner ear and that of the outside environment.

When this happens you can try something called the “Valsalva maneuver” where you close your mouth, pinch your nose and try blowing out air through it till you feel your ears “pop”.

6. Clip-on Light for the Avid Reader

If you are an ardent reader, you will find a clip-on light to be extremely useful during overnight journey. You wouldn’t like to leave a thriller halfway just because it’s time for your fellow traveler(s) to take a nap. Same holds true for candidates preparing for exams during travel. So bring along a clip-on light and keep yourself engaged with your book without inconveniencing the co-passengers.

7. No Journey is Complete without Tissues & Towels

Can you think of commencing on a journey without a towel? Yet, we often tend to forget this essential thing. Alongside carrying standard cloth towels, you will also find paper tissues useful. Make it a point to carry both dry and wet tissue papers. We also strongly recommend you to carry at-least one extra cloth towel. You never know, there can be a situation where you would be forced to throw one away.

8. Power Bank to Power Through

If you are a heavy gadget user, chances are high that your device(s) will be running out of charge midway through the journey. You can’t count on the availability of power sockets inside a bus or train coach. Even if there is one, you will surely experience quite a bit of rush. A better alternative is to carry a power bank of your own. And don’t be surprised if it turns out to be useful to some of your co-travelers.

9. Medical Kit to Stay Safe

People who are on prescribed medication would invariably carry their medicines during a long journey. But even for the general users, it’s a good practice to take your medical kit along. At-least carry a first-aid box with medication for cuts and bruises, anti-septic ointment, anti-fungal powder, bandages and sterile gauze dressings. You should also carry medicines for common ailments like fever, cold, upset stomach and motion sickness.

Fun Fact: Motion sickness is caused by the brain thinking that the body has been poisoned

Area postrema is a part of the human brain responsible for resolving conflicts between vision and balance.

When we travel, our brain senses motion through our eyes but can’t account for it as the body remains standstill. Due to these mismatched signals the brain believes that the body has been poisoned and thus induces vomiting to clear out toxins.

10. Be Prepared to Fight the Army of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are a common nuisance and can run havoc anytime, anywhere – be it your home or in a train/bus. They will make their presence felt as soon as the sun sets in the west. So if you are onboard a public transport on an overnight journey, it makes absolute sense to be well-prepared in your fight against the mosquito army. Carrying mosquito repellent cream can be the most obvious solution.

11. Mouthwash Can Come Handy

Not everyone is comfortable brushing on a moving train. To add to this there is also the inconvenience of opening your luggage and searching for your toothpaste and brush. This where mouthwash comes into the scheme of things. Just pour directly from the container, gargle for some 30 odd seconds and spit it out. Not as good as brushing but will you leave with a fresh breath.

12. How About Bringing a Blanket and Bed Spread?

While trains, and to some extent luxury buses, do offer passengers bedding facility, it might not be good enough. Quite a few of us are apprehensive about sharing such materials with strangers. You can always count on a disinfectant spray to sterilize shared blanket/bed spread, but to be on the safer side, it is advisable to bring a set of your own.

13. A Travel Organizer to Keep Your Documents Safe

How do you plan to store all the travel related documents at a single, easily accessible place? You may need to produce your tickets and identity card multiple times on a long distance trip. The chances of them getting misplaced is high if you are keeping them in your pocket or travel bag. A travel organizer offers a neat alternative to keep them organized instead of fishing around.

Pro Tip: Maps can be downloaded for later use when network isn't available.

To be able to use maps to navigate your way it needs two things – GPS and Maps. Of these, your phone’s GPS can work without any signal so all you need is maps. Now, maps cannot be downloaded when there no mobile internet but using Google Maps you can download them beforehand. This is of huge help when you’re headed to a place which doesn’t have or signal or where mobile data is slow or expensive.

14. Multi-pin Power Outlet

If you don’t have a power bank then a multi-pin power outlet can be a practical alternative to charge your electronic device(s) while traveling. This is especially useful on a train journey, where every coupe is equipped with just a single plug point. Having a multi-pin outlet in such a scenario means it can serve several users simultaneously.

The wholehearted gratitude of your fellow travelers can be the added incentive!

15. Small Comb

Tossing and turning in a moving bus or train will leave your hair in an unruly mess. And this is worse for people with long hair that tangles and knots. To deal such troubles it is always wise to carry a small comb that fits in your pocket or purse.

16. Hands-free mobile holder

If watching movies on smartphone is your favorite pastime, then you must have experienced the pain of holding your device for long hours. Here’s an easy solution – Get yourself a portable hands-free mobile holder stand and keep on watching your favorite movies as long as you desire.

17. Wireless earphones

Tossing and turning in a bus or train will leave your wired earphones in a tangled mess. So will stuffing it in your backpack or pocket without properly folding them. We recommend you stay away from all these troubles with a set wireless earphones that will be of great use even when you’re not traveling.

18. Small Denomination Currency Notes

Make no mistake, you will need a lot of change during a long journey. You will be tempted to buy various food items and it can be hard to break larger bills. Dishing out a 500 rupee note for 10 rupee cup of coffee will not amuse the vendor. Having exact change can expedite things to a great extent.


Long journey requires proper planning. You need to give due consideration to various aspects before hitting the road. Preparing a checklist of things to carry is one aspect that often gets neglected. We hope, this list of essential travel items will prove to be useful for your next overnight trip.

Have we missed out on including some of the obvious choices? Feel free to use the comments section to let us know.

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