In an earlier article I had some general thoughts on planning and executing a successful bus trip. Here are some of the more specific considerations for making it through the experience.
Use a friendly bag. The camera bag isn't going into the luggage compartment, so expect to sit with it for the round trip as well as carrying it all day. Avoid velcro and pointy bits.
Water is heavy. Bottled water is evil, but this is the time to use it. Small snacks are worth carrying; my favourite is Peanut M&M's because they're melt-proof.
Access to A/C power is uncertain and a time-consuming inconvenience. Carry ample batteries, and don't forget about a booster for your smartphone if it's important.
Charge all of your batteries and cover the terminals with tape. Fold a flap over for easy removal. Now it's obvious which batteries are depleted.
In emergencies, some things can be bought. SD cards are common; good film and CF cards are tougher. But those fancy modern camera batteries are never pre-charged.
iPhones and other touch-screen music players without physical controls are tough to use with closed eyes. Screens that light up are obnoxious on a darkened bus.
Noise-isolating earphones are worth their cost; ones that leak sound are offensive and unneighbourly. Turn off anything that beeps or buzzes during the trip.
GPS navigation isn't everything. Draw diagrams and note down the directions to key points; this is faster to use and doesn't depend on battery power or a data connection.
Buses are usually cold no matter what time of year it is, so travelling when the weather needs a light jacket is remarkably convenient.
Window seats are more popular, so on an older bus the aisle seat may be in better condition and provide a more pleasant trip. But resist the urge to recline, as its comfort is fleeting.
Carry at least three earplugs. They're small, light, and provide a welcome relief from just about everything, but are easy to lose.
A hat with a brim can block out light when sleeping, provide shelter against rain, and reduce sun exposure. Essential.
Sunblock is also vital for warm-weather trips, but find some that won't melt the rubber on your camera grip.
Hot-air hand dryers are popular, but it's easier to wash your face when there are paper towels around. Remember where to find them or collect some along the way.
Carry emergency cash and information somewhere other than your wallet and camera bag. The goal is to keep the ability to get home if the worst case happens.
Pacing is key. Taking twenty or thirty minutes to relax in a coffee shop can result in better photos and better decisions for the next several hours.
Remember that, no matter what other goals there may be, this is a voluntary activity and is presumably meant to be enjoyed. Stress is unnecessary.
And that's it for now – I'm working on my packing list, and may have a bit more to say about that later. My next departure is just one month away.
Comments, questions, thoughts? You can find me on Twitter or via e-mail.