How to survive a long school bus trip

One of the downsides to going on a school trip abroad is the travelling. Whilst it’s fine for the first few hours, sitting on a coach for a solid 10 hours can get very boring very quickly. To build the ultimate road-trip survival kit, you’ll need to do the following.

Prepare entertainment

Load your mp3 or tablet up with some new music or films and remember to bring your headphones.

Also, make sure that these – and any other technical equipment like your phone or games console – are fully charged before you set off. You’ll be on the coach for a good few hours and you don’t want to run out of battery half way round!

Pack snacks

Remember to pack snacks and drinks. No doubt your teachers will have arranged stops on the way to pick up food, but a snack will help you stave off hunger if you feel a bit peckish.

We’d recommend that you take water or fruit juice as your drink as this will be the best thing to keep you hydrated if you’re thirsty. We’d also advise that you take healthy snacks like cereal bars and fruit – but we also know it’s much more likely everyone will want sweets and chocolate!

Whatever you decide, make sure your classmates take some too so you can all share. It’s not fair if one or two people end up giving their sweets away to everyone.

Get the dress code right

It’s great getting out of school uniform. However, before you get glammed up for the coach trip, think about whether those new jeans are going to be comfortable for sitting in for the best part of a day.

Ideally, soft trackies with a comfortable t-shirt and hoodie will be the most comfy choice – and there’ll be plenty of time to wear your better stuff during the trip.

Try and bag a window seat

We’re not saying all rush on the coach bashing each other out of the way for a window seat. But perhaps if you know who you’re going to sit with, you could agree to go half and half and switch seats midway through the journey.

It’s always exciting visiting and new country and watching the changing landscape can be a great way to pass the time. Make sure you’ve got your Instagram account set up on your phone to take some really cool pictures of everything you see.

Get some rest

So that you’re not sleepy when you actually reach your destination, try to rest as much as you can on the coach (in between gaming and snacking, obviously).

This won’t be easy, but there are a couple of things you could pack to help you get yourself comfy: An eye mask: the light outside and passing traffic can be distracting even with your eyes closed. An eye mask might help you to block these things out.

Ear plugs: as mentioned before, you’ll need your ear plugs for watching films and playing games anyway, but they can also help block out noise when you’re trying to get to sleep. Alternatively playing some calming music might help you to drop off.

A travel pillow: unless you want to scrunch up your hoodie or jumper and use this to rest on, you might want to pack an inflatable travel pillow. This can easily be scrunched up in the bottom of your bag until you need it.

A really long coach trip can be tiring so it’s advisable to try and get a little bit of sleep, even though it’s difficult when you’re cramped into a tiny seat with a lot of people around you.

Swat up

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to be one of those people who can read on the road, prepare yourself for when you reach your destination by bringing along some travel guides or material about your trip. Just taking a bit of time to read up about where you’re going can mean that you get much more from your trip because you’ll look out for things and notice more of what’s around you.

Alternatively, you could download the ‘Field Trips’ app and get snippets of information about where you are straight to your mobile.

Over to you

WST school trips are action-packed from the minute you reach your destination to the moment you set off home. However, there’s no doubt that long coach journeys can be dull. For the best possible trip, try to include some of these top boredom-busters in your planning.

How to survive a long school bus trip

How to survive a long school bus trip

How to survive a long school bus trip

How to survive a long school bus trip

How to survive a long school bus trip

How to survive a long school bus trip

Do you have any tips for your long school trip journeys?

Have you been on a long journey recently and come up with some of your own ideas of how to kill time on a coach? If so, we would love to hear them, so be sure to let us know via Twitter.

The US is one of the largest countries in the world, and as you can imagine, certain bus trips can take up to a day or two. Gear up for your adventure and read our tips and how you can make your bus ride as comfortable as possible!

How to survive a long school bus trip

Take the overnight bus
If you don’t mind not seeing the landscapes and just want to get from point A to point B, we recommend you take the overnight bus. This helps you save time and you’ll wake up directly at your destination – which definitely gives new meaning to rise and shine!

Pack light
You’ll may need to transfer bus on a long trip, so pack light in order to not have to lift heavy baggage. Also, make sure that you know the baggage policy of bus companies like Greyhound and Megabus

Pack a blanket and neck pillow
A blanket and neck pillow can help you get cozy and help you sleep during your bus ride. Also, the blanket is a life safer, as it can get quite cold in the bus thanks to the air conditioning. Much like in an airplane, we recommend you bring additional layers of clothes to stay warm.

Use earplugs and an eye mask
Earplugs and an eye mask will help you stay undisturbed during your trip. Other passengers might get noisy or turn on and off their light. Also, you may wake up from passengers simply getting on or off the bus (or going to the washroom).

Bring tissues
Let’s admit it: Washrooms are gross no matter if on the airplane, on the train, or on the bus. Just wipe your hands with your disinfectant tissues and you’re fine for the rest of the trip.

Pack some snacks and drinks
Whereas buses usually make a few stops to refuel and let people buy something to eat, those eateries tend to be expensive. Pack some snacks and drinks – not only is this permitted on buses, but it’s also much cheaper.

Choose your seat carefully
The ride feels bumpier in the back, so choose a seat in the middle or front. Also, if you choose an aisle seat, the window seat beside you may be free and you’ll be lucky to have them both for yourself!

Take off your shoes
There are some really simple actions you can take to relax during long bus rides. One of them is taking off your shoes. Just try it out – it works wonders!

Take advantage of the Wi-Fi
The entertainment you can get using Wi-Fi makes time fly. So take advantage!

Bring a book with you
If you’re less of a techie, bring a book with you and read during your trip.

Stretch every now and then
Even if you brought your own snacks and drinks with you, take advantage of these breaks to get off the bus and stretch. This will help you feel less worn out once you arrive to your destination.

Drink Gatorade or other energy drinks instead of water
Having to use the washroom can often be an issue on any trip. You can prevent this by drinking Gatorade or other energy drinks to keep you hydrated.

Do you have any other tips on how to make long bus rides a breeze? Let us know in the comments section below!

How to survive a long school bus trip

It’s a fact of life: everybody has to travel long distances by bus sooner or later. It’s boring. It’s terrible. Sometimes, there’s nothing to talk about.

You’re sitting there, looking at the faces around you… and so many people look so miserable, don’t they?

Whatever the reason is, you’re taking the bus for the long, grueling haul of traveling for countless hours… here are some nifty tricks you can use IMMEDIATELY to make the time pass by.

1. Don’t Forget Your Tech

Some classical items to take along this “wild” journey are, of course, fail-safes to ensure a good time. In fact, I’ll bet you RARELY go anywhere without…

  • An mp3 player
  • Your smartphone
  • Tablet/mini laptop

There is absolutely no reason to go anywhere without these devices. A long time ago (2009) I had to make an eight-hour trek by bus… to New York City.

What nobody told me at the time was that you had to go through endless miles of highway. Nothing but forest after forest and pavement. It was really monotonous.

Luckily, I had an mp3 player (that sadly died halfway to NYC). But listening to music soothed the sheer pain of having to be on that bus (which had no air conditioning, by the way, in the middle of June).

These days, however, you can play virtually anything: videos, podcasts, and the like. Maybe even get around to reading that ebook you always put off. (I have at least 76 downloaded PDFs that haven’t been cracked past the third page.)

2. Unplug and Tune In

But tech can only get you so far. It’s no surprise that we live in the age of information. Life seems like a rat race, and we rarely have the time to settle down and actually enjoy the serene art of doing nothing.

There is some serious Zen in sitting back and relaxing. While you’re on this long charter bus ride, there’s simply nothing you have to do but sit back and relish in the journey.

(This works even better if you use your media device to play some relaxing sounds – waterfalls, rolling water, crickets, a jacuzzi softly humming, etc. There are even 6-hour binaural soundtracks specifically designed to calm your mind down. They’re really worth checking out – I listen to these at least 30 minutes a day when I can sneak in some book-reading time.)

3. Stretch Those Limbs

Many busses have layovers. Sometimes you wait 15 minutes, 45, or up to an hour. (My journey to NYC took a detour to Virginia. In this glorious state, we had a two-hour layover.)

All that sitting can play havoc on your legs and blood circulation.

This is why layovers and breaks are the perfect time to catch up on some light stretches and exercises. It’s a fact that many of us spend too much time sitting on our butts, anyway. We could all benefit from a healthier lifestyle, right?

Something as simple as static lunges gives your legs the needed stretch they need.

If you’re more inclined, even the power of push-ups benefit you greatly. And the best part? These can be performed literally anywhere.

One quick tip I do daily to get my heart rate up and stay healthy is a bout of jumping jacks. The important part is to boost your heart rate and get your blood pumping. This keeps you looking young and in charge of your life.

(If you’re shy like I am, all of these exercise hacks can be done in a public restroom. It might be stinky, yes… but at least no one will see you.)

The sweet deal with all these quickies are the fact that you don’t have to break a sweat!

4. Get The Party Started

If you’re traveling with a party of two or more people and looking for some good-natured human interaction and socialisation… playing games with people go good together like peanut butter and bread.

So, this is a perfect time to break out the cards! (Especially handy if there’s a table in between your party.)

The cream of the crop for my friends is to go through several rounds of Cards Against Humanity. You absolutely CANNOT go wrong with playing this classic game. It’s sure to help you pass the time (in the best way possible).

Another incredibly fun game to play with people is “Why? Because.” In case you don’t know the game, don’t worry – it COULDN’T be easier.

All the game involves is answering someone’s question.

Such as… “Why are we on this bus?”

Then they fold the paper over (so the question is hidden), and hand the paper to the person next to them. That person then answers the question starting with “because.” So… “Because elephants are huge” or “Because Stephen Hawking is awesome.”

The randomness of Q&As have the potential for ensuing hilarity, depending on the party you’re with. It’s a seriously fun game that my old lady and I play with her siblings every holiday. It’s THAT addictive, and certain to shave some hours off the long bus ride.

5. Jot, Jot, Jot

This one should be a no-brainer: going “old-school” with a notebook and pen. There is absolutely NO WAY to go wrong with scribbling down your thoughts, scheduling your future, or brainstorming an idea or two of taking over the world.

Since I’m a writer by obsession (having written for 10+ years), scribbling down my thoughts, ideas, and unloading my “future’s blueprints” in a notebook is like breathing air. When I was traveling for eight hours to NYC, a notebook saved my life.

Plus, the notes and observations I “stalked” from that wonderful journey provided some rich imagery that made my later poems much more vivid, real, and engaging. The thrill of being somewhere new, no matter where it is, is what most artists strive for. To be able to capture that “essence of living,” no matter the circumstance, is why most artists breathe.

Even if you aren’t artistically inclined, handwriting can be an intimate distraction from the flurry of using your fingers to type on your keyboards and Smartphones. You can use it to plan out your day, your week, or write first drafts for planned emails.

And, if you happen to be traveling with a party, you can’t go wrong with Tic-Tac-Toe or any other classic “writing” games we played as kids.

(You aren’t going anywhere, so why not?)

Conclusion

Passing the time on long charter bus rides is sometimes so simple, all you need is an active imagination and a willingness to “get back to your roots.” Think about it: what were you doing before technology? —When life was simpler, and time passed by like a speeding fly.

How to survive a long school bus trip

When we visited New Orleans in May, we opted to take the Greyhound bus there from Virginia rather than flying. The choice was easy for us, because we ended up saving nearly $1000. However, many people thought we were crazy because the bus journey was 24 hours each way.

However, sitting on a bus for 24 hours is not as bad as it sounds and was certainly worth the savings. When you are travelling around the world, you might find that taking the long way somewhere will cost you considerably less. If you can learn how to make the most of lengthy journeys, you can get a lot farther for less.

We have taken many epic journeys on buses, as well as trains, boats and more, so here are the tips that we have learned for surviving a long trip.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Marching band in the French Quarter – New Orleans was absolutely worth sitting through a 24 hour bus ride!

Stock Up on Supplies

When you are taking a long bus journey, it is a good idea to stock up on snacks and drinks in advance. Yes, you will get chances to stop along the way but most of the time your only choices for sustenance will be fast food or overpriced convenience store snacks. Eating nothing but junk food for 24 hours will make you even more cranky and tired when you arrive at your destination.

Make a few sandwiches before you leave or buy some healthy to-go meals at the supermarket. You can also bring some fruit to snack on as well as nuts, crackers and other healthy treats. Don’t forget water, as you will want to avoid getting too dehydrated.

Use Your Time Productively

If you are a digital nomad who works on the road, long bus rides can be the best times to get some work done. You will have uninterrupted peace for a full day and you have nothing else to do but sit there and look out the window, so why not get some work done? If you do your work on the bus before you get there, you will have less work to do in your destination so that you can have fun and enjoy when you get there.

You will need to prepare in advance, as not all buses will have WiFi and places to plug in your laptop. If I am planning to get some work done on a bus trip, I will download everything that I need in advance. Set your laptop on the lowest battery-conserving setting and keep as few programs running as possible. You might even consider investing in a second battery to extend your working time.

Even if you are not a digital nomad and don’t have any freelance work to do, why not use this transit time to do something productive that you have been meaning to get to? Work on your novel, listen to a language learning program or write letters to your family and friends about your travels. You will be amazed by how much you will have accomplished by the time you arrive.

Okay, we are on a train in this photo but the same advice applies!

Have Multiple Forms of Entertainment

If you don’t have anything productive to do, it can be nice to sit back and relax for a while and enjoy yourself on the bus. When you do, make sure that you have multiple forms of entertainment to enjoy. You might be really into playing Angry Birds on your phone or reading that novel, but after three or four hours of it you will start to get bored and you will still have 20 hours of travel left!

You could bring an iPod with music, a couple of books or a Kindle, a magazine, a laptop with a few films or TV shows on it or anything which can entertain you. When you get bored with one, you can switch to the other.

I tend to always read my book first when on a long journey. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, sometimes buses don’t have reading lights and when evening comes it will become too dark to read. You don’t want to use up all of the battery power on your devices first and then find that it is too dark to read. Second of all, as the long journey progresses you will become more tired and less able to focus on reading anything deep and complicated. You will want to switch your brain off and enjoy something mindless like your favorite TV show or film.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Having a Kindle is great for long bus trips, just don’t forget to charge it fully

Getting to Sleep

Falling asleep on a bus seat can be difficult and no matter how much of a seasoned traveler you are it will never be as comfortable as a real bed. However, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself get a better sleep.

• Wear comfortable clothes. Avoid anything tight or restricting. You don’t have to travel in sweatpants or pajamas, just wear some loose fitting jeans or khakis which give you room to breathe.

• Bring a sweater. Sometimes when you are in a hot climate such as Southeast Asia the air conditioning on the buses is absolutely freezing. You can also use a sweater or a jacket as a pillow.

• Ear plugs or headphones can help you to block out outside noises and get into a more relaxed state. Choose some calm music, or download a really boring podcast!

• Don’t stress out about falling asleep too much, just get comfortable and enjoy the journey. If your body is tired, you will naturally drift off.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Lee has gotten really good at falling asleep on buses

Taking a 24 hour bus journey is not the end of the world and if it can save you a large chunk of money you might find that the time spent is absolutely worth it. With a little bit of preparation, you can make the journey as enjoyable as possible.

What is the longest you have ever been in transit? What do you do on long bus journeys to keep yourself occupied?

How to survive a long school bus trip

Long bus rides can seemingly last forever. When the scenery is dull and you want the trip to end, a nap helps the miles and time slip away. Perfecting a sleep routine that works best for you will take a period of trial and error. Once you find the secret to sleeping on a bus, you will arrive at the final destination refreshed and relaxed–and be the envy of your classmates.

Sit next to the window and use the window to rest your head. Carry a small pillow or neck-support pillow in a backpack, or fold a jacket for a pillow. Place the pillow against the window for a cushion. Occupy two seats if possible (but not at the expense of inconveniencing other riders on the bus). Sit sideways in the seats and brace your back and head against the window and side of the bus. Bend your knees and place your feet on the seat beside you, if possible. Adjust your body until you are comfortable enough to fall asleep.

Listen to music to block out noise inside the bus with a digital music player on which you’ve downloaded your favorite songs. Place the plugs in your ears and start relaxing.

Read a book or do a puzzle that you know will make you drowsy. As soon as you start to feel sleepy, shut your eyes.

Cover your eyes with a bandanna or pull a ball cap down to shield your eyes from daylight. Choose a bandanna in your school colors and tie it comfortably around your head and position it to cover your eyes.

Sit beside and near people who are not likely to talk excessively. They will welcome the silence as much as you.

Avoid consuming drinks that contain caffeine, such as sodas and coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake, especially while traveling.

About the Author

Emma Lee owns a photography website and also works as a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, animals and photography. Her work can be found on various websites. Lee attended Charles County Community College located in Maryland.

Did you know that some school students, particularly those in rural areas such as Reservations, may ride the school bus for over 2 hours one way? Not exactly rocket science to identify it as a contributing factor to absenteeism or drop out rates.

Who wants to spend 4 or 5 hours on the school bus, and in Arizona heat? A long school bus ride looks different depending where you live.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Now, that point wasn’t to make you super-grateful because your child only has a 60 or 90 minute ride. Or to try to negate your concerns about your disabled child’s long school bus ride. My point is that lots of kids have long school bus rides, and you are not alone.

Average School Bus Ride Time

A 2001 study was one of the most recent ones I could find. Very frustrating!

But, it also stated that a common figure that is quoted is “30 minutes” when that tends to not be the case. And, interesting but not shocking findings: The poorer a student is, and the more rural a student is, the longer their school bus ride will be.

Mind you, this study is around 20 years old. I say that only because school budgets have taken a tremendous hit in the past 20 years. And, one way to trim costs is to run fewer but fuller buses.

How long can a child legally be on a school bus?

A long bus ride by itself may not be enough reason to change it. IDEA does not define length of bus rides and what is appropriate. Some states do define how long a child can legally be on a school bus, and most have it capped at one hour. You will have to research your state’s regs to see if they exist and if your district is in compliance.

If it’s not defined by your state, and it’s not in IDEA, you have to take another approach. You’re going to have to focus on the I-Individual aspect of IEP as to why this is not appropriate for your child.

On an IEP, transportation is considered a related service. If you have transportation concerns, approach it the same way you would any other related service. How is or isn’t it meeting your child’s needs?

Ask your child about the bus ride.

Like anything else, to the maximum extent possible, include your child in this process. What may seem like a long ride to the parents may be quite enjoyable for the student.

My typical child often says that the bus ride is his favorite part of the day.

Effects of Long Bus Rides on Students

The studies on how a long bus ride could affect a student’s performance are few and far between. I found one interesting study from Penn State, but even that study was compiled with “reflective data.” That means they interviewed former students and adults, and asked them what they remembered about their bus ride.

But, we don’t need hard data if it is individually affecting your child, and they have told you as much. When a child tells you something, believe them. Too often they are gaslighted into “oh that’s not really a problem.”

School buses can be a problem. It’s dozens of students with varying ages with very limited supervision. Bullying, profanity, and so much more can and does occur. At best, your child can sit quietly and either snooze or read for the journey. At worst, they’re bullied at intimidated by others or could have a medical crisis such as a seizure or hypoglycemia.

How To Approach your School About a Long Bus Ride.

There are many thoughts rolling around in my head about this and how I would approach it if it was my child or a client.

  1. First, check your state’s regs. (at bottom of post) Some states define this, many do not. That might be all the data you need. Also read your school district transportation policy. This is not defined by IDEA, so you will have to find other places where it is defined, if possible.
  2. Identify/list/define why this long bus ride is detrimental to your child’s well being or affecting their ability to access their education. Reasons might include dangerous situations due to Type 1 Diabetes or epilepsy. Or the ride is so long that your child is hungry when they arrive at school or require medication.
  3. Request an IEP/504 meeting with all your reasons in a parent letter of concern. Keep in mind that is an issue that may not require you to convene the entire team. It may be appropriate in your letter to state that you only need the Director of Transportation, LEA, nurse, behaviorist and so on, and that you only need to discuss transportation.
  4. Transportation is an IEP Related Service. There’s no “well, that’s the bus, not school.” It is school. As far as IDEA, the bus is considered a “related service” and therefore part of the IEP. If your bus driver needs training, it’s quite appropriate to put it in the IEP.
  5. Be solution oriented: What would it take to make this situation better? Can the route be changed? What is required to add an aide? A camera on the bus?
  6. If the route cannot be changed or shortened, brain storm on what else could be done. If your district is running just one bus to get your child from Point A to Point B, see if a private transportation company can do it for cheaper. Can parents car pool? Can the parent be reimbursed for mileage for transporting the child?
  7. If the bus ride cannot be changed, what can happen to make it better? Can the child be exempted from usual policies and be allowed to eat as desired? Can they add wifi to the bus so that the child can work on homework? (this is one of the solutions in Arizona) What about headphones, iPad, Leap Pad, books, music, even tutoring! Think outside the box to make the most of a long bus ride.
  8. What are your non-negotiables, such as bullying, safety, seizures, etc.
  9. Document, document, document. If you’re not making progress, keep documenting bus incidents as necessary.
  10. Rally other community members. One of the many reasons that school transportation has changed in recent years is due to the increase in parents driving their kids to school when they could take a bus. This means that a bus often has a longer route to cover, resulting in longer rides for some of the kids. Rally your community to be greener and take the bus when possible.
  11. If your district provides transportation for all students, then they must provide transportation for your child, regardless of placement. The only exception to this would be if it was part of a settlement agreement and not included.
  12. If your district does not provide transportation to any child, you will have to make the case that this is a necessary related service in order for your child to access FAPE.

The School Bus and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

I feel I have to at least mention LRE. It’s not really a secret that “riding the short bus” carries with it a negative stigma and may open the child up to bullying and more. I certainly wish that as a society we were past that point, but we’re not.

LRE extends to all areas of the IEP, not just the classroom placement. I say this only to take it into consideration. Your child may enjoy the regular school bus and it may be his/her only time with typical children all day.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Are you going to be able to maintain social distancing on your school buses? If not, your entire district will be at risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. Any districts re-opening in the fall must take all possible precautions to maintain school bus safety, and minimize the chances of disease spread.

This will not be easy, but we have suggestions culled from district recommendations from around the country to help make it possible.

Seven Critical Tips for Promoting School Bus Safety Through Social Distancing

1. Accept That You Will Not Be Running Your Normal Bus Routes

The first tip is purely psychological; understand that running standard full-load buses is not possible, not if you want to prevent the spread of disease. Bus loads will have to be greatly reduced to maintain social distancing.

2. Require Masks

If your bus riders are all wearing masks, you can safely place one student on each seat of the bus. If they aren’t wearing masks, to be safe, you would have to alternate rows, to provide even more distance.

Even if the parents complain, students need to wear masks on the bus. Be sure to provide them at the bus entrance so they are always available! Install hand sanitizer stations as well, for extra protection.

3. Whenever Possible, Transport Siblings Together

One of the few exceptions to rule two would be if the students are siblings or otherwise live together in the same household. In those cases, there’s no need to maintain social distancing between them, and they can both be seated on the same seat.

4. Use Tape or Other Dividers to Block Off Seats

The student riders are unlikely to self-organize this seating arrangement. Your best bet will be physically blocking off any seats which should not be used, with tape or other barriers.

5. Put a Plexiglass Barrier Around the Driver

Drivers will be at the most risk of contracting COVID-19 from the students – which means, in turn, they’ll also be at the most risk of spreading the disease afterward. The best policy here is to physically isolate the driver with a plexiglass barrier around their seat.

6. Open the Windows

Weather permitting, try to run the buses with the windows down as much as possible. The coronavirus does not survive long in the open air, so having constant airflow will help reduce the chances of viral spread or contamination of physical components.

7. Fully Disinfect the Bus After Every Route

Anything that students might have touched during a ride should be thoroughly disinfected with alcohol or a similar sanitizing agent before the bus makes another run.

Has your district discovered any other effective tips for maintaining school bus safety during the coronavirus outbreak? If so, please share your tip below!

Like most western Loudoun kids, Erin Calley is used to long school bus rides.

Last year, she rode the bus for 30 minutes in the morning, from her home near Middleburg to Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville, and for 90 minutes in the afternoon.

“Usually, I try to get a little homework done before the roads get too windy,” she said of her afternoon rides. Then she sleeps or listens to books on tape until the bus stops at the end of her driveway at 5 p.m.

This school year, she’ll be on the bus 30 minutes longer each day, with an earlier pickup time of 7:20 a.m. “That will mean 2 hours and 50 minutes that a 12-year-old is spending on a bus every day,” her mother Susana Calley said. “When we saw that we were devastated.”

Many families who live along some of the county’s most scenic roadways woke up for the first day of school Monday to find they had even longer bus rides ahead of them than in years past. Some students are scheduled to be on a bus for three hours a day.

Calley spoke with a dozen or more families in similar situations. She said there’s a misperception that most western Loudoun families have a stay-at-home parent who can drive their kids to school. “They’re farm workers, firefighters, teachers, housecleaners. … These are rural families who don’t have the resources to take their children to and from school.”

After years of her children and her neighbors spending up to three hours a day on the bus, Tami Carlow, of Taylorstown, decided to work on a solution. She met with leaders in the school division’s Transportation Department for more than a year to organize a shuttle program that delivered students to Lovettsville Library after school. The kids hung out at the library while they waited for their parents to pick them up.

“They were on the bus for 30 minutes compared to an hour and a half after school. I was in tears when it first started because it worked so well for so many families,” she said. “Then we got an email this summer that said they weren’t going to fund the shuttle.”

Carlow and her neighbors understand that their kids will have longer bus rides than kids living in Leesburg or Ashburn. “But three hours a day is just cruel,” she said. “They expect kids to do everything—sports, homework, get a good night’s sleep and come ready to learn.”

“It’s like they’re adults and commuting to a job,” said Mo Thomas, who also lives in Taylorstown. “I feel like they talk about how we have such great schools here, but it seems like we don’t put any money into transportation,” which affects students’ learning.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Several families who live along dirt roads south of Lincoln are upset that bus service to their homes has been discontinued, requiring students to walk along Shelburne Glebe Road, a narrow gravel road, to their new bus stop. Adrienne Gardner, a parent of two students, said she’s generally in support of public transportation and more kids walking to school, but the roads in her neighborhood are unsafe for pedestrians, especially for kids as young as 6 years old.

“Most of the way there’s no shoulder, so they have to walk on the road—I don’t think the Transportation Department has come out and seen this,” she said, adding that in the winter it’s dark during morning pickup. “I know there’s a safer alternative.”


Why the Long Ride?

There’s nothing particularly unusual about the changes made to bus routes this school year, according to Kevin Lewis, the school system’s assistant superintendent of Support Services.

“Bus routes and pick up times are revised every school year based upon many factors,” he wrote in an email to Loudoun Now. Families new to the county, attendance boundary changes, and students moving from primary to secondary schools all require route adjustments, he said.

But other factors outside of the yearly ebb and flow of a school division are also in play.

The Transportation Department has seen a lot of leadership changes in the past two years. The current director of transportation, Michael Brown, was appointed to the post less than four weeks ago. He replaced Lonnie Reavis, who resigned earlier this year after first being placed on administrative leave. The school division’s Public Information Office would not say what prompted the action. Reavis was on the job for only 18 months, following the retirement of Alvin Hampton, who retired in September 2014 after leading the department for 13 years.

The department’s budget has also taken a hit. In the last seven years, its funding has increased by 23 percent while the county’s enrollment has grown by 38 percent.

“We’ve struggled with transportation funding since I’ve been on the board,” said School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), who represents a large portion of western Loudoun. She will look into some of the more extreme busing concerns to try to find solutions, she added, but funding is a major obstacle. “I’m not trying to diminish the transportation concerns, but we’re trying to make the best use of what we have and put as much as we can in the classroom.”

How to survive a long school bus trip

As part of the board’s fiscal belt-tightening effort, the School Board has during the past three years instructed the staff to cut back on the number of students who receive bus service. They expanded school “walk zones” at many schools to up to 1 mile for elementary students and up to 1.25 miles for middle and high school students. That’s meant several thousand more students walking to school. They also launched a Safe Routes to School initiative that’s designed to provide more bike lanes and safe walking routes to and from schools.

Carlow said she, and many other western Loudoun families, would be willing to pay a fee for shorter bus rides for their children. Virginia law prohibits school systems from charging for transportation. Former School Board member Bill Fox advocated a change in that law, but his efforts did not gain much traction.

The school division is also in need of bus drivers, with 89 unfilled positions. Lewis put a call out for anyone interested in working as a bus driver. Starting pay is $18.10 with benefits, and most of the positions require four-hour work days. Learn more at lcps.org/page/2092.

Funding and employee shortages are understandable challenges, but one small change that could go along way toward making families happier is improved communication, Gardner said. She and her neighbors were never told about their bus stop changes, but discovered it on the online parent portal, ParentVUE, less than a week before school started.

Families affected by changes to walk zones are notified “no less than three months prior to their effective date,” according to division policy. “At a minimum, I want them to give the equivalent notice that they are required to give to walkers so the appeal process can go through,” she said. It would also give transportation staff time to take a second look at some of the most dire situations.

The goal is to keep bus rides to no more than an hour, Lewis said. “But it is not uncommon for routes to exceed that target,” he added.

But some families may see improvements as the school year gets rolling, he said. His department will analyze arrival times and, as he put it, “adjust accordingly.”

Also know, how do you sit comfortably on a school bus?

Sit sideways in the seats and brace your back andhead against the window and side of the bus. Bend your kneesand place your feet on the seat beside you, if possible.Adjust your body until you are comfortable enough to fallasleep.

Secondly, where do you sit on a bus? Stay away from the back of the bus on the bottomdeck and from anyone with a takeaway. Priority seats on the bottomdeck are best. Second best is the top deck, three rows from thefront, on the aisle seat.

Considering this, how do you get comfortable on a bus?

  1. Take the overnight bus. If you don’t mind not seeing thelandscapes and just want to get from point A to point B, werecommend you take the overnight bus.
  2. Pack light.
  3. Pack a blanket and neck pillow.
  4. Use earplugs and an eye mask.
  5. Bring tissues.
  6. Pack some snacks and drinks.
  7. Choose your seat carefully.
  8. Take off your shoes.

What is the best way to sleep on a bus?

Straight-Forward Sleeping on theBus This is the easiest way to sleep. It involvessimply facing forwards and reclining the seat if possible. To helpwith this sleeping position, it is a good idea to puta sweatshirt or some other padding behind one’s back to helpdiminish any back soreness the next day.

How to survive a long school bus trip

This week is Wisconsin’s Tornado & Severe Weather Awareness Week and a good chance for drivers, passengers, students and families to be reminded of our plan of action should a bus encounter a tornado. This is the information we expect every driver to follow in case of a tornado.

1. Upon first sighting a tornado, determine in which direction it is traveling and whether it will hit you.

2. If the tornado is moving toward the area you are driving toward, do not continue in that direction. Instead, either stop if the storm is very close, or retreat at right angles to the storm’s path if it is not nearby.

3. Do NOT attempt to outrun a tornado which is bearing down on your vehicle.

4. If there is a likelihood that the tornado will hit your vehicle, and there is no escape route available: (if time permits – radio base quickly with location and circumstance)

a. Evacuate the bus.

b. Take only the first aid kit.

c. Do not allow the students/passengers to take personal possessions other than coats and jackets. These items could be used to cover their heads and bodies.

d. Avoid areas with many trees.

e. Do not take the students/passengers to an underpass. It is not known how safe an underpass is or how much shelter it would provide from flying debris in a strong or violent tornado. Flying debris causes most of the deaths and injuries in tornadoes. It is much safer for the students to be in a ditch.

f. Take the students/passengers to the nearest ditch, depression, or ravine upwind (on the storm side) of the bus far enough away from the bus so that bus will not roll over on them.

g. Instruct the students/passengers to lie flat and to cover their heads with their arms.

5. If you are driving when you hear a tornado warning or spot a funnel and there is no time to move the students to a ditch, have the students/passengers assume the protective position, remaining in their seats with their heads below window level. Shut off the vehicle, except for the lights, and get under the dash away from the door.

6. If there is a house or building nearby which offers shelter and there is enough time to reach it, move to the basement of the building away from the south and west walls. It would be best to have the students/passengers hide under a sturdy table or workbench away from crumbling walls, chimneys and debris that may fall into the basement. If there is no basement in the building, move to a inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor – like closets or bathrooms. If there are no closets or bathrooms, a center hallway would provide the best protection. Put as many walls as you can between the students/passengers and the tornado. Covering riders with cushions, blankets or mattresses will prevent some flying debris from injuring the students.

7. After the tornado has passed, look for further funnel clouds. If none are apparent, see to the safety of your students/passengers. If they are in a ditch, return them to the bus to avoid severe rain and hail which often accompanies a tornado. Attend to the injured passengers. Notify authorities as soon as possible. It is very important that the bus driver remain calm and to keep everyone calm.

If you are waiting to load a group or route and there is a serious storm approaching, they may choose to remain in the building until the danger has passed. Make sure the bus office is aware of the delay, secure the bus, take the keys and go in to the building until the danger has passed.

We’ll try to announce over the two-way if there is a Tornado Watch or Warning for our area.

This 1927 Blue Bird is the oldest surviving school bus in America. Albert Luce, Sr., built his first bus in 1925 by mounting a purchased wood body to a Ford truck frame. The body could not withstand the Georgia roads. Luce, convinced he could make a better bus, applied a steel framework under the wood body. His success led him to make school buses full time. …

This 1927 Blue Bird is the oldest surviving school bus in America. Albert Luce, Sr., built his first bus in 1925 by mounting a purchased wood body to a Ford truck frame. The body could not withstand the Georgia roads. Luce, convinced he could make a better bus, applied a steel framework under the wood body. His success led him to make school buses full time.

This is the first in a long line of buses made by Blue Bird, one of the country’s major school bus builders. It is the oldest surviving school bus in America. In 1925, Albert L. Luce, Sr. owned two Ford dealerships in Georgia when a customer came in and ordered a bus to transport his workers. Mr. Luce purchased a wooden bus body and mounted it on a Ford Model TT truck. But the body began rattling apart before the customer could even finish paying for the bus. Mr. Luce was convinced he could make a better bus body and, by 1927 he had built the school bus you see here. The key to success was a strong steel framework under the wood. Within a few years Mr. Luce sold his Ford dealerships and began making school buses full time. Chassis: 1927 Ford Model TT Truck Engine: 176 cu. in., 20 hp Body: Hand built using steel and wood

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Nearly 1,500 students in Missouri’s largest school district could lose a ride to school in the upcoming weeks due to a transportation change announced Friday.

Springfield Public Schools has notified parents that the district is changing its transportation plans next month amid a national bus driver shortage. An announcement sent to parents Friday said the change is due to “circumstances beyond our control.”

The change is set to begin Nov. 8. Leaders have not yet confirmed how long the change could impact the district, but noted it was “temporary.”

“Effective Nov. 8, elementary and K-8 school students must live 2 miles or more from school and middle and high school students must live 2.5 miles or more from school to be eligible to ride the bus for the foreseeable future,” according to the announcement sent Friday.

Parents who are directly impacted were sent a separate email, in addition to the district’s general announcement Friday afternoon.

The change leaves many parents scrambling for plans to get their children to school safely.

“Trying to get my nine-year-old to walk to actual school, it’s going to be like 2.3 miles to get there, and I can’t put him through that,” said Cassie Kuhl, a parent impacted by the change. “And I have no way, like I came here from Joplin originally. I have nobody around here I know that could get him. So I was highly upset with it.”

According to leaders of Springfield Public Schools, the nationwide bus driver shortage and competitive job market have created challenges for recruiting and retaining bus drivers. In August, the district announced multiple incentives for bus drivers in order to stay competitive with other schools and industries.

“We started the school year understaffed in our transportation department, but it was our hope that aggressive recruitment efforts and offering increased wages, benefits and other incentives would help us hire and retain bus drivers. While we have recruited new bus drivers, the competitive job market has resulted in the loss of other bus drivers. This means we have fewer drivers than we did when school started,” said the district in an announcement to parents.

Kuhl said she understands the difficult decision the district had to make but said she is frustrated with the short notice.

“It’s very short notice, and the fact that they sent the email out on a Friday at 5 [p.m.],” she said. “So we can’t even contact anybody from the school to ask questions. Yeah, we can leave a voicemail on a number, but there’s no guarantee that anybody will call back. Now, we’re trying to scramble to figure out, what we are going to do in two weeks.”

Kuhl said she plans to talk to her employer to see if she can adjust her schedule. She said she mostly sympathizes with single parents who might be affected.

“I used to be a single mom, and I know how hard it is for single parents out there,” Kuhl said. “Moms or dads in distress, what they must be going through, has got to be 10 times more than I am. They could be a one-income household, and who knows what that’s going to do.”

Despite the change, students within the two-mile range who receive special services or are impacted by barrier streets are not expected to be impacted by this change.

For more information from the district on the transportation changes and potential bus driving job opportunities, CLICK HERE.

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A school bus carrying 29 middle schoolers in eastern Pennsylvania careened through a guardrail, then rolled 25 feet into a creek on Monday, according to reports.

Thirteen kids plus the driver were treated at local hospitals for injuries after the bus rolled into Bushkill Creek in Easton, the Express-Times reported.

At least two of the pupils reportedly had to be lifted up the steep creek embankment in baskets.

Easton school official John Remaley said injuries did not appear to be serious.

It was not immediately clear what precipitated the crash, but an investigation is underway. Remaley said the driver will be tested for drug and alcohol impairment.

“The bus was traveling northbound, veered off, went through the guide rail and went through the path into the creek,” Easton Police Chief Carl Scalzo told WFMZ.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Thirteen kids plus the driver were treated at local hospitals for injuries, with none of the injuries appearing to be serious, according to a school official. AP / Tim Wynkoop

He said the crash could have been much worse.

“They could’ve hit any one of those trees, if the water was higher, if there was a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction or if there was somebody on the path, this could’ve been a much different situation,” he said, according to WFMZ.

“You look to count the blessings when they’re there and there were a lot this instance.”

How to survive a long school bus trip

While it is not immediately clear what caused the crash, investigations are underway, and the driver is being tested for drug and alcohol impairment. AP / Tim Wynkoop

One student told the Express-Times the incident was “kind of scary.”

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The bus routes that total thousands of miles to bring thousands of students to and from school in the Sioux Falls District have been released.

The school district uses School Bus Inc. (SBI) to transport students. School Bus Inc. president Steve Hey said about 90 buses travel about 5,000 miles to transport roughly 9,000 students each school day.

Students can’t be on the buses for more than one hour on each route, Hey said. That’s a school district requirement, Hey said.

“In practice, the number of routes that reach that maximum time is quite minimal,” Hey said.

How to survive a long school bus trip

The Cleveland Elementary School bus route is just one route in the district. The bus makes its first stop at 7:27 a.m. on N. Cleveland Ave. and it unloads at the school at 7:45 a.m., according to the SFSD website.

One of the longer routes is for Hayward Elementary. The first stop is at 7 a.m. at the intersection of West Hemlock Drive and North Holbrook Avenue. The route ends when students get off the bus at 7:45 a.m. at the school.

The routes for 12 elementary schools and five middle schools are posted on the website. The information includes the bus number and the stops on each route. Those using buses can enter their address on the website to determine the bus stop and the school the student is eligible to attend.

How to survive a long school bus trip

Buses do more than transport students to and from school.

The company does more than 4,000 activity trips during a typical school year, Hey said. More than 90,000 students are transported on those trips.

The company has about 120 staff members who have their CDL and are available to drive for the school district routes and charter trips, Hey said.

SBI needs bus drivers, according to a recent KELOLAND News story and 2019 KELOLAND stories on the shortage of drivers. It’s not the only school bus transportation company that needs drivers.

Bus transportation publications have discussed the shortage of bus drivers for at least the past three years. The National Association for Pupil Transportation published a study in the fall of 2016 on the shortage of school bus drivers.

“More than half of respondents (56%) who indicated that driver shortage is getting to be much
worse, also indicated that driver shortage is severe or desperate for their company or school
district,” the 2016 National Association for Pupil Transportation study said.

School bus driving positions can attract people who are retired.

In March, AARP ranked school bus driving as the fourth-ranked part-time job for retirees. According to AARP, 73% of all school bus drivers were over 55.

Hey said privacy prohibits him from saying how many of SBI’s drivers are over 65 but did say that in general, the company has some drivers over 65.

School bus drivers over 65 would be in the Centers for Disease Control’s age range of vulnerability to COVID-19.

SBI’s website said bus driving is “a perfect part time position for the self-employed, housewife, retiree, or college student just to name a few.”

Drivers who return to school bus driving this fall or any new drivers will be working with a structure developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have adopted the COVID-19 cleaning and sanitation procedures established by the Sioux Falls School District and as contained in their Return to Learn Plan,” Hey said.

Whether students return to school in the traditional in-person model or in a modified model for several days a week, the buses must be cleaned in the same way.

The procedures include using sanitizing wipes to clean railings after each route and having hand sanitizer on the bus. Transportation staff and students are expected to wear face coverings. Buses will also be cleaned at the end of each day.

If the school district moves to remote learning, buses will carry food to designated distribution sites.

P aula wakes up in her bus around 4:30 a.m. most days. She can usually still see the stars. She works for a few hours, often on freelance projects using her training as a biologist, and makes breakfast when her 12-year-old son Max gets up around 7:00. (TIME has agreed to grant Paula and Max pseudonyms out of concerns for their safety.) She feeds their dog and cat, and then she and Max, who is on the autism spectrum, begin homeschooling. They follow specialized, skills-based lesson plans to keep his work short and consistent—at least two to three hours a day, seven days a week. By 10:00, they usually “hit the ground running” on renovating their bus, she says. They try to complete one project a day, big or small.

Paula, 39, and Max have lived in their 35-foot skoolie—a term for school buses which have been renovated into small mobile homes—for nearly a year, often traveling across public Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. BLM land makes up one-tenth of the land in the U.S.—much of which is in the American West—and huge portions are available for dispersed camping, or camping away from developed recreation facilities. People in converted vehicles can park in undeveloped areas for up to two weeks at a time for free, and can stay at most campgrounds for the same time as long as they pay a fee, which ranges from $5 to over $100 a night. The BLM also runs “Longer-Term Visitor Areas” in California and Arizona between September and April, where people can stay for months at a time with the proper permits.

The move towards towards skoolies or converted vans—sometimes referred to as #vanlife online—has grown in recent years. It sharply ticked up during the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns moved much of American life online last spring, and plunged millions into unemployment. The nomadic lifestyle can allow people to live more sustainably, affordably and with greater flexibility, and has become popular with Americans contending with rising housing costs. There’s little hard data on mobile living, but the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2019 over 140,000 people were living out of vans, recreational vehicles or boats—a 38% increase from three years before. A Bureau of Land Management spokesperson tells TIME that over 19 million people visited BLM-managed land in 2020, and the use of remote locations and dispersed camping “increased significantly with more people in more places.”

Paula and Max made the move for several reasons. Skyrocketing rent compounded by recent wildfires—which have displaced Paula twice over the past five years—made finding housing where she and Max lived in Washington state near impossible, she says. She felt Max’s school system was not addressing his needs, and was tired of feeling like she had to spend hours “rattling cages” to get help. So when the pandemic hit last March and Paula lost several jobs, it was the last straw.

“I made this decision because I felt like it was proactive,” she says. “This gives me home ownership. This gives me freedom. This gives me the ability to offer my son greater opportunity in life… This is an empowering decision.”

How to survive a long school bus trip

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” so don’t let the most important part of your trip be ruined by the soul-crushing symptoms of motion sickness. A disorder of the inner ear, motion sickness causes a long list of problems, including dizziness, nausea, and even vomiting. It is caused by an imbalance between your eyes, inner ears, and spine. This imbalance happens when there is a conflict between your senses, which sends your brain mixed signals. Most people get motion sickness during long commutes, although many experience the worst symptoms on planes and boats. If you are regularly affected by motion sickness, make your bus travels a lot more enjoyable with these tried-and-true remedies from the travel pros at Metropolitan Shuttle , the leading charter bus reservation company serving the U.S. and Canada.

OTC Medication

Antihistamines like Antivert, Benadryl, Meclizine, and Dramamine all help prevent motion sickness if taken about an hour before your travels. Medication is one of the most sure-fire ways for eliminating motion sickness, but you also have to consider the common side effects like drowsiness, constipation, and blurred vision. In fact, it is not advised to take an antihistamine while driving. If you’re traveling on a charter bus, you have the convenience of a professional doing all the work, so you can sit back, relax, and take your medication before you experience any motion sickness. You can also counteract the drowsy effects with caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea. Always consult your doctor before taking any OTC medications to make sure they’re the right fit for you.

Home Remedies

If you don’t feel like dealing with the negative side effects of medications, there are several natural remedies that are effective and also have great health benefits. You can more than adequately prevent motion sickness with common items like ginger, Vitamin B-6, and peppermint. Ginger is very effective for easing motion sickness, plus it comes in many forms, including candies, drinks, and capsules. Another popular home remedy is Vitamin B-6, which also contains cancer-fighting antioxidants that help rid your body of free radicals. A cup of soothing peppermint tea is also a useful remedy for easing an upset stomach. If you’re traveling on a bus, you can also try peppermint candies for a more convenient, on-the-go solution.

Change Positions

On the Metropolitan Shuttle charter bus , you have plenty of space to lean back and get comfortable. Many people have reported that changing the way they’re sitting can help alleviate motion sickness. Having the ability to move around and stretch out can drastically reduce the symptoms of motion sickness, if not eradicate them entirely. If you crave the ultimate experience on your next bus trip, you should travel on Metropolitan Shuttle’s Luxury Coach Bus , a luxurious and spacious vehicle that allows you to get up and move around, even switch seats to a comfy reclining lounge chair with a footrest.

Good Ventilation

Fresh air is very restoring, and if you can access it, you can run in circles around motion sickness. When you ride with Metropolitan Shuttle , you’ll have plenty of ventilation and airflow since each individual seat has its own thermostat control, which allows you to make the most of your traveling experience. The charter bus also has great air ventilation and is guaranteed to keep you comfortable all the way to your final destination. If you feel any nausea, situate yourself in front of the air vent and let the cool air blow directly on your face. This method may sound strange but many sufferers of motion sickness have reported an instant reduction in nausea with a blast of cold air to the face. If you can’t get to an air vent quickly enough, keep a battery-operated hand-sized fan in your pocket or handbag and break it out any time you need a quick fix for queasiness.

Watch What You Eat

Eating food that is hard to digest may cause your nausea to worsen, especially spicy foods and alcohol, which can also heighten your chances of vomiting. Alternatively, you should go for foods that are easy on your stomach like crackers, soup, and granola bars. Preferably, you should stick with sipping ginger ale because the bubbles will help soothe your stomach while the ginger lessens your nausea. You might have been led to believe that traveling on an empty stomach will decrease your chance of motion sickness but this is a common misconception. In fact, eating a light, protein filled meal beforehand is recommended by healthcare professionals because it gently coats the stomach and prevents any symptoms. If you ride Metropolitan Shuttle’s charter bus , you’ll have access to a full galley kitchen that you can visit anytime you crave a snack or need a drink.

Focus on a Fixed Point in the Distance

Because your inner ears and muscles are sensing similar things, looking towards the direction you are headed can help re-calibrate your inner ear and eyes. You should notice it working after three to five minutes, which makes this method an easy and effective way to put motion sickness in the back seat. It also gives you a fantastic excuse to pay attention to the scenery around you rather than burying your face in a phone or book.

Distract Yourself

Talking with a friend or even a stranger sitting next to you can help reduce the consequences of motion sickness. There are many ways to distract yourself from your current conditions but engaging in conversation with your neighbors is among the best ways to go about this. Not only will meeting new people make your trip more enjoyable and entertaining , but it can also alleviate nausea that has been putting you in a bad mood for the past few miserable hours. Another crucial way to calm your motion sickness is by listening to music. Playing some jams can seriously help distract you from your onslaught of nausea and put you back on track to having an absolutely wonderful journey. This is especially true for people who can endlessly listen to music. But the distraction method isn’t just anecdotal; there is research that supports music and its ability to help you evade the harsh effects of motion sickness. According to Dr. Levine, who studies behavioral and alternative motion-sickness treatments at Siena College, “ Listening to one’s favorite music as a distraction showed improvements in symptoms including nausea, as well as in physiological changes.”

The stomach-churning, uneasy, about-to-upchuck feelings of motion sickness can make bus travel a major bummer, but when you pre-treat the symptoms with these fail-safe remedies, get ready for smooth sailing on your next road trip.

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How To Survive a 17 Hour Bus Trip

13 October 2017

While travelling the world you are faced with many challenges and obstacles that you need to overcome. Some will test you mentally, some will test you physically, and some will encompass all of that and fully push you to your limits… this is what we like to call the overnight bus. As backpackers, saving the extra few hundred dollars that would’ve been spent on a plane ticket is crucial as that is another bungy, skydive, or activity you can do if you don’t pay for that flight. When the bus ticket is a mere $45 and the plane ticket is $300 there is no comparison, the bus wins no matter how hard the struggle may be. After countless East Coast trips across Australia and long treks from the North of New Zealand to the South, I have finally been able to gather all the fool proof ways to survive the dreaded 17 hour bus trip so grab your headphones and of course some snacks and take note.

Ear Plugs and Eye Mask

I had to put the most obvious choice first because these are two things you do not want to forget especially on a 17 hour bus. On a plane usually there is a way to find a spare set or buy one while on board, but on a bus you will be a lot less likely to encounter any of these items so don’t leave yourself stuck.

Arrive Early

If the seats are not already assigned this is crucial! Get there early so you can get the seat of your choice, stay as far away from the toilets as possible, and of course a window seat which is best for sleeping and photo ops. Also, as a general rule of thumb for travel, it is always best to be early because you never know what could unexpectedly get in your way.

Sleep

Try to be sleeping as much as you can throughout the journey, if you have to stay awake the night before try to do it so you aren’t wide awake the whole time. If you normally take supplements for sleep on public transport be sure to bring those along as well. Come prepared with extra clothing and layers as the bus usually gets colder at night.

Homework/Blog/Journal

Sometimes it seems almost impossible to make time to journal and do activities where you need to sit down and focus while you are travelling, which is why it is always best to save those things for planes, buses, trains, etc. If you are in school or have a blog going, save all that stuff for your bus ride so you have things to do that don’t require WiFi (in case the bus doesn’t have it).

Snacks

This sort of goes without saying but there’s nothing worse than being stuck on a long ride and being hungry. Make sure you bring plenty of snacks so you are set when hunger hits during the trip. Also make sure they aren’t perishable as the last thing you want is Friday nights leftovers spoiling in your bag.

Keep Valuables Close

Unfortunately, no matter where you are, you always need to watch your valuables. Since you will probably be sleeping on most of the bus ride it’s important to make sure all of your valuables are in a place where you would wake up if someone tried to snag them. Another great reason to have the window seat is you have extra space to wedge your valuables in while you sleep so you would clearly wake up if someone was trying to take them.

Meditate

Okay maybe meditation isn’t for you or maybe you’ve been thinking of starting but just don’t know how. Long trips are always a great place to start because all you have is time and you are pretty much stuck in one place and one position. Grab your head phones, throw on some meditative music, and give it a try, maybe you’ll fall asleep, maybe you’ll end up entering another dimension and having a major life revelation.l Either way, it’s worth a try.

Rest Stops

I cannot stress how important it is to take advantage of the rest stops! Even if you don’t have to use the toilet, get out of the bus, stretch, walk around, and breathe in some fresh air. Usually the stops have everything you could need like snacks, drinks, maybe even some souvenirs. It also gives you time to get out and make some friends on your bus that may have been hard to approach from 4 rows back.

The 17 hour bus ride is never anyone’s favorite but we must appreciate that we are lucky to be able save so much money while travelling – it’s worth it. Make sure you come physically and mentally prepared to take on the bus and you will be fine. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s not forever, the bus ride will end at some point! Use this time to take in everything you’ve been seeing and doing on your travels because once you get off the bus you wont have a second of free time with all the crazy new activities you’ll be doing.

How to survive a long school bus trip

The following op-ed was initially posted on School Bus Fleet in January 2015. In light of a persisting driver shortage, we are rerunning it and have updated it with some links to related articles offering insights and solutions.

The op-ed expresses the author’s opinions and not necessarily those of SBF.

When I started driving a school bus quite a few years ago, there was a cantankerous old bus driver who always used to say, “There will never be another 30-year bus driver here.”

At the time, many of the drivers dismissed her statement as being just another one of her crazy rants, because many of the drivers working then had already been driving a school bus for 10 years or more. But in light of the increasing school bus driver shortages we are now seeing around the country, her statement seems almost prophetic, because it is ringing true all over. If she were alive today, I would be telling her that she was right, and she would be grinning, because she saw this coming long before the rest of us.

The questions in front of us are what is causing these severe school bus driver shortages all over, why are bus drivers leaving or retiring from these positions at a faster pace, and what is so different now that makes driving a school bus less appealing than ever before?

I’ve compiled many ideas and points of view on this issue from other school bus drivers, trainers, and some route supervisors or managers from across the country — coupled with my own experience. Here are six key reasons that school bus drivers hang up their keys.

1. Low Pay

School bus drivers earn less per hour than other CDL class drivers on the road.

2. Limited Hours

We work a split shift, so there is a limited number of hours we can get. In many cases, extra work, like field trips, pays far less than the amount we get for driving our regular routes.

3. Part-Time Status

Even if we are offered benefits like full-time employees, our employers still consider us part-time employees because we work one shift in the early morning and another shift in the afternoon. The trouble is that the hours of our so-called part-time job are such that it makes it impossible to do any other part-time job, because no one will hire us for the hours we have left in our day.

4. Unaffordable Health Care

Many bus drivers who are offered health and other benefits cannot afford them — or, as we often say, they are working for benefits — because there is nothing much left of their check after the premiums for them are deducted.

5. Start-Up Costs

You are going to have to come up with some money, in most cases, for this job even before or at least at the start of your school bus driver training, because you are going to need a pre-employment background check, drug test and a physical. Every new driver winds up paying all or a part of the cost of all these things. Yes, you will have a Class B CDL after the training, but if you have been out of work and have no money, it is going to be a while before you get a check for this job.

6. Lack of Support

The main reason people are bailing out of this job faster rests squarely on the shoulders of upper management or administration of bus companies and school systems. Some common grievances here include: administrators not backing up school bus drivers when parents complain; policies that don’t support drivers; disciplinary actions that are perceived as inequitable; not showing appreciation for oldest employees; and too many hoops for drivers to jump through to get administrators to discipline children for unsafe behavior on the bus.

Recently, a middle school girl boarded my bus in tears because she was jumped or attacked by another girl while walking to the bus. She looked quite scared and cried the entire trip home, despite her friends’ efforts to console her.

When I got home, I called her home on my own time and asked her father if she was all right. Her father was angry about what happened to her, but he thanked me several times for checking on her and thanked me again when I saw him the next day.

When parents are shocked that a school bus driver does care, is this not a clear indication that our public school systems are failing on some level?

Kim Morrison has been a school bus driver in Citrus County, Florida, for nearly 15 years. He is also a published poet/writer and has won several awards from national and state poetry contests. Most of his work can be seen here.

How to survive a long school bus trip

The best bus tracking app would be one that tracks the bus in real time enabling the users to see the live locations of the buses. The tracker app should be one that can be integrated with the fleet management system.It should be possible to access the app from desktop systems as well as hand-held devices.

This will allow all concerned to track the bus location from anywhere at any time. The tracking app should provide alerts to the management in cases when the bus deviates from its original route or over speeds. Fleet management becomes simple with an easy to use app.

The bus tracking system in school buses is highly beneficial to both the school authorities and the parents. The school bus operators can take corrective action instantly to avoid delays and untoward accidents. The tracking details enable the parents to see where their child is exactly and at what time they would arrive or depart.

Track School Bus, SkoolBeep and Buswhere are the best school bus tracking apps. These apps provide high level of security and are easy to use. The apps are cost effective, save time and reduce paper-work. The entire operations of the school bus fleet are streamlined by the app making the system efficient.

WHAT IS A BUS TRACKING SYSTEM?

How to survive a long school bus trip

A bus tracking system tracks each bus in the fleet by GPS software installed in them. This system is integrated with the systems in the fleet managers’ office to provide them the real time location of the buses in the fleet.

Monitoring the movement of buses and implementing any changes to the routes can be done easily. Any deviations from the assigned routes are detected and alerted by the system. When buses cross the speed limits the system warns the drivers and alerts the managers.

Automatic routing by the system saves distance and time. Maintenance is scheduled and planned automatically reducing breakdown costs and downtime losses. Fuel efficiency is increased saving on fuel costs.

The drivers are warned of traffic hazards on the road well in advance by the system. They receive alerts for over-speeding, sudden braking and inconsistent acceleration. This helps in reducing accidents and hence insurance premiums are lowered.

A bus tracking system in a school bus gives the parents the added satisfaction of knowing where their child is. Safety of the child is of utmost concern to the parents. Tracking the real time location of the bus keeps the parents informed of the details of boarding, alighting, arriving and departure schedules.

HOW OUR BUS TRACKING APP WORKS?

How to survive a long school bus trip

The SkoolBeep bus tracking app is driven by GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. The GPS system is a receiver that picks up radio signals transmitted by satellites in orbits around the earth. These signals are used to calculate the receiver’s location on the globe by mathematical estimations. The signals received from four or more satellites determine the accurate location.

The GPS devices are installed in the school buses. The devices send their real time location on to a map. Expected time of arrival is calculated on the basis of this data. When the user enters his destination the trip planner shows him the routes and trip options. In addition to getting the time of arrival he sees the bus approaching in real time on the map on his screen.

In a school bus tracking apps, the users are mainly the school authorities and parents. The visuals of the bus give the users a better understanding of how far the bus is and when it will reach the stop. The system sends alerts to the parents and school authorities in case of deviations, traffic obstructions, and other delays along the assigned routes. The school bus tracking app is GPS based with real-time tracking. It is a safe and simple app providing a safe trip for the students and peace of mind for the parents.

SOME UNIQUE FEATURES OF SKOOLBEEP APP

flow of information and direct communication between the school and the parents. The app can be accessed from mobile phones both iOS and Android. SkoolBeep integrates the school activities, issues notifications, publishes reports and newsletters, tracks school buses, send alerts.

The school bus tracking platform of the app helps the school management and the parents to track bus location. Viewing the accurate location of the bus enables the school authorities to estimate the time of arrival at individual bus-stops and the final destination. The app provides the trip status of each bus.

Any obstructions on the route can be ascertained earlier and routes can be changed accordingly to save time. The system sends alerts when the driver over-speeds, sudden breaks and accelerates unnecessarily. This enables the management to take corrective actions immediately.

Viewing real-time location of the buses enable the parent to see where their child has reached and when he will arrive at the bus-stop or school. The live map provides the stops along the route and the timing required to get from point to point. Alerts are sent to parents in case of delays.

The instant notifications sent by the bus tracking system helps the school authorities to manage the school bus fleet efficiently and effectively. RFID scanners send instant notifications to the parents and the school when the child boards the bus while going to school and gets off the bus at the designated bus-stop while returning.

Students without identity tags will not be able to enter the bus making the system secure. An integrated system marks attendance of each child as he enters the bus. Parents are assured that the child is in class and reduces the teachers’ load of marking attendance.

SkoolBeep has easy to use features which reduce the time consumed in communication and reduces the school’s overload. It is very convenient to use as it is accessible on the mobile phones. Working parents find the app extremely helpful in knowing the exact time of arrival of the bus at the stop and in deciding when to pick-up the child on return.

Since the app is accessible to parents the school authorities are spared from answering queries from anxious parents. The bus tracking app quells the anxiety of parents. The app facilitates driver-parent communication.

REAL TIME SCHOOL BUS TRACKING SYSTEM

A real time school bus tracking system provides live data on the locations of the school buses on the different routes at different times. This allows the school bus managers to monitor whether the buses are travelling on the routes assigned to them. In case of deviations and when the bus crosses the safe zone prescribed, the system sends an alert to both managers and parents.

The best bus tracking app enables the parents to know whether their child has boarded the bus and at what time. The live location enables them to see when the bus will arrive to pick and drop the child and when the bus reaches or leaves school.