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SFU Alumni

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Seasoned travelers know that stressful travelling is more common than smooth travelling.  Whether you’re going home for the holidays or to a new co-op job up north, you may be thinking about how to survive that sluggish Greyhound bus or tedious Air Canada flight.  In most cases, you will be confined to cramped seating, subject to constant stopping, surrounded by annoying travel companions, and/or beginning or ending your journey at the most ungodly hours of the night – all contributing to succumbing to those weighty travelling blues. 

Luckily, the following five suggestions will not only make you seasoned, but also a pro, and they will overall give you a more enjoyable experience.  The best part is that these can easily be adapted to your next family road trip!

1. Bring a Book (actually)

When I say “book”, I know I sound archaic.  Maybe I am archaic.  I say “book” not because I’m twenty-seven years old or an English major, but out of pure practicality.  Greyhounds and most airplanes often don’t have the luxuries of our 21st century society, meaning there are no places to charge our phones or tablets. This isn’t as scary as a thing as many of may seem to think.  It is actually refreshing to be out of cell service for a few hours and have your phone put away.  Become re-acquainted with the types of words and phrases outside of text messages and status updates.  

2. Listen to Music (sparingly)

Before starting your travels, cruise your favourite streaming service to make two solid playlists, as you won’t be able to rely on wi-fi all the time on the bus.  Use these playlists to reinvigorate you on your journey.  Have one playlist dedicated to upbeat music reminding you that travelling is exciting, while the other is more mellow, helping you to take some time to reflect.  Maybe that means crying to Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” while driving through Fernie, B.C. at 3am, or maybe it means watching the prairie sunrise on the Trans-Canada between Calgary and Edmonton to the Tragically Hip’s “Wheat Kings”. Don’t just hit the random button: make a soundtrack out of your journey!

3. Pack your own Snacks (practically)

Not only is bus and plane food gross, it’s expensive.  Students tend to gravitate towards taking the easy way out with snacking, resulting in less tasty food for a higher price.  If you want a soggy egg salad sandwich, you could do yourself a favour and save 8.00$ by making it the night before.  However, I suggest making practical snacks that won’t make you uncomfortably full.  You don’t need to be a chef to make delicious, simple snacks for the bus ride.  Lightly drizzle lemon juice on some apple slices so they don’t go brown, and take a small container of peanut butter (or almond butter) to dip them in.  Chopped vegetables and a bag of trail mix or nuts will go a long way.  Save the big meals for your long layovers and try to stay relatively healthy!  The last thing you need while stuffed in a small seat surrounded by strangers, is to break out in sugar sweats or have a sour stomach from too many potato chips.  

4. Pee (wisely) 

Remember when your mom would ask you if you went pee before she took you anywhere?  Well, you’re never too old to ask yourself that question.  The confined washrooms on the travel transportation work for an emergency, but try avoiding them on short trips: you don’t want to be in there during a sudden stop, sharp turn, or shaky turbulence.  Also, when bus travelling, don’t heavily rely on terminal washrooms.  When the driver kindly asks everyone to stay on the bus because he won’t stop long, you don’t want to be that person who holds up the show an extra five minutes.  

5. Do Homework (satisfactory)

As a university student, you are never short on reading assignments.  More and more textbooks are becoming loose leaf, meaning you have the option to only take certain chapters of your Psychology Research Methods textbook with you on the bus.  Print off online articles or save them onto your tablet beforehand.  If you’re feeling really motivated, the bus can also be a prime place to finish editing that Romeo and Juliet essay that’s been nagging you in the back of your mind.


Whether five or fifteen hours, a more enjoyable trip starts with preparation and thinking ahead.  While these suggestions may not make your travel experience more memorable, they will surely result in a less stressful trip.  Using your sources sparingly and equipping yourself with the right snacks and entertainment will help the time pass quicker. And if all these suggestions fail? You might as well try devouring a bag of 10 cent candies and passing out from the sugar overload until you’ve reached your destination.

Beyond the Blog

SFU Alumni
Daniel Frolick is a fourth year student studying English and History, and supports the Co-op program at SFU.  He has always enjoyed writing and partook in the Creative Writing program at Selkirk College in Castlegar, BC before transferring to SFU. Daniel actively volunteers and works with the ESL community and hopes to build a career in this area upon graduation.

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