Philippine Road Trip Guide – 10 Tips to Survive 3 to 12 Hours on a Bus

photo credit

photo credit

When you browse the internet and come across photos and blogs about idyllic beaches down south, historical landmarks up north and all of these colorful, pumped up festivals happening in just about every province in the country, how can you not be tempted to check them out yourself. There’s so much that Philippine provinces have to offer you can never run out of ideas of where to go next. But then, many of these destinations are accessible only by land travel then you’d find yourself contemplating the lengthy road trip you’d have to take just to get there. Whether you’re driving or taking the bus, going unprepared can make the journey seem endless. So here are a few tips to help make your road trip be more fun and bearable.

1. Travel at Night

The greatest advantage of an evening bus trip is that you can spend most of the journey asleep. At night there would be lesser traffic and lesser passengers to pick up along the route so the trip will be shorter. Bring a few comfort items like a neck pillow, an eye mask and a shawl or light blanket to keep you warm. The airconditioning of buses can be so unpredictable if the loud honking of the driver doesn’t wake you, the cold will.

2. Movie Marathons

You’ll never know what pirated dvds the bus driver has lined up for the trip. There’s a chance it may not be your type of entertainment. Better to be prepared than sorry. Load your tablets, smartphones or portable dvd players with as many movies they can handle and you’ll surely have a more endurable trip.

photo by Mister GC,

photo by Mister GC,

3. Audio Books

While reading a good book on a 10 hour flight is a good way to pass time, on a bumpy road trip it can strain your eyes. A great alternative would be an audio book. Listening to a story will keep your mind preoccupied so you’ll hardly notice the passing of time. There are dozens of websites that offer free, downloadable audio books. Check out  or, both sites have a wide selection of books from historical fiction, romance, mystery, comedy or non-fiction.

4. Load up on music tracks

Once on a very long bus trip, I found myself listening to the driver’s collection of 80s rock music hits for what seemed like  an eternity. It so happened that we were traveling through remote towns surrounded by endless fields where radio signals are weak or non existent. I deeply regretted that I had no alternative music saved on my phone and from then onward always made a mental note to stock up on music tracks before leaving for a trip.

photo by by stockimages,

photo by by stockimages,

5. Don’t forget your gadget accessories

So you’ve got loads of entertainment saved on your devices but then an hour into the trip, you realize that you’ve forgotten your earphones. That’s a bummer. It’s easy to forget little things, a good way to avoid this is to have a checklist of everything that has to be in the bag from sunglasses, to slippers and other tiny accessories.

6. Bring out the video editor in you

Most of us take loads of pictures while on vacation. But, once back home we tend to slide back to our busy routines and the hundreds and thousands of photos sink into storage device oblivion. Before that happens why not experiment on photo and video editing apps on your trip home and make use of all of those selfies and groupies. There are many apps of this sort which once installed can be used offline. Most of them have basic tools for cropping, adding text or trimming videos. Once done you can instantly share them on your social media accounts.

Photo By Renato

Photo By Renato

7. Get off at bus stops and stretch your legs

On a long bus trip there are usually two or three designated stops where passengers have around 15 minutes to get off and stretch their legs. But sometimes we get too comfortable in our seats we just don’t want to move. It may be hard to resist the urge to not get up and walk. But you should do it, go out for snacks, freshen up, walk around and get some fresh air. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.


Photo by m_bartosch

8. Pack some snacks

One of the joys of a road trip is excusing yourself from having chips, chocolates and other typical food we forbid ourselves from having on normal days. So do take the time to prepare a few snacks and beverages to keep you energized and hydrated.

Watch out for the food vendors who hop on the buses anywhere along the route in hopes of making a few sales. They sell anything from buko pies, barbequed bananas or roasted nuts. This a chance to taste some local food without having to get off the bus.

9. Learn a new skill

There are countless tutorial videos on sites like youtube or vimeo that you can watch during your trip. If you like to cook, you can learn a new recipe or if you’re into photography why not learn some tips about landscape photography. Once when I was heading for a very cold place, I watched a video on ”how to wear a scarf in 10 creative ways.” Scarves aren’t common in tropical Philippines so the crash course proved to be super useful. You can save your tutorial videos prior to your trip using sites like and where all you’d have to do is copy and paste the url of the video and it will be downloaded in a few minutes.

10. Pack your meds

Dizziness and other symptoms of  motion sickness is common if you’re traveling great distances. Though not life threatening it’s a bad start for your out of town adventure. To avoid this pack some motion sickness medicines to make the trip more bearable.

A lot of us spend hours even days planning what to do and what to wear when we arrive at our paradise get-away. But a little time spent on planning the road trip can make the vacation much more fun. These tips come from experiences and lessons learned from my own journeys. If you have an idea you’d like to share, please leave a comment below. Thanks.

photo by Stuart Miles

photo by Stuart Miles

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Iza Sanchez

Iza Sanchez is a freelance ESL Teacher, adventurer and moderator of Take The Travel. She writes about solo-backpacking, travel saving tips and other awesome travel resources.

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