The most common travel style to cover long distances in South America is by bus. I’ve heard lots of complaints about those buses before I got there. Often people ask me whether that’s not incredibly uncomfortable. I always say no to this. Not only because South American buses are surprisingly comfy, but because I’ve always kind of enjoyed long-distance travel. That goes for buses as well as cars or trains. You think that’s nuts? Bear with me.
The freedom to do nothing
As an introvert, I love spending time in my head. Sometimes I just zone out and become completely oblivious to everything happening around me. That can be rather weird if it happens in the presence of other people or even during a conversation. When I’m alone, it’s easier. But even then there may be things I need to do, work that needs to get done. More often than not, I need to drag myself out of my daydreaming much sooner than I’d like to.
Enter long-distance travel. If you spend six hours on a bus – or eight, or ten, or however many – it gives you all those hours with nothing to do. You don’t need to talk to anyone. Unless you travel in company, that is, but even then, a conversation will likely not last for the whole bus ride, still giving you time to yourself.
There’s nowhere else you need to go because you simply can’t. There’s nothing you need to do, because what would you want to do on a bus? Ergo, you’re looking at hours and hours of just staring out the window and giving in to your thoughts and fancies. Without feeling guilty about being unproductive. Heaven!
But what if there’s wi-fi?
Nowadays, some buses or trains come with wi-fi. Which brings with it the temptation to play around on your phone or even (shudder) bring your laptop and do some work! But let’s think about this. Who, really, wants to work on a bus? It’s tight, it’s shaky, there’s people sitting next to you seeing what you do – an introvert’s nightmare! So, no. Just don’t. Trust me, I’ve been there. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, like maybe a deadline coming up, you don’t want to work on the bus. And no one will expect you to. Seriously. Looking out the window s so much more fun.
Take up all the self-discipline you have and put away your phone, too. No need to use it as a pretense to look busy, because no one expects you to be busy on a bus or a train anyway.
You can watch the landscape
Even if you’re not getting lost in thoughts, staring out the window can be a great way to pass the time. Especially when you’re travelling through a foreign country and the view outside is very different from what you’re used to. On my bus ride from Antofagasta to Iquique, I couldn’t stop staring because the landscape was just amazing. The ocean on one site and alternatively mountains or sand dunes on the other, it was one of the most fascinating roads I’ve ever travelled.
Next time you’re looking at a long overland journey, don’t complain about it. Think of it as several hours of downtime with the addition of some great views outside. It’s the chance for you to forget about your phone, your work, and your responsibilities for a while and just enjoy being on the road. What more could a travelling introvert want?
How do you feel about long-distance overland trips? Love them or hate them? Share in the comments!