Packing help needed: bus tour
August 27, 2017 8:18 AM   Subscribe

My mom is going on a bus tour of the American west/southwest next month. She's in her 70s. She doesn't know anyone else on the tour. She's worried about what to bring. What great suggestions do you have?
posted by TEA to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That sounds like a cool trip!

Definitely a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. A "comfort bag" for the bus with things like cough drops or mints, a cardigan or wrap, a few options for passing the time (sketchbook, novels, kindle, tablet, knitting, crosswords, whatever she likes), hand lotion, lip balm, and maybe a small pillow for comfort / napping. Possibly a deck of cards or a small game to play with other passengers, if she enjoys that sort of thing.

I assume there will be relatively frequent stops with some walking, so comfortable shoes. Layers to accommodate southwestern heat and over-air conditioned indoor places and bus.

What to bring on a bus trip has more suggestions.
posted by bunderful at 8:43 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

A refillable hot/cold travel mug. Headphones or earbuds for the tablet/phone entertainment options. And definitely cards and sunscreen. Remember sunburn can happen through a window over a long enough period of time.
posted by beaning at 9:49 AM on August 27, 2017

Oh, baby wipes and travel kleenex might be useful esp if facilities aren't the best. And baby wipes go in the trash, not flushed, regardless of what the package says.
posted by beaning at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2017

-Always have a spare pair of wool socks (even if they're just light ones).
-A brimmed hat that can be secured to her head (windy)
-Water bottle that can be clipped to her day-pack.
-Polarized sunglasses.
-Baby wipes.
-A couple Clif bars. Hunger can sneak up on you. The non-chocolate ones are less likely to melt into a mess.
-A towel. Great for adding lumbar support or as a pillow on tour-bus chairs.
-One large garbage bag, two gallon ziplocks, and four quart ziplocks. The former can be everything from a poncho to a tourniquet to a garbage sack. The others are to protect valuables, and organize your shit in your day bag.
-Lip balm.
-She should wear the hell out of her shoes (with the socks she'll be taking) in the weeks before the trip, to minimize hotspots on her feet.
-Even if she only will be taking smartphone camera pics, she should practice shooting outdoors at home a couple times.
-Twice as much of her normal medicines, split into two containers.
posted by notsnot at 9:56 AM on August 27, 2017

As a counter point - I'd go for a two bag strategy, rather than one large bag. A fairly small one for wallet, camera, binoculars, water bottle - anything she would not wish to be without even leaving the bus for only a few minutes. The other bag contains stuff she may want on the bus to be comfortable, such as scarf, pillow etc. That bag stays on the bus. Ideally, she should limit valuables in the bag that stays on the bus.

If she is the worrying kind it may be worth highlighting that they will be stopping frequently, even if just for comfort breaks. And every gas station sells snacks, water, what passes for coffee, spf, sanitizing gel, tissues, hats etc...Yes, it may be cheaper to buy these things in a supermarket but she does not have to panic if she forgets something or loses it.

In terms of things to have in the small day bag - especially when travelling in nature I have never regretted taking my binoculars with me and have missed them when I didn't bring them. So if she has a small pair or can borrow one that would be great.

At that age it would probably be prudent to bring contact details for her doctor and copies of any prescriptions she relies on. Should she need medical attention on the trip these would be helpful for the treating physicians and they would also be helpful should she run out of or lose her medication.

Does she ever suffer from motion sickness? Even if that doesn't affect her sitting in the front of a car the middle/back of a bus is very different. If that is a concern make sure she has medication she can take.

Has she been on many tours where she is moving from place to place? If she's the kind of person who worries about packing/unpacking frequently she may want to give some thought to her choice of suitcase, clothes, toiletries etc and how to organize them for ease of frequent packing/unpacking. If she doesn't worry about that kind of thing that's great. But if she does here's something she can strategize over with a view of not unpacking everything every day.

Finally, if she relies on her electronics for entertainment on the bus - bring one of those battery power bank things. Yes, there will be ways of charging electronics on the bus but there won't be enough for all passengers. If she puts her power bank in the bus bag she won't be stuck without power. She should also always charge everything in her room at night. Especially the camera.

Good on her for going on an adventure. She'll have a fab time.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2017

I'm 62. At 70, she probably has a good idea of comfort and convenience items. I'd add earbuds and a loaded mobile music player(mobile phone) for when she'd like some alone time, and an additional battery pack for it. If she doesn't have a mobile with a good camera, that would be a great upgrade. Playing cards or any other multiplayer activity for being social. I might also bring a flask, coffee, and decaf tea bags, for enjoyment with whichever books I bring*. I have a couple versions of Keen sandals that are really comfortable. One pair, which I'm not finding in a search, look nice enough to wear with dressier wear. I pretty much refuse to own clothing I can't move in.

Senior women wear pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, and jeans for everything, so I'd just say look at the schedule and make sure she feels like she can dress for the activities. Southwest? I'd bring skirts and long shorts and maybe a pair of leggings, as it's likely to be warm. The bus will probably be icy cold, so a fleece jacket and a pretty shawl will help. Shorts ride up, so long shorts are more likely to be comfortable on a bus. I get cold, so I have several pashminas that are pretty as well as warm. Knits labeled ponte are very easy to pack; I have 2 ponte-knit skirts that can be scrunched in a bag, taken out and worn immediately. I get the sense she's concerned about dressing appropriately; an email to the organizer regarding the activities might help. A really nice scarf and/or sparkly jewelry might be handy if there's going to be a fancy restaurant or theater evening. I wouldn't bring anything that requires a dress bag (though I know 1 person who uses a garment bag as main luggage, so go figure) or requires ironing, but my version of what requires ironing is very forgiving. Most motels have an iron available if it comes to that.

*what books to bring is usually my most important decision, even though I know there will be people with books to swap, and books at many locations along the way, because what if I get stuck with no good book to read?
posted by theora55 at 12:15 PM on August 27, 2017

I go everywhere with a cotton bandana and a UV microfiber Buff. Both can hold back hair and act as a sleeping mask. When driving I use the Buff as a makeshift sleeve to avoid sunburn. The UV version is a few dollars more.
An inflating horseshoe neck pillow prevents cricks in the neck, which are awful. A wide pashmina is great draped around shoulders or covering knees. A light unlined rain jacket can do for rain and cold.

Separates in neutral colors are easier to pack. I put a top, bottom and underwear in a Ziploc bag (one or two gallon) and keep a change in a small soft duffle or school backpack that I can lean against or put my sock-covered feet on. Shoes go in the bag in a Ziploc until needed. Two more changes go in a medium-sized bag in the bus baggage compartment, so that's four mix-and-match changes. I sleep in one set instead of pajamas. I avoid denim, since it is heavier and takes longer to dry.
I also have an extra Ziploc of underwear and socks, plus a Ziploc for swimwear and an Aqua Dry towel in its tube instead of a terrycloth towel. I've started using a Turbie Towel after shampooing and it is amazing.
I bring an extra pair of shoes in case the first get wet or tear up. I'd rather have an old reliable pair instead of a new pair that is rubbing blisters.

Speaking of which, I carry a quart Ziploc with small amounts of Band-aids, triple antibiotic ointment and Wet Wipes, plus meds for headaches and stomachaches. Purse-size containers of sunscreen and bug spray, lip balm with sunscreen, anti-itch stick for mosquito bites. Chewing gum (good for altitude changes that cause ears to pop) or mints. Several pairs of foam earplugs. Clip-on sunshades for my eyeglasses. A soft wide-brim hat with a chin cord.

I try to get a seat next to the window for slouching, and behind the driver if possible to enjoy the views.
Usually tour buses have a bathroom in the back, but I like to bring my own Kleenex and Wet Wipes. A small body spray if odors are unbearable (vanilla or lemon usually smell clean to other passengers).
I even use my travel toothbrush at home. I always bring dental floss instead of toothpicks. A travel antiperspirant is nice to have, and I've heard it helps when rubbed on the heels to prevent blisters, but I can't verify that.
posted by TrishaU at 7:26 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding every post for a no-spill container. I've gotten hot cocoa out of our new vehicle's carpet when the foam cup leaked. We use the Bubba Mugs, which screw on and have a clip cover for the sip hole. Staying hydrated in the dry Southwest is important.
On the trips I've taken by bus, rest breaks were taken at places that sold food and drinks, so I usually bought bottled water.
posted by TrishaU at 7:47 AM on August 28, 2017

diarrhoea cure, not good when travelling; any medication you take regularly eg you often get itchy eyes and use eye drops, or you often get blisters on your feet, etc; and don't buy new shoes or hiking boots then not wear for serious walking until you go. Me, i need my reading, my kindle is essential because i have a good choice of books. For some reason, all travel makes your skin dry, you always need cream and lipbalm when normally you don't. Small handwash (for handwashing clothes, eg normal soap or bottle of liquid) can be handy. Avoid hotel room cups and mugs, cleaner washes them in the sink with dirty hands only usually! I can sleep anywhere if my feet are warm, bedsocks
posted by maiamaia at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2017

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