Traveling in a bus with your child (exclusive book preview)

When you’re in a foreign country or an unfamiliar city, it’s important to be ready for anything. For example, you may wish to take a short trip by bus, either as part of a tour or simply to get around town. Bus travel with a child has its perks, including affordability, but also significant drawbacks—especially when you’re traveling in a bus with a toddler.

After all, you are unlikely to have the bus all to yourself; most of the time, you’ll be sharing it with quite a few strangers. And a bus—unlike your car—may not come equipped with all the child-wrangling supplies you’re accustomed to.

Traveling on a bus with our child in Naples, Italy
Aarav asleep on our bus tour in Naples, Italy

For these reasons and many others (such as the nauseating nature of bus travel down bumpy roads), this isn’t something we recommend doing often. Frankly, buses represent our least favorite way to travel. Yet it’s something you may wind up doing—so what should you know before you board? A short bus ride that takes you just a few city blocks is no big deal, but for longer distances, we have a few tips and suggestions.

Our Tips for Traveling by Bus

First, let’s talk booking. Just like with trains and planes, we recommend trying to book your toddler their own seat on the bus—their own space where they can stand up, lay out their toys, and just generally get comfortable.

A bigger issue with booking: We discovered that some bus lines will actually require kids under a certain age to be in car seats. (Age, not weight—an important distinction.) They literally won’t let you on if you don’t have a car seat—but here’s the rub: The buses don’t always have a way for you to attach foldable car seats, which means you need a big, bulky car seat… something we ultimately don’t recommend.

All that’s just to say: Check the car seat requirements for any bus travel with kids you plan to do.

One advantage of sitting in the back of the bus. You can make fun of people that still own blackberries

It might matter which seat you pick. Unless sitting in the front helps you keep from feeling nauseous, we’d generally recommend sitting in the back of the bus, where your child might be a little less disruptive, or at the very least you won’t feel like you have as many eyes on you. And also: The back of the bus is usually closer to the bathroom! (More on that in a minute.)

As for keeping your toddler happy (and mom and dad sane) during bus tips, we’ll just point you back to our comments about car travel with a child and plane travel with a child, and in particular to the toys and apps you can use to keep your kids engaged. Bring a few of these along for the bus ride, in your child’s bag.

Of course, buses aren’t likely to have snacks, and they certainly won’t have milk—so pack whatever food and drinks you need. Obviously, eating a meal beforehand is ideal.

Another consideration is the bathroom situation!

Want to get more tips on traveling on a bus? Download our book today.

Thank you for reading our article! We have provided a preview of what you’ll get in our book, How to Travel With Kids (Without Losing Your Mind). You’ll get more tips on bus travel and so much more.

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Penelope Smith
4 years ago

This is some really good information about traveling on a bus. It is good to know that it would be smart to mark if you need to bring a car seat. That is good for me to know because I wouldn’t have thought about how you would need to list that in the booking.

tyler johnson
tyler johnson
4 years ago

That’s a good point that at the back of the bus that you would have fewer people staring at you if your child is upset. I would think that would be pretty uncomfortable to have all those unhappy people looking at you. I’ll have to make sure to look for a seat in the back of the bus if my family decides to charter one for a family reunion.

Mindy Jollie
Mindy Jollie
4 years ago

I like what you said about checking car seat requirements for any bus travel you’re planning to do. My friend is planning an overnight school trip for her students. She’ll have to make sure she schedules the proper transportation so that parents will feel comfortable trusting her with the kids for that time.