How Many Hours In Transit Is Too Much For You?


How many hours is too long to be sitting on a bus, a boat or a train? What’s your limit when it comes to bum-numbing travel?

For us, we’ve not yet found our limit!!

We’ve had short trips in the back of a ute in Chiang Mai and we’ve survived 2 days of boating down the Mekong River in Laos. Long flights with even longer layovers in airports (because we are cheap and bought the cheap seats!)

We are just hours away from one of our longest travel periods. At 7.30pm tonight we’ll be leaving Paris on a bus bound for Denmark. The bus gets us into Copenhagen at 2pm tomorrow. Then we’ll have a lovely 4 hours or so until we catch a second bus to a ferry that will finally take us to the little island of Bornholm, where Gert is from. 27 hours travel in total. Assuming we arrive on time!

It’s Europe so we’re a little more confident of arriving kinda on time.

Not like the 22 hour overnight bus journey in Vietnam. It was our first overnight bus – the pictures of the beds looked great – they were not!!

22 hours became 26. We were in hell. Especially since the promised toilet was NOT on the bus!!

We could probably have arrived on time if the following had not occurred:

  • The bus left late. Our 6pm departure became 6.45pm as they loaded wierd styrofoam boxes underneath the bus.
  • We didn’t stop every 45 minutes to pick up random Vietnamese who slept in the aisles on the floor.
  • We didn’t have a 1 hour delay at the border. The delay was not so bad. Seeing the border staff member washing his bum in a bucket before the border opened was a bit tough to takeWe didn’t stop for lunch where there was a giant pig hung right outside the toilets covered in flies. We ended up buying dried bikkies and trying to ignore the advances of an older vietnamese gentleman who obviously wanted to spirit me away on his motorbike. By this stage we’d been on the road for 19 hours! I’m sure I didn’t look THAT attractive but he sure was persistent!!
  • We stopped to unload our bus of a shipment of illegal timber from Laos!! Yes, at 10pm we stopped in a deserted side street and were ordered off the bus by the crazy driver screaming “get off, get off”. Then we waited patiently with about a dozen other westerners while the bus was torn apart and timber appeared from every orifice the bus possessed! On the roof, under our seats, from the false floor in the bus. You name it, it was there. There were skinny planks and frankly some huge squares of timber that I have no idea how they even got on the bus!!! They could have been the bases of enormous tables! There was so much that it filled the back of a small truck and the foyer of the hotel we were stopped outside of!! We googled after and discovered there is indeed a trade in illegal timber from Laos!!

After 26 hours we finally arrived in Vietnam where we were greeted by an amazing gentleman who really looked after us!! What a relief!! We were still alive!!

So we are set to trump the 26 hour record today and tomorrow.

What’s the longest amount you have travelled? Do you think you could cope with 27 hours travelling?

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How Many Hours In Transit Is Too Much For You? — 12 Comments

  1. Not sure that I could have coped with that long on a bus without a toilet!!!

    And gee how creepy it would be to have to get off so all of that wood could be unloaded.

    I went to England when I was 18 and that was a 24 hour flight – with a stop over in Hawaii for three hours. I remember getting to England and wanting to sleep for ages 🙂

    Not sure if my old bones would be up to handling that long anymore.

    Have fun, and safe journey.
    Lisa Wood recently posted..Happy Fathers Day DaddyMy Profile

    • 24 hours to London is no mean feat!! Even at 18!! It was super creepy but super fun to be involved in the wood smuggling!! We were worried they were unloading us to kill us!! Lol

  2. Yeah I’ve done the 23 hour flight (or was it longer??) to london when I was 11 years old. The longest one since then was from bris to the Whitsundays and back again on a bus. That was about 13 hours I think. Torture….

    • 23 hours at 11 is no mean feat!! Whitsundays on a bus does not sound too tempting to me!! It will be a few days before I’m back in love with bus travel!!!

  3. Hey, I’ve done 27 hours, including a few stopovers, on flights to Europe ex Australia, in business class, heaps of times. It’s aweful!

    • Yes business class would be sooooooo tough to take!! I think you should definitely request cattle class next time you have to fly!!! Actually I just remembered you have a shower at those stopovers!! You would arrive feeling completely human!!

  4. When I was on my round the world trip, I made a decision to fly home to Germany for 2 weeks in the middle. But I already had a non-changeable flight booked from Saigon to Melbourne, so I had to get there after the 2 weeks. It was 3 flights from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi to Bangkok to Saigon. I had a 5 hour layover in Bangkok, followed by an 8 hour layover in Saigon. I couldn’t leave the airport in Saigon because I didn’t have a Vietnam visa. Finally flew to Melbourne, the 2nd overnight flight of the 4 flights total. From the time I left home in Freiburg, Germany until I got to the hostel in Melbourne, Australia was 43 hours. I cried twice. I barely slept. I was a mess. But I also slept so much when I arrived that I woke up the next morning completely over the jet lag!

    Good luck with your journey! I think bus travel is one of my least favorite methods of travel, especially if it’s an overnight bus.
    Ali recently posted..What If You Don’t Speak the Language?My Profile

    • Oh Ali – that sounds awful!! I can relate about having to use the ticket you already had. Never let a good ticket go to waste!! When we are planning we will book anything as long as it’s cheap. Long bus trip, followed by ferry and another bus? No problem! 2 days on a slowboat on the Mekong river? No problem! Afterwards we look at each other and say “what were we thinking?!” BIG bonus to easily get over the jet lag though!! Hope you don’t have to go through that torture again!!

  5. Last month. Picture this. Three adults, three kids aged 13, 5 and 2 1/2. A plane from Charles De Gaulle at 9am, to Amsterdam with a three hour transit. Then, 12 and a half hours from Amsterdam to Guangzhou, China, with a 14 hour transit. Then, 8 and a half hours from Guangzhou to Brisbane. It wasn’t pretty
    At least you’re moving at a constant rate on your bus journey. Have fun. What is it they say about the journey and the destination? Obviously that person didn’t travel with three grumpy kids!

    • Gee I hope you got the cheap flights with all that transit time!! Did you leave the airport in China? I would have been so tempted to get outside and count it as another country visited!! 3 grumpy kids certainly ups the ante. How did the 2 1/2 year old go?

      • We flew China Southern – never again. I had asked our travel agent about transit visas in Guangzhou and was told we’d have to pay $600 AUD to exit the airport for about ten hours. We’d resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d be in the airport for the 14 hours, but when we arrived, exhausted, and there were no alternative flights to Brissie (I did ask), we were told that because our transit was more than 8 hours, the airline would put us up in a hotel for the duration, with return transfers. Score! So, thankfully, we did manage a few hours of sleep, and a much-needed shower!

        • Wow – that’s cool! WE were told in Egypt that as we would be in transit in Kuwait for over 8 hours we had to pay US$350 for hotel rooms – they wouldn’t let us board the plane until we paid! Of course it was rubbish and ruined our planned day in Kuwait! Lucky yours was paid for!

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