How Do I Know When To Get Off The Bus?

One of the most terrifying aspects of travel is getting on a bus for the first time.  The second most terrifying aspect about riding local is knowing when to get off that bus.  This can often leave a person staring out the window constantly wondering when and how they know when to get off at their stop and not at another random one that is in the middle of no where leaving you stranded.  Sometimes buses go through every day, other times buses only pass through places once a week so make sure to know the times and frequencies of the routes being used to help prevent being marooned in the middle of no where.

One of the things that I have learned over the past few years of travel is that when taking public transportation it is important to know where to get off.  Although this may not seem like much of a tip I would at least like to bring it to light.  Even if I don’t speak the local language I can always make sure to get my points across as far as where I want to go.  Some of the things I make sure to do are as follows:

  • Always make sure that you have the name of the destination you are going to written down on a piece of paper.  Always make sure that you have a local write this down in their language and in their alphabet.  Even when traveling to Spanish speaking places that use the Roman alphabet, a lot of small towns may go by nicknames you may not know.   It is usually easy to find someone to help you with this.  I usually use one of the workers at the guesthouse or a local I might meet on the street.
  • As soon as you get on the bus, make sure you show the bus driver the name of the stop written down on the piece of paper and make sure he acknowledges it.  Most bus drivers will understand that you are a tourist and will make sure to help you out with your stop.  Also make sure the fare collector on the bus knows as well.  They are good at making sure you don’t miss your stop, most of the time.
  • Try to sit towards the front of the bus if you can so the driver always sees you.  This will help him remember to make sure to yell to you when the bus arrives at the desired stop.
  • Use your sign language to indicate to him that you would like him to yell to you and signal when you are at your stop.  I usually just move my hand in a talking motion and joke around a little bit indicating for him to yell to me.   Kind of like when someone is talking to much and you move your hand behind them for a blabber mouth.  I usually just ask them with a smile to yell to me while charading this.  For some reason it works and I have never offended any bus driver yet and they usually get a good laugh out of it which is nice.

The most important thing by far is that little piece of paper with the name written on it.  Many times I have tried to practice how to pronounce a destination, but my ignorance usually gets the better of me, and when I try to say it in a native tongue I am usually way off.  This happened a lot of times in China.  No matter how much I practiced to say a places name, my pronunciation was always just off a little bit which left the person who I was talking to dumbfounded and myself frustrated.  The safe bet is always the paper, assuming of course that the person can read, and if they can’t then you really need to start being creative.

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