Public Bus Travel: 5 Safety Tips From a Travel Expert

If you’re travelling by bus, you may wonder what you can do to stay safe. After all, you may be on public transit a lot with people you don’t know. You’ve probably heard a lot of horror stories from friends or the news, as well.

Fortunately, problems with fellow bus passengers are not as widespread as they seem. Remember, only the extreme cases get reported – no one talks about the thousands of trips that have no problems.

However, there are steps you can take to stay safer on public busses. Here are five tips!

Be Sure the Bus is Legitimate

If you’re in an area you’re unfamiliar with, you may have a hard time determining which vehicles are public busses and which ones are scammers out to prey on tourists.

The key is to know what badges, colors, and logos to look for. Be sure to ask someone you can trust – like the staff at your hotel or a local police officer – what to look for. Then, don’t get into a vehicle that doesn’t match the description, no matter how tempting the price.

Be Alert

If you’re at home or know the people you’re travelling with, it’s no problem to take a quick nap or lose yourself in a book on a public bus. However, if you’re in unfamiliar territory that’s a good way to get something stolen from you.

If you are clearly different than those around you (a Canadian visiting India, for instance), you may be a target. Stay alert at all times and know where your valuables are.

Keep to Yourself

If you’re riding a public transit bus in an area that you don’t feel is safe, or you’re likely to encounter vagrants or unsavory folks, the best thing you can do is keep to yourself.

Sometimes all you need is a pair of headphones and a serious expression. Other times you might need to seem grumpy or glare at folks who try to engage you.

If this seems unfriendly, well, it is! But this is about safety when you’re around people who might take advantage of you, not about a safe ride with a bus company in Toronto where you’re looking to make friends.

Hang Onto Your Phone

It’s easy to forget how much money a cell phone is worth. Many of us take them for granted, but for someone looking for an item they can steal and sell quickly, phones are a gold mine.

Remember, many phones are worth hundreds of dollars. That’s a huge temptation to someone who is going through difficult times or is making poor choices in their life. Keep your phone with you and don’t carry it openly or hold it loosely. Also, don’t just slip it in your back pocket! 

It’s just too easy to get it stolen.

Consider Getting Off a Crowded Bus

If you don’t have to take the bus right this minute, it may be a good idea to get off if the bus gets too crowded. Unfortunately, the tighter everyone is packed in the easier it is for someone to casually swipe your phone, wallet, or bag. 

If you notice the bus is too crowded or there are people who are making you uncomfortable, get off the bus at the next safe stop that’s available. Maybe it’s time to walk a bit and discover a new area instead! 

When you follow these five tips, you’ll be much safer anytime you take public transit. Be careful!

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42 thoughts

  1. Excellent strategies, Ula! Following them will help “ride past” potential difficulties.

    I do have concerns, though, about getting off a bus if it becomes uncomfortable (literally or figuratively). This is spot-on if you’re familiar with a city, but it may be risky if you aren’t. For one thing, if you’re new to the place, you don’t know if the neighborhood is worse than was the bus. Plus, unless you’ve memorized the schedule, you don’t know when (or even if) the next bus will appear.

    Of course, if you’re familiar with the environment, the above points are irrelevant. Even more so than they usually are.

    Just a quibble, actually. You’ve added more great travel advice to the list!

  2. The telefone one is a good tip. Sometimes people travelling are just used to that everyone in their home country has the latest expensive model and it’s normal to have on the street all the time. In some countries however the latest model telefone big expensive phone directly makes you stand out from the crowd. I don’t mean that anyone will steal it or hurt you but it makes you the center of atentions for good intentioned folk… and if that’s the case for bad intentioned too.

  3. Good write up. Being a woman in not a so-much-a-woman friendly territory, you should also be careful especially when you travel alone. Being harassed or chances of being molested are also there and one need to be outspoken if anyone tries to be so.

  4. Would you recommend traveling by bus as opposed to other forms of transportation like: bike, Uber, train, etc.

    Where do you find yourself taking a bus most frequently?

    1. I was taking a bus earlier to work and when I was studying in Warsaw on the weekends.

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