How to Control Your Bladder on a Bus

Three Parts:Getting Ready for the RideDealing With the Urge While You're On the BusKnowing What to Do When You Can't Hold it Anymore

Few experiences are more annoying than holding a full bladder on a bus that's not stopping anytime soon. If you still have time to prepare for your next bus trip, you can do a lot to minimize discomfort by drinking less water before boarding and teaching yourself how to control the muscles that hold in your pee. But if you're sitting on the bus right now and don't have time to learn new tricks, try uncrossing your legs, sitting as still as possible and reading something entertaining to distract yourself. As a very last resort, when you can't hold it for another minute, there are options you can try to relieve yourself discreetly.

Part 1
Getting Ready for the Ride

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    Don't drink too much before you board the bus. Staying hydrated is important for your health, but if you're about to board a bus for a long ride, it's wise not to chug water or any other liquid just before boarding. If you can't stand being thirsty, bring a water bottle and wet your mouth with tiny sips throughout your trip, rather than guzzling it all at once.
    • Say no to that large latte or giant soda before you get on the bus! Caffeine is a diuretic, and will cause you to pee more often than usual. If you need your morning coffee, try to drink it well before it's time to get on the bus, so it has time to get through your system.
    • Even worse than caffeine is alcohol, which prompts your body to produce more urine than the same amount of water would do.[1] Avoid drinking it in any form before or during your bus ride.
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    See if the bus has a bathroom. Most buses that will be traveling for more than a few hours have bathrooms these days. You can call ahead and ask the bus line you're traveling with just to make sure. The problem is that bus bathrooms are often less than clean, being very dirty at worst, as they aren't always cleaned for each new trip, and on a full bus there's frequently a line to use them. If the bus bathroom is very dirty, or if there is likely to be a line, then the best approach is to board armed with tips and tricks you can use to hold your bladder for as long as possible, and think of the bus bathroom as a backup you can use if you really have to go.
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    See if the bus will pull over for rest stops. On very long bus rides, there's usually a rest stop or two. Even if the bus doesn't have a usable bathroom, you'll eventually have somewhere to relieve yourself. Again, calling head to check on the situation will help you get mentally prepared. If you know when the next stop is going to be, it'll be easier to distract yourself for the allotted amount of time. If you have no idea when you'll get the opportunity to go, holding your pee will feel like endless torture.
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    Go while you still have the chance. Remember when your parents made you pee before road trips, even if you didn't have to go? This is especially important when you're about to go on a long bus trip with few or no stops before the destination, and especially if there's not a bathroom on the bus. Take advantage of your last chance to use the bathroom at home so your bus ride will be as trouble-free as possible.
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    Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. For both men and women, the amount of urine that's released from your bladder is controlled by your pelvic floor muscles. The Knack maneuver is an exercise designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles so you'll have more control when it comes to urinating. If you're on a bus and you really need to go, doing the Knack maneuver can send a message to your brain telling it that now's not a good time to pee, and the urge will become less strong. Try this before your trip:[2]
    • Find your pelvic floor muscles. They're the muscles that tense up when you're holding your pee, or when you stop peeing mid-stream.
    • Tense the muscles, then cough at the same time. Keep the muscles tensed until you're done coughing, then release.
    • Repeat 10 to 15 times every day leading up to your bus trip.
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    Consider wearing pads or adult diapers just in case. If you have a long trip coming up and you predict you're going to have trouble holding your bladder, there's no shame in protecting yourself in case of emergency! Head to the drugstore and pick out some protective supplies so you don't have an accident. Just make sure you put on the diaper before boarding the bus.
    • Adult diaper products were designed to help people deal with urinary incontinence, but they're commonly used by people with all sorts of needs, like brides with wedding dresses too puffy to remove for a bathroom break.
    • You can buy small protective pads similar to sanitary napkins or larger, full-coverage diapers depending on what you think you'll need.

Part 2
Dealing With the Urge While You're On the Bus

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    Sit with your legs uncrossed. If you're standing up and you have the urge to pee, crossing your legs can help you hold it in, but when you're sitting down it's better to have your legs uncrossed. Pushing your thighs up toward your abdomen puts pressure on your bladder, so it'll make the urge to go worse. Keep your feet on the ground and your legs in a comfortable position.
    • Avoid leaning forward for the same reason. Lean your seat back if you can, and try to keep your torso straight and keep yourself from slouching.
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    Loosen tight clothing. If you're wearing pants or a skirt with a tight waistband, your clothes could be making matters worse by putting pressure on your bladder. Make yourself as comfortable as possible by loosening your tight clothing.
    • If you're wearing a belt, unbuckle it. Unbutton or unzip your pants or skirt.
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    • To hide the fact that you're unbuttoned, pull your shirt down or place a sweater or another item over your lap.
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    Try not to move around too much. Squirming around jostles your bladder and creates an urge that feels more extreme. You might want feel like tapping your feet or shifting from side to side, but that's just going to make matters worse. Try to get in a comfortable position and stay that way.
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    Read or watch something to distract yourself. This is one of the best ways to deal with having to pee on a bus. If there's really nowhere to go to the bathroom for the next hour or two, make the best of the situation by trying to forget about your uncomfortable physical state. Pick up your reading material or turn on a video absorbing enough to keep your mind off of your urge to relieve your bladder.
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    Avoid coughing or laughing. Both of these actions can cause the pelvic floor muscles to give a little, making the urge to pee worse. You probably can't do much about it if you have a coughing fit, but you can make sure the book or video you choose isn't funny enough to make you laugh so hard you pee in your pants.[3]
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    Don't think about running water. Having an unbearable urge to pee is partly psychological, so thinking about whitewater rafting and spouting geysers really will make you feel worse! Let your mind dwell on deserts (without mirages) and other things that are dry. If you have a mean friend who thinks it's funny to sing "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls" while you're trying to hold it in, tell him it won't be so funny if you pee in your seat right next to them.
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    Know that holding it for a long time won't hurt your bladder. There's no chance that you're going to burst your bladder just by holding your pee for a long time, so let your mind be eased.[4] If it gets to the point where your body can't hold it anymore, it will simply stop doing so. Hopefully by then you'll have gotten to a rest stop! If you fear the time has come and you're still sitting there wedged between a stranger and a window, read on.

Part 3
Knowing What to Do When You Can't Hold it Anymore

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    Talk to the bus driver. See if there's a chance the driver can stop the bus at a nearby rest stop so you can use the bathroom (other passengers will probably take advantage, too). Be careful not to distract the bus driver, though. It's important not to raise your voice or do anything that could create a dangerous situation.
    • It is possible that the bus driver will say no, and you'll just have to keep waiting. If it's a charter bus on a schedule the driver isn't going to be likely to want to pull over. Still, it's worth a try.
    • If the driver says no, ask when you'll be stopping next, so you can resume your seat at least knowing when you'll get to relieve yourself.
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    See if you can discreetly pee into a container. When it comes, it comes, so have somewhere to put it. Cover your lap with a jacket or something and pee into a container of some kind. Choose one with a lid so you can keep things as sanitary as possible and close it up when you're done.
    • If your seatmate is a friend, have him or her stay positioned in front of you while you use the window seat to pee discreetly into the container.
    • Wait for a time when the bus is running over smooth highway and not driving through city streets and running over potholes.
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    Avoid peeing in your pants. You wouldn't be reading this article if you saw peeing in your pants as a viable option, but it's worth pointing out that peeing on a bus seat is unsanitary and rude to your fellow passengers. If there's just no way you can avoid it, and you can't find a container fit to use, do your best to hold in as much as possible until the bus finally comes to a stop.
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    If you do end up peeing in your pants, try to stay calm. If you panic, you'll attract attention to your wet pants, adding to your embarrassment. Simply stay where you are until the bus stops and wait for others to leave, then inform the driver you've had an accident. If there are still others on board who notice you peed in your pants, don't sweat it! You may never have to see them again.


  • Plan ahead before any bus trip over three hours long.
  • Urinating in a container or a diaper has downsides to it, including the fact that diapers might show through your clothes (so choose what you wear wisely), people might see you putting a bottle in your pants, it might smell, it might leak, and you might have more urine than a container can fit, so it is not recommended.

Article Info

Categories: Bus Travel | Urinary Health