When it comes to budget travel across Europe, one of the cheapest ways to get from city to city is by bus. Thanks to tidy roads and the relatively short distances, bus travel is relatively easy, has generous luggage allowance, and generally excellent connections. And while you might think that arranging bus travel in Europe might seem pretty straightforward, here are a few hints and tips to make your bus adventures the very best they can be.
- Take your time choosing
Booking bus travel is not like booking a flight, in that the prices typically do not start creeping up if you go into the site more than once (looking at you, Skyscanner). So, shop around to find the routes, times, and services that work best for you. Some are no-frills budget that are little more than a local public transport bus. Others have plug sockets, Wi-Fi, entertainment systems, and even free drinks! There are comparison sites as well as the bus companies directly that will take you just about anywhere your heart desires throughout Europe.
- Cheapest is not always best
Especially on a long journey, you need to ensure you are going to be comfortable for the duration of the time you’ll spend on board a bus. Just a few Euros can mean the difference between comfort and near-contortionism! Two hours sat crammed in to a small space might be doable, but be honest with yourself about how you’ll feel in those same conditions after ten.
- Think ahead
If you are looking to save a night’s accommodation cost, consider travelling overnight. And if you do that, make sure that if there are connections you need to make for onward travel that the station you are arriving in is open. You don’t want to arrive in a place where you don’t speak the language at four in the morning and have nowhere to stay until your next bus arrives. Better yet, take a few classes with Listen & Learn to pick up some survival language. After all, communicating in your destination or en route is a big part of thinking ahead.
- Be on your guard
As the old saying goes: “The unwitting, sleepy traveller is an easy target for would-be thieves.” Well, that may not be an actual phrase, but that doesn’t make it any less important to keep valuable items on you at all times. Consider a money belt for your cash, cards, and passport, and do not take your eyes off your luggage for any reason, whatever you do! That is not to say that bus travel is any more dangerous than any other form of travel, but if you are overnighting in a station or are just generally tired, you might not have your wits about you!
- Cash to hand
If you are travelling across Europe, you might find yourself taking regular comfort breaks, and this varies company to company, as well as depends on how long you are travelling for. With this in mind, try to keep a little loose change on you, and don’t assume that, just because it’s Europe that Euros are accepted everywhere. If you’re in a service station in the middle of nowhere and the vending machine coffee is calling you, you’ll need to have some coins to feed it.
- Passports, please
And finally, this one should really be a no-brainer; keep your passport within grabbing distance at all times. There are seasoned bus travellers the world over who can tell you tales of fellow travellers who stashed their passports away in the luggage hold beneath the bus and infuriated border control or police by making them wait. For going through borders, for spot security checks in countries that might pull over a bus at random to check who is on board, keep your travel documents with you and accessible at all times.
Wherever your travels are taking you this year, we hope you have an amazing time!