When travelling around Europe one of the most common ways to get around is by train. It’s usually a great option and not overly expensive, but on occasion you may need to save a little extra moolah…
Enter the bus option!
Let me preface this by saying that I was AGAINST taking a bus from Paris to Amsterdam, like I had no desire to get on the damn thing. I only went because when you travel with others sometimes you need to compromise so this was my compromise for that trip.
My travel partner really wanted to try the bus and see how it would be for a few reasons. One was it was only $15 USD at the time and I admit that was a draw. Second, was that we would get to see more at a slower pace. Now in my thought process I was thinking of comfort and sitting on a bus for 8 hours from Paris to Amsterdam just seemed unimaginable. There are no snacks, you can’t get up and stretch and honestly, I am a luxury traveler, and this was NOT my idea of luxury at all.
I will say that I had to coach myself through it because I wanted to compromise, and I know you can’t do luxury all the time.
Now if you are on a time crunch the bus is NOT what you want to do but if you have some time and are trying to be frugal (hate that word) then this is the way to do it! Now let’s dive into some logistics so you know what to except!
Now there are lots of companies that you can use but I would recommend the FlixBus. First, they are very well known and have more reputable reviews. They also provide Wi-Fi and have charging ports at the seats. Now these may or may not work so be forewarned and have a backup plan. I had my portable Wi-Fi from SkyRoam and a portable charger back up. I did end up needing to use these a few times as the Wi-Fi wasn’t super consistent. Bear in mind that you get what you pay for. The bus will get you where you need to go but if it’s cheap expect it to be cheap. The service was fine but nothing to write home about and while I haven’t used other companies this one does rank in the top for price to service.
This is an obvious one but bring snacks! The bus does make stops, but they are super short, and you don’t want to risk the bus taking off. It was so crazy to me that they only check you on. If you get off, they don’t check you out or make sure you get back on. So, they will LEAVE you and it’s up you to get to the final stop and retrieve your luggage. I saw someone get off and she didn’t make it back in time and they had to ship her luggage to their warehouse. Don’t be that person and just come prepared. This isn’t an airplane; you can bring any liquids on board. Make sure to stock up on water, food, and anything else you will need. Be mindful though that the more you drink the more you pee…and it’s a bus bathroom so enough said.
I cannot stress enough how much you will need entertainment. Sleeping on the bus can be done but it’s hard so make sure you have your Kindle and laptop charged. I watched so many movies I had downloaded before and read a book on my Kindle. It saved me because while driving from Paris to Amsterdam was pretty, it wasn’t anything I could stare at for eight hours!
Now to my eight-hour point, don’t be married to that time. It’s a bus and a human is driving it through traffic, so you may be delayed. You are driving through cities, and they will usually have the bus driver switch out halfway through. It’s not like a train where your track is unobstructed. Make sure you don’t have any hard reservations that you need to make. Again, this type of transportation is great if you have the time.
Make sure you arrive to the bus EARLY so you can get a good seat! If you are travelling solo, you can put a bag in the seat next to you and say you are saving it BUT if the bus is full someone will take it. I sat at in the aisle and acted like someone else was coming and was okay the whole ride. It can be awkward to sit next to someone for that long of a time. Not that I don’t love to get to know people but eight hours is too much even for an extrovert like me. I will say the view when we finally got there helped me forgot the difficult journey.
I would personally not take the bus again because for it me the cost was not worth the sacrifice of comfort. Now I know plenty of travelers who make this work but again I am a firm believer that not every type of travel is for everyone. Some people hate luxury accommodations they don’t see the value in the cost. Others will pay a huge dollar amount for comfort. I fall in the middle but lean towards paying more for my comfort. In my early twenties a bus ride would have been more romantic and fun. At almost thirty I will pay to pick my seat, have a bar service on board and not feel uncomfortable or waste time.
I would love to hear your thoughts on bus travel around Europe. Make sure to drop a comment below!