In the last few months I have relied more and more on the budget buses of Europe to get me from destination A to destination B, and almost every journey has been a success both for my budget and for ease of travel.
If you’re considering taking a budget bus for the first time, make sure to read these:
Whilst busing around Europe is definitely one of the most cost effective ways to travel (€30 from London to Amsterdam with no baggage fees!) it’s definitely not the most comfortable or luxurious way to travel. In fact, 10-hours on a bus can make you downright miserable. And that’s without the hassle of border controls and potential breakdowns!
So here are my tips for surviving long bus journeys across Europe!
1. Dress Appropriately
This is probably the most crucial tip because if you get too hot or too cold on your journey it’s going to be very difficult to change outfits… and requesting to get your luggage from the hold won’t make you best friends with the driver.
There are two things you should always carry… A comfy jumper and a warm scarf! Even in the middle of summer these will come in useful as air conditioning can often turn the inside of a bus in to a set from Frozen. Saying that, it’s best to dress in layers so that you can strip them one by one if you do get a bit sticky.
My go-to bus outfit includes warm leggings, a long oversized jumper (like this one from Boohoo), and a thick scarf. Usually I’ll also wear my boots to save space in my luggage, and also because they’re very easy to slip off.
2. Listen To Podcasts
I love love love podcasts! Firstly… they are free! And second there is just so much choice… travel, self-development, comedy, news, history. Literally anything you could possibly want to listen to you can find on the Apple Store and download straight to your iPod.
Most of my long bus journeys include a mix of genres. If I’m looking for a good girly giggle then my first choice is always The High Tea Cast, run by two hilarious ladies I had the fortune of hearing talk at last year’s Blognix Conference (you can read about it here!).
For times when I’m feeling curious to learn something new I would usually turn to RadioLab, a podcast on topics ranging from politics to science to identity, but you can also get all the TED Talks in podcast format as well. Probably the most interesting podcasts series are run by HowStuffWorks.com, my favourite being “Stuff You Missed In History Class”.
Of course, the majority of my podcasts are travel-related (duh!). I could run off a whole list for you but I’ll try to keep it short.
- Rick Steves has an insane range of information on countless destinations
- Then you have Extra Pack of Peanuts run by Travis who describes himself as “Rick Steves for the New Generation”
- The Amateur Traveler Podcast is a great resource for listening to interviews with global travellers
- Kuadrant Podcast, run by Alex & Jose in Barcelona, is a great resource for inspiring travel stories!
- & finally… my favourite has to be The Daily Travel Podcast from Nathaniel who is a fab interviewer and manages to tease out all the best tips & inspiration from his guests!
3. Read Books
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss
I don’t know about you guys, but growing up I never seemed to think too much time was enough time to curl up with a book and get lost in fantasy or history for a few hours. Of course, as we grow up time seems to run away with us and now I feel like it takes me weeks (sometimes even months!) to finish a book.
Well, with hours to kill on a bus here is your chance! Pick up a preloved read at the book exchange in your hostel, or download a bunch of different options to your Kindle before you hit the road. I swear by my Kindle as it is far easier than carrying round a load of books, and so many of the great titles you can now find for free (especially the classics – see the free collection here on Amazon).
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Amazon, check out this Mashable resource: 8 Places for Thrifty Bookworms to Download Free E-Books
Also, if you are looking for some great travel books, check out my recent post: Ten Books To Inspire Wanderlust | Best Books About Travel
If you’re not much of a reader, it’s also possible to find a wealth of free audiobooks online. They tend to be more expensive than their Kindle counterparts, but of course the classics will always be free wherever you find them!
For a list of resources take a look at Hongkiat’s guide: Websites To Download Free Audio Books – Best Of
4. Learn a Language
Okay, so you’re not going to learn a new language in 10 hours. Especially not with all the reading and listening you’ve been up to so far! But you can definitely get in some practice before you arrive at your new destination.
If you have a smart phone, Duolingo is your new language learning best friend. I try to use this every day to improve my
shit French, and it really does help! The only part of the app you won’t be able to use on the bus is the spoken language checks as you’ll probably annoy a few people in the rows around you! But you can get by with listening and reading practice for now.
Another little trick I have is to try to pick up a magazine in the language I’m learning. It’ll help you with more colloquial sayings and give you a bit of brain training en route! Here’s an issue of French Stylist magazine I picked up in Paris…
5. A Few More Handy Hints!
- Research all the possible bus companies for your route. So far I have travelled with Megabus & Eurolines and iDBus, and the Budget Traveller has a good list of alternatives as well!
- Make sure to read my full reviews of Travelling Europe by Bus
- Make sure to carry tissues and hand sanitiser… trust me the toilets won’t be 5*
- The middle of a bus tends to offer the most comfortable seats, with less light coming in from the front if you want to sleep, and less bumpy than the back!
- Take food! I can’t stress this enough! Some bus companies will not stop so it’s crucial that you carry a big bottle of water on with you and plenty of snacks to keep you going. I always find some sushi, a fruit pot, a sandwich, a snack bar, and a couple of packets of crisps does me just fine. Just watch out as few companies allow you to take on hot food or alcohol so make sure you check the rules
- Again with the no stopping en route, if you’re a smoker you might want to take some patches or gum
- Make sure to stretch as often as possible! For tips on how to do this while sitting, check out these great guides by MindBodyGreen.com – 6 Pilates Exercises To Help You Stay Sane On An Airplane & 12 Yoga Poses To Practice On An Airplane
- Carry all your valuables with you at all times and don’t pack them away in luggage that will go in the hold
Budget buses are a great way to travel across country, especially a country with great scenery! These are all the tips I have for surviving long bus journeys across Europe, but if you have any more feel free to leave them in the comments!
Lots of love,