Busabout round Europe
Want to visit nine cities in Italy and throw in a trip to France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland for just over €500? Travel company Busabout is the new darling of the budget traveller, offering incredible deals on travel in Europe.
While budget airline prices have been creeping ever higher, bloated by tax and fuel surcharges, Busabout, have gone back to basics. And it seems their bus network offers a winning formula.
The pleasures of travelling by plane have been diminishing rapidly and the increased security of post-9/11 has made moving through airports not unlike ploughing through the devilish contortions of a Kafka story.
Yet we’re still leaping onto budget flights as if we hadn’t already made the owners of Ryanair and Easyjet millionaires many times over. That’s probably because ‘bus’ in our minds equals ‘slow and interminable’.
But consider this; once you’ve arrived at the airport up to three hours before your flight (often a requirement overseas), hassled your way through security and waited at the other end for your bags, you usually find yourself in some godforsaken airport suburb. At best, you’re going to need around another hour to find the bright lights of a capital city, sometimes more.
By contrast, the tortoise in this race might take longer to complete the journey overland, but the bus will obligingly drop you right in the centre of town.
If you choose one of Busabout’s recommended accommodations, you’ll be dropped off and picked up right at the door. How’s that for service? (Although check reviews before you book their accommodation as some have reputedly seen better days).
You don’t have to be doing a grand tour of Europe to make use of the service either. They offer a flexi pass from €475 which allows you to get on and off the bus without having to do a whole loop.
There are also six one-way routes, which stop at around 16 linked destinations. ‘Go West’ for example, takes you from Rome to Paris, via Madrid (and that’s quite the detour) for €676.
Much of the appeal of the concept is that you are likely to meet fellow travellers on the bus and to be staying at the same hostels. For the single traveller, this is manna from heaven; not having to reintroduce yourself a hundred times, and finding a group to have fun with is well worth the price of the bus ticket.
And while it is pretty clear that Busabout is aimed at the backpacker crew of students with shallow pockets and plenty of time, travellers report that the clientele are not all gap year 18-year-olds downing schnapps at the back of the bus.
The buses fill up with a mix of like-minded travellers who want to go a long way for little outlay. A reasonable amount of custom also comes from people who can’t fly for medical reasons or don’t want to, either because they are afraid or because they are working on their green credentials.
One thing is for sure; Busabout beats the plane hands down when it comes to carbon footprint.
Of course, the sea intervenes between Malta and the nearest busabout stop (which is Rome), so there’s no avoiding a flight for part of the journey or at best, the ferry and an overland haul.
But if you want to see the rest of the Europe for a low price and reduce your flying time dramatically, Busabout is well worth a look.