In recent years, several low-cost bus companies have made travelling on an ultra-low budget more affordable. My first big experience with a low-cost bus company was Megabus between American cities in 2009, which impressed me greatly. A lot of tickets were available for a dollar plus a reservation fee of 50 cents. The United States is not a great country when it comes to public transportation compared to Europe. To reach beautiful remote places, a rental car, taxi, Uber (or similar apps) or hitchhiking might be your only option unless you want to walk or cycle, while you in Europe can reach many beautiful remote places by train or bus.
German Flixbus is probably the biggest low-cost bus company as of today. The company was founded in 2011 and described themselves with “400,000 daily connections to over 2,500 destinations in 34 European countries”. Although bus travel is not my favourite kind of travel, Flixbus is undoubtedly one of the best bus companies. Like many other buses nowadays, it offers Wi-Fi, comfortable seats and power outlets on at least some of its buses. Flixbus is unlike many low-cost airlines, often cheap if you book on the same day. However, it’s best to book in advance and look for promotions by signing up for their newsletter and/or follow them on social media.
Besides this, they have a great value deal called InterFlix, where you can buy five tickets for 99 Euros. The catch here is that you can only book direct trips, so it’s valuable to use them for long bus journeys, and buy separate tickets if you plan to visit other destinations close by on the trip. Another way to save money is to buy Flixbus vouchers online. I have purchased several Flixbus vouchers on eBay. It might not be worth it for many people, but for those on a tight budget like me, it might be very well worth it especially if you are planning to visit a lot of European countries.
Finally, sometimes Flixbus give away coupons as it happened to me at a bus station in Poland. To compare prices for European bus routes, I can recommend Busradar.com. Some of the other low-cost bus companies you might want to check out includes: Boltbus, Eurolines, Greyhound Express, National Express, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Redbus. Besides this, many smaller companies operate just a few routes like AfricanLiner between Lilongwe and Johannesburg, while Kombardo Ekspressen operates a few routes in Denmark.
I haven’t experienced anything terrible happening to me on a bus, except for the noise and bad smells. I am not a fan of smokers that during stops think it’s OK to smoke a cigarette in or near the door and to expose passengers to passive smoke. It also used to sometimes be an unpleasant experience taking trains, but several countries have now implemented a smoking ban on platforms.
One of the benefits of bus travel is you often get from city centre to city centre which is not the case when flying. Transportation to and from the airport can be costly. Tehran, Oslo and Munich come to mind. Oslo and Munich had very expensive trains. Tehran’s international airport had no public transportation to the city, so I decided to use my thumb, but more about that in the next subject below.