The idea of riding a bus halfway across the US would probably be abhorrent to most Americans. That could take days and be horrendously uncomfortable. The same is not the case with Europe. The continent across the pond is a lot smaller than North America, and riding a bus halfway across Europe is not as bad as you might imagine.
I’ve crisscrossed Europe several times by bus in the three and a half years that I’ve been traveling. Most recently, I rode a RegioJet bus from Prague all the way to London. It was a ride which took nearly 20 hours, making only a handful of short stops along the way. Sounds painful? Definitely not! It was actually surprisingly comfortable.
There are plenty of companies in Europe that offer bus rides between countries. Some are cheap and you get what you pay for – a seat and that’s about it. Other companies cater to various crowds, primarily Millennials who are looking for the next party destination. But if you just want to get across the continent on a budget and you have a few extra hours to do so, a bus is a great alternative. In fact, when you factor in wait times at airports, flight delays and getting to and from the airport in each city, planes don’t always save you that much time compared to buses.
My RegioJet bus made sure to make my ride as relaxing as possible. For starters, the seats were particularly comfortable, covered in leather and more padded than other buses I’ve been on. There was also a bit more leg room than usual (and way more than the buses in Asia). The backs of all the seats have personal entertainment systems for watching movies and TV shows or listening to music during the ride. There are hot drinks available (coffee, tea or hot chocolate), and the stewardess comes by frequently to take requests. The bus has good temperature control (AC for the summer; heating for the winter) and the toilet was clean and well-stocked (a huge luxury especially on a long-haul ride).
My bus made four or five stops in different cities, picking up or dropping off passengers. A couple were in the middle of the night. As everyone had assigned seats, instead of the bus turning on the lights and waking everyone up, the stewardess went to wake up the individual passengers who were scheduled to get off at their stop. That’s never happened on any other bus I’ve been on!
RegioJet is based in the Czech Republic, and their train network in their home country is even nicer. I had a chance to ride with them in their business class, which featured a private, quiet cabin for four people, a table for the laptop, a complimentary champagne and surprisingly good, inexpensive food to order (I recommend the sushi).
There are four key advantages to taking a bus halfway across Europe. The first is that buses are almost always cheaper than flying. Second, you don’t have to worry about your luggage being overweight, oversize or filled with liquids (though most buses have a rule that you can only have one large bag in the hold, Flixbus was the only company that gave me a hard time about it). If you’re traveling during the day, buses are a great way to see the countryside and new villages or towns that you would otherwise miss by flying. Finally, especially if you’re taking a long route, you can get the overnight bus and you won’t have to worry about finding or paying for accommodations. Just make sure to bring your neck pillow. The RegioJet seats lean back far enough to give you a very comfortable sleep.
Obviously, bus travel isn’t for everyone, and there are probably some of you who are still skeptical or insistent upon your cozy hotel bed. That’s fine. But traveling around Europe is an adventure, and getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean it has to be uncomfortable. Book your own bus ride across Europe and find out for yourself.