Travel writer Madeline McInnis gives her top tips on how to survive without mobile phone data while you're travellingWritten by mmcinnis on 9th February 2018
How To Busabout Europe
Travel writer Tom Leaman explains how you can travel around Europe by coach using Busabout
Somewhere along the Grütschalp-Mürren trail in the stunning Bernese Alps in Switzerland, it becomes incredibly apparent that Europe truly does hold some of the most remarkable natural scenery on Earth. Without Busabout, a hop-on-hop-off travel company, I would not have had the opportunity to experience this European hidden gem. It is not the only unique location on their network; the Croatian city of Zadar, Lake Bled in Slovenia and La Spezia in Northern Italy are also very highly-rated, despite not being widely renowned tourist locations.
In my experiences on Busabout’s network, the quintessentially Swiss village and valley of Lauterbrunnen is an absolute must-see location. From exhilarating activities such as paragliding and canyoning to simply admiring the surroundings from my chalet in Camping Jungfrau (not your average hostel), it really is a highlight of Busabout’s extensive network. Tolkien’s Middle Earth was inspired by the landscape between Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen, demonstrating the effect it has on travellers. Much is made in the local area of the impressive Schilthorn summit, which features in the 1969 Bond Movie On her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The Renaissance city of Florence presented the opportunity for some (supposedly) high-brow exploration, although from experience I would certainly recommend advanced bookings for the Uffizi Gallery and the Cathedral. Even without seeing the iconic Michelangelo statue David, the architecture and monuments make Florence a must. Nice on Bastille day was an incredibly moving experience given the tragic 2016 attacks in the Mediterranean city. Nearby Monaco gave a fascinating insight into how the elite live, particularly with some prior knowledge of Prince Albert’s principality. On the other hand, the more modern, industrialised city of Milan is very much take-it-or-leave-it; the much-hyped San Siro Stadium tour was a disappointment, and the central area is not especially student budget-friendly. Como- around half an hour by train from Busabout’s Milan hostel- is a very different story, however, as the lakeside city provides a more serene perspective of northern Italy.
My three-stop bus pass (allowing me to visit four cities on their network in two weeks) cost a very reasonable £299, and Busabout recommends suitable accommodation in safe areas of the cities they stop in. They offer fifteen-stop passes at £699 and unlimited passes at £949, which also allow for travelling to-and-from Europe throughout the season. Their discounted excursions are another plus.
While interrail may be the more obvious choice to get from A to B in Europe, travel by bus does have some clear advantages. The buses allow for comfortable and sociable travel between locations, although the heavily promoted Wi-Fi and free movies on their coaches are temperamental to say the least. On the upside, this forces you to engage further with other like-minded individuals or groups. However, one of the incredibly knowledgeable guides informed us that their entire fleet of buses was replaced for 2017, at half a million pounds each, so it wouldn’t be too much to expect slightly more efficient internet access. That really is the only (minor) complaint I can come up with though regarding their ‘freestyle Europe’ system; The guides are not only well-informed but experienced in travel themselves and self-deprecating when they suffer the inevitable stumble and fall while pacing up and down the moving coach.
Busabout also allows passengers to experience events and festivals such as La Tomatina in Spain; sailing in Croatia; the Berlin Lollapalooza and, of course, Oktoberfest. Overall, Busabout provides a unique and reasonable way to experience the awe-inspiring parts of the continent, which cannot be recommended highly enough for both solo travellers and groups. While slower, the system does have some advantages which means it rivals the more trusted interrail.