Traveling by bus is cheap and (usually) convenient since there are many different companies competing for business along the same routes/destinations and there are bus stops at very frequent intervals. Plus in certain destinations bus travel is a necessary obligation. However there are disadvantages, too – the buses are often overcrowded and dirty and the frequent stops that make buses so easy to catch also make them a slow means of getting from A to B.
Bus services that travel internationally are less common but are nonetheless fiercely competitive. They are almost always cheaper than other forms of international travel, but here is a more comprehensive list of all the pros and cons of traveling by bus:
- You can book early to ensure that you can travel at a set time and not risk missing out on your chosen journey, or you can book at the last minute for maximum flexibility.
- Some bus services allow you to reserve specific seats so that you can sit together with friends/family or just choose somewhere in the bus that you prefer. For example, when traveling somewhere new then often times I like to take the window seat and see all there is to see. But if it’s a route I’ve traveled before, usually I opt for aisle to get that extra legroom.
- Low cost. Bus travel is so much cheaper than train travel or flying that it is definitely the preferred option for long-term travelers, backpackers and budget travelers.
- You can travel overnight, allowing you to get some sleep and arrive rested and ready to start your holiday. If possible, choose a bus company that offers reclining seats and plenty of leg- and elbow room. Another added bonus is that this saves you from spending money on a hotel that night 😉
- More and more buses are offering premium services as part of their standard features, including things like free wifi and electrical or USB sockets to keep you charged and entertained while on the road.
- Short check-in times mean you can arrive just half an hour before departure, giving you time to hand over your luggage and get comfortable before setting off. None of that arriving 2-3 hours early and having to clear invasive security searches crap.
- Luggage allowance is more generous than on the airlines and on trains because buses have plenty of space to store it for the journey: and it stays on the bus, so there is no need to worry about it ‘disappearing.’
- Bus stations are usually centrally located, depending on which bus company you choose, and great for getting closer to your final destination than an airport or train station can get you.
- Often you will pay a premium for booking at the last minute.
- If you choose a bus company that does not allow you to book specific seats you may end up seated apart from your friends, or sitting somewhere you would prefer not to, like right next to the toilet.
- Bus journeys take far longer than journeys by train or plane, though the difference is not so great once you take into account the delays incurred by having to check in early and wait for luggage to be unloaded etc.
Choose your bus company carefully, prepare yourself mentally and physically for a long journey and then enjoy the ride!