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Jul 14 2014

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s… a Bus!

Really?  Yes!

When I started travelling independently in 2008, I used different modes of transport to get around – buses, trains, planes, taxis, and tuk tuks but, in the main, I travelled by bus and still do a lot of the time.  You might think a bus is a bus; seen one, seen them all, but that isn’t strictly true.  Over the years, I have been on a variety of buses for varying lengths of time and with varying degrees of comfort, cleanliness, and facilities. I’ve been on bed buses in Asia, buses with nice recliner seats in South America, clean buses, filthy buses… the list goes on.

Bus journeys are good because they tend to be fairly cheap, you mix with local people, see areas that you might not have otherwise seen, as well as experience things you might not have otherwise experienced.  I often finish a bus trip with an interesting tale to tell.  Buses haven’t been my favourite mode of transport over the years and I don’t normally look forward to them, preferring train journeys instead.

Previous buses

Obviously, the point of travelling by bus or train is to get from A to B.  If I can do it in a more comfortable way, I will certainly consider it alongside the cost.  I don’t always go for the cheapest option with anything, I go for whatever gives me the best value or provides me with the service I need at the time.

When I travel by bus or train, I like to get some work done on the way.  I generally find it easier on trains because there tends to be more room to move and it’s less bumpy.  If I go first class, I sometimes get an electric socket, so I can plug in my electronic devices and have access to free WiFi.  Until recently, I had never had those sorts of facilities on buses.

When I first arrived in Poland, a local guy at the hostel I was staying at told me about the Polski bus.  It sounded good and when I looked into it, it seemed to be a good price with good facilities, so I decided to try it.  The Polski bus ended up being the only bus service I used while I was in Poland.  There didn’t see to be any reason to use another because it was the best bus I had ever been on.  It was a little cramped, but there were lots of people, like me, working throughout the journey, making use of the free WiFi and electric sockets on board.

Polski Bus

I didn’t think that could be topped until I took a Simple Express bus overnight from Warsaw to Lithuania. I really wasn’t looking forward to it as it was going to be my second night bus in three nights.  The previous overnight bus from Ivano-Frankvisk to Warsaw was on a basic bus and it was a long journey because we spent four hours at the border.  My night on the Simple Express bus, however, was completely different.  It turned out to be the best bus I had ever been on.  I had free WiFi, an electric socket, and an entertainment system, so I could watch films, listen to music, etc.  The problem was I got very little sleep because there were so many things I could do.  It was the novelty factor, I think.  Rather than sleeping on the night bus, I watched a movie, listened to the music they had, surfed the net etc.

Simple Express

Then, having met up with my parents in Vilnius, we travelled on a Lux Express bus to Riga.  I didn’t think the buses could be any better, but I was wrong.  We had extra legroom, which made my dad happy. My mum listened to music, and I did some work while listening to music and then watched part of a film.  We had free WiFi, electric sockets, an entertainment system, and free hot drinks.  It was great.  That 4½ hour journey literally flew by.

Lux Express

I found out, on a return journey from Riga to Vilnius, that not all Simple Express buses have the entertainment system although they all seem to have free WiFi and electric sockets.  If you want the full package, you need to book the Lux Express or even the Lux Express Lounge.  I didn’t use that but that has to be the ultimate in luxury bus travel with recliner seats and a shelf as well as all the other facilities that the Lux Express offers.

Eastern Europe seems to be paving the way for luxury, affordable long-distance bus travel and that’s great news.  If this is the future of bus travel, I’ll no longer dread long-distance bus journeys, but look forward to them instead.  Maybe it will encourage others to use buses more and leave their cars at home.  Only time will tell.

Have your say

Tell us about your best and/or worst long-distance bus journey.

Disclosure

I paid for all my bus tickets.  I don’t have any affiliation with the bus companies mentioned.  I haven’t been asked nor paid to write about any of them.  I have done so because I was really impressed by the comfort, service, and facilities offered and I wanted to spread the good news about luxury, affordable travel by bus.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

1 ping

  1. A One-Way Ticket to Eastern Europe - Independent Travel Help

    […] My mum really wanted to go to Riga while we were there, so we hopped on a bus. […]

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