By Michelle Campbell
This is part of an ongoing blog series by Study Abroad Spring 2012 alum, Michelle Campbell, a current senior at Florida State University. Michelle will be sharing her experiences and advice for the best ways to stay safe while traveling and studying abroad.
When getting from point A to point B is difficult to travel by plane or train, going by bus is a great alternative. Bus companies such as EuroLines offers a Greyhound style point-to-point service at an affordable price. Each country has their own individual eurolines website that may use a different bus operator. Do your research! You may find that Spain has an inter country bus travel while Italy does not. It always helps to find these things out during the planning process of a trip.
Another company that is prominent in most of Eastern Europe –specifically Prague and Budapest- is Student Agency Bus. Keep in mind that this company may not be the best; their timetable is unreliable and they don’t always run on the weekend.
Within your city of residence, the local bus is a great way to get around if your destination is too far. While I was in Florence, all I had to do was pick up a ticket at a nearby Trattoria and look up bus times listed on the bus stop sign. It was easy and cheap. You don’t have to worry about validating the ticket or waiting in lines to get on. Just make sure you pay attention to when you are supposed to get off – you don’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere at the end of the day.
Things to keep in mind:
-Stops and Connections: The buses WILL leave without you if you are not back in time. Some advice- buy a watch; it will become your best friend.
-Bus terminals are not the easiest to find and may not be in the best of areas within a given city. It helps to ask the locals where a bus terminal is located. If you know it is in a bad area, go with a buddy and stay on your guard.
-Be sure to keep track of your belongings on the bus. When buses are overcrowded, it is easy for someone to slip their hand in a purse or pocket.
Group Tours that use buses:
There any many advantages with group tours that use buses. With the tours, a private bus is used for your group only. This makes things easy since you can usually leave some of your belongings on the bus while you stop somewhere to eat/explore without worrying about it being stolen. The location in which the tour picks up travelers is always safe and easy to find within a given city. They want to make sure they get everyone, which leads me to the next benefit: the tour bus will not leave without you! At rest stops or connections, the guides will make sure that everyone who got off the bus is back on before departing. But I would still advise investing in a watch; it may come in handy later down the road.
Link to EuroLines: http://www.eurolines.com/en/
Some larger countries do have a Eurolines bus option. However, check as not all countries, like Italy, have point to point buses like Eurolines.
Student Agency Bus http://www.studentagencybus.com/
Student Agency Bus offers some trips between Budapest, Krakow, Prague and Berlin.