My post-university plans were quite simple – travel. The nine-to-five slog could wait. It was time to let loose and see what real life was all about. Enter Busabout.
On a gap year in Europe, I wanted to build my own adventure, but still have the added safety net of being with those in the know. Busabout seemed like the perfect fit. The premise of a bus tour for 18-35 year olds is simple; design your own itinerary and hop on and off at your leisure.
Their loop network focuses on specific regions over three routes, with departures every second day. The best part is that from May to October, you have six months of travel up your sleeve. Not to mention the flexibility of your pass allows you to break up the monotony of bus trips with coastal jaunts to Croatia and the Greek Islands.
But there was no way I could favour one area over another or pass up the chance to visit nine countries and 34 cities. I did all three – the north, south and west loops that included everywhere from Rome and Paris to smaller towns like Lucerne and Lake Como.
An unexpected stint in Spain’s San Sebastian meant frantically amending future legs of my journey. Three days is not nearly enough in this Basque beauty – there are way too many pintxo bars to discover and subsequent siestas to be had. Trust me.
This view never gets old. Photo by @the.capture in San Sebastián, Spain #HopOn #sansebastian #spain #europe A photo posted by Busabout (@busabouteurope) on
Your itinerary is never locked in with Busabout. Instead you’re given loads of different ways to use your time, including optional excursions and nights out with the guides. Tour leaders are so much more than your typical tour guides. They’re the best in the business when it comes to local knowledge and will ensure you’re adequately educated and well-watered along the way.
When it comes to overnight digs, you’re not on your own either. Busabout gives their official tick of approval to numerous establishments. No dodgy zero-star facilities; just comfortable, sometimes quirky hostels with a heap of hidden extras. I wish I could say I made the most of my time in Florence, but I was too busy dancing up a storm in the hostel bar with 30 of my new best pals.
With so many travellers hopping on and off the bus, you’re bound to strike up a few friendships. All these years later, I still call some of the people I met some of my closest friends. On the other hand, sometimes it’s not always smooth sailing; but the beauty of the system is if there’s someone you don’t fancy bunking with, you’ll likely lose them along the way.
Organised, regimented plans aren’t for me, but then again, neither is winging it. Busabout offered me the best of both worlds.
Just make sure you get out and explore Florence. And let me know what it’s like when you do, won't you?