Imagine eight days on a sailboat in Croatia, sipping cocktails atop cliffs and castle walls, swimming in the crystal clear Adriatic, exploring island after island of the Dalmatian coast… Or how about eight days country-hopping through the Balkans, touring old town Sarajevo with a private guide, sampling home-made rakija on the streets of Belgrade, dancing on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, staying in hotels instead of hostels, with a private guide and transportation all the way to Turkey… sounds like a life for the rich, right? Wrong. My friends, meet Busabout.
In August of 2015, I spent two weeks traveling in Eastern Europe with Busabout, and the entire experience went completely beyond my expectations. Busabout is essentially a budget tour company with a huge network of routes throughout Europe and now Asia. While they do specialize in bus trips, don’t be fooled by the name, because they utilize every type of transportation there is in their various itineraries. I did two trips with them back-to-back: the Croatia Island Hopper and the Ottoman Trek.
The Croatia Island Hopper Value Sneak Peek
My sailing trip was an 8-day sail from Split down to Dubrovnik and back, hitting up several islands in between, and it starts at around $780 per person (without a student discount) depending on date of travel and cabin preference. Depending on time of year, they also have sales (does it get any better?). The price includes breakfast and lunch every day. Dinners, drinks, tips, and a 25 euro port tax are not included. The dinners and drinks can add up quickly if you aren’t careful, but if you budget for about 15 euros per dinner, you’re looking at quite an affordable week-long sailing trip. For independent travelers, the best part may be that it is completely planned and taken care of for you, you just have to show up and enjoy being on a SAILBOAT for a week in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, with an entire group of new friends (mostly Aussies).
The Ottoman Trek is an 8-day bus tour from Croatia through Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and on to Istanbul, Turkey, and it starts around $920 (without a student discount). The groups range from around 25-35 people (ahem, new friends). It essentially retraces the steps of the Ottomans, backwards. We stayed in a mix of hotels and hostels, and breakfasts were all included. There were some optional group activities (dinners and tours) that cost extra, but they were all reasonable and our entire group opted in. The entire trip was very culturally rich, and the group of travelers was again, amazing (and again, mostly Aussies).
How Does Busabout Work?
Complete tours: The tours have a full itinerary, are paid in advance, have a starting and an end point and include a guide and all logistics in between. Examples include sailing in Croatia, Greece, and Turkey, bus trips through Southeast Asia, the Trans-Siberian Express (yep), and SO many more.
Hop-On, Hop-Off: The hop-on, hop-off is totally different. I haven’t yet experienced this type of travel with Busabout, but I can already recommend it. They have what they call “loops” throughout Europe, where the buses just go ’round and ’round, stopping in popular places every two days. What does this mean? It means you can “hop on” and take the bus to the next stop, where you can “hop off” and explore to your heart’s content before catching the next Busabout bus that comes through. These trips are fully customizable as well. This means you can opt to do group activities, stay at the same hostels, or participate in group meals or tours as you wish. Everything can be arranged on the Busabout website, which is very user-friendly. This basically means that if you want to travel “alone” but may need some help with logistics here and there, you can count on Busabout to get you through these loops with everything you need.
Who is Busabout good for?
Budget travelers, short-term travelers, those who have busy jobs and no time to plan (or simply don’t want to plan), individuals who want to travel but are nervous about traveling alone, small groups of friends who want to do organized trips together, new travelers who haven’t learned the ropes of traveling yet, and more. Busabout accommodates all types of travelers, and, contrary to popular belief, age doesn’t matter as long as you’re over 18. While most Busabout travelers happen to be in their 20s, there is no age cap for Busabout trips like there are with similar tour companies.
How Can You Travel with Busabout?
Check out the Busabout website, browse their trips, and when you find one you like, you can sign up online. The Busabout promise is that once you sign up for a trip, that trip will run no matter what; they never cancel their trips. Get your friends involved, too! The more, the merrier.