Ok, you’ve set you sights on traveling Europe. You’ve saved your money, slung on your backpack, and you’re ready to set off on the adventure of a life-time and start exploring some European cities for the first time.
First, I want to say congratulations on making an excellent choice (vigorously shaking your hand). Europe is thick in history. It has sights covering vast stretches of time and rich cultures that make it a perfect place to spend a summer exploring.
Travelling Europe is Easy.
Travel companies offer you many options when traveling Europe, but with so many choices, picking the one that fits your needs can seem overwhelming, confusing, and stressful.
This guide is a breakdown of two of my favorite ways to travel Europe; Eurail and Busabout.
These two companies both have their pros and cons depending on your personal travel style.
I have broken down what these companies offer to help you decided which option is right.
I get asked a lot, “Is Eurail worth it?”. Eurail is the train network throughout Europe. It covers 24 countries and is popular among backpackers. If you want to go with the flow and have no set plans while traveling, buying a Eurail Saver Passis a perfect option for you.
Eurail opens up Europe like a map and you could literally throw darts at it all summer to choose your next destination (Hell that’s a brilliant idea, I’m adding that to the bucket list now). This style of travel caters to adventures, misadventures, and random encounters; it’s a one of a kind experience to makes adventures in Europe a random experience. Check out my Eurail review here.
There is something about Europe that makes it feel like it is meant to be explored by train. I spent two and a half months hopping trains while having some unbelievable experiences including making friends and memories that will last a life-time.
I traveled Eurail solo. It was a blast, but there were times, I would be traveling between small towns where I wouldn’t see another backpacker for days. Luckily, I’m able to entertain myself for hours before getting bored so I never felt that lonely.
- Eurail’s greatest strength is the totally freedom you have over a massive area. You pick your own schedule; when you leave, and where you go.
- This makes it easy to get sidetracked, a key component to any adventure. It also means it is easy for you to reach places off of the beaten track.
- It you wake up and have the unquenchable urge to eat pizza in it’s birthplace, just jump on a train to Italy.
- Eurail is fast and easy
The trains are well-kept (most of the time) and comfortable; the longer rides offer you a great chance to strike up a conversation with locals.
The freedom comes with a price because of the massive area everyone’s traveling to separate countries and cities.
- Most of the time, you will meet a lot of fellow travelers, but because everyone’s heading separate places, it is hard to make really good friends.
I’m not saying it’s impossible. I ended up traveling with a couple English guys six years ago. They became some of my closest travel friends, and we still get together to this day.
- As a solo traveler, you will have a higher chance of getting lonely on Eurail compared to Busabout, but ask yourself, “Is dealing with a little loneliness worth ultimate freedom and endless adventures?” You bet it is!
Eurail Review verdict is that it is more work. You have to look up trains, connections, timetables, and figure out how to get from point A to point B. Chances are at some point your will end up lost, but it is all in the name of adventure, right! I love the work; fending for yourself makes your journey more fun and rewarding. If you are the same then Eurail is for you.
Recommended Eurail Passes
Access up 27 countries across Europe.
Flexible days and dates.
Flexible passes starting at 10 train days until 3 months unlimited.
Exclusive Travel Bonuses
Book your Global Saver Pass online and save money!
Pick and choose the countries of your choice.
Flexible days and dates
Flexible passes starting at 5 train days and up until 10
Exclusive Travel Bonuses
Book your Select Pass for Rail Europe here and save money!
Full Review of Eurail Global Pass Here
Cost of Eurail Pass
There are Eurail Saver Pass to fit almost every need. The more countries and more time your pass covers, the higher the price tag. This means passes can range from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand. Typically, it’s a great deal especially if you’re going to quite a few countries.
As the name suggests, Busabout is a company that runs bus loops around Western Europe. On their buses you can buy a hop on hop off Europe at any stop on their loop.
They carter mainly to backpackers; it’s also a popular mode of transportation for Aussies and Kiwis. It’s geared more to the backpacking party culture of Europe.
Busabout’s goal is to make life easy for you. The buses drop you off right in front of a hostel. You have the freedom to stay at stop as long as you want before hopping back to your next destination. (Buses come every other day).
I loved Busabout, I made life-long friends, drank till my liver hurt, and had a stress free summer visiting some of my favorite European cities.
My biggest worry with Busabout was making sure I woke up for the bus in the morning. I had a great summer traveling with Busabout and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Busabout’s biggest strength is Eurail’s biggest weakness, people. Everyone on Busabout is headed the same direction and to roughly the same cities. You will run into the same people multiple times.
This means you will make a lot of friends while traveling Europe. Most likely, you will stay in the same hostels, go sightseeing and go drinking with same people for weeks. You become close to these people fast. When I was on Busabout, I ended up traveling with the same group for roughly a month.
Imagine how close you become to your travel buddies after a straight month of eating, sleeping and experiencing Europe together. Busabout is great for a persons first time backpacking Europe, or traveling Europe on a budget.
This can be good option is you are traveling Europe alone as a female.
Busabout also has the most helpful staff I ever encountered. They’re friendly, helpful, and really enjoy what they do. They give you advice, tell you local hotspots, and teach you some of basic phrases in their language.
The staff is a big plus to Busabout. The buses are only a couple of years old. They have T.V.’s, places to charge your ipods and laptops, and built-in radios in each seat.
While Busabout is brilliant at throwing you together with other backpackers, the bus loops only go in one direction. You also need a rough idea of how long you are going to stay at each stop so you can reserve your spot on a bus, though people could usually squeeze on without having a reservation.
This means you do not have nearly as much freedom as you do on Eurail. That’s not to say you can’t have adventures.
Busabout offers some great adventurous excursions, and they make it as simply as buying a ticket and showing up. Busabout Review verdict is recommended for people who want an easy laid back trip with a helpful and informative staff doing the work for you. It is a great option for solo travelers who don’t handle traveling alone well.
Recommended Busabout Passes
2 Ways to Travel
Flexpass – Only buy the stops you want!
Flexible dates and passes
Loop – Multiple Stops going around Europe in a Loop Busabout style.
Picked up and dropped off right in front of a hostel.
Book your Busabout Loop here to save money!
One way passes going through some of Europe’s most popular backpacking routes.
Flexible dates and passes
Picked up and dropped off right in front of a hostel.
Book your Busabout One Way Loop here to save money!
Cost Of Busabout
Busabout’s prices vary by the different loops. The full package includes 9 countries with a total of 33 different stops for around $1200. Not bad, considering 33 stops is enough to keep you busy all summer. I don’t think you could get cheap flights for that price. Even though its not as fast as a plane or train.
In the end which one is better? Both are good depending on how you like to travel. The person who is looking for a laid back trip or the person who’s headed to Europe to party, I recommend Busabout. It’s great for those you might feel like they need a break from travel.
For the person wanting to interact with other cultures, choose their next destination the day they’re leaving, and enjoy the freedom Europe offers, then Eurail is the right choice for you.
If you didn’t like either of these options there are still many cheap ways to travel Europe.
I loved my time on both and would travel on either of them in a heartbeat. Either way make sure to brush up on your Traveling Europe Tips! With so many Europe Travel Packages out their it is important to find the right one for you. Read the full Busabout Review Here For more on Europe check out these tips on Traveling Norway cheap.
One thing’s for sure when your traveling Europe you will find adventures. They are out there and waiting for you to find them! For more about me check out these fun facts about me.
Questions? Ask them below and I will give you personal travel advice!
25 thoughts on “Travelling Europe: Eurail vs Busabout Review”
Such a helpful article! I’ll be back in Columbus the first week of May – if you’re still there, let’s definitely make a video!
Hey Andrea, Thanks for your comment. First week in May is a perfect. I’ll be done with work then, so I’ll have a ton of free time 🙂
Great post Stephen. I’ve never heard of Busabout, but it sounds like a pretty great option, especially for solo travelers. We we’re looking into Eurail – if not for an extended pass then at least for a weeks worth of seeing the countryside from the trains.
Have you been to London before? It’s looking like it might be too expensive for two people – hostels seem okay for solo travelers, but get crazy expensive for a couple. Any tips on London?
I have spent some time in the UK. In general it is expensive. Mainly because the GBP is kicking the shit out of the USD. I don’t know your travel style, but I wouldn’t do hotels. Hostels are awesome! They can work well for couples, and it is the best way to meet other travelers. London also has some nice hostels. St Christophers is one of the most well-known hostels chains in Europe. You pay a little more, but they are always top notch. My advice is to go with Hostels. Hotels are already expensive and with the exchange rate it is a double wammy to your bank account.
Honestly since you and Becki are together I would do Eurail. Unless you are looking for a ton of parties then Busabout 🙂 Passes work out well, and the pass you want to get depends on how fast you like to travel. What countries are you planning on going too, how long do you plan on staying in one place, and how long of a time period?
Travel safe, can’t wait to read about it.
Very helpful to know! They both sound like gnarly ways of travel but I still like your joining a team and cruzin around in the Hyundai Getz lol
The busabout sounds like the one we may end up checking out, thankx for the great tips!!
Can’t wait to read about that crazy road trip!!
Busabout it a great choice, lots of fun to be had! Glad I could help!
Great re-cap! And exactly what I was looking for… I’ve been tossing up between EuRail and Busabout for a few weeks now – I’m pretty independent and seem to be able to amuse myself for hours at a time, and I think I’ve already got enough friends 😛 plus, I have a lot of ground to cover, so the super flexibility of EuRail is really intriguing… Here’s a question: you’ve mentioned you can wake up in the morning and decide where you’re going next – but I’ve heard that this can be quite costly (as the fares go up in the months/weeks leading to the departure date, plus potentially reservation costs) OR you might luck out completely as all the trains may be full for days… Did you ever encounter this on EuRail??? I’m travelling at the best/worst time of the year (July-Aug) and am a little concerned that things will be too booked up to be that flexible… What do you think??
Hey miss Mylo,
If you looking to cover a lot of ground, and flexibility than Eurail is perfect for you.
I’m glad you asked that! If you have the pass there is no fare cost to you, because you pass already pays for it. If you are buying tickets as you go you should buy them a couple days ahead, because fares will go up the closer to departure, but unless you traveling a far distance the price hike shouldn’t be bad. Of course it happens sometimes, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
As far as reservations go this was my experience. I know they say you pay reservation cost. Personally, I only had to pay a reservation cost once, and it was something like 10 Euros’s. I’m not sure if I got extremely lucky, or if this is normal. I was traveling in the same time of the year, and I never saw a full train. I was only on a crowded train once. The trains run frequently so I feel like you don’t need to worry about this. However, if you are going an extremely far distance or on an overnight trains going from one country to another chances are you will have to pay something for a reservation.
I would literally show up at the train station get my pass stamped and jumped on the train. Make sure you get it stamped before you jump on the train or it is a huge fine!! (This happened to me, but I talked my way out of it) If you pay a reservation cost that is where you pay it.
I can only speak from my experience and I people I met, but yes I literally woke up deiced I wanted to go somewhere new and jumped on the train. I met people doing the same. If you want to be safe.
Feel free to email me any other question, or just to let me know about your trip! I’m here to help 🙂 My email is email@example.com
I never really tried Eurail when I was backpacking years ago. But I did use Busabout for the three months I was backpacking and I absolutely loved it. The pricing was great, not having to worry about where I would be sleeping for the night was great and meeting new people on the road was great. I was traveling on my own so it was nice to travel with some of the same people for a week here or a week there as well as be on my own. Plus, as you mentioned you do get to see a lot of the same people again and again because Busabout goes in the same loop. I would definitely take Busabout again when I travel to Europe.
Yea Kim, Busabout is a great option! I really enjoyed the staff, and the friends I made.
Very helpful! Now, I’m ready to book my trip in Travel Republic and tour around Europe, now that I know it’s easy to get around with Eurorail and Busabout.
Glad I good help! I wish you the best of luck!
I’ve been looking into Busabout for next year to travel over summer for a few months, it all seemed really great, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the long bus rides through the day? Eg, Amsterdam to Berlin is a 10 hour bus ride! I understand trains get you to places quicker
Thanks for your questions and checking out my blog.
The bu rides are a lot of fun because you are with friends you meet along the way. Busabout also plays movies and each seat in the bus has its own radio. They also have places on the buses to charge you laptop and ipods/iphones. You don’t really get bored, and honestly trains are not that much faster.
Thanks for your question. You never really get bored because you are with the friends you have met, plus Busabout plays movies, and each seat has their own radio. Each bus also has places to charge you laptop, Iphone, or Ipod. So you never really get bored.
Enjoy traveling next summer and let me know if I can help in anyway.
I love the concept of Busabout but have read some really terrible reviews on it.
I am travelling solo to Europe next September and was tossing up between a Busabout or a Contiki tour, mainly so that I can meet people my age (20), I just don’t like how fast paced the Contiki tours sound. Not sure which would be more value for money?
I would choose Busabout orver Contiki, just for the freedom of it. That being said I know some people that love Contiki. They are fast past and I think you will get more out of your trip with Busabout.
I am a first time solo female traveller from the UK looking to do a 60 day busabout tour this summer. One thing I’m worried about is getting lonely! I have thought about doing a contiki/topdeck tour but decided against it as I want to have more time in each city… but the one draw-back is not being with the same group throughout the tour. I’m sure my days will be filled with sightseeing etc, but as a solo traveller did you find plenty to keep you occupied in the evenings?
One of the [erks about Busabout is that you run into the ame people over and over again. You have nothing to worry about you will make some great friends. I still talk to the people I met on Busabout 3 years ago. I actually saw them last weekend.
Awesome review this definitely confirmed my choice to go with busabout for this summer. I’m looking at doing all loops in 50 days stopping at the larger cities. I’m a fast paced traveler and have been to the major cities in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. I also am military so being uncomfortable doesn’t bother me because I am used to being on the move. That being said what advice on the pace can you give me I’m basically starting in Amsterdam ending in Stuttgart and plan on making the running of the bulls.
Awesome man! I’m glad I could help.
hello Stephen i want to go backpacking around italy is busabout really the best option ??? it only goes to a limited amount of places ad like to go further south and a few other places and maybe not in the direction they r goin i think thats an oversight on there part ! but i do like to meet people and party at night ! should i buy the busabout ticket and mix and match between train and bus ?? regards neil
Busabout is a fantastic option for getting around a lot of countries. How many countries are you going to go into?
If you are going to many countries, you can always mix and match between busabout and buses and trains.
Never use EURAIL is the advice of this traveller…its far better to do what the local do.. buy your ticket directly from the railway company and avoid the FINES due to the fine print surrounding EURAIL ticketing…we are retired and were fined 50 Euro due to a misleading ticket text and massive fine print…NEVER USE EURAIL is our advice.. Rob NZ
Thanks for your comment. I disagree though. I love Eurail have used them many times and know dozens of other travelers that have. It is true that you have read the fine print. I almost got fined for not validating my pass. However, once you learn the rules they are fantastic service. If you are sticking to one country I agree with you buy local tickets as you go. But most of us backpackers are hop around 5 or 6 countries and Eurail offers great prices for this.