FlixBus, sometimes you can be simply amazing and sometimes you can be soooo annoying. Being one of the biggest budget travel bus companies in Europe, it’s no surprise that many budget backpackers (like us) have used this company in order to make travelling so much cheaper.
FlixBus has the largest bus network in Europe, operating in over 27 countries with prices that almost seem too good to be true. For example; a trip from Rome to Florence will cost you as little as €7! FlixBus boasts not only cheap prices but convenience, comfort, and punctuality.
While we were travelling around Europe, FlixBus was always the go-to for transport. Sometimes our expectations were exceeded, but we had our fair share of ‘are you serious?!’ moments – you really do get what you pay for. Below is a list of some of the do’s and don’ts of FlixBus, to help you become a master of the FlixBus system…
DO make sure you arrive extremely early
Now I know this may sound really obvious, but by early, I mean at least forty-five to thirty minutes early. You never truly know what you’re going to get with FlixBus! So it’s better to be prepared and allow yourself plenty of time to figure out exactly where the bus is picking you up from.
Another perk of arriving early – you can make your way to the front of the queue easier! Most people have caught wind of FlixBus’s extremely cheap prices, so there is normally a massive crowded lineup before the bus even arrives. If you’re travelling with friends you 100% want to make sure you get a seat with them, right? Since, only the back half of FlixBus is designated for FlixBus tickets, being ahead in the queue makes it way easier to nab a seat together.
While my boyfriend and I were using FlixBus to travel around Europe, we even came up with a system to make sure we always had a seat together. We had luggage that we constantly had to put under the bus. As soon as the bus would arrive, he would take the luggage and I would jump straight into the queue with both of our tickets ready to be scanned. By the time he finished putting the bags away, I was already on the bus minding both of our seats for us.
DON’T expect the bus to always be on time
We’ve had our fair-share of buses arriving early, arriving late or rarely on time. This is another reason why arriving early is a must, once you’re at the bus pick-up location there’s no stress as to whether the bus is going to be late, early or on time.
I know it’s only human to be late, but it can be slightly irritating. Because of this factor, it’s important to make sure that you don’t plan anything too close to your drop-off time. This seems like common sense, but we’ve been on buses that can be up to 5 hours late! Sometimes the buses will catch up, or sometimes traffic will cause the bus to be even later.
DO download the app
Yes, there is a free FlixBus app, and yes it is definitely worth downloading. It shows live updates on how early or late your bus is going to be, the exact location of your bus, and enables you to show your tickets on the app (no printing required!).
The most important feature of this app for us was the exact location of our bus. The app has a little map that shows you where the pick-up location of the bus is and how far away it is. Generally, Flixbus pick-up locations can be in such an obscure place or even if they are in a bus station, they can still be difficult to find.
Most of the exact locations were impossible to look up on google maps, so using this app in combination with google maps made it so easy to find our buses! There were a lot of times when we had no clue where we were going, and in case we did end up in the wrong spot the app made it so easy to check!
DON’T buy the pre-booked seats
You have to trust me on this one – do not do it! The first half of FlixBus is assigned pre-booked seats, however, most people generally ignore this rule and the drivers can’t really do anything to stop it.
We saw so many occasions where people have pre-booked seats but the people sitting in them refused to move. By the time they finished arguing there wouldn’t be any seats left enabling them to sit together! If you do decide to pre-book seats, make sure you arrive extremely early to get your seats – unless the bus arrives with people already on it…
DO have your tickets and relevant documents ready
This makes it 10x easier for not only the driver but also for you. In some cases, if you are travelling to another country, the driver may ask you to show your passport as well as your ticket. If you don’t have these ready, they won’t wait for you to get them out. While you fumble to quickly get it out, people in the queue will easily make their way in front of you.
Having this documentation out is especially important if you’re trying to get seats next to someone! The more people that get in front of you, the more people that can take seats on the bus.
DON’T book an overnight trip unless you’re desperate
Overnight trips can seem really appealing because you don’t waste a whole day travelling somewhere, you don’t need to book accommodation for the night, and you can just sleep the whole way. Well, we’ve had our fair share of these (four!) and it is not as easy as it sounds!
The reason we booked these overnight trips was that we were strapped for cash, and didn’t want to waste a whole day of travel. If you’re planning on doing this, make sure you are fully prepared for anything and everything!
There was one time we were on an overnight trip with absolutely NO air-conditioning, in the middle of summer! There was another one where we spent the day at the beach and boarded with sunstroke and no water (that one was kinda on us).
Sometimes you will be crossing a border at 2 am in the morning, and the border police will need to come on and check everyone’s passports. The seats are not comfortable to sleep on, and some people just love to put their seats all the way back.
But by far our worst experience (we laugh about it now!) was when someone was causing a disturbance on the bus and refused to get off. After ‘dealing’ with it, the bus driver started the journey and we assumed everything was ok. About two hours in (around midnight), we stopped in this random carpark. The lights turned on, and all of sudden a group of police officers stormed onto the bus, one with a live taser ready to go! The man was dragged off the bus and arrested, and we continued on our journey normally.
DO make sure your phone is fully charged
FlixBus does advertise free charger ports for phones and laptops, but sometimes they are either broken, not turned on, or simply non-existent! It is key to have your phone/laptop charged already just in case you need it.
Another reason that this is important is that sometimes the driver won’t tell you where you are when you are stopping. So it’s always handy to have your phone ready to check either google maps or the app to figure out what stop you’re up to and whether its time to get off yet.
DON’T forget to bring snacks and entertainment!
This is crucial -, especially for those long-haul trips! You’re allowed to bring food on to the bus, so it’s important to stock up before you leave. Make sure you have headphones and some movies downloaded and you will thank yourself later. FlixBus also has wifi, which is great for a quick check up on social media – or you can buy more to use!
Another reason food is important is that FlixBus will stop at service stations for food, but it is normally overpriced! They also won’t stop for long, so you have to be quick – they will not wait for you.
With FlixBus you really do sometimes get what you pay for. But at extremely low prices and transport to so many locations, it definitely can be so convenient for budget travellers!