We at Hostelgeeks believe in the quote from Eugene Fodor that says, “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” And in this guide, we will prove that to you.
Good to know: For prices and schedules we always check Flixbus and Omio. With Omio.com you can compare trains, buses and flights options in Europe and US. Here’s a quick review of Flixbus, your next travel-saving partner in the USA and Europe.
So if you’re planning on traveling around Europe or the USA on a budget, then taking a bus from A to B to C to D to C is probably going to be your cheapest option outside of hitchhiking.
It may take longer and be less comfortable than a train or a plane, but you’ll save some money to spend elsewhere on your trip. One other option for European travel and ticket booking is Omio. In case you’re not familiar, here is a full review of Omio to check out.
I’ve relied on Flixbus as my handsome steed literally dozens of times in the past three years, and after a particularly interesting ride (I’ll explain this later), I felt inspired to finally sit down and write an honest Flixbus review that holds nooothing back.
Overview of Flixbus
Flixbus is one of the most popular, easily recognizable and established bus companies in Europe and USA that offers intercity bus service. And I believe that they provide the best option for bus transport around the continent.
The buses are clean and they usually arrive and depart on time. Aside from that, they offer WiFi and sometimes even a snack/drink bar. Also, the bus network is a spider web of possibilities. As far as buses go, Flixbus has been the best I’ve used. And I’ve definitely taken some questionable buses.
One from Phuket to Bangkok smelled of feet. What’s worse is it broke down on the side of the highway for two hours. Another one is the trip to the south of Turkey. It consisted of the driver blaring traditional Turkish music the whole night and someone noisily chewing sunflower seeds in the seat behind mine.
Another bus from Albania to Montenegro advertised itself as a direct bus. However, it turned out to be a very, very, local bus. Making about twenty stops before leaving Tirana and adding I don’t know how many hours to the drive. Could you imagine?
Personally, we love to use Omio to figure out our transport options.
FlixBus is veryyy hard to miss; love it or hate it, that lime green and orange bus sure is memorable. Branding was something that the founders of FlixBus definitely got right. But did they also create a good method of transport to get around Europe and the USA? Let’s unpack this in our FlixBus review.
In a nutshell: If budget is your priority, FlixBus is a cheap, relatively easy way to get to your destination. But, if you value your time, don’t expect the bus to get you there any faster than the train that leaves an hour later. Even if the timetable says so.
And don’t let all of those 1 star reviews completely freak you out. Most people who are riding a bus to and from a destination won’t write anything. It’s the ones who have had horror stories – and those certainly do exist – that you are hearing from. But you also have to be realistic. You are often paying a ridiculously cheap amount to travel across country borders. Your expectations should be relatively low.
Personal Experiences from Flixbus
Since I have shared with you some of my unforgettable terrible bus experiences, now let me share my experiences with Flixbus.
My encounters with Flixbus have had none of these issues. And as a whole, I’ve been very happy with the company. Here’s a brief summary of a couple of trips I’ve taken with Flixbus:
This was a more or less a direct bus to Maastricht, with a short wait in Brussels. Although we didn’t have to transfer buses. The bus was super clean. Even the bathroom was clean. The WiFi worked well on my laptop, and you could buy drinks and snacks on the bus.
We got to Maastricht around 8 pm as advertised. The bus station in Paris was easy to find (I walked to it from the city center), and it dropped me off at the main train terminal in Maastricht. Honestly, a train would’ve been a better option here. However, I booked this ticket on very short notice, and the train prices had gone up a bit.
If you book far enough in advance, a train between Milan and Como will cost about 10 euro, and be a more comfortable option. The trains in Italy are usually quite cheap anyway and make for a more enjoyable trip if you’re moving between Italian cities. The big thing I’d like to highlight here was how friendly the bus driver was.
I was scrambling to make it to the bus station on time, not realizing how far it was from the center. So, I urged the taxi driver to swerve through traffic and do his best to help me out.
I ran from the taxi to the bus and was greeted by the driver outside. He welcomed me with a big smile, laughing about my poor time management. Still super helpful and friendly to everyone around the bus.
Is FlixBus safe?
Per statistics published by the company in February 2018, 60% of the company’s customers are female and 33% are between the ages of 18 and 25.
The fact that customers traveling via FlixBus are most commonly between the ages of 18-25 is to be expected given that traveling by bus is a cheap, yet not entirely comfortable way to travel. But, I was surprised to hear that in 2018, more of the clientele were female.
I personally have never felt unsafe traveling by bus around Europe. Regardless, if you are a female traveling solo, you need to remain vigilant one hundred percent of the time and always be aware of your surroundings.
The biggest safety concern I have around taking the bus is actually surrounding luggage in the storage hold. As people get on and off, no one is really monitoring or paying attention to what pieces of luggage are being taken off the bus. Someone could grab your luggage either by accident or on purpose and just walk off with it.
This has never happened to me, but I am always on edge when I do take the bus and try and peer out the window at the various stops to make sure that doesn’t happen. Realistically though, this isn’t strictly a bus issue. It can happen on a train as well.
The company purports to have Wifi available on all FlixBus rides, but don’t count on it. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that the Wifi won’t actually be strong enough for you to use on every FlixBus trip that you take. So while this might seem like a nice amenity, it usually doesn’t work.
And if by some miracle it does, there is a limit and it will usually run out quickly. You will absolutely want to download Spotify playlists or podcasts before the journey or bring a book to read (if you don’t get incredibly motion sick like I do).
As we discussed above, not every bus is equal so the amenities will vary. But, most buses will have a usb charging outlet for your devices although I always recommend bringing your own portable Anker charger with you at all times while traveling. There should be a reading light and air vent above your seat, and of course, a toilet.
FlixBus Europe vs. FlixBus USA
While FlixBus operates in both Europe and the US, FlixBus is more of a fixture in Europe. When traveling between major cities or countries in Europe, you’ll almost always have an option to take a FlixBus.
Driving like a maniac down the 101 toward Union Station in Los Angeles, California, Waze told me I would arrive at 12:34 PM. The problem was that my best friend’s train to Anaheim was at 12:36 PM. Realizing that she probably wasn’t going to make it, she started to look up alternatives.
The next train wasn’t leaving until 2PM, but there was a FlixBus leaving from the bus station next to Union Station at 12:55. She ran out of my car and hopped onto the electric vehicle of a kind employee at Union Station who tried to get her to the train in time. Unfortunately, two minutes just wasn’t enough and she missed the train by mere seconds. She asked the employee about using FlixBus as an alternative and he did not recommend it.
Nevertheless, she walked the .2 miles to the bus station and bought a ticket. Welp, I got a text at 1:49 PM saying that the bus just left. When all was said and done, she got to Anaheim at almost exactly the same time she would have had she taken the 2:00 PM train. It was significantly cheaper in price though which was a huge plus, but having to wait for an hour on a crowded bus for it to depart was not her favorite.
All in all this was pretty much the FlixBus experience you should expect. The bus was so delayed that it arrived at the same time the train that left an hour and five minutes did. No crazy horror story, but not an ideal situation. However, you could not beat the price for a very last minute ticket.
FlixBus USA offers routes all over the U.S. Locations include popular tourist destinations like New York, New Orleans and Las Vegas, and FlixBus also provides suggestions for travelers’ different interests, such as hiking, history, beacher and amusement parks.
Plus, there’s a presence in college towns like Ann Arbor, Mich., Binghamton, N.Y. and Clemson, S.C, which could be helpful for students leaving campus for school breaks. FlixBus even offers overnight bus routes for those looking to save time by traveling through the night, rather than wasting a vacation day on travel.
Some of the most popular U.S. routes include the following:
- Los Angeles – Las Vegas
- New York City – Washington, DC
- Houston – New Orleans
- Baltimore – Washington, DC
- Phoenix – Las Vegas
- New York City – Baltimore
- San Francisco – Los Angeles
Tips about Bus Travel
At this point, I think it could be useful to share some general tips about bus travel. What to expect, what to bring, how to temper your expectations, etc.
Again, you’re traveling on a bus. It’s not going to be luxurious no matter what company you choose. And again, I think I’ve established that Flixbus is probably my favorite option when it comes to buses around Europe.
Flixbus’ site will tell you whether or not the trip is direct, or has a transfer. Also be aware that even if the route is marked as direct, there will probably be some short stops along the way between your A and B.
FlixBus promotes sustainable, eco-friendly travel. They offer travelers the option to purchase “CO2 Compensation” tickets at the time of booking, which equates to a voluntary environmental contribution. Each donation is given to the National Forest Foundation and another Global Climate Protection Project abroad.
Perhaps the biggest draw to FlixBus is its affordable pricing. Depending on your route and departure time, you can get a bus ticket for as little as $4.99. Compared to flight or train tickets, which are much more expensive, FlixBus prices are optimal for budget travelers.
FlixBuses feature a host of onboard amenities: These include free Wi-Fi and an entertainment portal, comfortable seats, onboard restrooms, snacks and drinks for purchase, electrical outlets and plenty of overhead luggage storage space. These conveniences work to make FlixBus rides more comfortable and accommodating for its riders.
Numerous routes through the U.S. and Europe
FlixBus includes routes from both small towns and major cities throughout the U.S. and Europe. This can make traveling where you want to go within these regions a convenient and affordable option.
Frequent delays: According to a multitude of FlixBus reviewers, buses can arrive hours late without warning, delay their departure time or be canceled at a moment’s notice. However, FlixBus does allow users to track their bus in real time, so you can see whether or not you should be expecting delays.
Poor customer service: Many FlixBus users were unable to get refunded after a canceled or delayed trip, and have cited FlixBus’ poor customer service. While you may have a different experience should you need to contact FlixBus customer service, you should go in with low expectations.
Bus stops aren’t well marked: FlixBus passengers often comment that FlixBus stations are not well marked and can be hard to identify. If you choose to ride with FlixBus, be sure to do your research ahead of time to determine your exact pickup and drop-off locations.
Our favorite credit cards to use for FlixBus
The best credit cards to use for FlixBus will be cashback cards and credit cards that reward members for travel-related purchases. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cards both offer rewards points for travel purchases, which include train and bus purchases. You can use your rewards to book your FlixBus trip to get your ticket for free.
Alternatively, cashback cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer and Chase Freedom Unlimited® offer cardmembers a percentage of every purchase in cash back. This way you can earn cash back when you buy your FlixBus ticket or spend your hard earned cash back on the ticket itself.
Should you use FlixBus?
If you have a flexible schedule and aren’t in a time-crunch, FlixBus can be a great option for travelers on a budget who are looking to explore America by bus. Tickets can be incredibly cheap and there are available destinations all over the U.S. and Europe. However, travelers should expect delays and limited customer service.
Is FlixBus better than Greyhound?
While Greyhound and FlixBus are comparable in pricing and amenities, Greyhound offers service to more cities and states. That said, FlixBus as a brand may be considered a bit higher-end than Greyhound, as it tends to attract a clientele that reflects that.
Is FlixBus USA safe?
FlixBus takes special safety precautions to protect against COVID-19. It requires face masks to be worn at all times during your trip, promotes social distancing, disinfects buses daily, provides clean air through regular changing of the A/C filter and enforces high safety standards with its drivers. All FlixBuses also include seatbelts.
How much does FlixBus cost?
FlixBus prides itself on being one of the cheapest intercity transportation options available, with trips starting as low as $4.99.
How do I travel with FlixBus?
To travel with FlixBus, simply go online to https://www.flixbus .com/ and input your desired travel information to search for available bus routes.