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Even when using your points and miles, traveling to Europe can get expensive. But one European transportation company is trying to lower that total cost by offering affordable bus service through 10 countries in Europe for as little as $3 (£2.39).
BlaBlaBus is operated by carpooling service BlaBlaCar — the admittedly bizarre name is a nod to a feature that lets riders share how talkative they will be. The service connects 444 cities with 4,476 routes, according to the BlaBlaBus website. BlaBlaBus began slowly launching the bus service in June and, since then, has expanded to cover 10 countries.
Still, a BlaBlaBus ride may come with more amenities than your last short-haul flight.
Most coaches come with simple amenities including Wi-Fi, power outlets, air conditioning and, depending on the route, a bathroom. The company also allows each passenger to bring two suitcases and a personal item on the bus. That’s way more than you’d get with any European low-fare airline.
But the prices are definitely the highlight. For instance, a trip from Lille, France, to Paris ranges in price from $3 (£2.39) to $22 (£19.99). When looking at BlaBlaBus, the option to book a bus will appear on the homepage of the site. From there, you can search various routes that you’re considering. The results will show both bus and carpool options, so you can sort through them and decide the best offer for you.
One thing to note is the different symbols from the BlaBlaCar website. The walking pedestrian symbol tells you how far the drop-off location is from your ideal destination. With the example above, I had an ideal drop-off in the Paris city center, so all the 42 rides will tell me if the ideal destination is “walking distance” (green), “not too far away from locations” (yellow) or “a bit farther away” (orange).
For the example above, the first option — a carpool sharing service as noted by the driver — drops passengers off at a destination that is an 18-minute drive from the city center. The middle option, a BlaBlaBus, drops riders off at Tremblay-en-France, which is more like a 45-minute drive. The last option, another BlaBlaBus, is a 35-minute ride from the city center.
So before you get too excited about a $5 bus ride to Paris, it’s important to be careful when booking and map out your actual drop-off point. After all, a 45-minute Uber may end up being more expensive than booking another bus that gets you much closer.
Other popular routes include Paris to Bordeaux, Brussels to Amsterdam, Madrid to Barcelona, Marseille to Nice and more. If you aren’t sure exactly where you’d like to go, you can also browse by top destinations, routes and bus stations.
The concept of BlaBlaBus may feel new, but it is not the first low-cost European bus service. FlixBus is the largest intercity bus network in Europe, and it just recently expanded to the Northeast and West Coasts of the US.
Featured Image by Picture Alliance/Getty Images
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