How I travelled 5 countries in 12 days without leaving the ground

Picture of Dubrovnik from above
Dubrovnik, Croatia

Flying not the greatest thing you can do for the environment. Actually it is one of the worst things. The biggest issue with flights are the CO2 emissions, with one transatlantic flight equaling the yearly emissions of  almost 100 people in Tanzania. Crazy, right?

Many people think that by being vegetarian or vegan, recycling, living zero waste or not consuming they can outweigh the effects of flying, but that is unfortunately not the case. I still fly, I have even flown a lot! Last year I did five return flights, three within Europe , one within the States and one transatlantic. At the time I did not think about it but this year I am decreasing it and trying to find other ways to get by. I did fly back and forth from Rome to Copenhagen once this spring and will be flying down to Madrid this weekend for a short holiday. To some people five flights or even two might sound a lot, to others not that much. Anyways, I am exploring other ways of travelling that do not hurt the planet as much.

So back to the point. I love to travel. I grew up travelling and as I grown up I have enjoyed living abroad several times which has meant a few flights now and then just to visit family and friends. But this summer I travelled through 5 different countries in 12 days completely without flying. Starting in Italy, where I had been living for a few months, and going all the way to Copenhagen and then Sweden.

There are several ways to travel over ground, like train, car, bike and hitchhiking (don’t know about the safety of that one though). For this summers trip, however, I chose to go by bus. I chose the bus mainly because it was the cheapest option available, and they also had the option of night buses, that would get me long distances in one haul as well as saving me money on housing. I am not a person who needs a lot of sleep and I do quite well even on several days of bad sleep so sitting on a bus all night was doable. Actually my family used to travel a lot by long haul buses when I was a kid so sleeping on a bus was nothing new to me.

The company I travelled with to get from Italy to Scandinavia was Flixbus. They are really nice and have affordable prises and some great routes. The buses all have toilets (even though they are not always that fresh, but I’ll blame that on some people’s ability to use the bathroom while on a moving vehicle…) as well as wifi and power outlets. The only time I had a bit of problem was when I travelled through Croatia. The buses there were chartered by a local company that didn’t have working toilets or outlets onboard, which can be a bit annoying when you are on a 10-ride with 30 percent battery. Also, don’t expect bus drivers to understand English or anything else spoken outside the region. Even with somewhat fluency in 5 languages I didn’t manage to well in communicating, though some were a bit more accommodating with trying to explain than others.

Picture of Ljubljana
Ljubljana, Slovenia

So how did I travel 5 countries in 5 days? Well, I started in Rome with way to much packed into my backpack. I left with 40 minutes extra time since I knew that public transport in Rome was unreliable, but still, I got completely stuck like never before and ended up being so late I had to run up three flights of stairs and 300 meters with almost 30 kg of luggage just to stop the bus exactly when it was departing. After the somewhat stressful start the rest of the trip was great. With barely no people on board it was quiet and enough space to take up a full double seat on your own, which really helps with the comfort. I left Rome at 8.30 in the evening and arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, around 6 am the day after.

After a short visit in Ljubljana I continued to Zagreb, which was only about 3 hours away. I stayed in Zagreb two nights before leaving on a night bus for Dubrovnik. This leg of the trip was probably the worst, because of rude drivers and no toilets on board. However, dubrovnik was quite worth it.

From Dubrovnik I continued back up north to Zagreb, where I caught a night bus to Vienna. This one was the longest ride out of all. I spent a total of 18 hours on a bus, with a 2 hour stop over at Zagreb bus station. It is safe to say I was quite happy to arrive in Vienna in the morning.

After a nice visit in Vienna I continued to the next and last stop of the trip Berlin. And I got there by, you guessed it, taking a night bus! I was lucky enough to get a double seat to myself so I was quite comfortable, however, we had to get out a few times in the middle of the night due to border controls which was not ideal, but hey, what can you do. I arrived to Berlin just in time for the morning traffic.

The ultimate ride was the one that was the most crowded, the one from Berlin to Copenhagen. It was completely full, but I was one of the first ones on so I at least scored a window seat. Even being overcrowded I managed to get some sleep. In all honesty I didn’t care too much at that point because I was coming home anyways where a warm bed was waiting. This last ride took about 8 hours, leaving close to midnight from Berlin.

All in all, I am very happy with the trip. I was a bit home sick and really longed for the day I arrived home to Sweden, but I still managed to enjoy the travels. The best part about going by bus was that I got to see so much more of the country than if I had flown. Driving through the Slovenian countryside and the Croatian mountains was unbelievably beautiful and well worth the time it took. I will definitely travel by bus again!

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