To be entirely honest, my trip with Stray Asia wasn’t a deliberate ohmygosh I have to travel with them one. When S and I were planning our travels we looked at a couple of different bus companies that operated in South East Asia.
After spending hours pouring over the same two pages in the Asia brochure I was slightly more taken by the sound of the option that wasn’t Stray. But, after Stevo (our main man at STA Travel) raved about the flexibility of their hop-on, hop-off bus tickets we decided to take a leap of faith and roll with his recommendation instead.
I’ve written this post to give you some pointers from the experience I had and to hopefully help you decide whether to Stray or not to Stray (pssst I’d say go for it).
YOU’LL MEET A WHOLE BUNCH OF INCREDIBLE PEOPLE
And not just backpackers (some of whom I’ve seen a couple of times now since returning to the UK). I met a heap of locals too when travelling with Stray which 100 per cent added to the whole experience, making it even better than I imagined.
MOST TRANSPORT IS INCLUDED
Which made getting from A to B super straightforward.
THE GUIDES WILL HELP YOU SORT ACCOMMODATION
If you want. The company has a recommended hostel or hotel at each place the bus stops (usually for a discounted price) that the guides will help you get a bed at for the night. But, don’t feel obliged if you don’t want, there’s no pressure so if you want to sort your own hostel, you totally can.
YOU GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
One of the highlights for me was the homestay in Laos which you can read more about by clicking this wee link right here. I probably would only have dreamed of doing such a trip had I been travelling by myself. Sitting up late with the locals around a bonfire, sipping on home made alcohol is certainly an experience I won’t forget.
THEY’RE FLEXIBLE (MOSTLY) *** SEE BELOW COMMENT FOR UPDATED DETAILS***
Before we set off, no one really explained how the whole Stray thing worked. In a nutshell you have to email several days in advance of the stop you want to hop-on or hop-off at. For the most part this went smoothly but there were a couple of places at the beginning of our Stray adventure where we found ourselves staying an extra couple of nights because the bus we’d wanted to get was full. We soon caught on though so we didn’t end up getting caught out again.
SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT
Things may have changed since I travelled with Stray, but there were a few stops on the itinerary that weren’t what we got at all. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was a little frustrating at the time.
I had four or five different guides and they were all fantastic! If they didn’t know something they’d find out no problem and if any of us backpackers got into a spot of difficulty they leapt into action, becoming our knights in shining armour. Big shout out to Tong who spent all night helping to sort out our Vietnamese visas so we could continue with the bus we were on rather than waiting for the next one!
This post has been lovingly taken and tweaked from my old blog, Seat 31D. The words are all my own.