Check out our most frequently asked questions to learn more about us and how Stray works.
1. About Stray
Who travels with Stray?
Stray attracts adventurous travellers from all corners of the globe with the majority from the UK, Europe and America. When we say “adventurous”, we don’t mean we expect you to do a bungy jump or even a 10 mile hike… but an open mind and a thirst for exploration is important! 75% of our travellers are travelling solo and some travel as part of a couple or group of friends
What is the average age of Stray passengers?
Most are aged between 18 - 35 although we have no maximum age because we believe age doesn't matter - it's all about attitude!
Is it ok to travel alone?
Absolutely! A lot of our travellers arrive alone, around 75% of our travellers are travelling solo, others are with friends or partners. It doesn’t matter because by the end of day one you have already made a great group of friends on the bus! (“Meeting liked-minded travellers” frequently is rated in the top 5 reasons to travel with us.)
How many people will I be travelling with?
The number of people you'll be travelling with depends on the type of tour you're doing, where you're travelling, and the time of year.
New Zealand: The average group size in summer on Freestyle passes is around 35 but our buses can take up to 45. In winter the average group size is 20. Summer Journeys groups are capped at 20 travellers per departure.
Australia: Groups are usually around 15-20 people but our buses can take up to 40.
Asia: Groups are usually around 10-15 people, with a maximum of 24.
October - March is generally busier in all regions than April - September.
We try to use the appropriate bus for the group size, keeping it as small and nifty as possible! This means you can do and see more in a day and it's better for the environment too.
How fit do I need to be?
You don’t have to be an athlete to travel with us – all walks and activities are optional and there is something for everyone.
Will there be Wi-Fi on the bus?
No we don’t have Wi-Fi on our buses for a couple of reasons:
- It doesn’t work everywhere we travel so we could offer it but you still couldn’t access it everywhere and at a decent speed (that’s the same for other bus companies who promote they offer it).
- It discourages actual human connection. Share stories and make friends, be in the 'now'! This way your experience becomes even more memorable.
We recommend checking in with your mobile provider before you leave home to ensure that your device is internationally unlocked. That way you can pick up a local sim card when you arrive.
Prepaid SimCards with data plans provide faster and better coverage and data packages are flexible and affordable.
Will we be travelling everyday?
Not every day is a travel day. Our itineraries include non-travel days so even if you’re completing your Stray Freestyle trip in the “minimum days” required, you’ll still have time to do activities and explore each of these areas.
Is Stray a party bus?
Ultimately, Stray’s main priority is give you authentic experiences by taking you further off the beaten track, and we have some early starts so that we can fit as much adventure in as possible. What you do in your evenings is your own choice... However, of course we are a sociable bunch and we do enjoy a cold beer or two! Because many of our overnight stops are so "off the beaten track", you will find at many of these fine beverages are shared around a campfire rather than in a bar, but there's also plenty of opportunities to party.
What is a "Strademark Place"?
A Strademark Place is a special destination that our travellers love, but that you're less likely to find in a guide book. They're the places that set Stray apart from other tour companies and the places you'll likely be talking about long after the adventure has ended. Learn more about our Strademark places.
What is "Freestyle" Travel?
Freestyle = Flexibility! Freestyle means you have the flexibility to extend your stay any of our stops along the route. You don't need to stick with the same bus, guide and group. Your pass is valid for 12 months so you can even jump off to work or study for awhile and then just jump back on the next departure coming through the destination. Read more about Travelling Freestyle.
What hours are the reservations team available?
Our Reservations Team is based in New Zealand so the times below are NZST
SUMMER (October - September)
Monday - Friday: 7am - 6.30pm
Saturday, Sunday: 8am - 5pm
WINTER (May - August)
Monday - Sunday: 7am - 5pm
8am - 5pm
We also have customer support teams in Australia and Bangkok who can help outside of these hours. Contact Us.
What's the difference between a Freestyle Pass and a Freestyle Tour?
Passengers with Freestyle Passes and Freestyle Tours travel together, on our safe, reliable, flexible adventure travel network, with a local Stray Guide, exploring amazing destinations.
The main difference is that Freestyle Tours include accommodation and activities in the package price, and so this is sorted for you, whereas passengers on Freestyle Passes book and pay for their accommodation and activities as they go.
Both Passes and Tours are fully flexible and valid for 12 months. You can hop-off anywhere and hop back on when you are ready to continue travelling.
What does the Stray Guide do?
Your Stray Guide is there to inform, enthral and entertain you with facts, stories and give you important insight into the local culture. They will recommend top notch things to do every step of the way. Our guides are consistently one of the most highly-rated features of our trips - just ask any traveller of ours! They will become a good friend and source of support to you.
I travelled with Stray already. Can I get a loyalty discount to travel again?
Yes, you sure can! Email us and let us know you'd like to travel with us again and we'll hook you up. You'll get 5% off and pass (even the ones already on sale!).
Email [email protected] and provide your previous confirmation/booking number.
Help - I just tried to book but my payment failed.
First step - please check with your bank as to whether you have sufficient funds or if there is a block on international transactions.
If your bank says there shouldn't be a problem on their end, then send us an email or give us a call.
2. Preparing For Your Trip
What should I bring?
You should bring a backpack or small/medium suitcase (up to 15kg) filled with…
- Your clothes with at least one warm jumper and a pair of trousers.
- Swimsuit / Towel
- Bug repellent
- Reef Safe Sunblock / Hat
- Day pack
- Water bottle
- Waterproof jacket (shell)
- Walking shoes/trainers
In winter (May - September) we also suggest packing a warm hat, jacket and light thermals or clothes you can layer, particularly for the South Island of New Zealand where it gets very cold. In Asia between Nov - Mar it can also get pretty cold in Northern Thailand and Laos and you will need a warm jumper and trousers.
You won’t be needing…
- Sleeping bag
- Blankets or sheets
Do I bring a suitcase or backpack?
Either is fine, it’s up to you! We ask that you bring only one main piece of luggage (backpack/suitcase) and a day pack.
We suggest travelling with around 15kgs of luggage. You'll only ever have to transport your luggage short distances but you need to be able to manage this yourself. If you are going to be travelling with a lot more than 15kg, then please let us know.
Do I need travel insurance?
If you are travelling with us in Aisa, travel insurance is compulsory and you must provide us with your insurance details prior to starting your trip.
We highly recommend you get travel insurance when travelling with us in New Zealand and Australia.
Our preferred insurance provider is World Nomads Travel Insurance which is available to people from over 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
3. Managing Your Freestyle Pass
I've booked my pass! What happens next?
Yay you booked! You'll receive a confirmation email with information about how to log in to Stray Mate your personalised Trip Manager so you can manage your travel plans online.
How far in advance do I need to book my travel?
You can book your travel dates in Stray Mate at any time, right up until when bus leaves (provided there is availability). However in the peak season (November - March) the buses tend to get very busy.
We recommend anyone travelling with specific travel dates or on limited time book as far in advance as possible to ensure you can travel on your preferred travel date.
If you book after 4pm, the day before travel you will need to go to the main designated departure point as listed on the Timetable.
How long can I hop off for?
Freestyle Passes and Tours are valid for up to 1 year, so as long as you complete your trip within 12 months, you can hop off for as long as you want, as many times as you want!
How do I book (hop) back onto the bus?
To hop back on, simply book your next travel date and pickup location through Stray Mate. You'll get your login details for Stray Mate once you have booked your pass.
Can I book (hop) back on the bus via my Stray guide?
No. Your Guide has quite a lot to do so we do not allow them to book passengers' travel. You should book the bus in Stray Mate.
Can I hop off anywhere?
Yes – as long as it’s along your pass route then you are welcome to hop off at any point. Either plan to hop off in advance or do it spur of the moment – it’s up to you!
Can I start and finish my pass at different places than stated on the pass?
If you don’t want to complete the whole itinerary of your pass, and finish somewhere different, that’s fine with us. Just use the route as a guide and complete the part you want to.
Can I skip out a section of my pass?
If you don’t want to complete the whole itinerary of your pass, that’s fine with us. Just use the route as a guide and complete the part you want to. For example, if your pass departs from Bangkok but you are already in Chiang Mai, then start from there!
Can I re-travel on my Freestyle Pass?
Only in New Zealand.
After you have completed your New Zealand Freestyle pass for the first time, you can travel the same route again on a space available (i.e. standby) basis as long as your pass is still valid (passes are valid for one year from the first day of travel).
The only parts of the route that cannot be re-travelled are the travel days north of Auckland (Auckland > Paihia > Cape Reinga > Paihia > Auckland), and the 'Christchurch - Greymouth' sector.
Re-travel must be booked by emailing or calling our Reservation Team. It cannot be booked in the 'Stray Mate’ app.
On the day, you will need to present photo ID to your Driver. Anyone deemed to be abusing Stray’s travel policies will be immediately removed from the bus and charged for any unauthorised travel.
Help – the bus is full on the day I want to travel. What do I do?
If you find that the bus is already full on the day you wish to travel contact the Reservations team for assistance. Nine times out of ten you will be able to get on the bus you want as other people change their plans. Otherwise we will work with you to get you on the next available departure. We strongly recommend you book your seat as far in advance as possible (or at least 48 hours!) to ensure you can travel on your preferred travel dates. Booking in advance is especially important if you have only a limited time to travel.
Do I have to hop off the bus?
No, you are not required to hop off the bus. If you're short on time, feel free to use your pass like a tour and complete the itinerary in its ‘minimum days’. If you're not planning on hopping off, we recommend booking all of your travel dates in Stray Mate as soon as you've purchased your pass to ensure you can travel on the days you want.
Why does my itinerary say “Pick Up TBA”?
This means you have not yet confirmed where and when you wish to be picked up. You need to confirm this before you travel. Select your pick up location in Stray Mate.
Is there a limit on the number of times I can 'hop-on' and 'hop-off'?
No, there is no limit. You can hop off at every stop if you want to.
When and where does the bus depart from each day?
Departure times and pickup locations are listed on the Timetable. You can also see them when you login to Stray Mate.
Is accommodation included?
Freestyle Passes: No, accommodation is not included in the pass price. For New Zealand and Australia, accommodation can easily be booked through the Stray Mate app as you go. In Asia you can book the Stray preferred accommodation through your Guide. We guarantee a dorm bed will be allocated to you for your first night's stay at every location at the Stray preferred accommodation on a no-obligation, pay-as-you-go basis. This saves you the hassle of having to research and pre-book your accommodation before you go. All of Stray's accommodation has been vetted to ensure the best value in terms of cleanliness, comfort, location and price.
Freestyle Tours: Yes accommodation is included. Standard accommodation is "shared" (dorm-style) unless you have upgraded to a private room.
Stray Journeys: Yes, quad-share accommodation is included in our Summer tours and Dorm-share accommodation is included with our Off-Peak tours, unless you have upgraded to a private room.
How do I book accommodation if I choose to hop off?
If you hop off, you will need to book additional accommodation.
New Zealand & Australia: You can book additional accommodation through the Stray Mate app. Select your dates and a request will be sent to the accommodation provider who will confirm your booking for the additional nights.
Asia: You can book extra nights accommodation direct with the operator and ask your Guide if you need some extra support.
Are private rooms available?
Private rooms are available at almost every stop. If you'd like to book private rooms our travel experts can help you. Email [email protected]
Where can I stay and how much is it?
You can find out all of this and more about Accommodation here.
Are there kitchen facilities?
In New Zealand and Australia, most of the Stray preferred accommodation has a kitchen that you can use as well as a a communal lounge area, information desk and laundry.
In Asia it is not common to have a kitchen available but meals out are a lot cheaper!
Is there internet at the accommodation?
Yes, most places offer wifi. Some places offer it for free, others charge a small fee.
How do I book activities?
There is so much to do! Feel free to ask your Guides for their personal recommendations.
New Zealand & Australia: You can book and pay for any activities as you go, through the Stray Mate App. When you book through the app you have access to Stray's exclusive allocation and rates.
Asia: Your Guide can book activities for you and you can pay direct to the operator.
6. Travelling in New Zealand
How do I book my Cape Reinga Day Trip?
If you have the Cape Reinga day trip included with your pass, you'll see this as 'prebooked' in the Stray Mate App. You'll need to let us know by 11am the day before, if you want to travel the following day. You can do this by emailing [email protected] or booking direct at the Fullers Great Sights office located at The Maritime Building, Paihia Waterfront.
How much should I budget for?
If you have a Freestyle Travel Pass:
Accommodation: a dorm bed is roughly $28-36 per night - including central city hostels, high country sheep stations and 1930’s huts in Fiordland National Park. The exception is the Lake Aniwhenua cultural and community experience which is $89 and includes food, accommodation and activities.
Food: this comes down to you, so anywhere between $20 and 100 per day! We stop at supermarkets but there’s (almost) always an option to visit a restaurant or local café. If you’re lucky our drivers have even been known to cook a very impressive BBQ/spaghetti bolognese/roast/chocolate cake.
Ferry: $50-$70 per person one way. Between the North and South there’s the Cook Strait to cross . The Bluebridge Ferry is a beautiful, scenic way to hop between the two islands. You can book this in the Stray Mate App.
Activities: these vary wildly, from $25 to visit a museum to $399 to jump out of a plane!
If you have booked a Stray Journeys Tour:
Accommodation, some meals and the ferry are all included so you just need to worry about your additional activities and other meals (see the above points about food and activities).
Do I need cash?
You will find that New Zealanders barely ever carry cash, as 99% of shops, restaurants and even taxis will accept debit cards. However they won't always accept credit cards and it’s handy to always carry $50-100 to cover you for circumstances like needing a key deposit for your hostel room.
Do I need a visa?
Most visitors to New Zealand need a visa or an eTA (Electronic Travel Authority). Find out more about how you can get one.
Is it possible to skip the Lake Aniwhenua overnight stop?
Lake Aniwhenua is a Strademark Place and an award-winning cultural immersion experience. It is a highlight for many passengers and we think the chance to experience true New Zealand Maori culture with a local family is an absolute must do (that's why it's part of the route!). The experience costs $89 which includes your accommodation, activities, a traditional hangi feast (cooked under the ground!) and breakfast, but if you would rather miss it, you are welcome to make your own way from Rotorua to Taupo and meet the Stray bus there (remember to book your Taupo pick up for the correct day in the Stray Mate App).
Is the ferry between islands included in the pass?
The cost of the ferry ticket between the North and South Islands is not included. We use the Bluebridge Ferry - you can book the Bluebridge ferry in the Stray Mate App. The price of being a ferry passenger varies between $50-70 per person depending on the time of year.
How do I book the Bluebridge Ferry if I have hopped off in Wellington or Picton?
If you are spending longer in Wellington/Picton without your driver, then you can book the ferry through the Stray Mate app.
You'll need to make your way to the ferry terminal and check in 1 hour before the sailing.
The ferry goes every day. However, if you wish to meet the Stray bus on the ferry, remember to check which days we travel on your pass timetable – it’s not every day.
Can I use the Interislander Ferry instead of the Bluebridge Ferry?
Stray only have allocation on the Bluebridge Ferry service and you can book the Bluebridge ferry in the Stray Mate App. You are welcome to book the Interislander ferry on your own, but please be aware that the sailing times for the two companies are different. if you choose to use the Interislander Ferry please make sure you advise Reservations in advance (either the day before or the morning you are sailing) so we can tell the driver.
7. Travelling in Australia
What is the cost of accommodation?
The average price for a multi-share dorm room is about $32, but accommodation varies from place to place along the coast. Dorm options start at around $22 and can range as high as $55 during peak/holiday season.
Do I need a visa?
Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you will need a visa to enter Australia. If you just plan on visiting, you can apply for a visitor visa, and can spend up to 3 months in the country at a time.
If you plan on working while in the country, you must apply for a Working Holiday visa. A Working Holiday visa will enable you to work and travel in Australia for up to a year, and if you are a citizen of a qualifying country, you can even complete 88 days of farm work in order to gain an additional year to work in the country.
You can find more information about visas here: http://www.border.gov.au/.
How many days does it take to travel the East Coast?
Australia is the world’s largest island and with over 10,000 beaches along Australia’s coast, you won’t run out of places to soak up the sun.
Australia’s highway is the longest highway in the world, stretching 14,500km. It runs along nearly the entire diameter of the country and is called the Highway 1. Stray travels along the Highway 1 in some of our passes. On each pass page we’ve offered a minimum travel time as well as a suggested travel time, but with Stray you can take in the east coast at your own speed.
What's the weather like?
Australia is located on the southern hemisphere, which means the seasons are at opposite times to the seasons of countries in the northern hemisphere.
Because Australia is such a large country, the climate varies immensely. Most of the country is covered in desert, meaning the weather is very hot and dry. Desert regions can be found in the middle of the country, as well as in Western Australia.
The climate is temperate on the southeast and southwest corners of the country. Here you will have quite mild temperatures, without extreme hot or cold.
In the northern coastal areas of Queensland, the climate is tropical: hot and humid. The dry season takes places during the winter (May-October) and the wet season in summer (November-April). During the wet season, you can expect regular, heavy rain and even cyclones.
When is the best time to travel?
It’s arguable that the best time to travel in Australia is during the shoulder seasons (Sept-Nov and Mar-May) because the weather is typically warm but mild, and tourism isn’t quite as busy. Peak season takes place in the middle of summer (December/January/February) and many tours and accommodation are fully booked weeks in advance. If you avoid the busy summer season, you’ll have more freedom and less stress to travel your own way, however even in peak season Stray guarantees you accommodation, as hostels hold spaces for Stray customers.
Can I get off at any train station?
Yes if you’d like to hop off a train station not listed on the regular Stray itinerary as an overnight stop (such as Bundaberg, Maryborough, Miriam Vale etc), just email us. We recommend booking these sectors in advance especially during peak periods (Christmas/New Years/School Holidays) to ensure availability.
How much should I budget per day?
This is up to the individual as you can sleep in the cheapest dorm, self-cater* and not do any extra activities and you could spend $60 – 70 per day. You could also stay in your own room*, eat at cafes/restaurants for every meal, and do every activity possible and spend up $300-$400 some days!
*Stray’s special stops are an exception as your dorm/camping accommodation, dinner and breakfast is usually $60 per person, or $75 – $120 with activities included.
Can I visit any location on the East Coast not in the itinerary?
Possibly, depending on location we can either drop you off at the nearest bus stop or train station and/or have suggestions on how to get there. Please email us to find out more. We’re happy to figure out the best travel options for you!
8. Travelling in Asia
How do I get a visa? Can I get one upon arrival?
Visa requirements vary depending on where you’re coming from and where you going, we recommend that you contact the appropriate embassy in your country of origin. For a general overview, you can find information about visas for Asia here.
Why do I need to provide my passport, travel insurance and next of kin information?
The short answer is: to comply with Stray's Health and Safety policy. The long answer involves complying with our Health and Safety policy, Thailand's requirements around insurance should any medical emergency occur and the Laos government's legislation relating to travelling on our buses within Laos and crossing borders in Laos. If you require any further information please contact [email protected].
What will I eat whilst in Southeast Asia?
Western food is sparse outside the main centres so come open-minded about eating local food. At our stops we will recommend tasty restaurants but when you get into local villages and homestays be prepared to eat simple local fare, with maybe the odd wild-card ingredient (which is part of the fun!). Supermarkets are not the norm but we will point out places where you can stock up on food for the day. Depending what you eat, you can spend US$5 - 15 a day on food.
Please note vegetarian meal options may at times be limited for choice but there is always rice, noodles and soups, and excellent fruit and vegetables are plentiful at the local markets.
How much should I budget for?
We suggest you bring up to US$25 each day for food and entertainment.