Coaches have come a long way since their horse-drawn namesakes of the early 1800’s.
Just as every good Sherlock Holmes adventure began with a coach arriving at 221b Baker Street, coaches today depart for a staggering number of locations across the UK and Europe and the potential for adventure is huge. ‘Come Watson, the game is afoot…’
Why travel by coach?
Unlike in Sherlock’s time, there is no chance you’ll be asked to dismount whenever the road gets too rough, and of course there are no horses to feed.
But that’s not the end of the benefits to travelling by modern coach. Comfortable, safe and timely, just one coach keeps around 50 cars off the road, and if coach journeys increased by just 15% per year in the UK we’d be seeing around 47 million fewer cars on our roads. And, contrary to popular belief, there are toilets onboard!
But this is Flight Free UK, so how do modern coaches compare to flying? Well, per person per journey, coaches produce five times less CO2 than air travel. That’s a staggering environmental saving and comes with the fascinating bonus of being able to watch the scenery roll past beyond your window. Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke wisely indeed with his advice to find the journey’s end in every step of the road!
Companies, timetables and tickets
Coach travel is incredibly flexible; if you simply want to get from A to B then a company like National Express will do that for you. However, if you fancy a coach tour where you travel from location to location whilst staying at hotels or B&Bs overnight, then a company like Shearings has got you covered.
CheckMyBus is a fantastic website that lets you search for coach and bus routes across many different providers letting you find the cheapest fares and giving plenty of date and time flexibility.
National Express is the UK’s number 1 coach company, and for good reason; free WiFi, power sockets, comfy seats and exceptional safety ratings have lead them to garner over 29,000 five-star reviews on TrustPilot – and be featured in the top ten single by the Divine Comedy. If you’re looking for travel within the UK then National Express are definitely worth looking at. Plus, they have this nifty map of their destinations.
Megabus serves over 100 destinations across the UK and offers extremely competitive ticket prices. It’s worth noting that Megabus are a Tesco Reward Partner – Tesco Clubcard vouchers are 2x their value on the reward scheme.
Flixbus operates a fleet of recognisably bright green coaches across Europe, so if your desire for adventure is tugging you further afield then Flixbus can get you there, from Birmingham to Berlin, or Bristol to Bruges. They too have a nifty map of destinations.
Megabus also offers a small number of European destinations, including Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
SnowExpress is specifically for skiers, and goes direct to the Alps from London Victoria coach station, meaning you can ski low-carbon and on a budget.
Shearings is a coach tour operator with an astonishing variety of holidays and tours, from four days in Scotland to 16 days in Croatia. Alfa Travel specialises in UK coach holidays, with a modern fleet of coaches and some lovely destinations to boot.
Taking an overnight coach is the ultimate in budget travel, as you save on a hotel or hostel, and it can work out much cheaper than a sleeper train. It’s very rare you will get a bed, though, so it won’t be the most comfortable night’s sleep.
A travel pillow, eye mask and earplugs can really help, and waking up in a new exciting destination will make all that tiredness disappear…
Tips for travelling by coach
- Book in advance and compare ticket prices across providers. This takes the stress out of travelling and the stress off the bank balance!
- Pack plenty of snacks. Most coach journeys will incorporate regular stop-offs at service stations, but even so, you don't want to be caught out.
- Virtually all coaches have charging points so you can take headphones / laptops safe in the knowledge you can keep them charged on the road.
- Wear comfortable clothes, take a travel pillow, and if you get restless when seated for even a short length of time, then try these handy seated stretches!