Having made a case for night trains, I’m going to put my hand up and vouch for another form of travel. Get yourself on a coach! Coach travel is much maligned, admittedly for some good reasons, but has tremendous upside if you can live with the negatives!
Okay, so there here are some negatives to long-distance coach travel. For a lot of people, coach travel is uncomfortable, and any chance of sleep is lost about five minutes into your journey for any one of a hundred reasons. I’ve had to sleep through babies crying, avoid getting caught in a full-blown punch up between a driver and a passenger, and been delayed countless hours of my time by traffic. Even so, coach travel should be under your consideration and here’s why!
- The Cheap Price
As an Englishman, most of my journeys begin in London. Be it from Gatwick, Heathrow, St Pancras, Victoria Coach Station, or somewhere else entirely, London tends to be my hub that connects me to everywhere else on the planet. If you’re looking for cheap travel abroad, it seems that I should compare some prices so you can see just how cheap taking the wheels really is.
So google is telling me flights to Paris start at £23 but I can’t find anything like that. The lowest price I have found is easyjet for £54, and I’m sure they go cheaper in their flash sales too! Even so, I’m also looking at coach tickets which will set you back only £12… They also plunge you right into the heart of Paris, where presumably your flight will put you outside the city, at somewhere like Charles De Gaulle, with an impending need to spend more money on extra travel.
£54 before you add your baggage, a snack, and in-country travel costs, is positively criminal in comparison with £12. Maybe think about that next time you’re weighing up travel options!
- The Really cheap Price
Okay, a line so nice I said it twice. Coach travel is cheap. I’m a big fan of travel within Britain’s borders. I saved myself around £80 getting from Brighton to see my friend in Edinburgh by getting a last-minute coach instead of the train! If you’re smart, don’t book last minute. If you’re even smarter, hook yourself up with some cost-effective coach travel!
- Is the coach really that much less comfortable than a flight?
Okay so flying British Airways first class is probably going to be a bit nicer than the National Express coach you’ve booked yourself. I have no doubt about that. Is it really true that your coach is going to be any less comfortable than flying economy on a plane though?
I would argue there isn’t a great amount of difference. Yes, you’re on the coach for much longer, so that is a downside in terms of comfort, but realistically the two modes of travel are practically the same. Sitting bolt upright with little leg room and wedged next to somebody you may well not know! If I’m paying for that situation, I’m sure going to be taking the cheaper version of it!
- It’s much harder to lose your luggage on a coach!
Just about everybody I know who flies regularly has had their luggage lost by an airline. My mum was going on a one-day business trip to Munich and the airline managed to lose her bags for over a week! Somehow, airlines can’t do this basic fundamental: Get your stuff to the same place as you.
With a coach, your bag can be stowed overhead or, more likely, stashed away at wheel-level. You’ll probably throw the bag in yourself, perhaps gently if you have valuables. That means your stuff likely won’t break and if you’re bag doesn’t end up in the right place, it’s probably your fault!
- See the world
Are you going away to see the world? You should be. Is it as much about the journey as the destination? It definitely is for me.
You get some incredible views from your plane window, if you bag a window seat of course, but on wheels you get to see the lie of the land. Maybe your coach stops at a town you’ve never heard of, but it looks awesome! You can just get off, say goodbye to your weekend in Paris and enjoy yourself in the moment. That opportunity isn’t facilitated by a flight and that’s just one of the reasons why, if I can’t take my old banged-up car, I’m hopping on a coach if it’s possible!
The coach is a fantastic way to travel. Minor disclaimer though, I’m not advocating getting a coach to Beijing from London, just get the flight. Actually, that’s the kind of journey I’d love to do by coach if only for the story!
Is coach travel sounding really tempting now? Maybe the road less travelled is the route for you!