Coach travel doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. OK, it’s hardly glamorous, but it’s efficient, relatively quick and, most importantly, very cheap. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of snobbery around and people tend to prefer the train. To be honest, I struggle to see why.
These days, coaches are very decent. The UK’s main operators, such as National Express, Megabus and Greyhound, have upgraded large parts of their fleets, meaning you often get air conditioning, larger and more comfortable seats and free Wi-Fi. Another good point: You’re guaranteed a seat, so no standing in between carriages just because you foolishly decided to travel during rush hour.
To prove my point, I checked a few popular routes, comparing train and coach for travel on the same day and at the same time. Results were: if you’re willing to sacrifice about 30 minutes in journey time, you can shave up to 75% on the price. The London-Bournemouth route was the best example. A train takes one hour and 55 minutes to get to the destination, compared to the coach’s two hours and 15 minutes. However, the rails will set you back £23 each way, while the road comes in at a friendly £6.
Sure, coach travel isn’t perfect either. Traffic jams can be a major pain and, if you’re looking for less-popular destinations, then journey times and switching coaches are likely to make it more of a hassle than it’s worth. But, if you can face your friends’ mocking looks when you tell them you travel by coach, you’ll find yourself saving a bundle.