7 ways to get cheaper coach travel
Can't afford to shell out on overpriced train tickets? Travel by coach instead – it's miles cheaper, plus use these tips to save even more on your tickets!
Credit: EDDIE - Flickr
Before heading straight to book a train ticket for your next journey, it's worth reminding yourself that trains can be even more expensive than flights these days, and you can travel for much cheaper if you do your homework.
As comfortable as taking a train or driving in your own car can be if you have a long journey ahead of you, the amount of dosh you'll be able to save if you travel by coach will make it well worth the back pain and leg cramp. Promise!
AND it's also possible to make the cheap option even cheaper. We've got tips on how you can find the best deals on coach travel, plus the best companies to travel with.
Tips for saving on coach travel
Buy a coach card
If you're going to be doing a decent amount of travelling, at just £12.50 for a year's pass (£10 for the card plus £2.50 P&P) or £25 for 3 years (plus P&P), it's well worth investing in a Young Persons Coachcard (just like the 16-25 railcard but for coaches).
Young Persons Coachcards are available to full time students and anyone aged between 16–25, and these cards will typically save you a third off standard fair, plus 10% off travel to festivals and events.
Coachcards are £20 cheaper than a railcard, but it's worth noting that they only work on National Express coaches.
Switch bank accounts
Bear with us on this one! Did you know that some banks offer free coachcards as an incentive when you sign up to a student account with them?
Both NatWest and RBS currently offer a free 4 year coachcard when you open a student account with them. And it's easier to switch banks now than it's ever been!
Check out our guide to the best student bank accounts this year, plus what other freebies are up for grabs!
Book in advance
Sometimes easier said than done, of course, but if you do know the dates you'd like to travel well in advance, this could see you saving a fairly substantial chunk on the price of your ticket.
Instead of putting off the expense until it's too late, book your tickets ASAP to get the lowest price. As painful as it may be to fork out for something early, you'll be comforted when you see how much more expensive the tickets are on your day of travel.
Break your journey up
Credit: aulia.m - Flickr
Obviously the easiest, most comfortable and least stressful way to travel by coach is to just get one bus that takes you directly to your destination.
But if you're on a really tight budget, it might be worth checking out a few other options. Sometimes booking a ticket that involves a bit of a detour or a bus change somewhere along the line will come at a much cheaper price.
Broaden your search
If you're using a ticket aggregator like Checkmybus, widening the search mileage for your starting point and final destination can bring the price down a little.
Sometimes opting for the centre of cities can be more expensive, but the downside is that if you go too far off course, you might end up needing additional transport to reach your final destination, so it's worth doing the maths to see if this still works out as a cheaper option!
Travelling at less popular times will almost always be cheaper, simply because the tickets are less in demand.
If there's no need for you to be in your destination at a particular time, you'll save more by being flexible.
A nice little added bonus is that your journey is likely to be shorter during off-peak times as there's less traffic to battle with!
Look out for deals
Every now and then, companies such as Megabus give away free tickets (although there is a 50p booking fee), and often their fares can be as low as £1!
Who to travel with
There are loads of different websites you can use to source your tickets, but ultimately there are only really two companies you'll be travelling with:
You've probably seen Megabus coaches out on the road. They're normally identifiable by their garish blue and bright yellow branding, so they're hard to miss!
The deals they offer (such as £1 or £3 tickets going to major UK cities) can seem a bit too good to be true, but they really are just crazily cheap.
You can also get 10% off your Megabus journey if you book online with a TOTUM/NUS Extra card.
Megabus's latest effort is that you can indulge in 'luxury' travel overnight on the sleeper, Megabus Gold, for as little as £25 from Edinburgh to London – you even get your own bunk, plus free breakfast!
National Express is the longest-running coach company in the UK, so you can rely on their sturdy reputation when it comes to getting you from A to B with the least amount of fuss possible.
You can get a third off the price of your ticket by using a Young Person's coachcard (mentioned above) for £10 a year. These cards can't be used for savings on the Megabus.
If you don't travel enough to justify a coachcard, National Express also offer a 20% discount on full price fares to TOTUM/NUS Extra card holders.
In terms of prices, National Express and Megabus tend to offer similar fares, so it's just a matter of searching for your date of travel and destination to see what comes up – and remember to take into consideration both student discounts!