Coach travel from London to the Continent is a brilliant option if you are on a budget but still want a city break in Paris, Amsterdam or further afield. Take a coach from London to Paris with iDBUS, for example, and even in the height of the school holidays in August you could travel there for just £35.
But of course coach travel is not as quick as travelling by plane or train, so you do need to be organised to make the journey part of the holiday and not just an extended waiting period for your holiday to start.
Buying your ticket is obviously your first task. Check out the bus timetables to see which dates and which times you would prefer to travel. Think about whether you would like to travel overnight (and sleep) or during the day and watch the countryside pass by whilst you relax on board. If you decide to travel overnight you have the added advantage of not having to pay for overnight accommodation for that night and can arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to start your holiday.
Local bus timetables in the UK are notoriously difficult to read as there are so many routes and stops. But travelling to the Continent is a different matter, with fewer services running between the major cities. Fortunately iDBUS’s website has a really easy way to find your times: select where you’re travelling from (e.g. London) and where you’ll be travelling to (e.g. Paris Bercy city centre) and your dates and you are given a choice of a couple of times, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or night.
Once you’ve got your ticket sorted out, all you have to do is pack and make your way to the coach station. London Victoria Coach Station is located in central London and can be easily accessed by tube or train at Victoria Station, which is only about 300m away from the iDBUS coach station. If you have a lot of baggage you might find it easier to get there by cab. Coaches don’t have strict luggage weight limits like planes do and you are usually allowed one piece of luggage per person plus a piece of hand luggage to take on board, but depending on how busy the coach is you may be allowed to take more.
Your hand luggage is going to be vital for your journey. You’ll be spending up to 13 hours on the coach (though there will be rest stops en route where you can stretch your legs) so it is important that you take on board anything you need to be comfortable and enjoy the ride. Most people take electrical equipment like iPads and laptops – don’t forget your charger! iDBUS has electrical sockets on board so you can charge up your equipment if the battery gets a bit low, and Wi-Fi to keep you connected so you can stay in touch or play games online or get some work done.
If you are planning to travel overnight then consider taking earplugs in case you find it difficult to block out the sounds of other passengers around you, and if you have children travelling with you don’t forget to take their favourite teddy.