A coach certainly isn't the most convenient way to travel - the coach station may be out of the way, you'll be cramped in with a stranger and it isn't quick, either. Despite these foibles, there is no doubt taking a coach is worth it: coaches are CHEAP. Seriously cheap, in fact: today I looked for a last minute ticket London to Birmingham. On the train, the 4'oclock comes in at £82. On the coach? Just £12 - and that's booking last minute.
But, this being Student Money Saver, it can be cheaper still...
1. Get a young persons coach card
Like its sibling, the 16-25 railcard, the young persons coach card saves you a guaranteed third on every journey. Unlike the railcard, however, it's valid for anyone 16-26 and costs only £10 a year, plus £1.50 p&p - and you can pick up a three year card for £25.
If you're headed to a festival or other events, coaches will sometimes run right to the door. If you catch one of these, you'll save 10%.
2. Book up early
The earlier you book up, the cheaper the tickets will be. Simple.
3. Split the tickets
Travelling a long distance? Instead of buying one ticket for the whole trip, split the journey into segments while staying on the same coach. So, for instance, on a journey between London and Newcastle, book two tickets instead of one - get a ticket for London to Leeds, and another from Leeds to Newcastle.
This won't always guarantee a cheaper price and it takes a little more work, but we looked today and for the route described above, saved £11.90 (£27.50 down from £39.40). To make this work without disruption, be sure to book the same coach each time. If you don't mind having a stopover for an hour or so in at a midway point, you could save even more.
4. Watch out for the sales
Coach travel isn't especially popular, so there are often sales running. Megabus famously offer seats from £1, and National Express frequently release large batches of tickets priced £5 or less. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, where we'll keep you updated, or sign up to the National Express and Megabus newsletters for email notifications.
5. Travel off-peak
Be flexible with your journey time and pick up an off-peak ticket. Fewer people want to travel at odd times, so the tickets are less in demand and consequently are cheaper. Take advantage.
6. Look around for the best deal
The price of coach tickets is never fixed, so book quickly. Compare National Express and Megabus as both have a variety of offers. Megabus is particularly cheap and usually the best price but National Express are always worth checking.
Typical last minute price:
- National Express, London - Sheffield - £9
- Megabus, London - Sheffield - £5
A word of warning
Beware that coach stations sometimes aren't as central as a railway station and that you may have to spend a little getting there and back. Factor this cost into your spend, as these additional prices add up. Indeed, if you're getting an early morning coach and the station is a little way out, the cost of a taxi to get there is likely to negate the saving of a coach over a train - which works out as a bad deal, seeing at the coach is slower and often less comfortable. This isn't always the case but it's worth being aware of.