With the increase in the number of companies offering bus services from London to Europe, travelling on a budget has never been easier. But pricing structures and timetables can be complicated, especially as most companies change their prices depending on when you book (iDBUS sets its prices based on when you travel, not on when you book, so you can book tickets knowing that those are the lowest fares available with them for that date and route).
Bus travel from London to Paris can take at least eight hours and often considerably more depending on the route taken. This is an important factor to consider when booking: you might find it more convenient to book an overnight service so that you can get some sleep and arrive in the morning. This is probably a better option if you are travelling with your children, since they can find a lengthy journey difficult during the day. On the other hand, you may have children who enjoy bus journeys so much that they would find it impossible to sleep and want to experience the whole thing no matter how long – in which case, book a day ticket and take lots of books and travel games (or an MP3 player or handheld games console)!
When booking tickets, remember to read up on the station you’ll be travelling to, especially if you’ll be travelling during the day and arriving at night. iDBUS runs a bus service from London to Paris Charles de Gaulle or Paris Bercy in the city centre, but some other companies may take you to more remote stations.
Also read customer reviews of their experiences on different bus lines. The cleanliness and comfort of bus services can vary dramatically and eight hours can seem far longer if you are uncomfortable, too hot or cold, and if your feet are stuck to the floor by spilled sugary drinks. Check whether you can take food and drinks on board and whether refreshments are sold on board. Also ask about whether you can plug your electronics in – having your laptop run out of battery two hours into the journey can be pretty annoying – and whether there is free Wi-Fi available.
Remember that travelling by coach can take more or less time than advertised. A traffic jam can affect your arrival time considerably, so take this possibility into account if you are planning to arrive for a set time, perhaps to make a connection with another coach or train to a further destination.
If you tend to get travel sick, try to sit in an aisle seat where you can look through the large windows at the front. Being able to see the horizon helps your brain to process the information from your ears that you are moving despite being apparently seated. If you are travelling alone and are nervous you can choose a seat close to the driver, which will help you to feel reassured.
Finally, luggage allowances on iDBUS bus services are much more generous than they are on aeroplanes, so you can take buggies and skis usually without a problem. You’re usually allowed one piece of luggage per person plus hand luggage, which gives plenty of flexibility for packing whatever you need.