National Express Coaches, or National Express as it is commonly known, is certainly a way to travel backpacker style.
With train fares increasing, more and more backpackers look towards using National Express as means of travelling around Great Britain.
The company dominates the long distance coach and bus travel market and it is worthwhile booking early in advance due to the popularity of these services.
Sure enough the time it takes to reach your destination is longer than a train or perhaps even if you drive there, but there’s no greater satisfaction when you are in the knowledge that you’ve saved your pennies and also as importantly, you get to relax, chill out and arrive at your destination refreshed.
I have used National Express a variety of times, particularly on a long distance journey from Newcastle to London which took 6 hours overnight. The fare was a complete steal at £15 and it was totally worth it.
But more recently, I took their service to get from Leicester to London for a weekend there.
The Booking service online was very painless and you could select the cheapest option available. I managed to steal a return journey all for £14. If I took a train it would be £40 and if I drove myself, then it would be about £35 but arriving there tired from the driving. So National Express it was!
I got a confirmation email containing the e-ticket and you can either present the e-ticket by printing it out to show the driver or even by showing the driver on your smartphone as I duly did when I got on the coach. (I did print a copy just in case my phone decided to go walkabout!)
Arriving at Leicester Bus Station, I couldn’t find the bus stop where the National Express would pull up at. I think this is due the fault of the Leicester Bus Station for not signposting well and with 5 mins to go, I panicked thinking I would miss it. However, I stayed close to the National Express Office (closed) there and followed people who looked like they were going on long distance journeys. This proved to be correct as pretty soon the coach pulled up at the other end of the station.
Boarding the coach, I was very pleasantly surprised. It seems like National Express has undergone a makeover since I was last with them…leather seats! And even more leg room! As a 6ft+ man, this proved to be a godsend to me and I was able to stretch out my legs during the journey.
Travelling through the late evening meant that the main lights were turned off. I don’t know if it’s me but this gave the interior a very cool Star Trek feel. Check out the photo!
The journey went without a hitch and we arrived early woo woo! The driver was very friendly and took off the bags out of the coach for you. He was pretty clear in his voice over the tannoy that was useful to me as a deaf man. I could hear distinctly what he was saying throughout the journey. London Underground should take notes off him!
I cannot fault their customer service as well. Realising I needed to stay longer in London for a travel show and I booked to go in the morning, I contacted customer services to see if I could get my ticket changed. Within an hour, this was all pretty much sorted out through emails and I could plan that day quickly.
All in all, it was a very pleasant experience, the onboard toilet wasn’t too bad and I loved their customer service. It’s great for backpackers who’s looking to pinch their pennies and also relax!
So 5/5 stars for me!
Remember to sign up for their newsletter on their website to find out any offers, deals and perhaps even very cheap fares that may come your way.
So Cheers National Express!
So what were your experiences on National Express Coaches like?