Thinking of traveling from London to Paris on a budget? Definitely consider taking an overnight bus. While some may be hesitant to travel this way, there are some Pros and Cons to consider.
First, here’s my firsthand experience. I have to admit, traveling on an overnight coach was a method of traveling I thought I’d never even consider, especially for a journey that’s over 9 hours long. As a student, I have to be mindful of my expenses, and even though traveling is a luxury, I learned how to carefully plan my trips in advance and research great deals on transportation and accommodation.
However, an opportunity to visit a friend in Paris presented itself at the last minute. Understandably, the cost of traveling by train or plane is quite expensive when you’re planning on traveling in less than a month. I finally decided that taking the overnight bus might be an interesting experience (as a researcher, I can always say this was for research purposes!) and looked at several options.
Studying near London is very convenient for traveling around Europe by bus. There are many bus companies that travel to Paris several times throughout the day, and I could have avoided an overnight bus trip if I left early in the morning and arrived in the evening, but then I would have had to pay for an extra night of accommodation.
I decided to book a bus ticket based on when it arrived in Paris. I wanted to arrive early in the morning, and that meant taking the bus from London at 11pm at night. I thought, no problem, I’ll just sleep the whole journey to Paris. Ha, not so fast!!
I had no idea that the bus would make two stops for passport checks where everyone would have to leave the bus and go through passport control. Everyone also had to leave the bus to board a ferry as it crossed the English Channel (which took another hour). The last time I took a bus across the English Channel, everyone was allowed to stay on the bus, but that trip was organized by my university. The lesson learned here? Expect to leave the bus several times, so if you’re traveling overnight, you won’t get those 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep you might have been counting on…
While having to leave the bus so many times was definitely a Con, there were some Pros as well.
Here is a summary of the Pros and Cons of overnight traveling by bus within the UK/EU.
- Cost – Traveling overnight both to and from a destination means you’ll save money for two nights’ accommodation. This, along with the cheaper cost of bus tickets, means you’ll have more money to spend on your actual holiday.
- Time passes quicker – Since it’s an overnight journey, you’ll already be sleepy, which means the time will pass quicker when you’re asleep. Hopefully you’ll wake up and find that the journey is halfway over!
- Having full first and last days of a holiday – When you arrive in the morning and leave late at night, you’ll have two extra days to do some sightseeing and enjoy your vacation. Plus, you should be well-rested from the overnight trip and have energy to start sightseeing in the morning. No time wasted!
- Long journey – Traveling by bus takes much longer than a train or plane, and traveling in the night means that you can’t even see the scenery outside during the time you’re awake
- Difficult to sleep for long stretches of time – Whether it’s a seatmate getting up to use the bathroom, passport checks, or the bumpy bus journey, there’s a lot going on that might prevent you from getting some shut-eye
- Full bus – Since the cost of traveling by bus is inexpensive, chances are that all of the seats will be booked and you’ll have a seatmate for your journey. Choosing the right seatmate is especially important for long journeys and overnight journeys where you might fall asleep, so choose wisely!
Do you have any tips when taking the overnight bus? What other Pros and Cons might travelers encounter? Let us know in the comments!