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Buy a coach (long-distance bus) ticket in the UK
Your journey
  Times and passengers
  Your details
  Check booking
  Using your ticket
  Young Person's Coachcard (for students/young people)
  Brit Explorer tickets
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National Express is one of the main coach companies in the UK. This page gives a step-by-step guide to buying a ticket using this service.

National Express coach

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To plan a journey online, open the National Express website (in a separate window) by clicking here: National Express.
The example used below shows how you would buy an online ticket for a return coach journey in the UK from London to Cardiff, leaving on 14th December and returning on 17th December.

[ Click on Airlines if you want to book a coach journey to/from a UK airport ]
[ Click on Europe & Ireland if you want to book a Eurolines service from the UK to another European country]

- From and To boxes
Choose the cities/towns you want to start and end your journey from the drop-down boxes.
[ If there are several stops in these places you will be able to choose the one you want later ]
If one or both of the places you need are not listed, click on "Click here to enter your own locations"
You will then be able to type the names directly into the boxes

- Departing
Enter the day and month when you want to start your journey (you can book up to about 3 months in advance)
In the third box choose "am" if you want to see only morning departures, "pm" for afternoon/evening departures, or leave it as "all"

- Journey type
Choose from the following options for travelling between A and B:
Single: A => B (fixed date and time)
Return: A => B and B => A (fixed dates and times)
Open dated return: A => B (fixed date and time) and B => A (date and time not yet fixed)

- Returning
Enter the day and month when you want to return (you can book up to about 3 months in advance)
[ You do not need to complete this if you chose a Single or Open dated return journey type ]
In the third box choose "am" if you want to see only morning departures, "pm" for afternoon/evening departures, or leave it as "all"

- Promotional code
If you have seen a special promotion, enter the code in this box
Normally you just leave the box empty

Once you have entered these details, click on the Times & Fares button.
You will see a screen like this one:

If you want to choose a different starting place from the one that is highlighted, choose it from the drop-down list
If you want to choose a different destination from the one that is highlighted, choose it from the drop-down list

Click on the Continue button:

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What time do you want to travel?
Check the departure and arrival times of the different services for the first part of your journey.
The Changes column tells you how many times you need to change coaches.
The Facilities column shows "WC" if there is a toilet on the coach.
Funfares are cheap tickets which are available for some services (to get the special price shown you must book online and print your own ticket)
Select the journey time you want by clicking on one of the circles

If you have requested a return ticket you must also choose the return times you want.
Select the journey time you want by clicking on one of the circles

Who is travelling?
Use the drop-down boxes to enter the number of passengers of each type
If you are 18-25 or a full-time student and you have already bought an NX2 card, choose this (there is usually a 30% discount)
[ note: you will need to have your card available, because you have to enter the 8-digit number on your card later ]

Click on Continue

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The fares which are available for your journey are shown.
Choose the one which you want.
Some of the possible choices are:
- "Standard Return"
- "Economy Return" (there are some restrictions on the dates of travel)
- "Economy Apex Return" (must be booked at least 7 days in advance; some restrictions on dates of travel)
- "Funfare" (a limited number of seats on each coach may be sold at discounted prices)
If part of your journey is a funfare, you will need to complete your booking within 10 minutes
[ make sure that you have your credit / debit card details, and your coachcard number if you have one ]

Click on the box if you want to pay for travel insurance for your journey.
If you want to carry a lot of luggage, check the luggage allowances.

Click on Continue.

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Check the box which shows the times, locations, number of tickets and total cost you have chosen:

Credit/debit card details
- The security number is usually the last 3 numbers printed on the strip on the back of your card.
- If you are using a debit card, you will need to enter either a start date or an issue number, as shown on your card.

Passenger & contact details
- Enter the name of one person's name - you can also include a telephone number or e-mail address.
- Title should normally be Mr for a man, or Mrs or Ms for a woman.
- You need to enter an e-mail address
[ These details will be used if National Express needs to contact you for some reason ]

Coachcard details
- Enter your coachcard number (normally an 8-digit number)

Ticket delivery details
- You can print your own "e-ticket" (rather than wait for a ticket to be posted to you). It is most convenient if you are on a machine which has a printer connected, although a copy will be sent by e-mail which you can print later.
- It is also possible to pay a small charge for an "m-ticket". In this case a text message will be sent to your mobile phone and you will need to show this to the driver when you board.

Click on Continue.

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Check that the travel details shown are correct
Read the terms and conditions, and click on the box to accept them.
Confirm your credit/debit card details.

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You will be shown a confirmation of the details entered before the purchase is completed and your card debited.
If you have chosen an e-ticket, you should print it when it appears.
You will also be sent the ticket by e-mail.

It is also possible to choose to have your ticket sent to your mobile phone as a text message: this is called an m-ticket (there is a small booking charge for sending the ticket to your phone).

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If you have an e-ticket, remember to carry it with you and show it to the driver when getting on the bus. The driver will write on it and then give it back to you.
If you have an m-ticket, remember to carry your mobile phone and show the confirmation text message to the driver when you board.

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Are you a full-time student, or a young person (aged between 16 and 26)? If so, you can buy a Young Person's Coachcard. This pass allows you to buy your coach tickets (for travel within England and Wales) for about 30% less than normal.

The cost of the card in 2008 is £10 for a 1-year card, or £25 for a 3-year card.

For full details and to buy a card online, click here.

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Brit Xplorer tickets are a very cheap way to explore Britain using National Express services.
Note that you can only buy these tickets if you don't have a British passport (or can prove that you are resident outside the UK).

There are three types of ticket:

Ticket name Length Cost (in 2008)
Hobo 7 days £79
Foot Loose 14 days £139
Rolling Stone 28 days £219

The process you need to follow is:

(1) Click here to buy your ticket online. At the end of this booking process you will be given a ticket number.

(2) Take your ticket number, together with your passport (not a British passport), during opening hours to a ticket office at one of the major London airports (Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick) or to the coach station in one of these cities (listed in order from south to north): Southampton, Dover, London Victoria, Cardiff, Oxford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds [when you buy your ticket online you can see details of the locations and opening times for these ticket offices]. If you buy several tickets together you will need to take the passport for each person.

(3) When you receive your Brit Xplorer ticket, you need to decide on which day it will start. You may want to make reservations for some of your journeys - you can do this online, but there is a charge (2007: £1.50 for each journey).

Examples of two possible routes:

(a) England & Scotland city tour (14 days)
London - Oxford [1h45] - Birmingham [2h00] - Liverpool [2h45] - Manchester [1h] - Blackpool [1h45] - Carlisle [3h30] - Glasgow [2h00] - Edinburgh [1h15] - Newcastle [2h45] - York [2h30] - Nottingham [3h45] - Cambridge [3h15] - London [2h00]

(b) Day-trips from London (7 days) (stay in London - near Victoria Coach Station - and make a series of day-trips, in any order)
(1) Canterbury [1h45] (2) Dover [2h30] (3) Brighton [2h15] (4) Winchester [2h00] (5) Oxford [1h45] (6) Stratford-upon-Avon [3h15] (7) Cambridge [2h00]

- The numbers in brackets show approximate journey times from the previous place: these are the fastest services, in hours and minutes (to the nearest fifteen minutes)
- Click on the links for a place for photos and information: this will give you ideas about what to do there
- To book cheap hostels in each of the places where you stay: click here

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Coach travel: Travel/Transport/Coach

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