Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Mega Bus, National Express and a Toddler

If you have followed our blog over on our Instagram you will have seen that recently I travelled to Bristol via bus with my little boy who is 1. I am not going to lie and say this was my first choice but as our babysitter fell through there wasn't anything I could do other than try and make the journey less painful for us both (Ha!). Now I am blessed with the fact Alfie is a very chilled out little guy for the most part but even with that I know a bus journey totalling 9 hours is testing on anyone!. Yes you read that right 9 hours!!! Now I know taking the bus isn't for everyone but it saved us a considerable amount of money and I would recommend it based purely on that. The train journey would have cost us £236 our coach journey with National Express and the Mega Bus came to £70. So for us it was well worth the trick challenge it would be. 
 I made sure I packed colouring books, pens, his favourite cars, his sisters IPAD and I downloaded Cbeebies app on to my phone. I also made sure I had enough snacks to keep us going and if he had to eat 6 bags of crisps to make the journey bearable I was up for that ( It is just 1 journey after all ha!). 

 Our first journey was with Megabus. Our journey would take us 4 hours. The bus driver was lovely and helped me with my bags, pram and Alfie. He also let us up the front stairs as it was less of an incline. Unfortunately our return journey had a less helpful driver. The bus was fairly basic and I struggled to get our car seat (Britax infant) to fit the chairs and could only fit it by reclining the seats, something to bear in mind as it could make you rather unpopular on a busy bus. The toilet was so small that to juggle both myself and Alfie I had to become a contortionist. I have no idea how I would have changed Alfie's nappy if he had a poo. I think we would have just had to stink the whole bus out. As it is I think Alfie was also bearing that in mind as he didn't poo on our journey at all and waited for the safety of the hotel ha! We travelled at 06:00am and it was fairly quiet for most of the journey on the bus. Alfie slept for 3 hours of the 4 so this was a fairly easy journey and I spent it perusing facebook, Instagram and twitter on my phone however, be warned the WIFI is not great and I managed about 15 mins of the journey on wifi and had to use my mobile date after that. Our air con however, wasn't working and by 10:00am I was glad we were swapping buses as it was getting ridiculously warm. 

 Now our next bus for the journey was by National Express. Slightly more expensive but my word this was the upgrade of the bus world. Again another really friendly helpful bus driver that helped me load my bags and then because the car seat again would not fit in easily he asked a lady to swap seats with me so I could be in the front seats with more space. I was then told for an extra £2 you can reserve these seats which I really recommend doing. The seats were cushioned and leather. The air con was brilliant and it had little reading lights as well that you could turn on or off. It also had a much more spacious toilet( as spacious as a bus can go but still not ). It felt more spacious in general and less claustrophobic. It had a fabulous on board entertainment VUER. An online streaming app. This included free movies to watch, magazines online and children's entertainment. It made the journey much more comfortable and Alfie loved the children's films. I hear that it is not always working on National Express Coaches and they do not refund if it isn't working for you. However, after travelling on both services I would pick National Express over the mega bus and pay that bit more for it. 

 Alfie was very laid back and slept a lot of the journey. But when he was awake I gave the bus a lot of renditions of wind the bobbin up, down in the jungle and twinkle twinkle little star. I actually think he enjoyed the 1-1 attention as usually he is competing with his sister. Now I am sure the journey would be slightly different if it had been his sister with me instead as she needs a lot more stimulation and would get bored of the films easily. I did find that Alfie did indeed eat through all of his baby crisps and 1 packet of mine (Ooops) and I did feel rather thirsty by the end of the journey as I really didn't want to have to use the toilet lots as the whole navigation of it on my own was to much of a headache. 

 Now the negatives. The bus drivers were great in helping your to load your bags but at the other end no one helped to get your luggage off so it became a free for all. We waited to the end because I didn't want to face all the elbows flying. I was also surprised at how many people pushed past us to try and get on first. I hate being late so I turned up 30 minutes early so we could be organised. But I found that people who turned up with minutes to spare were barging past me and Alfie to get on and no one battered an eyelid to this. However, I did have my faith in humanity restored by a lot of lovely people who were so willing to help and it out weighed the negative people. On the journey home I was also stuck between a family with 2 children being sick and there was a tiny bit of me that really hoped it was travel sickness and not contagious. I donated the pack of baby wipes I had to the poor mum who looked fraught bless her. 

Overall as someone who couldn't drive I felt it was a good choice. The train is just to expensive for me to justify however, I would consider flying next time just for the added comfort. I would make sure next time I spend a bit more on reserving seats and also booking a direct journey as that would have been easier. 


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