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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

What's it really like travelling to Spain by bus with kids?

A few weeks ago we travelled to Spain by bus with our three children aged 5, 7 and 9. I am sure many of you may remember doing this with your own parents in the 80's and 90's and I'm pleased to say things have improved considerably since then.

Our main reason for travelling by bus was quite simply the cost. Our whole 10 day holiday including transport, transfers, luggage, accommodation and a fabulous resort with on-site reps was only £1000. I have priced the same deal in September and it is only £650. Wow! We booked a Sunbargain deal with Siesta Holidays.

I will say that my three children are excellent travellers and were no bother at all on board as long as they could watch TV or play on their iPad. Steve and I were free to watch our own TVs and read without any interuptions which did make things a lot easier for us.

On Board


The coaches are modern and clean with lots of good facilities and plenty of leg room. Everyone has their own TV which is pre-loaded with 300+ movies, tv shows, music and games. You are given your own headphones when you board but we had already packed our own.

During our trip the kids loved watching Avengers, Frozen, Ant Man, Despicable Me, The Minions Movie, Wreck It Ralph, Horrible Histories, Guardians of the Galaxy, Finding Nemo and more. We were honestly spoilt for choice and there was more than enough to keep us entertained during our 30 hour journey.


I watched Les Miserable, Bridget Jones Diary, Pretty Woman, Friends With Benefits (which in hindsight was a mistake when I realised Jack was still awake next to me) plus lots of stand up comedy including Micheal Mcintyre, Kevin Bridges and Sarah Millican. 


There is FREE on board wifi however this was hit and miss so although I was able to check Facebook a couple of times in France, I wouldn't rely on it. The BIG downside to the coaches is that they don't have any plug sockets so unless you take your own power pack, your phones/iPads ect.... are likely to run out of battery at some point during the journey. 


We were kindly sent these Quilty Explorer Guides for the journey. At only £1.99 each they are a real bargain. All three children raced against each other to try and spot as many of the listed vehicles as possible and the wordsearches ect.... were handy when we travelled through the Eurotunnel when all electronic devices had to be turned off.  


Everyone is able to take one piece of hand luggage on board with them plus a pillow. Your chairs fully recline although you aren't allowed to do this until after 9pm. There is also a foot rest, arm rest and leg rest if needed and you have a small tray and drinks holder too. 


What really made the journey for us was our lovely coach host Karen. She REALLY looked after us all on board and was just so friendly, happy and lovely. She would pop around to see us every hour or so and ask if we needed anything and if we were ok. There is actually a decent selection of food available on board and it's all super cheap - a cup of tea is 80p and a bacon sandwich £1.50. Bargain! There was quite a selection too including wines, soft drinks, toasties, burgers, hotdogs...... you certainly wouldn't go hungry or thirsty. The drivers were lovely too, kept us safe and were actually quite funny at times. They kept us updated with our route and helped us with our luggage too. Super customer service. 

Not bad for £1.50! 


The scenery for the most part isn't great as you are mostly on motorways but we did get to cross through the Pyrenees which was nice. 


Sleeping



The seats do fully recline, the curtains close and we packed blankets and pillows for the children. I actually had an ok sleep and the children managed to as well. We certainly didn't feel overly tired the next day. The only issue I had was that lights didn't go out until midnight and were swtched back on at 6am on our outward journey and 5:30am on our inward journey (so we could get ready for the tunnel crossing). Yikes! 

Channel Crossing



Everyone has to get off the coach at the terminal and it is serached by officials as passengers walk through passport control before boarding again. The coach then drives into it's own little carriage on the train. Passengers have to stay with their coach but can walk on the platform just outside and every carriage has it's own loo which you can walk to if needed. There are also loo's on board the coach but we had enough stops that I never needed to test these out. During the 35 minute journey under the channel, all electronics need to be switched off which is when books or wordsearches come in handy. Or you can catch up on some sleep. 



Rest Breaks



There aren't too many little breaks but you do get meal breaks ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours. We stopped at a variety of places including a McDonalds in France (which was actually pretty cool), a French service station where we enjoyed a French picnic from the shop and one of the service stations in Spain where we stopped for breakfast served the most delicious croissants and proper freshly squeezed orange juice. Make sure you budget for meals during your journey. We typically spent 30 euros per meal between the 5 of us which wasn't bad with multiple meal stops it soon adds up. 




I packed us all little 'freshen up' kits with facial wipes, deodorant, toothpaste ect..... and they were easy to pop out of our main bags and take to the service station loos. The places we stopped were better abroad than in the UK and I loved the fancy coffee machines where Steve and I couldn't resist a couple of Espressos. 




On our return journey we were picked up from site at 11:30am, travelled for 30 minutes to Estartit and then told we had 2 hours free time here. I wasn't expecting this and although it was nice to re-visit a holiday destination of yesteryear, I think I would have rather just got cracking with the journey home and we just ended up spending money we didn't really need to. 


Would I do it again? I'm honestly not sure. The journey there was no bother as we were all excited but coming home it seemed to take FOREVER and we just wanted to be back. Some people on our bus decided to get a little bit tipsy on the journey outwards and thought nothing about swearing quite loudly which I don't like around my children. Plus although you can't smoke onboard, if you were sitting near someone who had just popped out for a cigarette it was really noticeable.

However......you can't deny the value. £650 for the 5 of us in September is AMAZING and you can get drunk/smelly people on flights too so it's not exclusively a coach problem.  Our holiday overall was fantastic - Calella de Palafrugell where we travelled, our accommodation and the place we stayed (Camping La Siesta) were all superb and I will definitely revisit. The price is certainly tempting and worth re-booking for I think.

What do you think? Have you ever travelled by coach with your kids?

PS I'll be featuring the other parts of our holiday soon.










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70 comments

  1. Such a bargain and I bet the kids loved the adventure. I'd definitely go crazy doing that mammoth journey though - London to Newcastle on the Megabus is bad enough!

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  2. wow that is a long time, not sure mine would manage it. x

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    1. It was much easier on the way there than back x

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  3. It's such a fab bargain but I couldn't do the bus journey - especialluy with a toddler. I remember going to France when I was younger and it felt like we were travelling for a week.

    Plus, I really don't like smelly drunk people :)

    Cat

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  4. You are a bad ass taking 3 kids on such a long journey. I can't imagine it but mine are still very young and restless. It sounds like it went as well as it could have though, certainly better than our holiday did!

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    1. HAHA Yeah! I'm Bad ass! I may have taken one child when they were little but once you are talking double figures, no way! I think age 4 is the youngest I'd take. Although there were toddlers on board and they were no bother x

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  5. Woah 30 hours on a coach in crazy! The coach actually looks really comfortable and I think that it is great value for money. If it were a choice of that or not going away at all then I'd choose the coach but otherwise, flights all round! xxx

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  6. I've honestly been desperate to find out how your journey was. Service stations in Europe as SO much better than in the UK. Glad it wasn't too bad. I can't believe how good the price is. I bet you end up going in September too!

    Katie X

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    1. We definitely need better service stations in the UK don't we x

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  7. It sounds like quite the adventure! I have never thought about traveling by bus abroad but I am now. What a great price x

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  8. I sort of really want to try it, I'd love a summer holiday this year and my kids are older so they'd be ok but no plugs? I don't think there's a power pack strong enough to last that long!!

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  9. Gosh its so cheap and a great option, out two would be the same, time on the way there but not the way back. Although I can honestly relax anywhere so I would be fine x

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  10. I must say I would be terrified at the thought but it doesn't actually seem that bad!

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  11. Definitely a bargain but I get hellaciously unwell on coaches - cheap flights for me, alas.

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  12. really good price but still I think I couldn't do it... how was Spain btw? I'm from there! :D

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  13. I would never think of doing this but what a great adventure and no popping ears on the plane x

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  14. wow that's a great post and what a bargain! Sometimes needs, must is the way to go. Also, this way perhaps you can afford to go more often on holidays with the kids? The entertainment on board sold it to me. R

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  15. Oh wow what a journey. I am not sure I could last that long on a coach but it looked like there was enough room there between the chairs which is plus!!

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  16. I have to say that being from Canada I don't mind long drives, though I'd probably prefer to go in my own car than in a coach. Which sounds awful as someone who is normally quite environmentally conscious. I guess I just like the privacy of my own car for long journeys. But that price is amazing and if it allows a whole family to go on a special holiday together I'd probably think about it too!

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  17. Wow a 30 hour journey with 3 small kids!! Not sure I could cope with that, but that does sound very cheap!

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  18. It definitely sounds like an interesting idea, sadly I am the worst at travelling so I wouldn't make it on a coach :( x

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  19. That is a great bargain but because I get travel sick, going by bus might not be my best bet. Still at least you can tick that off your bucket list!

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  20. Wow a long journey but well worth it for the amount of money you would have saved x

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  21. The price seems amazing for all five of you, but I doubt i'd cope with such a long journey.

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  22. Wow this sounds great! I never really think about travelling by bus to another country! So much cheaper! I'll definitely be looking more into bus journeys!

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  23. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to travel by coach - I think I would get grouchy before the kids! You managed it though!

    MadeFromBeauty.co.uk

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  24. I honestly didn't even know you could do this! It's probably not something I'd choose (I can't sit still for that long!) but sounds like a great budget option for families :)

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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  25. That sounds like a nice way to travel. I'd definitely consider it if I was traveling with family.

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  26. It's a good deal! Glad that your kids can handle the long travel. The bus looks comfortable but it could really be tiring. I love bus travels as of course, it costs less. Maybe you can make an alternative and not only stick to bus so you can somehow spoil the kids time by time with shorter trips.

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  27. That does look like a fun adventure. I hope you all had a great time.

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  28. The coach actually looks pretty good I didn't realise they could be so roomy and have little tvs I would totally give that a go x

    Miss Kitty Kaos - Adventures Of A Riot Grrrl

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  29. I know Calella quite well, as during the 80's travelled to Spain by bus for around 9 years, usally staying in LLoret De Mar, just along the coast. I used to love the whole journey, and didn't realise companies still did it. I would consider doing this again!

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    1. It's definitely worth it for a cheap getaway x

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  30. Wow that is a real bargain and the price would definitely tempt me to do it! I think my children travel quite well so this is definitely something I'll look into!

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  31. I used to travel by coach a lot when I was younger in Canada, that's how you got places. I used to love it (there were no tvs or food on board then though!). Great price for the trip though, especially for five!

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  32. This is certainly the best coach journey I've ever heard of - food, movies, leg room? Sounds too good to be true! Personally I prefer to get to my destination as soon as possible though. However, for 5, this was a fantastic deal!

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  33. 1 kid would be ok but damn 3! I'm a fidgety person and would not survive the journey

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  34. I never even thought about going by bus to Spain! Good that they had some wifi on board - I like things like this x

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  35. It sounds like such an adventure but I honestly don't think I could do it. I have never been on a long bus journey and get bored on 4 hour flights, the bus does look a lot more comfortable then I imagined though and I had no idea they served food and drink on board. xx

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  36. I didn't even realize that taking a bus was an option. Looks like it was an adventure. Hope you enjoyed.

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  37. I have traveled on a coach to Amsterdam and to Brussels before but never with kids. Sounds like a lovely adventure especially the wifi part for my blogging self

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  38. Clearly some kind of superwoman, 3 hours on a coach and I am climbing walls, never mind 30!

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  39. We came back 2 weeks ago, the coaches are amazing, apart from getting a really numb bum, on way home we got some blow up pillows, that done the trick

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  40. We've travelled with Siesta since mine were 1 & 3 and honestly they love it �� I've been travelling with Siesta since I was around 7/8 myself so over 20 years. The Campsites are immaculate and the staff both home, revelling and away are always fantastic and ever so helpful. I shall be doing it all again in 16 days to Estartit xx

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  41. My Husband and I have travelled with Siesta approx 12 times. Our 9 year old Son has travelled 6 times to Salou with Siesta and due to travel back to the UK on Sunday. The journey is part of our holiday and 14 nights becomes 17 days. We really enjoy our travel with Siesta and wouldn't travel any other way.

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  42. Iv done this approx 9 time and I honestly say it's a bloody nightmare I only d it cause hubby won't fly. Seats uncomfortable these seats. Shown in pics are the larger seats other side of bus not as much room. Some drivers and hostess not very helpful. If spare seats on bus instead of offering them to people to lie out the fill them with food to be akward Don't think it's necessary to stop as many times folk just want to get there and especially home. We go A/I to hotels and it's no cheaper Infact a lot of time it's cheaper to fly Never went this year choose to forget Holliday rather than do this

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  43. We're off on our 6th Siesta coach holiday next month and I can't wait! Go by coach as I won't fly (but the price is a massive incentive too). First time we went my kids were 2, 4 and 6 and I was a little apprehensive but the key is packing them plenty to do and they were fantastic as it was all new. They're 10, 11 and 14 this time and only my 14yr old has moaned because he flew with school and knows what he's missing lol. It's a great alternative!

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  44. So glad you have written a blog about your holiday. We are doing the same one in September and have never travelled that far on a bus before so your blog is a great insight for us. 30hrs seems like forever but you have put my mind at rest and I am very much looking forward to it and also your further blogs. Thank you ��

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  45. Used Siesta off an on for years with kids and now without, they are simply the best at this type of holiday, tried National and the coaches are terrible. If you want a shorter journey try Argeles in France, it's near to Perpignan, shame there isn't more choice of destinations.

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  46. Barry Robertson22 July 2016 at 15:34

    Travelled with Siesta for 13 years or so. Love it. Travelling from Scotland adds a few hours on to the journey tho! It is a long journey but when your Wife hates flying then needs must :)

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  47. We did the journey 2 years ago to Pineda. Would NOT do it again, and I didn't even have small children. I suffer with Osteo-arthritis and Osteoporosis, and just could not get comfortable on the coach. I didn't want to go by coach in the first place as we had done it years about 25 yrs previous and that was bad enough. Suffice to say that when we arrived back home, all our party got off the coach at Toddington services and all said never again. My response was " I told you so ".

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  48. We been travelling on buses for years since my kids were little .your not on the bus for more than 3 hours at a time so kids are well catered for with films wifi etc you have enough breaks for stretching your legs the food stops at 12 midnight till 6am when you stop at roughly 6.30/45 for your morning break again .i have been to estartit several times lloret caleela and salou and not had bad holiday yet with siesta. The food service is impecable cheap and satisfying .i would defo recommend this to anyone who s looking abroad at great prices.advise is take one of those head pillows for on coach they fantastic from pound shop.

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  49. Been with r two grandkids with siesta for last 6 years to santa susanna and we absolutely love their buses it's all part of the holiday for us going again on 17th August and can't wait to get sat on The bus that's when r holiday begins and siesta r brilluant

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  50. Been travelling to santa susanna Spain for the last 6 years with r 2 grandkids and we love it were off again on 17th August and can't wait to get sat on the bus that's when r holiday begins siesta r brilliant

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  51. I've taken my 4 children with siesta 3 times before and will be going to France with them again in 5 weeks time. The first time my kids were only 12, 11, 6 and 5. They really never mind the journey so long as they've got something to watch or read. My husband is petrified of flying so this has been a great alternative for us. And like you say, extremely good value for money. Last year we went to Castell Montgri for £1000 for 10 nights in the summer holidays. Now where else could you do that for 6 people??

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  52. I have travelled with my family with Siesta Holidays for the past 20 years, most years twice a year and we have enjoyed every single holiday with them. From the location of hotels and holiday parks to the coach travel and all the staff nothing can match it! All round excellent value for money.

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  53. I used to travel with siesta all the time when my kids were younger. They loved it and have some lovely memories of our holidays. We didn't have individual TV's or tabs then, the kids relied on gameboy, CD players and heaps of batteries to keep them entertained.

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  54. What a great review, Thank you. We did the same journey during May half term 2016 to Santa Susanna with our kids, it was a great journey going down but agree about the return being messy and so long winded. I said I would consider it again in a few years but have been looking today and can book for the May half term holiday 2017, all inclusive in a 5 star hotel for £1100 for 10 days for the 4 of us. A total bargain that I cannot turn down. Once again thanks for this blog. Jason

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    1. Thanks for your comment Jason - your 2017 holiday sounds like a bargain x

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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