Looking to get away? Take your pick from these group-friendly modes of transport throughout the UK and beyond
Eurotunnel is an ideal mode of transport for groups that prefer to stick to dry land, offering a fast and frequent service between the UK and France. Active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, this convenient coach and car carrying service has a total journey time of just 35 minutes, with 80 daily crossing. After disembarkation from the shuttle, groups can look forward to direct connections onto motorway networks. As the most eco-friendly means of transport across the Channel (having reduced its carbon footprint by 55.5% since 2006), even apart from the convenience, eco-conscious passengers travelling by coach are guaranteed to make huge net savings on their greenhouse gas emissions.
Virgin Trains has now offered long distance city to city transport for over 12 years, providing groups with connecting lines from London to Manchester and separate services along the North Wales coast. In December 2012, its streamlined ‘Pendolino’ and ‘Super Voyager’ shuttles were awarded the Investors in People gold status, guaranteeing passengers the highest level of comfort and customer service. Discounts on groups of three or more makes travelling much more affordable, with complementary wifi available in first class and an onboard walk-in shop that stocks sandwiches, snacks and a wide variety of hot and cold drinks for your journey. Each shuttle is designed to accommodate bicycles.
Interrail specialises in online passes for all ages, allowing groups and individuals to plan their own journey around Europe by train. With a choice of around 30 different countries, it provides the perfect opportunity for any group travelling on a tight budget. Departing at all hours of the day by 32 individual railway companies, travelling by night train, regional train or perhaps opting for scenic routes, passengers are encouraged to use the facility of hopping on and off as they please.
Epsom Coaches specialise in tailor-made group tours and holidays within the UK, operating a flexible service all year round from their base in Surrey. 130 modernised PSV vehicles take groups on day trips to historical Boulogne or the Surrey Lanes and longer breaks throughout the UK and Europe. 90 years’ experience catering for a wide range of groups means passengers can enjoy tours, with accompanying guides upon request, without compromising on luxury or comfort. Epsom coaches are also available for hire for weddings and school parties.
Woods Travel has been operating in the travel industry for over 40 years and has grown to the point where last year they carried over 6,500 passengers to various destinations ranging from the Isles of Scilly to Eastbourne to the Austrian lakes. They recognise that today’s market wants a quality product at a reasonable price, so all coaches are luxury and accommodation is chosen carefully. Woods Travel won ‘Coach Operator of the Year’ at the UK Coach Awards this year and offers useful services such as a door-to-door taxi pick-up to take passengers to the coach starting point. If you plan on starting a taxi business you will need to get insurance for your taxi. Already operating day excursions and European holidays, the Sussex Cruise Club was added to the Woods group in 2008.
Harry Shaw is a privately owned coach and travel company that operates great value trips and holidays for groups within the UK and Europe, and is one of the few UK coach companies to offer coach trips to Spain. Family day excursions to venues such as Alton Towers, Cadbury World and Camden Market are available alongside longer trips to a wide range of European countries.
MyFerryLink is a new service between Dover and Calais, offering a stylish and comfortable journey across the channel. The MyFerryLink fleet is made up of two state-of-the-art passenger vessels, the ‘Rodin’ and the ‘Berlioz’, both custom built for the route across the channel ensuring groups can relax and enjoy their journey. Plenty of comfortable seating allows passengers to sit back and enjoy the great views, while a tempting choice of bars, cafés and restaurants ensures there are menus to suit everyone’s budget and taste. There are dedicated spaces on board for children of all ages, including an enclosed kids’ playzone. With a travel time from just 90 minutes and 16 crossings a day, MyFerryLink provides a fast and frequent service for vehicles and passengers.
Brittany Ferries offers a fast and affordable service for group tour operators wishing to travel to France and Spain, with significant savings on parties of at least 10 adults. With a total of eight passenger ships, options include a high-speed service from Portsmouth in the summer months which takes approximately three hours, saving valuable time on the crossing and maximising holiday time. Award-winning on board service and facilities include restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Hundreds of cabins and reclining seats are also available for those who would like to use nights to sleep while still making progress towards their destination. Advantages for groups include special rates on tickets, group meal prices and free travel for drivers of groups of 23 or more.
Shannon Ferries connect passengers between Kerry and Clare, two of Ireland’s most attractive tourist destinations. The 20 minute journey across the Shannon Estuary saves 137 kilometres from the same journey by road. Shannon Ferries offer transport all year round (except for Christmas Day) on two vessels, the ‘Shannon Breeze’ and the ‘Shannon Dolphin’, each of which can carry 350 passengers and nearly 60 cars; the ferries can also take other vehicles including coaches. As the Shannon Estuary is sheltered, the ferries are seldom affected by bad weather.