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Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places where the coach's horses would be replaced by fresh horses.The business of running stagecoaches or the act of journeying in them was known as staging.

Shakespeare's first plays were performed at coaching inns such as The George Inn, Southwark.

One pamphleteer denounced the stagecoach as a "great evil [...] mischievous to trade and destructive to the public health.""Besides the excellent arrangement of conveying men and letters on horseback, there is of late such an admirable commodiousness, both for men and women, to travel from London to the principal towns in the country, that the like hath not been known in the world, and that is by stage-coaches, wherein any one may be transported to any place, sheltered from foul weather and foul ways; free from endamaging of one's health and one's body by the hard jogging or over-violent motion; and this not only at a low price (about a shilling for every five miles), but with such velocity and speed in one hour, as that the posts in some foreign countries make in a day." The speed of travel remained constant until the mid-18th century.

Reforms of the turnpike trusts, new methods of road building and the improved construction of coaches led to a sustained rise in the comfort and speed of the average journey - from an average journey length of 2 days for the Cambridge-London route in 1750 to a length of under 7 hours in 1820.

In addition to the 'stage driver' who guided the vehicle, a 'shotgun messenger', armed with a coach gun, often rode as a guard beside him.

The stagecoach traveled at an average speed of about five miles per hour, with the total daily mileage covered being around 60 or 70 miles.

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