More often than not, the most common mode of transportation these days when you book a holiday is to automatically go for the aeroplane. Sometimes it’s just given to you on a plate, particularly if you’re booking a package deal. Then it’s off to the airport, where you have to wait in long queues, have security checks, and throw away all your sharp or liquid-based belonging that you forgot to take out of your carry-on luggage. And there are about a thousand other people doing the same thing behind you and in front of you. Airports are an enormously stressful way to start your holiday. You might even be unlucky enough to have a body search – how embarrassing to have that intrusive X ray machine run over you by the security guards. And airports are massively chaotic. If the weather is bad, a volcano erupts, or even if there’s a smattering of snow (particularly in Britain), the flights are cancelled or delayed. Then there’s the added hassle of trying to find a hotel room, or worse, a spot to sleep in the airport lounge.
There’s always something on the news about flight cancellations. But what about ferry travel? There’s never a word said in the news about that. There’s never a crisis between Dover and Calais. And that’s because ferries just keep going. It has to be a pretty rough sea to stop a ferry. And even then, the majority of lines power through. All you need to do is take a few travel sickness pills if you’re that way inclined.
People going on holiday these days are looking for a much more relaxed way to begin their journey, as well as something a little bit cheaper. And ferry travel is the way forward.
If you travel by plane, you’re forced into a small seat for most of the journey. If you travel by ferry, you’ll be able to explore a much larger area, stretching your legs and even taking in some entertainment. Ferry travel has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Some of them even feel like small cruise ships, depending on your length of journey. Once you’ve parked the car, you can wander around and relax in the lounges, have something to eat in their restaurants, or do a bit of shopping in the stores. And the shopping is often to die for. Although duty free doesn’t exist on ferries any more, there are still plenty of different kinds of shops, and you can load up the car with as much as you can carry. If your journey is a long one, you’ll be provided with a cabin to sleep in, making your journey all the more comfortable. On the larger ferries, there is often an array of entertainment to while away the hours.
You might be inclined to think that air travel is cheaper, particularly with the budget airlines practically giving away tickets, or their ‘super-mega-cheap’ deals on their websites. However, the saying ‘too good to be true’ needs to be remembered in these situations. Flights for £5 sounds great, but click through a few pages and there’s tax to be added, insurance they forgot to mention, and ‘administration costs’, not to mention extra charges if you book by credit card. And that’s if you don’t take luggage. It’s usually around £20 extra if you want to take a change of clothes for your week’s break. And they’ll charge you extra if you buy anything when you’re away. The great thing about ferry travel is that you can pack every inch of your car with swimwear, towels, ice boxes, and sun lotion. Or, you can leave it empty and come back with a tonne of cheese and a few kegs of wine.
Another plus side about ferry travel is the issue of your beloved family pet. Around forty percent of people in the UK own a pet. If you travel by plane, there’s no way you can take Fido or Fifi along on your lap. So you’ve either got to burden one of the family members for the week, or pay for boarding kennels. Since 2004, there has been a Pet Travel Scheme available in the EU. For a small fee, you can get a passport for your pampered pooch, meaning the whole family can go on holiday. As long as they have up-to-date vaccinations (you can chat to your vet about this), you’ll be able to go most places in Europe without hassle, and even as far as Fiji with your little Fifi.
Travelling by ferry usually means taking a car with you so you can get to your destination with ease and explore the area (or escape the children). Cars give you that extra freedom on holiday to do what you want. So if you don’t own a car, you might think that it’s not worth the hassle, or it’s going to be just as expensive. However, this is not the case. Even in the height of summer, you can hire a car for under £100. Even with the petrol costs and toll road charges, you’ll find that the total price of the holiday is still significantly less than going by plane.
It’s also good to know that you’re helping the environment when you travel by ferry. Ferries don’t produce as much harmful gasses into the atmosphere as aeroplanes. It’s considered to be one of the most resourceful ways of travelling, as the power from the engines heats the hot water on board.
There’s also a fantastic array of destinations to choose from when booking you holiday by ferry. You don’t just have to stick to France or Ireland. More unusual destinations include the Netherlands, Denmark, or Spain.
The other wonderful thing about travelling by ferry is the actual feeling of travelling. If you travel by plane, you board the tin box and get off in a different country. On a ferry, there’s nothing better than to go up on deck and breathe in the sea air, looking out for when land approaches.