My feed
Premium

Please
or
to access all these features

AIBU?

Abroad holiday without flying

133 replies

newyrgrl · 05/01/2024 08:37

Really want to go abroad this year but ideally would like to avoid flying.

I had thought of a family cruise but the choices from Southampton seem a bit limited. Another option would be a ferry to France (southern) but not sure of logistics and never been to France so unsure of the best areas.

We have tween children and a toddler. Any tips or recommendations very much appreciated.

OP posts:
Report
MaryShelley1818 · 05/01/2024 09:36

We love driving abroad with our children, total freedom to go wherever you want and stop when you want.
Last year in May we drove across to Bruges which was gorgeous (via Eurotunnel), then to Holland where we did De Efteling, then down to France and did Disneyland Paris. DS was 5 and DD 2. Both brilliant in the car luckily as we drive down from the North East of England.

We're doing the US this year but next year driving to Holland again then Germany for Europa Park, Switzerland and then Northern Italy.

Report
FKAT · 05/01/2024 09:36

We have done loads of non-flying holidays - here are some examples:

  • Drive to Centreparcs Belgium - Park de Haan in the east about a 3 hour drive from Calais - near beautiful beaches, little towns and Bruges. It's not much further to go to the Netherlands. Benelux Centreparcs are much cheaper if not quite as plush but with all the facilities / activities.
  • Amsterdam & Brussels via Eurostar
  • Normandy and Brittany from Portsmouth / Cherbourg ferry - Mont St Michel, Dinard, gorgeous countryside and beaches, lots of kids attractions
  • West Coast France road trip from Cherbourg down to Royan and back
  • Road trips via Eurotunnel to South of France both on the Mediterranean coast (Montpelier and around) and the Atlantic Coast (Biarritz) - usually taking a few days to get there and stopping at interesting cities on the way. France is full of swimmable rivers & lakes, amazing parks & playgrounds, interesting little cities, cheap roadside hotels so a roadtrip is not a chore with kids your age and you don't have to do anything special to make it fun. Just google maps.
  • Sleeper train (change in Paris) to Girona, Spain - Costa Brava. We also took the sleeper train to Rome but that's not as family friendly a destination. My kids went on their first sleeper train last summer and loved it (admittedly the Balkan Express which is not for the faint hearted or hygiene conscious). We are hoping to try one of the German sleepers this year. Highly recommend Man in Seat 61's site as PPs have suggested.
  • Nordic Cruise around the Fjords - walked a glacier, Bergen, train trip to Voss, cycling


I spent lockdown planning loads of Euro road trips and really want to do a Euro-rail trip and a German car museum & castle road trip (Stuttgart, Nuremburg, Munich) before my 15yo gets too old to holiday with us.
Report
Yousay55 · 05/01/2024 09:43

I’ve been a few times down to the south of France on trains with my dc. It’s so expensive now, we fly there now.

Report
Kwasi · 05/01/2024 09:45

You can take ferries or Eurostar to France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Report
Pozz · 05/01/2024 09:46

Seashor · 05/01/2024 09:18

I am a massive fan of Brittany Ferries. We regularly sail to Santander in Spain and then drive down or we sail to Roscoff in Brittany France.

We use the sail as a mini cruise upgrading ourselves to Commodore class.

Brittany Ferries offer whole packages with some great places to choose from.

I promise that I don’t work for them!

Same. We take the car on the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff and travel down through Brittany. The roads are not busy and it's a beautiful drive. We usually stay in an Airbnb house somewhere on the west coast.

The weather has always been good for us in July, Aug, Sep. I agree with @seashor Brittany ferries are excellent. I also don't work for them! Grin

Report
scrunchmum · 05/01/2024 09:52

Jersey is lovely! We got the ferry from Poole and took the car. The weather isn't guaranteed but its fairly reliably warmer and sunnier than the UK and the beaches are excellent.

Report
SinnerBoy · 05/01/2024 09:54

Whataretheodds · Today 08:43

Where are you in the UK?

Southampton, Hampshire, on the South Coast of England.

It's in the second sentence of the header.

Report
Ohnotyoutoo · 05/01/2024 10:24

It doesn't say she lives in Southampton, just that the cruises from Southampton look limited.

Why not go to Normandy for a seaside holiday with a French twist? Honfleur is lovely.

If you can go via ferry or Le Shuttle (drive your car onto a train), then you don't have to bother with hiring a car at the other end. The Mediterranean coast is nice, too, or the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux. Everywhere in France is pretty nice tbh.

Report
Hesma · 05/01/2024 10:25

We had a great time at Disneyland Paris via Eurostar

Report
sweetpickle23 · 05/01/2024 10:30

Are you not flying for environmental reasons or for not enjoying flying reasons? As that will impact suggestions (for example a cruise is not environmentally friendly either).

Report
MissAmbrosia · 05/01/2024 10:41

There is a direct train from Lille (or Brussels) to Marseille, where you can change for Nice and the Riviera or changing at other TGV stops on that route like Valence or Aix en Provence you can get to the Languedoc. It's quite easy and you can get bargains sometimes if you book as soon as the tickets become available.

Report
newyrgrl · 05/01/2024 11:46

sweetpickle23 · 05/01/2024 10:30

Are you not flying for environmental reasons or for not enjoying flying reasons? As that will impact suggestions (for example a cruise is not environmentally friendly either).

Not environmental, just personal reasons.

Ideally I'd like to be able to hop in the car, drive some where, get on a boat then be where we need to be but I realise it's probably not that simple. A lot of the French ports seem to be quite far away from the south so we'd need to either hire a car or do rail travel.

I just really want a nice hot beach holiday and for it to be as simple as possible to get there.

OP posts:
Report
JustMarriedBecca · 05/01/2024 12:00

Google Green Holidays. You can travel by train to any European destination and further afield. Interrail is free for kids under 12.

Alternatively, we also drive to France (and beyond) and Ireland.

The Guardian travel section often has plane free alternatives.

Well done for choosing to make the switch to not flying 👍

Report
TheNoonBell · 05/01/2024 12:07

Eurostar and have a weekend in Lille to see if you like France, it's the first stop after Calais and has a lovely walkable historic city centre.

Report
Mumof1andacat · 05/01/2024 12:28

newyrgrl · 05/01/2024 11:46

Not environmental, just personal reasons.

Ideally I'd like to be able to hop in the car, drive some where, get on a boat then be where we need to be but I realise it's probably not that simple. A lot of the French ports seem to be quite far away from the south so we'd need to either hire a car or do rail travel.

I just really want a nice hot beach holiday and for it to be as simple as possible to get there.

You would need to ferry it to France or Spain and then drive south if you're looking for a hot beach holiday. I think the beaches in northern Europe may not be what you're after. Look up the various cruise companies if you think that something you might like (royal carribean, msc or p and o) some cruise do go to the med and stop off at beach resorts or they cruise to the canary Islands

Report
KrisAkabusi · 05/01/2024 12:29

Ideally I'd like to be able to hop in the car, drive some where, get on a boat then be where we need to be but I realise it's probably not that simple. A lot of the French ports seem to be quite far away from the south so we'd need to either hire a car or do rail travel.

Why can't you drive your own car over there? I've driven through France to Spain, and also holidayed on the south coast of France. Just plan a night's break each way.

Report
Ginmonkeyagain · 05/01/2024 12:36

We always go to France by train. Eurostar to Lille or Paris and then get a TGV to a main city in the South.

Marseille, Montpellier, Avignon, Perpignan, Narbonne all connect to beach resorts by local train.

It is easy if you are fairly confident at using public transport.

Last summer we went to Perpignan by train, stayed in the city for a few days and then got a local train the Sete (a seaside town) and then got the train back to Paris from Montpelier (the nearest city to Sete) and picked up the Eurostar back to London in Paris.

I would book both legs through Eurostar as they will work out the change times for you and also you will be protected if there is a delay and you miss your connection.

French local trains are easy to navigate and fairly good value. Use the SNCF website to work out times and pre book the trains.

Report
Motheroffourdragons · 05/01/2024 12:38

We are going to the south of France this summer by car.

Just hop on the Eurotunnel, and drive down, you can do it in a day from where we are( we did it once to the ski resorts a few years ago) but this time we are going to stay over en route. No need to hire a car.

Really looking forward to it.

Report
FKAT · 05/01/2024 12:38

newyrgrl · 05/01/2024 11:46

Not environmental, just personal reasons.

Ideally I'd like to be able to hop in the car, drive some where, get on a boat then be where we need to be but I realise it's probably not that simple. A lot of the French ports seem to be quite far away from the south so we'd need to either hire a car or do rail travel.

I just really want a nice hot beach holiday and for it to be as simple as possible to get there.

Ok, I think your best bet is the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Santander - northern spain - in August.

Report
Ginmonkeyagain · 05/01/2024 12:40

I would caveat my post with the fact we are city people that like the sea, not beach people.

Report
Havanananana · 05/01/2024 12:40

The ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland (or Newcastle to Rotterdam for those from the north of England and Scotland) opens up all of the coast there and the family parks.

If you have time, you can drive north and east into Germany and either visit the Baltic coast of Germany, or the west coast of Denmark (plus Legoland, Lalandia, WOW Park etc.) - with plenty of interesting places to see on the way, so that the road trip becomes as much a part of the holiday as the days spent at the final destination.

Report
ExtraOnions · 05/01/2024 12:41

We cruised from Southampton this year, fur the first time .. as I wanted to avoid any chaos at airports!
went up to the Arctic Circle, it’s a great itinerary. You’ll find most cruises are “family” cruises, especially during school holidays .. normally have great facilities on board for children as well.
looking to go from Southampton again this year .. either Iceland or The Med

Report

Don’t want to miss threads like this?

Weekly

Sign up to our weekly round up and get all the best threads sent straight to your inbox!

Log in to update your newsletter preferences.

You've subscribed!

MinnieMountain · 05/01/2024 12:43

Last year we got the Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Marseilles, then a local train to the seaside resort of Saint-Cyr-Sur-Mere.

Report
Rebootnecessary · 05/01/2024 12:49

Drive to Portsmouth, get ferry to St Malo. Drive 2.5 hours to Carnac, to campsite (Eurocamp or similar). Have a lovely family holiday with super beaches.

Report
Runssometimes · 05/01/2024 12:51

We’ve done many non flying hols. Ferry to Ireland, Eurostar to Avingnon, Lille, Paris or Brussels or Amsterdam or Eurotunnel to France which I’d always do rather than ferry as it’s faster if you can get to Folkestone/Dover. and in terms of logistics easier to pile everything in the car and stay in the car for the crossing, less chance of leaving some vital item behind.

There’s Eurocamp or Yelloh! all over Europe and you could stay at more than one. Camping or Chalet options. We have done a week further north and then gone south or Dordogne for the second week and stayed in a camper van or Chalet. Some great sites all over France that should be good for your age groups. The Vendée/Atlantic coast is good, and close by if you don’t want to do too much driving.

Centreparcs in France also do day passes, and can often be cheaper to stay at than the UK sites.

Ireland is a great option too, but riskier for camping and the infrastructure isn’t there so you’d definitely want a car. But there’s some really good activities. More scenic though so depends on what your family likes.

My recommendation would be for a campsite in France by Eurotunnel as you’re likely to keep everyone happy and have to do less planning. Also recommend doing your grocery shop ahead of time and picking up there - eLeclerc and Carrefour have English language options on their sites. Hungry/tired plus shopping isn’t a good start to a holiday.

Report
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.