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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:
Greenpolkadot · 05/01/2024 14:42

I know that you mentioned cruises from Southampton being limited..but the cruise is part of the holiday.
We've done 16 cruises all from UK ports.
There are other ports besides Soton.Newcastle and Harwich use different cruise lines

Ginmonkeyagain · 05/01/2024 14:57

You can get pretty hot temperatures in the Occitaine region of France - we were there early July and it was low to mid thirties every day.

FusionChefGeoff · 05/01/2024 14:58

Were heading to Biarittz on south west of France via Santander and ferry from Plymouth. Santander / Bilbao look very nice but we wanted the surf beaches in Biarritz. A French campsite would be ideal and there are loads to choose from and a big variety of size / facilities available etc.

Check out Yelloh! or Eurocamp

FusionChefGeoff · 05/01/2024 15:03

We love the ferry as we can take EVERYTHING in the car including bikes on the back. The ship looks amazing including a pool / cinema / restaurants etc plus your own cabin. For your ages the campsites would be AWESOME with tweens hopefully joining one of the many kids tribes that form organically, enjoying water slides / activities and toddler in a splash pool / on the playground etc

Hellodarknessmyoldpal · 05/01/2024 15:06

Cruise from Southampton would have been my recommendation but see it's already in your OP. MSC and Royal Carribean are very much family cruises. Sure there are other good options too though.

AuntyMabelandPippin · 05/01/2024 15:31

Go through the Tunnel into France and drive southwest. We went to near the Ile d'Oleron with our small children, fantastic beaches.

Pozz · 05/01/2024 18:47
LakieLady · 05/01/2024 19:48

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.

Book self-catering accommodation in the south of France online. There are loads of lovely smaller coastal towns and some great beaches. I especially liked the bit around Perpignan.

Get the Eurostar to Paris, see some of the sights, then get an evening sleeper train to one of the bigger places in the south. Hire a car when you get there, so you can travel about a bit if you fancy it.

If you dont fancy the train, take your car on the ferry to Brittany. Beautiful beaches and some lovely towns, but the weather might not be so hot.

RadiatorHead · 05/01/2024 19:53

We’ve done the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff. That was fine. Not abroad, but you could also take the Scillonian to the Scilly Isles. It honestly feels like you’re abroad.

SkaterGrrrrl · 07/01/2024 14:01

Huge fan of Britteney ferries from Portsmouth.... last summer we went to Santander and then drove to Bilbao. This summer we are going to St Malo and then driving further south into France.

Your holiday begins as soon as you get on board... our ferry last summer had a cinema, a reading room, bars, restaurants cozy cabins, shops, gym equipment on deck..... the kids saw dolphins swimming in the ocean.... it was absolutely brilliant.

SkaterGrrrrl · 07/01/2024 14:03
geoffreygeof · 07/01/2024 14:29

If you want to base yourself in the south of France the. You need to accept that you'll need to drive or get a train from the north which will take some time. It's completely doable and I'm sure travelling on the train will be very pleasant. Driving in France is fine but it's a long journey from the accessible ferry's ports to the southern coast.

AppleDumplingWithCustard · 07/01/2024 15:27

I’m going to the south of France using Eurostar and the TVG next year. Could fly but chose the train as a nice start to the holiday.

Ginmonkeyagain · 07/01/2024 16:13

It's a great journey, try and get a top deck seat so you can look out at the views. TGVs are usually reliable and comfortable. They have a buffet car (usually a small cafe that sells hot drinks, snacks and alcohol) but I would recommend stocking up on a train picnic in London or Paris.

If you have not done it before, Gare de Lyon (where the train to the South go from) is large and a bit chaotic (to say the least!) so allow enough time to change trains.

5foot5 · 07/01/2024 17:07

Ginmonkeyagain · 07/01/2024 16:13

It's a great journey, try and get a top deck seat so you can look out at the views. TGVs are usually reliable and comfortable. They have a buffet car (usually a small cafe that sells hot drinks, snacks and alcohol) but I would recommend stocking up on a train picnic in London or Paris.

If you have not done it before, Gare de Lyon (where the train to the South go from) is large and a bit chaotic (to say the least!) so allow enough time to change trains.

Yes, second this.

We took the train to Southern Spain early last year. Eurostar to Paris then TGV to Barcelona. From Barcelona high speed trains to the South.

As others have said, Man in Seat 61 very helpful. There was even a video on there to help with the journey from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon.

A few years ago we sldo got the Eurostar to the South of France. Not sure if the direct train still runs but we got one all the way from St Pancras to Avignon, I think it actually terminated in Marseille.

Ginmonkeyagain · 07/01/2024 18:15

Sadly, that very useful train was a victim of Brexit - apparently they can't turn around the passport and security checks quickly enough now at Lille to make running the trains worth it.

KT1112 · 07/01/2024 18:18

Ambassador do cruises from Tilbury in Essex, worth a look maybe x

Ginmonkeyagain · 07/01/2024 18:20

Also Man in Seat 61 is a legend. That site got me out of a jam a couple of years ago when some French train fuckery meant we ended up on a train bound for Lyon Part Dieu rather than our booked Paris bound train that went via Lyon Saint Exupery (distance and connection wise it is like the difference between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway).

The site recommened a tram connection that got us to the right station to pick up the train we were actually booked on, with enough time to spare to have a wee and buy a cheese and ham baguette for lunch.

AyeRightYeAre · 07/01/2024 18:23

You can get ferries to the Channel Islands, France, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Northern Isles, Western Isles, Ireland and Isle of Man from various different locations across the UK

gemma19846 · 07/01/2024 18:53

I only flew for the first time last year (age 40) because i was so scared. We went to Disneyland in 2019. Drove down south, left our car and got the Eurostar direct to DLP (it stops actually at the park) it also carries on to other areas of France and to the south. The Eurostar also goes to other places in Europe i cant remember off the top of my head

Havanananana · 07/01/2024 18:54

There are no longer any ferries from the UK to Scandinavia. Harwich to Esbjerg was the last route to close and it closed almost 10 years ago.

gemma19846 · 07/01/2024 18:59

Why do you not want to fly OP? I was terrified and cried getting on but it honestly wasnt as bad as i thought it would be. It look us 10 hours to get to DLP because i wouldnt fly. Now i think thats crazy when it would have been cheaper and quicker to fly. If you go to Spain its less than a 2hr flight


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TheSquareMile · 07/01/2024 19:20

I know that you have said that you would like to go abroad, but I was wondering whether islands off the British coast would be an option for you.

I've been to the Isles of Scilly and loved it there.

I'm hoping to visit Jersey this year.

Both places can be reached by sea.

MoreDollies · 07/01/2024 19:37

The ferries (and Eurotunnel) are definitely your friend here.

Since DD was born in 2013, we have been to France 19 times and have two trips planned next year. This sounds like we're mega loaded, but we're really not you can get some really good value with French holidays and things like Tesco Clubcard points can be used to pay for ferries (P&O/Irish Ferries) and eurotunnel.

It really depends on what you want as a holiday - we've done cottage rental via Gites de France - I mean there are some serious stinkers on there (that look like they haven't been renovated since the 1950s) but with a bit of patience there are some gems on there - we had a lovely one near Colmar in the Alsace, one near Troyes and just outside Nuits St Georges in Burgundy (you might sense a wine-related theme coming up - all doable in a day from the channel ports.

We've stayed with Eurocamp on their campsites and they served us well, but I think their quality offer went downhill in the time we stayed with them. We now use Yelloh Village and Sandaya for our campsites. Cottages are fine, but we have found our kids need more occupying and the activities on a campsite - pool, kids clubs, playgrounds, trampolines etc help you to have time to relax as a parent too.

If you're driving, invest in an Emovis Tag for the autoroute barriers, it automatically registers you going through their toll barriers and means you don't have to worry about someone having easy accessibility to a credit card while you're driving.

In our time we have been via Brittany Ferries - Portsmouth - Cherbourg and then Le-Havre - Portsmouth; Dover - Calais - Dover; Dover - Dunkirque - Dover; Eurotunnel.

We've been NE of Paris (to the same campsite 3 times which makes doing Disneyland Paris doable as a day trip as well), Troyes, Alsace, Burgundy, Loire Valley 4 times, Vendee, Bordeaux, Avignon/Provence and next year we're doing Sarlat/Dordogne. We've also done budget skiing 7 times.

If your kids are preschool, you can still get decent weather in September or June and therefore bargain prices on accommodation. If you have to take school holidays into account, then the last week of August (if you book with a French company like Yelloh Village) is half the price of the rest of summer as the French have usually finished their summer holidays then.

I'm also a self-proclaimed queen of service stations and wee-stops (Google Maps is your friend here) and my husband has the boot packing refined - but please, if you have any questions happy to help!

Abroad holiday without flying
Createausername1970 · 07/01/2024 19:40

Hire a motorhome and go by ferry.

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