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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:
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Smurphy99 · 10/01/2024 12:05

All of these ridiculous and complex options sound so much more complicated than just getting on a plane. If you want to have a nice hot beach holiday as simple as possible then SIMPLY go to the airport, get on a plane and get a pre-booked taxi to your chosen hotel. There is absolutely nothing complicated about it and in my opinion couldn’t be any simpler. Stop making a rod for your own back- grow up!

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crackofdoom · 10/01/2024 12:45

So your options are:
Train
Take your own car on the ferry
Take the ferry as foot passengers and hire a car at the other end
Take the ferry as foot passengers and rely on public transport.

Train: if you want to do this I massively recommend Interrail passes, especially as under 12s get free passes. You still have to pay for reservations on some trains though- notably Eurostar, which is 30 euros pp. A couple of years ago I went from Cornwall to Grasse and back on a 4 day pass, and it worked out cheaper than comparable flights. I got to spend a day in Paris on the way as well. I think the Cote d'Azur would work well if you went for this option- there are TGVs and sleeper trains from Paris, and it's easy to travel up and down the coast on local trains.Lots of campsites too, although maybe not the cheapest.

Own car on the ferry: well you can literally go anywhere then. Ideal if you want to camp with all your own stuff, although obviously the crossing is much more expensive with a car. From Portsmouth or Poole you can (off the top of my head) go to Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo and either Santander or Bilbao. If you want to go to Northern Spain be sure to book early, it's really popular. I've already booked our crossing from Santander to Plymouth in September (on the way out we're going to Roscoff and driving down).

Foot passengers and public transport: be aware that the ferry port at Caen is nowhere near the town itself!! In St Malo it is though. Northern Spain could work well for this, because both ports are major towns, attractive in themselves.

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crackofdoom · 10/01/2024 12:56

No flying holidays we've taken (single mum with kids):
Ferry Portsmouth- Cherbourg, 5 days camping in Normandy, 5 days camping in Brittany, ferry Roscoff- Plymouth

(on my own) Interrailing Cornwall- Paris via Eurostar, night in Paris, full day sightseeing, sleeper train to Cannes and train to Grasse for a few days walking in the mountains

Ferry Portsmouth- Caen, 2 nights in Chartres with a day trip to Paris, week's camping in the Auvergne, 5 days camping in the Loire Valley, one night in Nantes to see Les Machines de l'Ile, 5 days camping in Brittany, ferry Roscoff- Plymouth

Interrailing Cornwall- Brussels- Innsbruck- Venice- Rome- Genoa- Paris- Cornwall (staying in budget hotels and AirBnBs)

And this summer I'm planning to get the ferry from Plymouth- Roscoff, drive down through France to Santander via the Pyrenees and the Picos d'Europa and get the ferry back to Plymouth.

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HelenTherese2 · 10/01/2024 13:06

Chunnel in your car to France. Loads of places to go and it’s really easy with kids.

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DdraigGoch · 10/01/2024 23:24

Lalalalala555 · 10/01/2024 09:14

Saw this post about Romania and thought I'd offer some tips as I've been a lot.
Would recommend brasov area out of anywhere. And the carpathians. The train line cuts through the mountains in one place and there's a station. I'd get off there and do some sight seeing. I think there's a cable car and something called the spinx rock. The carpathians are so beautiful!

Thanks for the recommendation. We're looking at basing ourselves in Brasov, planning to cycle over the Transfăgărășan Pass. Făgăraș, Bran and Sighișoara are also on the list.

Was Bușteni the town? Looks like it from your description. We were thinking about a visit to Peleș Castle. I reckon that it should be possible to hike from there up to the Sphinx.

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DdraigGoch · 10/01/2024 23:32

Smurphy99 · 10/01/2024 12:05

All of these ridiculous and complex options sound so much more complicated than just getting on a plane. If you want to have a nice hot beach holiday as simple as possible then SIMPLY go to the airport, get on a plane and get a pre-booked taxi to your chosen hotel. There is absolutely nothing complicated about it and in my opinion couldn’t be any simpler. Stop making a rod for your own back- grow up!

Getting up at stupid o'clock for a cheap flight and being stung if you want to bring anything more than a small purse in the way of luggage does not sound like fun to me. Much more fun to fall asleep in Paris and wake up in Nice.

As for "grow up", surely travelling responsibly is a more grown up way of doing things than taking the easy option.

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Stressedoutmammy · 11/01/2024 07:30

We did our first cruise this year and went from Southampton, it was amazing and so much easier than going through an airport! Highly recommend!

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OakleyStreetisnotinChelsea · 11/01/2024 07:44

So yes OP most ports in France are in the North. The ferries tend to take the shortest routes over the sea as actually travel by ferry is slow and expensive so better to have a short crossing and then train or drive the other way. To get a ferry to the South of France even should one exist would be like doing a short cruise but a lot more boring.

Dover to Calais or the Tunnel area popular for a reason. Quick, relatively inexpensive.

We often do France. Drive down from North East England, ferry from Dover early afternoon then spend the night in Calais because we can't be arsed to drive further so we potter along the beach and have a nice meal in a Brasserie. Next morning up early and drive down. Usually to somewhere like Bordeaux or the Dordogne for family reasons. The coast near Bordeaux is fantastic. We're fans of Maubuisson, on a big lake with a beach with shade, shops and restaurants and a great network of cycle paths so you can hire a bike and cycle to the ocean through the forest.

I know it can seem complicated if you are not used to it but lots of good advice here. You don't need to hire a car if you have your own as you can take your own car on the ferry and the tunnel. You can access both of those as a foot passenger too so there is the option of doing the whole trip by train or going over and hiring a car if you want a left hand drive. Once you are over on to the continent it reality is a case of deciding how far you are willing to train or drive and drawing a big circle on the map then looking at where you could get to.

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