Counting down to a family holiday, no one would readily admit the anxieties that come from the initial travelling element. But let’s face it, airports are a breeding ground for pre-holiday stresses, not least ensuring everything is booked and packed in the lead up. For a family holiday, you haven’t got to think about just you, or even you and your partner. There are also energetic, excitable children to consider. But if you’re thinking about a holiday to Europe, we think choosing to travel by ferry might just be the answer.
Avoid Airport Queues
We’re not known for being particularly patient beings. Even as something quintessentially British, Brits hate the slow progress of making their way through check-in, airport security and then boarding. Throw children into the mix and you’ve got the agonising task of keeping them from getting bored or, worst still, of having to lose your spot in a queue because Jeremy just has to go for a number two. And you can bet they don’t go quietly either.
Travelling by ferry takes out much of this queueing. The only queueing you have to do is getting on the boat and random spot security checks, whether by car or by foot. On average, this takes approximately 45 minutes, versus airport check-in which stands at an average of 2 hours.
No Allowance on Luggage
Really, this one speaks for itself. Unlike a rigid allowance of one piece of hand luggage and an average of 23kg of hold luggage, you can literally take as much as your car will fit. On a lot of ferry company’s routes, you can even take your pets, including Stena Line where you can take a maximum of 5 pets and either choose to leave in the car or take to the onboard kennel. This is especially ideal if you wish to take items like bikes or essentials for a baby like prams and travel cots. You can take all these in your car with no extra cost, unlike on a flight which would be additional hold luggage.
Take Your Vehicle on Holiday with You
As well as the perks of being able to take more with you wherever you’re going on holiday, being able to take your car on the ferry offers other great perks. No need to worry about extra expenses like parking your car before and after you’re whisked away, and neither do you have to pay to rent a car whilst away either. You can drive straight up and on to the ferry and, more importantly, open up the roads of France, Italy, Spain or wherever else your ferry is taking you.
This is also great if you’re not staying in a coastal location. Upon arrival, drive off the ferry and be on your way immediately to your booked accommodation. Goodbye to worries of driving an unfamiliar car or finding one that fits all the kids, luggage and the dog in. You have the ease of knowing your limits with your trusty family vehicle.
Ferries Provide More Space than Aeroplanes
One of the main worries parents have when going on holiday is their children and how monumentally they’re going to act up and make mummy and daddy work for a bit of peace and quiet. When constrained to your seat on an aeroplane, there’s nowhere to run and hide whilst your children squawk and cry. Many parents come prepared, weighed down with bags full of new toys to keep their children’s minds occupied, as well as tablets full of their favourite films and cartoons. Still, other than stretching your legs up and down the aisles, there isn’t much room to get rid of any pent-up energy.
When travelling by ferry… Well, you could say there is considerably more room to play. You can walk around the stretch of the ferry and even benefit from fresh air. Better still, you can book a cabin which provides a bathroom and beds. Whether or not you’re taking a night-time route, the cabins provide privacy for you and your family. They’re particularly ideal when you’re travelling with babies or toddlers, giving you a quiet place to rest, or even take your noisy children away from other passengers.
Ferry Entertainment Options
Until you’re sitting down around a table with your family, eating a meal that is decidedly not plane food, you may not appreciate just how big a difference this makes. But do not underestimate how much more relaxed you will feel and, simultaneously, how much better behaved your children will be in a calmer environment. You won’t be short of things to do as a family on ferries. Full of places to eat, relax or play, there is entertainment for all ages. From movie screenings to shops, ferries also offer other onboard entertainment like arcades and organised activities. There are even things for parents. Sneak away for a few quiet moments and book in a spa treatment. In less you plan on travelling first class by plane, you won’t be reaping any of these benefits travelling by plane.
Sailing is Cheaper than Flights
Let’s break it down into numbers. Even when flying by a budget airline like easyJet to Holland, flights in a peak holiday period for a family of four costs £400.96. That is without the extra cost of adding any luggage you wish to take, starting from £16.24 for one 15kg bag and £19.11 for the standard 23kg. On top of this, add expense for booking airport parking or the hassle of organising someone to drop you off and pick you back up again. Travelling by ferry, taking one vehicle and a family of four will set you back £253, almost 50% of the cost. Without the extra costs of luggage allowance and parking, really the maths says all you need to know in terms of affordability.
Really, the only downfall of the ferry vs flight fight is that travelling by ferry takes longer. But if you’re looking for an easier approach to going away, ferries are by far the more relaxed and cheaper alternative. Go away with your family and not have to worry about weighing your luggage or spending a lot on all those extra things that aren’t catered for in a seemingly nice and simple flight and hotel package. Take the dog and the car with you and make memories road tripping across Europe, a unique experience not otherwise offered to you sat, uncomfortable, on a plane.