Five reasons why our family loves travelling by ferry

Five reasons why our family loves travelling by ferry

On our last few big trips to France, we’ve taken the ferry. Although there are other ways to get across the Channel – flying, for instance – the ferry suited us best for those longer trips.

The main reasons we chose the ferry included having the freedom of our own car, avoiding the stresses of the airport with its queues, excess baggage charges and lengthy check-ins (it’s 45 minutes check-in for ferry, rather than several hours at the airport). We’ve found ferries to be a relatively hassle-free way to travel, with plenty on board to keep the kids happy.

Slow but Steady?

Admittedly, a ferry doesn’t fly over the Channel at quite the same speed as a plane. What’s an hour’s trip by plane might be any number of hours by ferry. But if you work out how much time you spend at the airport, checking in and waiting for your luggage at the other side, the travel time mounts up.

Fun and Games

With kids, the novelty of flying can quickly wear off, especially if you happen to be travelling at a non-ideal time of night, or early in the morning. There’s usually more to do on a ferry – like shopping, eating in restaurants, watching a movie, or hanging out in the kids’ play area. It’s even better if you’ve got your own cabin to relax in. A bit like a floating hotel!


You can even make a day trip out of the trip to the port. Check out this post by Karen from Mini Travellers on Eight Things to Do in Plymouth Before you Catch the Ferry to France.

Bonus Baggage

When we costed out our family trips to France, including baggage charges, ferry travel turned out to be to be cheaper than flying. It also meant we could pack all the gear we needed for a three-week trip into the car – toys, games, and enough clothes to weather the transition from Summer to early Autumn.  It would’ve been impossible to take the same amount on a plane.

Happy Landings

The places we’ve recently visited in France – rural Brittany, Normandy, the Loire Valley, and the Vendée – are so easy to get to from the nearest ferry ports, it made more sense to go by ferry than to fly. For Brittany and Normandy, in particular, you can just drive out of the port and be in your destination in no time.

Car costs

This all means we don’t have to shell out for car rental, or hiring car seats for the kids. With the poor £GBP – Euro exchange rate at the moment, car hire on the continent is more expensive than it used to be. Having the family car there is, quite frankly, brilliant for all of us.


I’m sure that one of our trips will see us jetting off to France, but so far the ferry’s always been the better option. The kids love it, the prices are cheap and we can pack as much as we want. I can see the lack of appeal for anyone based 600 miles from the nearest ferry port, but for anyone else I’d highly recommend at least considering it, especially if you’ve got kids.

Brittany Ferries sent us the following graphic, which compares ferry vs plane to France for a family of four. A lot of what I’ve spoken about in this post is included.

Ferry to France vs Plane

Image source: Brittany Ferries – Ferry VS Plane to France


This is a collaborative piece with Brittany Ferries, but our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.





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  1. September 15, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Yep I totally agree, if somewhere isn’t too far I’d rather take the car as well. I lived in France for a while and didn’t own a car at the time, but my goodness it would have been so much easier if I had!!

    • September 15, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Yes, France is such a huge place that a car really helps!

  2. September 16, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Almost all my childhood holidays started with a ferry – we used to go to France most summers, and I remember sleeping in the cabins and waking up in France so vividly, then my dad driving off (with all our stuff piled up around us!) to the campsite where we were staying. I still love ferries today, so practical, and being able to sit and watch the sea is wonderful.

    • September 19, 2017 / 7:53 pm

      My childhood ferry memories were very similar!

  3. September 16, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    I love to travel by ferry too, for many of the same reasons. We took an overnight ferry to France and just loved it!

    • September 19, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      You can’t beat waking up in a new country…

  4. September 17, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    I loved our ferry trip to the Netherlands and France. Definitely a fun way to travel, with lots
    to during the journey.

    • September 19, 2017 / 7:55 pm

      It’s like an extension of the holiday itself, isn’t it?

  5. September 18, 2017 / 8:05 am

    We love travelling by ferry. In fact a day trip to Calais is a staple of most school holidays. One day, a few years ago, I worked out that a day trip on London with the kids was effectively as expensive as a day trip to Calais once you’d factored in food and travel cards. That’s changed a bit since the Brexit vote but if we didn’t do a Calais trip with the kids during the holidays I think they’d riot! We also usually choose to upgrade to the lounge on at least one leg of the journey. I know it sounds a bit daft, especially for a relatively short trek, but there’s still a touch of glamour to it! Ferry all the way!

    • September 19, 2017 / 7:56 pm

      Ooh – a day trip to Calais. Now I like that idea!

  6. September 18, 2017 / 10:29 am

    Sold! I think we really need to do this next time we cross the channel. It’s so much more fun, sure the Eurotunel is fast, but pretty boring!

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      I do like the Eurotunnel as well, I have to admit. But the ferry is much more fun…

  7. September 18, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Yes! I love the ideal of a mini-cruise to kick off a holiday. Now we’re living in Devon we have the option of the Plymouth to Santander route. I’m adding it to our long list of travel goals! We could even take the caravan 🙂

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      ooh – that would be so handy for you.

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:15 pm

      It really helps with packin, doesn’t it.

  8. September 18, 2017 / 9:34 pm

    Its such a great option for family travel, I totally agree about taking extra baggage and less stressful somehow when you are in your own car and can move about rather that waiting around at an airport and then being confined to a seat x

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      Yes, I’ve always found ferries to be pretty stress-free.

  9. September 19, 2017 / 12:41 pm

    Thanks so much for including my post. Taking the extra baggage is definitely for me the main reason to go by ferry!

    • September 19, 2017 / 8:48 pm

      It makes life so much easier!

  10. September 20, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    I really want to take the family on the ferry. One my husband hates flying and secondly I hadn’t thought of all these savings before. You’ve definitely given me a lot to think about

    • September 20, 2017 / 8:30 pm

      There are a lot of pluses, aren’t there?

  11. September 21, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    We live much too far north to be able to cross by ferry – it would be quicker to fly, though I can see the benefits of ferry travel. I remember going to the Isle of Wight o the ferry with my Mum when I was little and thinking it was a brilliant adventure!

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      There’s always the Netherlands! x

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