This last month saw me take my third trip to France via ferry, travelling with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth, UK to St Malo, France, followed by a 6-hour road trip to Southwest France to visit my friend Kate Hill of Kitchen-at-Camont in Gascony. I’ve made this same journey before by plane, which is admittedly a bit faster, and possibly a little cheaper. But time and time again, I return to the ferry as my travel mode of choice. Why? Because you can’t put a price on FREEDOM. Let me explain…
10 Reasons Why The Ferry Is The Best Way To Travel to Europe
1. You can bring lots of stuff with you – whether you end up using it or not! Bicycles, juicers, blenders, goodies for your friends, clothes and shoes for all manners of adventures, be it walking, cycling, running or lounging (don’t forget your slippers!)
2. You can bring lots of stuff back with you! Including liquids and heavy stuff! Some of the things that I’ve hauled back from road trips to France and Spain include wine, Armagnac, dried beans and lentils, an absurd amount of soap, Agen prunes, honey, clothes… no furniture yet but give it time.
3. You can easily bring your pets. As long as your pet has a pet passport (which isn’t too hard to get, see the PETS Travel Scheme), it’s pretty straightforward bringing your dog or cat across the channel, and the ferry accommodation for your beloved furry friends is sublime. There’s a whole deck for pets where you can visit them and take them out for mini walks. It also helps facilitate my next point…
4. You get to meet interesting new people. This is especially easy if you are traveling with pets because you keep running into the same people every time you go check on Fido. I am still in touch with a couple I met on the ferry a couple of years back.
5. The ferry journey itself is like a mini cruise. Bars, restaurants, shops – even a piano bar, playing all of your favorite tunes.
6. Cozy cool sleeper cabins.
7. Shorter check-in time. 45 minute check-in for the ferry verses 2 hours for the plane. You don’t even have to do the math: this IS a no-brainer.
8. Great customer service. My last journey to the ferry terminal was fraught with traffic jams and car trouble. There was NO way I was going to make my ferry, so I called Brittany Ferries using the number on my itinerary. This put me through to the ferry terminal, and a PERSON answered the phone right away. When I explained my predicament they told me not to worry and – as luck would have it – there was another ferry a couple hours later that I could take. No questions asked. No being put on hold. Just reassurance, which really helped ease the stress of my otherwise super-stressful journey. (Hefty tip: while you’re bringing loads of stuff with you, be sure to pack some jumper cables, as well!)
9. Better food. Travel food can be dire, hallmarked by fast food, potato chips, soda and sour stomachs. With a car, it’s a whole lot easier to bring your own food and maintain your awesome healthy eating habits as much as possible (and save the indulgence for all of the magnificent wine, bread and cheese waiting for you on the other side). And the food on the ferry is pretty good, too. A salad bar for dinner and fresh fruit and yoghurt for breakfast makes Monica a happy sailor.
10. You get to celebrate the road trip. Mix tapes. Car snacks. Travel games. Rest stops. Sing-a-longs. A road trip is freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want.
11. You have time to decompress. After a long trip, the time on the ferry offers ample time to reflect on the trip, jot down some notes, write postcards and generally relax and unwind before embarking on the final leg home.