Why Travel by Ferry?

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Plane travel seems to be in all the papers. Whether it's paying to use the toilet or airports coming to a stand-still once again because of a few flakes of snow. Well, there is another option. Ferries. The truth is that not only do ferries keep going when the planes are going nowhere but they also offer a whole raft of other benefits too.

Firstly, you can't deny that planes and airports can be pretty stressful. Queues. Hidden charges. Embarrassing body searches. X-ray scans. I mean after a week of gorging in Brittany who wants to expose their satiated flesh to laughing security agents with their x-ray boxes? Daily Telegraph travel writer Fred Mawer also recently noted that Ferries are far more relaxing than airports.

Lets also not forget the chaos of the airports this winter. Once again it looked like the nation's airports are simply designed to sell us over-priced sun-block and soggy sandwiches rather than to get us anywhere with something approaching efficiency. In total 35,000 flights were cancelled in the EU in 2010. What happened to the ferries? Nothing. No crises. No 24 hour updates on the BBC. Nothing. They just kept on going.

What about prices? Surely air travel is cheaper? We've all seen the Ryan Air and Easy Jet `Sales'. Well, you know what they say. If a price looks too good to be true then it probably is. The budget airlines always find a way to make a buck. Let me tell you, those extra baggage charges can really hurt if you want to bring back an extra camembert (or three) for auntie May. I do love her, but I'm not going to let her camembert make a contribution to Ryan Air's bottom line. On the ferry, you can pack your car to the rafters and nobody will bat an eyelid. The ferry companies are very much aware of this fact and companies like Irish Ferries very often carry this message on their adverts.

Let me tell you, those extra baggage charges can really hurt if you want to bring back an extra camembert (or three) for auntie May

Of course, there is also the issue of hiring a car. For me, a car gives me freedom - not to mention the chance to escape with (or occasionally `from') the kids. Fred Mawer notes that `In the summer months, you can get the car and family to France and back for under £100.' The author notes that going to Italy or Spain by Ferry with the family is likely to be significantly less than taking a plane and hiring a car on arrival - even taking into account petrol and toll costs.

What about the family pet? About 43% of people in the UK have a pet. For me, a family holiday just isn't the same without the whole family - and that means Toby comes too. With the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which came into effect in 2004, all you have to do is get an EU PETS passport (by getting all the necessary vaccinations and checks - not a bad idea anyway) and you can travel freely between many European countries and some outside Europe too. Countries like Fiji and Croatia are even on the list. Speak to your vet to get started.

All in all, when you think about it, taking the ferry starts looking like a `ferry' attractive proposition. Sit back and let the world come to you on a ferry - as soon as you have the water beneath you, you'll feel you're already on holiday.