Ferry vs Driving

 We’re heading back to Portugal on 8th November.

I debated driving across France vs the Ferry to Santander.

I always much prefer the ferry.  It’s only 24 hours, clocks up zero miles on the van, I can get a nice nights sleep in the cabin, and we arrive midday in Santander all refreshed.  We wouldn’t miss that much driving across France.  It’s late Autumn and we’ve seen the highlights before.


I live in Cornwall, so would normally take the ferry from Plymouth.  However the Plymouth ferries strunning in October, and we’re traveling in November.  Also Abby is visiting friends in Brighton before we leave, so leaving from  Portsmouth is not a problem.

The costs for driving across France start in Portsmouth, as this is where the Santander ferry leaves from, and so is the common place to measure the journey from.  Santander is the destination of the ferry, and so I must measure the road trip to there.

Driving across France, using toll roads

Whilst the French toll roads cost a resonable amount, espeically if you are used to the free UK roads, I think they save quite a bit of time.  My van is fairly quick, but doesnt like being thrown into endless roundabouts and French villages.  I’d rather drive in a striaght lin


Portsmouth to Dover




Dunkurque to Santander Fuel


Dunkurque to Santander Toll





Driving across France, not using toll roads

Using the free French roads takes about 25% – 50% more time, depending on your trip, driving style and vehicle.  Of course the fuel costs are higher, but there are no toll charges.  I am not keen on this option as it takes so long, and requires driving through so many villages.

Portsmouth to Dover






Dunkurque to Bilboa Fuel






Ferry from Portsmouth to Santander

Portsmouth to Santander


Simple.  1 price.  Portsmouth to Santander, delivered, refreshed and not having driven.  The cost is not much more than driving with toll roads, and I’m happy to pay the extra £30.

1 downside – rough seas.  I generally dont suffer from seasickness, but when crossing the Portsmouth – Santander journey in Feb 2011 I did feel seasick, but ultimately wasn’t sick.  Good travel sickness tables do help.



Posted by Darren

I'm a huge campervan enthusiast, and the maker of CampervanLife.com. I believe everyone can convert their own campervan, and enjoy a great lifestyle with it.

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