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Old 27.05.2011, 16:37
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Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

Many years ago when we lived in England, we went on a Eurocamp holiday to Italy for a fortnight with our kids and broke the long drive by spending a night somewhere in Switzerland. At the time we travelled across the Channel on a car ferry.

I'm wondering how many British expats choose to drive over to the UK rather than going by plane or train if they're going to be spending say, a week or more there?

We haven't lived in Europe for over a decade and I'm really out of the loop as regards to how much it would cost in petrol and ferry/train fees.

Our families reside in various parts of England but we always have to hire a car when we go there, so in some ways if we took our own car we would save on rental costs...and of course could bring back lots of favourite food items etc. compared to squeezing things into a suitcase.

PS: I remember we used an 'AA' (greencard?) get-you-home service in case of a breakdown anywhere on the mainland of Europe. Is there such a thing available in Switzerland?
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Old 27.05.2011, 16:50
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We always drive, we drove from Plymouth to Switzerland for hols last year and drove again when we moved here in November. We are Also planning to drive for hols in Uk in september. We do have dogs though which is one reason for the driving but actually the journey is not that bad!
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Old 27.05.2011, 16:52
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

we always drive to england if we spend more a week or more there, its cheaper and convenient.
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Old 27.05.2011, 17:04
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

3x a year

Xmas, Easter and Summer
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Old 27.05.2011, 17:08
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

I always drive. I use a Diesel and a 100 euros each way does the trick. Car ferry can be quite cheap at about 20 quid a time.
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Old 27.05.2011, 17:37
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

Depends where I'm going. My parents live near London and I use the train if I'm going to their place. I can be there by late afternoon if I leave here on the TGV at 9 in the morning.

My sister, on the other hand, lives down in Pembrokeshire - not really doable in a day by train. If I'm going down there I usually drive and stay overnight somewhere near Calais.

I hate flying, so that's an "emergencies only" option which, thankfully, I have not needed to use so far.
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Old 27.05.2011, 18:12
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

Oooh, that's good to hear - that it is feasible. We would be driving from the Zug area.

Mainly we (or usually I think, just me) would be driving and going to West London and to the Midlands.

I've never taken a car on a train...(is it the Eurostar? - not actually sure what it's called or where one embarks). How does it compare in cost and convenience to taking a ferry or hovercraft?

Which companies offer ferry and train services? (Haven't lived in Europe for 16 years, so really out of the loop!)

Any recommended places to stay overnight, or do most people stay at the Formula 1 type motels?

Car breakdown services/towing the car back to Switzerland after an accident? (Hopefully never needed, but best to have peace of mind!)
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Old 27.05.2011, 18:32
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

TCS has a Europe package with no limit to age of car. In the UK AA & RAC always limited cars to 10 years old for europe travel.
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Old 27.05.2011, 18:59
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

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I've never taken a car on a train...(is it the Eurostar? - not actually sure what it's called or where one embarks). How does it compare in cost and convenience to taking a ferry or hovercraft?

Which companies offer ferry and train services? (Haven't lived in Europe for 16 years, so really out of the loop!)

Any recommended places to stay overnight, or do most people stay at the Formula 1 type motels?

Car breakdown services/towing the car back to Switzerland after an accident? (Hopefully never needed, but best to have peace of mind!)
Eurostar is the passenger train service from Paris to London, it doesn't take cars. The company that runs the car shuttles between Calais and Folkestone is Eurotunnel. Very efficient service, especially if you buy your ticket in advance online and enter your car number plates when booking. The whole thing is then automatic - you drive up, the check-in terminal recognises your car number, matches it up with the credit card number you used to book, and that's it. The whole thing from arriving at the terminal in Calais to disembarking in the UK takes 90 minutes or less. Prices are variable - I think they start from about 50 euros each way (per car, not per person). Not sure how this compares with the ferries.

For accommodation, there are several chain hotels near the terminal in Calais. I have used the Kyriad and the Holiday Inn, both fine for one night (the Kyriad is cheaper but pretty basic). I'm sure there are nicer places out in the surrounding countryside though.
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Old 27.05.2011, 19:10
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

Very interesting and useful thread. I'll be moving to Zurich in August but will be returning to the UK often as my kids will still be there. I was wondering about driving over at Christmas.

As far as train journeys go, how do you book a train from Zurich to Ashford, Kent? I assume it's one ticket right through? I've never had any luck with the Eurostar site for trips the other way. Always says it can't find trains on that day, which is any day I put in.
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Old 27.05.2011, 19:34
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

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As far as train journeys go, how do you book a train from Zurich to Ashford, Kent? I assume it's one ticket right through? I've never had any luck with the Eurostar site for trips the other way. Always says it can't find trains on that day, which is any day I put in.
It's two tickets - one for the Zurich-Paris leg, then a separate one for the Eurostar.

Travelling from Neuchâtel - but the same principle would apply from Zurich - I book the Eurostar online (try both eurostar.fr and eurostar.co.uk, as the prices and availability do not always seem to be the same). For the TGV leg from Switzerland to Paris, I just go to my local station and book it there. I'm sure the travel office within the station would book the whole thing, maybe they would even have access to better Eurostar deals - not sure about this.

Last time I did it, I got a very cheap online upgrade on the Eurostar to whatever they call the intermediate class, with extra leg room and free food/wine during the journey. Definitely worth the extra few pounds, especially if you have long legs like me!

Last edited by stephen_NE; 27.05.2011 at 19:35. Reason: Corrected typo
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Old 27.05.2011, 19:47
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

When we lived in London (before kids), me and the missus 'biked here and back a couple of times - about 13 hrs, with breaks and using the chunnel.

Now we're here, with 2 kids, when we go go to England, we go Stelios and a renter - probably cheaper than driving from here, as an overnighter would probably be required, until my youngest is a bit older (she's managed about 6/7 hrs max.to date).
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Old 30.05.2011, 11:55
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

I know it's not driving but someone mentioned the train to the U.K. this website is excellent for any travel by train www.seat61.com
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Old 30.05.2011, 12:23
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

I drive to Belgium all the time so add 2+ hours to get to England(then add wherever you go in ENgland) It costs me a small 200 euros one way (V8 4.2L and taking the autobahn )
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Old 30.05.2011, 12:41
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

I've found Eurotunnel to be very cheap, but only if you book the 48 hour return. This was perfect for when I was living in Amsterdam and going home for the weekend. I'd be able to catch the first train Saturday morning and then a train on Sunday morning afternoon (depending on how I felt).

For a trip longer than 2 days though, I always book a NofolkLines ferry (Sea France has never seemed that competitive). Sure it takes longer than the tunnel (2 hours vs. 35 minutes) but it makes for a quite a nice break and also seems to be more reliable than the train - I mean they were still running the ferries Christmas 2009(?) when the tunnel closed down due to the weather.

A good tip is to plan a route through Luxembourg. Petrol is unbelievably cheap - I think about £1.15 when I came through mid-April 2011. I'd always plan a route avoiding the French tolls. It doesn't work out that much longer and the tolls can add up to quite a bit, especially going both ways.
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Old 30.05.2011, 13:24
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

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I'd always plan a route avoiding the French tolls. It doesn't work out that much longer and the tolls can add up to quite a bit, especially going both ways.
Yeah I did this a couple of weeks ago... think the tolls musta added up to about 50 Euro each way, fuel in France right now is more costly than the UK so a fill up in CH before the Basel boarder is a must. Also a little annoying that the French V-Power is only 98 ron not 100 as here; gave my machine an unbelievable thirst
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Old 30.05.2011, 13:25
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

We drove last year - thanks to the Icelandic volcano - but as it was so easy we will be doing it again this year. It is cheaper than flying and hiring a car - especially as with small children you have to hire car seats at hugely inflated prices.
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Old 31.05.2011, 15:44
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

we cost it out each year Easyjet Zurich/Manchester has meant we haven't done the drive for a couple of years, to be honest I miss it. Have found some really nice hotels and B&Bs around Reims and Verdun. Also the Eurotunnel is very efficient as previously mentioned.

If your journey on the UK side is only an hour or so I would drive every time. The worst bit for us is from M25 to North West England, drags and drags.
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Old 31.05.2011, 15:53
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

I sometimes wonder about this forum. How many threads do we actually need to discuss the costs and preferred routes for driving between here and the UK? There must be dozens!
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Old 31.05.2011, 15:56
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Re: Visits to the UK - does anyone drive there?

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I sometimes wonder about this forum. How many threads do we actually need to discuss the costs and preferred routes for driving between here and the UK?
83

Answer too short
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