Europe family road trip day 8 – back to the UK

Aah, home sweet home!

Sometimes I feel pretty sad to be heading home after a holiday, but I was quite looking forward to it this time!  We travelled 1700 miles in 8 days in the car, so quite a lot!  I was looking forward to my own bed and also going food shopping as we’d mostly been eating the same food every day.  We’d taken a bunch of dried food to save money on eating out and also that was suitable to travel in the car without a fridge all the time, so it became pretty samey by the 8th day!

Our journey home was not too bad.  It was only a one hour drive from Wingene in Belgium to Dunkirk in France.

We had booked the 2pm ferry from Dunkirk to the UK with DFDS, but we had a flexible ticket which meant we could get a ferry either side of this too.  We ended up getting the 12pm ferry back as we were up and ready to leave by 9am so thought it best to just head home a bit earlier!

The ferry checks at France were crazy!

On the way over from the UK we had our passports checked twice and that was it.  From France we had our passports checked three times, plus two security checks looking in our Bongo!  I guess it’s because of the problems with migrants trying to get from France to the UK, so there are lots of extra checks!

We literally had our passports checked at a booth, drove 20 metres and had our passports checked again at the next booth!

Our car was searched by security and then searched again probably 50 metres later!

At least they are on it, but it did seem excessive!  I guess they don’t want to miss anything.  We just had to open the boot for them to have a look.

Most of the border officers were very friendly, but one was quite scary.  He took our passports that are British, looked at me sternly and said “British?”!

Once we were through this total of five checks, we had a short wait for the ferry and we were on our way back to England!

The ferry took quite a while to get going once we were on it.  It turned around which seemed to take ages and so rather than be back at 1pm time in the UK, we got back around 1.30pm.

I was actually really pleased to see the English countryside along the sides of the motorway!  Driving near Surrey in particular is full of lots of hills surrounded by trees and lovely views.  When we hit the Cotswolds which surrounds where we live, it was great to see all the beautiful rolling hills.  Most of the driving in Europe is across flat farmland and so there is not anything to see!  It’s why we drove ridiculous 11 hours from Germany to the Netherlands to take a coastal scenic route on day 6!  Just to see something on the drive!

It took us 5 hours to drive home from Dover as there was a lot of gridlock traffic on the M25.  By this point we were just keen to get home and all get early nights in our own beds!

Would we do an 8 day family road trip like this again?

Nope!  Not the same anyway.  It was a bit bonkers trying to squeeze in as much as we did!  We’d definitely do a Europe road trip again, but if it was only for a week then we wouldn’t go as far to Germany whilst also trying to squeeze in two other countries too!  If we did it to Germany again then we’d need two weeks and longer stops in places either side.

We were restricted with the length of our trip this time and already knew we needed longer before we went, but couldn’t justify taking two weeks holiday with Ben starting his full-time self-employment when we got back.  So we just went for it and squeezed in as much as we could to 8 days!!

We’re glad we had a sneak peek of the peninsulas and beaches on the west coast of the Netherlands at Zeeland and South Holland as that’s a great idea for a future road trip.  We’re also intrigued to go to Belgium and for a road trip along the coast.  From Dunkirk it’s less than half hour to the Belgium border!  I’m surprised I don’t hear of more people going to the Belgium coastline for holidays as it’s so close!

We’re also very glad our 24 year old Bongo survived!  After all the costly repairs we’ve done on it over the past year I am glad.  Our Bongo was a trooper and we had no problems at all.  It did the 1700 miles no problem!

How much did a 8 day Europe road trip for 4 cost?

The whole trip cost us £1400 for four of us.  1700 miles.  Food, travel insurance, breakdown, entertainment, fuel, ferries, entertainment, accommodation, etc.  I’ll do a big breakdown in another blog post.

Where are we going next?

So, we already have a couple of things booked:

  • Pentewan Sands, Cornwall in the autumn – a one week holiday staying in a mobile home to explore places in Cornwall we’ve not been to. We usually go to the same places each time which we love, but I’m making sure we see something new this time.  There are so many beaches we’ve never explored or even heard of!
  • Bluestone, Wales at Twixmas – we went last year and loved it, so we’re going again. I’d quite like to make it a Christmas family tradition!  It’s brilliant for young kids.

And a couple of things we are planning to book:

  • Castelo Branco, Portugal in February – Ben’s brother moved here in March 2018. He literally bought a piece of land from a farmer and towed a caravan out with his girlfriend!  My favourite TV programme is Lives in the Wild by Ben Fogle and Ben’s brother is actually doing it!  This will be the first opportunity we get to go and see his new home and our first time to Portugal.
  • London in December – I don’t think I’ve ever been to London close to Christmas, but I think it will be the perfect time to take the kids to explore. Bella has wanted to go to London for a while and we’ve not taken the kids yet.  I think with Reuben starting school he is now a good age to take.  We’re hoping to book a weekend and do all the touristy things.  Bella really wants to go on a red bus!
  • Lake District – next spring or summer we hope to go to the Lake District. It’s where Ben is from.  He was born there and lived there until he was 7.  I’ve never been.  It looks stunning so I can’t wait to explore.

We’ll also be going to a few events this year.  My sister has already bought us tickets to Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle as our Christmas present.  Ben and I are off to the UK Vegan Campout festival as we got early bird tickets last year!  I’m also hoping to go to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and Alton Towers Fireworks, so I should have lots more events and travels to write about on this blog soon!

Until our next adventure I’ll be sharing lots of travel related articles, tips and advice!  Enjoy!

 

Here’s all of of our 8 day European road trip blog posts:

Our 8 day Europe road trip plan from UK – Amsterdam, Soltau, Bruges

Europe family road trip day 1 – England to Netherlands / UNESCO World Heritage Kinderdijk / Camping Vliegenbos

Europe family road trip day 2 – exploring Amsterdam

Europe family road trip day 3 – driving from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Munster, Germany

Europe family road trip day 4 – Soltau, Germany

Europe family road trip day 5 – Munster, Germany

Europe family road trip day 6 – coastal scenic drive from Germany to Belgium

Europe family road trip day 7 – a few hours in Bruges

Europe family road trip day 8 – back to the UK

 

Save me for later!

Some great road trip tips:

How to pack light for a family road trip

Your ultimate guide of how to survive a long car journey with kids

How to make a road trip with the whole family stress free

Visiting Bristol for half a day

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