Travel Tips

Getting Your Family to the Mountains

Drive / Ferry / Drive

“Hell is other people” as Jean-Paul Sartre is reputed to have said when he was waiting for speedyboarding on an easyjet flight in Geneva airport, and it was following that experience that he also said “driving is better than flying to the alps”.

Portable DVD players – with headphones.  These devices were sent from heaven by Argos, the god of car journeys.

Yes, you may have to actually drive if you are driving, but using your own car to get the mountains has the following advantages:

  1. There are no people other than your family inside your car.  This way, you can shout all you like and call your kids whatever you want, and no-one will know (except their counsellors in 15 years’ time)
  2. Your kids are legally required to be strapped in and cannot move.
  3. You can stop to let them puke outside.
  4. You only have one deadline to make – check in for your channel crossing
  5. Portable DVD players – with headphones.  These devices were sent from heaven by Argos, the god of car journeys.   DVD players thankfully restrict arguments between the kids to every 90 minutes – when they have to choose a new movie (as opposed to every 19 seconds otherwise), but without headphones you are subjected to at least 12 hours of Disney songs in your ear whilst you try and concentrate on the road – which is like chewing a mouthful of lovehearts laced with acid and white spirit.  However, if the kids have headphones, you can enjoy hours of perfect silence, the like of which you are unlikely to experience in any other familial situation.  You may even be able to talk to your spouse/partner.  Or listen to a 9 test match special podcasts in a row.  Up to you.

There are some downsides to driving (the below excludes any downsides relating to absence of DVD player + headphones):

  1. Belgians – Belgians have a pretty bad reputation on a number of fronts, but it is less well known (other than to people who drive to the Alps) that they are shocking drivers.  A Belgian driver is seemingly not comfortable if they are further than 10 feet away from another car.  Try dealing with that kind of shit for hundreds of miles at a time.  It is stressful.
  2. Maps – pretty much everyone has satnav these days, but if you do need to use a map, it will cause an argument.  Satnavs can cause arguments too (as I recently found when my wife had entered the wrong destination and nearly took us 200 miles off course)
  3. Snow chains – You will be hoping for snow, but at no stage will you have ever thought to practice putting on your snow chains. As a result, if you are driving and need snow-chain based traction, you are guaranteed an hour of frozen hands, ruined pipe gloves and dirty knees.  Kind of like a giving a blow-job to the chalet chef round the back of Dicks T-Bar.
  4. Motorway toilets in France – the only word I can think of to describe the typical roadside French bog is “medieval”.  My kids still have nightmares about falling into acrid holes in the ground, as a result of a particularly bad experience in a lay-by shitter.
  5. Traffic jams – if the pope and mother Teresa had been travelling to the Alps and got stuck in a traffic jam, even they would have started telling each other to fuck off.  Moving slowly in a car will accelerate your divorce by 17%.

Taking the ferry to get over the watery bit between us and the continent seems pretty stupid to me.  Kids spend their whole lives puking as it is, why exacerbate the situation by introducing the factor of sea-sickness?  Also, your children will want to go out on deck.  Do not let them do this unless they are on a leash or are attached to you with Velcro.  Unless you have a strange desire to be on the news, crying in front of millions of people.

So driving is a good idea, ferry less so.


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