The countdown has begun! There's only 1 week left until we start our holiday, our road trip. We only decided to do this trip 7 weeks ago! Why? As stated in our profile, we love Menorca and over the years we have built a great group of friends. Ever since I purchased my Focus CC back in October 2008, it was my dream to take it over to Menorca but at the time Thomas was only 3 months old and with the exchange rate so low it worked out very expensive. Now the exchange rate has recovered and fuel is also a lot cheaper than the past few years, almost 7 years later we are going for it.We are doing our road trip holiday and not only with our two children but with our two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (Dinky & Toy).
Firstly I purchased the return ferry from Barcelona to Mahon with Trasmediterranea. During August and the first couple of weeks in September they have daily crossings. Booking however wasn't as straight forward as expected. I tried to book online, however the website wouldn't accept an Engish postcode and I couldn't proceed with my booking.In the end I had to call and book directly over the phone and I managed to scrape through with the language barrier with much credit to the sales lady as my confirmation was emailed to me whilst on the phone. Our ferry departs Barcelona on Tuesday Evening at 23:00, arriving into Mahon at 07:30. We are travelling back a week later on Wednesday at 11am, arriving into Barcelona at 20:00. Whilst onboard we are supplied with a four berth en-suite cabin. Unfortunately the dogs have to go into fitted out cages. ( more information about my experience with the process of preparing the dogs for travel will be in my next entry ).
It was then on to booking our accommodation in Cala' n Porter. I contacted Siesta Mar Apartments and they were very helpful. The apartments at Siesta Mar advertise as pets not allowed. But from previous visits to this complex quite a few apartments are privately owned and we have seen the odd dog and cat on the owners balcony. After explaning that we were regular visitors and that our two dogs are very well behaved, the manager accepted our request to bring the dogs at no extra cost! We also found a small private villa within the resort and again once we contacted the owners they to were happy to accept the dogs. So we found it very easy to book the accommodation. It was just the decison of which one to go for. We ended up choosing Siesta Mar as breakfast was thrown in, plus the kids love the on site water slides.
Planning the route was next! I initally wanted to do the journey to Menorca in one hit! However after a little advice from a good friend ( Phil Stubbs ) he reminded me it was supposed to be a holiday and not a race! He also advised a different route down to southern France which took me away from Paris and I was a little concerned about the traffic so I decided to have an over night stop just south of Dijon ( Marsannay La Cote ). After checking out many budget hotel chains in France I decided to book with the Balladins hotel chain, as many of the other buget hotels were very basic and didn't include En-suite rooms or even have rooms to accommodate a family of four! All however accepted pets. Again the online booking wasn't straight forward as the online booking wouldn't accept my credit card! I called the hotel directly and again I found the language barrier difficult, but I managed to book a Superior family room both on my outbound and upon my return. I think the outdoor swimming pool at this hotel persuaded me to book this particular hotel. I also booked up the hotel Balladins in Perpignan upon our return.
Lastly was the ferry from the UK to France. Both P&0 and the Euro Tunnel were working out the most expensive so I ended up booking with DFDS Seaways from Dover to Dunkirk. I prefered to go this way as I wasn't looking forward to waiting in the queues in Calais especially with all the press coverage recently along with the threat of operation stack also a possibility to contend with! Booking was done within minutes on the DFDS website.
All the above was booked all in one morning 7 weeks ago! Since then we have been busy preparing for our trip eg.Dog Passports, purchasing the equipment needed to drive leagally in France, spending hours online viewing helpful websites for driving abroad and the DEFRA website and Gov.uk looking into the requirements and guidance for travelling with pets. So we have decided to do this blog to share our experience and to help you if you too are thinking of travelling abroad by car with pets.
Are main concerns at the moment are:-
Fitting everything into the car!
Keeping the kids entertained during the journey,
How the dogs will cope with the heat,
The reaction of other guests staying in Siesta Mar in regards to the dogs!
Missing one of our ferries due to traffic.
So follow us on our blog and share all our ups and downs along the way
Depart home Monday 24th August 2015 at 3AM,
10am crossing Dover to Dunkirk, arrive at 1pm into Dunkirk.
Travel down to Dijon for our first night stop.
Overnight stop in Balladins Marsannay La Cote
Depart Marsanny Tuesday 25th August for Barcelona,
Plenty of time for a relaxed drive!
Depart Barcelona at 23:00 for the crossing to Mahon.
Arrive into Mahon at 07:30 on Wednesday 26th August for 1 Week
Depart Mahon Wednesday 2nd September for the crossing to Barcelona at 11AM
Arrive Barcelona at 20:00
drive to Hotel Balladins Perpignan for overnight stop.
Hopefully some sightseeing on Thursday 3rd September on our way up to Dijon
Another overnight stop in the hotel Balladins again in Marsanny.
Travel back up to Dunkirk on Friday 4th September for our crossing back to Dover at 10pm, arriving into Dover at 11pm.
Drive back home or maybe another nights stop in the south of England, see how I feel upon return to the UK!