Sometimes it makes no sense to put yourself through all that if you’re supposed to be enjoying a relaxing holiday or weekend break.
And if you’re afraid of flying, you’re not alone: almost a quarter of Brits experience aerophobia. While the thought of stepping off the plane with that rush of warm Spanish air can make the whole ordeal worthwhile, there are lots of ways to travel without the hassle of airports and aeroplanes.
Here are 10 fabulous, alternative holidays to take if you hate flying, and they’re convenient to get to from the UK. Many are more eco friendly and more adventurous than simply flying to a destination. It’s worth noting that it’s sometimes more expensive to use these alternatives to flying but you can find bargain deals when you book in advance, so if you hate flying – or you just want to more environmentally friendly– it’s best to be organised!
From two week cruises through the Canary Islands to seven days hopping around the Med, there are limitless options for cruises in the sunshine from English port cities like Dover and Southampton. But what about Scandinavia?
Princess Cruises offer several seven day cruises from Southampton, stopping off at all the major cities like Copenhagen, Oslo and Gothenburg. I’ve personally got my eye on their Norwegian Fjords cruise (from £699 per person at the time of writing) because you need to witness the fjords from the sea to fully take in their epicness.
If you’re unsure if cruising is for you, there are many shorter options for just two or three days to get a taster for life aboard a cruise ship. And don’t be put off if you’re a younger traveller – take a look at our cruise holiday tips for your 20s, 30s and 40s.
For a lot of Brits, travelling on the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais is a travel milestone. Driving onto the ‘chunnel’ is up there with a package family holiday to the Costa del Sol as a quintessential British holiday experience. And since Calais is only a 90-minute drive from Bruges, it’s the perfect way to enjoy a fairytale Belgian city break without setting foot in an airport!
Every street corner and square in Bruges is postcard-perfect with iconic Dutch architecture, decadent chocolate shops and cosy bars. It’s an ideal city to visit via the Eurotunnel, especially at Christmas with the markets and seasonal decorations.
You’ll wonder why you ever flew to the Netherlands when taking an overnight ferry is so relaxing, comfortable and convenient. If you live in the northeast of England, then taking a P&O ferry across the North Sea to Amsterdam or Rotterdam is an alternative way of enjoying a mini-break without the need to fly.
The journey lasts approximately 11 hours but ferries are usually overnight so you can save on accommodation and arrive in the Netherlands refreshed and ready to explore! It’s then a short drive to Amsterdam or Rotterdam and coaches will be waiting at the ferry port ready to whisk you away to your chosen city.
Have you ever thought about hopping on the Eurostar for your next ski trip? There are more benefits to doing this than you might think...
From December to April, there are multiple daily direct trains (including overnight) from London St Pancras to Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the heart of the French Alps. They provide buses to all the main skiing hotspots like Tignes and even offer free baggage allowance for ski and snowboard equipment!
It’s much less stressful than flying and, in my experience, all the trains run like clockwork. There’s also a bit of a party vibe on the trains so if that’s your thing the train journey can be a lot of fun!
Liverpool is the best-known location for ferry routes to both Dublin and Belfast, but if you live near Holyhead in north Wales, you can be sipping Guinness in a Temple Bar pub in around three hours with Stena Line! You’d probably spend that amount of time in airports and navigating transfers anyway.
Ireland is the perfect country for a road trip with places to visit like the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry and Blarney Castle. Taking a ferry means you have the convenience and cost-savings of exploring with your own car. I’ve always found car hire to be very expensive in Ireland so it’s great if you can take your own car over with you.
A tight budget doesn’t mean your only options are low-cost airlines to the cheapest location available on Skyscanner.
FlixBus is one of the cheapest ways to travel around Europe, and their overnight buses mean you can save on accommodation too (though you’ll have to sacrifice comfort!).
FlixBus’ handy map feature allows you to see which locations are in your budget and prices start at only £9.99 for a trip from London to Frankfurt!
If budget buses aren’t for you (and I don’t blame you!) then a river cruise has got to be one of the most luxurious ways to explore several well-known cities. A river cruise is such an easy way to travel and it often takes you to smaller, underappreciated places too so there’s the sense of exploration and adventure.
Sometimes you’ll need to travel to the departure city for a river cruise so you could take the Eurostar or a ferry. Avalon Waterways have a dreamy roundtrip Amsterdam cruise during tulip season through Belgium and it’s so easy to take the Eurostar to Amsterdam.
It’s no mystery why interrailing is so popular. One minute you’re looking out at epic snow-capped mountains and the next you’re speeding past glistening lakes and 18th-century villages.
You can plan your own interrail trip through the official Interrail website, but if you’re after some inspiration, check out Euroventure. They have plenty of ready-made rail trips starting in London and they have a fab interrail trip from London to Lisbon that looks incredible!
Fancy taking the ultimate road trip to beat all road trips? Driving to the south of France is a popular choice for British holidaymakers but if you have a little bit more time you could make it all the way to Morocco!
It takes approximately 28 hours to drive from Manchester to Morocco. The ferry from Tarifa in Spain to Tangier on the strait of Gibraltar only lasts one hour and you’d experience three different countries and drive through small French provincial towns and miles of Spanish olive fields.
Or you could do the complete opposite and explore any of the amazing cities and national parks we have right here in the UK via rail or car. Did you know it only takes two hours to get from London to Cardiff on the train? And you could be in the Lake District in less than three hours if you live in Birmingham.
Play around on Google Maps and see all of the amazing places you can visit in less than four hours by train. If some of us are willing to spend two hours at the airport and a couple of hours flying off somewhere in Europe for a weekend city break, we could easily do the same in the UK and have a relaxing, adventurous staycation without the stress of flying.
If you do decide to make the most of a UK Staycation, make sure you're covered with our UK Travel Insurance
I’m the founder of The Travel Hack, one of the UK’s leading travel blogs focusing on travel tips and hacks to make your travels as easy and affordable as possible. I began blogging in 2009 during a two year backpacking trip through Asia and Australia when I lived and travelled in an old VW campervan. I studied journalism when I returned home, but quickly realised traditional media wasn’t for me. I now live in Wales and have two little boys, so I also blog about family travel and my weekend adventures around Wales.