Drive or sail to Spain – which is best?

There is alas no easy answer to the question “drive or sail to Spain!” A quick calculation of mileages first though, using Camping Bon Repos at Santa Susanna as our destination. The starting point for the journey shall be Leeds.

Leeds to Dover comes in at about 280 miles and then Calais to Santa Susanna is around 800, so a total of 1080 miles one way. The Kontiki has averaged 24 mpg over the last three years, so 45 gallons of diesel and an estimated overall price of £5.50 per gallon would bring the fuel cost for the return trip to just shy of £500.00. Add on a Dover – Calais return at about £130 and then a couple of overnight stops, so at £15 per night, two each way, four for the return trip is another £60 in the coffers.

This sees our journey costing £690.00 and assumes a toll-free journey throughout. The ferry rates referred to a Dover – Calais P&O crossing, (exact prices, not an estimate) out on the 1st February 2012 and in on the 29th February 2012. I always make use of free overnight facilities at Calais ferry terminal.

The ferry from Portsmouth to Santander and returning Bilbao to Portsmouth with Brittany Ferries on the same dates comes in at £84o. This price includes an inside cabin. I would estimate that for two persons, a budget of £50 would need to be allowed for on board food and drinks etc. Therefore, this gives a total price for the crossing of £940.00.

Leeds to Portsmouth is 520 miles return and then the Spanish port to Santa Susanna is about 960 miles return, so all told, including the Leeds to Portsmouth section, a return mileage of 1480 miles, equating to 62 gallons of fuel costing £340. Total cost of the return trip therefore is £1280, so that is £590 more than driving through France. I also think an overnight stop would be required between Santander/Bilbao and Santa Susanna, thus adding about £30 to the trip. The option of sailing to Spain increases the overall cost of getting to Santa Susanna by about 85%!

Drive or sail to Spain – an itinerary to compare.

Day 1 – Leeds to Dover to Calais

Day 2 – Calais – Gien/Sully etc

Day 3 – to Millau

Day 4 – mid afternoon at Santa Susanna

or by ferry

Day 1 to Pompey – overnight stop. (Unless you really want to set off at 0300! My days of silly o clock times are long gone!)

Day 2 – depart Pompey and sail to Santander

Day 3 – arrive Santander 1pm, drive a couple of hundred miles

Day 4 – arrive Santa Susanna

Conclusion – Leeds to Santa Susanna is better value by far going via Calais than Spain. In terms of the time factor…

Drive or sail to Spain

Drive or sail to Spain? The costs move in favour of the ferry when travelling to southern Spain.

Drive or sail to Spain – southern Spain

However if travelling to southern Spain, such as Malaga, then the figures sway more towards the ferry…

Calais to Malaga is about 1300 miles, so that’s 2600 return, plus the 560 miles return from Leeds to Dover comes in with a total of 3160 miles, 24 mpg sees us using 131 gallons of fuel, so a fuel bill of about £720.00.

To summarise, Leeds to Malaga return – 3160 miles. P&O Dover – Calais ferry, £130, four overnight stops, (8 in total) @ £15 each takes our costs to £970.00 return.

The ship to Spain costs £840.00, our fuel bill would be just under £400 based on a total mileage of approximately 1800, including the Leeds to/from Portsmouth and the Spanish port to/from Malaga. Add on about £100 for the return cost of meals/drinks on board and then a further £30 for two overnight stops, (one each way)  and the total is £1370.00 for the trip, still almost 50% higher cost than via Calais.

For the purpose of these calculations, I have assumed….

24 mpg for the motorhome

£5.50 average price of fuel

Actual ferry costs from the operators’ website based on a 9 metre motorhome. Mileages taken from the Via Michelin website.









One Response

  1. Jock & Rita October 27, 2011

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