Drive to Europe - how much does it cost and is it cheaper than flying?

by ChooseMyCar Staff Writer

Worried about your summer holiday being cancelled? Then drive to your dream destination!

Drive to Europe - how much does it cost and is it cheaper than flying?

UK airports have faced utter chaos in the last few days, with renowned airlines opting to halt tens of thousands of flights over the coming days and weeks. The decision by several airports to not fine airlines for cancelling their slots has allowed airlines to ground swathes of flights without facing penalties. British Airways, Tui and Jet2 are just some of the major names grounding hundreds and thousands of flights over the coming weeks. We probably all know of someone who has been affected by catastrophic delays at airports or cancellations already. 

Here at ChooseMyCar, we started to wonder whether we could take the worry away by looking into alternative ways to travel. And what better way to travel than in our own cars!

Using some of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations, we’ve calculated the cost and time difference between flying and driving to our summer breaks. What we found is that taking the car can actually be just as cost-effective as hopping on a plane - with the added bonus of knowing your car trip won’t be cancelled.

So before you book your summer break, take a look at our calculations (or do your own!). Might be worth driving to avoid airport chaos - or the risk of disappointment and long delays.

Our founder, Nick Zapolski, is one person who’s weighing up the driving option.

“It’s not surprising that many people have decided not to bother going away because of all the airport chaos and risk of cancellations. But driving can actually be a great way of seeing Europe, as well as having no risk of cancellations. I for one would be happy to spend a bit more time and money if it meant guaranteeing a break away for me and my family.”


The UK to Malaga

Malaga is a long-time Spanish favourite, with beautiful beaches and fantastic food, as well as lots of nightlife options.

Although flight time is just short of three hours, with current airport delays and suggestions of giving yourself at least three hours to check-in, the total travel time is longer than you might expect. 

Our research is based on a family of four travelling, based in Stratford upon Avon and flying from Gatwick airport. Our stats showed costs of:

Flying

  • Petrol £57 return journey
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £708
  • Taxi transfer £40

Total cost £1100 approx
Total time 12 hours with no delays or cancellations

Driving

  • Petrol £640 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £289 (Dover to Calais)
  • Tolls £240
  • Hotel stays £120
  • Food £150

Total cost £1440 approx
Total time 25 hours

UK to Nice

Based on the stunning French Riviera, Nice offers great nightlife, luxury restaurants and beautiful beaches.

It’s long been a popular destination for families, and it’s a surprisingly achievable drive from the UK. On top of that, driving may actually be the cheaper option - so well worth considering if Nice (or anywhere in the South of France) is on your must-visit list.

Our research is based on a family of four travelling, based in Stratford upon Avon and flying from Gatwick airport to Nice. Our stats showed costs of:

  • Petrol £57 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £744
  • Airport transfers £50

Total cost £1130 approx or £2130 with car hire
Total time 12 hours with no delays or cancellation

Driving, however, did not take much longer and actually cost less. Our stats show:

  • Petrol £465 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £289 (Dover to Calais)
  • Food £150
  • Tolls £230

Total cost £1134 approx
Total time 15 hours 

UK to Naples

Italy certainly sounds like a long drive, but what a drive it can be! Crossing over various European countries, the journey by car to Italy could be as magical as the destination itself.

Naples is famous for its incredible food, culture, and is close to the famous site of Pompeii. It’s also a great place to base yourself to visit other Italian cities - another great reason to take your own car!

Flying from Gatwick airport to Naples

  • Petrol £57 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £1265
  • Airport transfers £50 or car hire £1000

Total cost £1650 approx or £2600 with car hire
Total time 13 hours with no delays or cancellations

Driving from UK to Naples

  • Petrol £650 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £289 (Dover to Calais)
  • Hotel stay x 2 £120
  • Food £150
  • Tolls £240

Total cost £1450 approx
Total time 22 hours

UK to Salou

One destination explored is the popular Spanish resort town of Salou. According to the research, flying to Salou as a family of four would incur costs of over £2,000, and would take approximately 14 hours from start to finish. Yet the same journey via car would cost just £1100 - and only take an extra three hours.

Flying from Gatwick airport to Barcelona, our stats show costs are:

  • Petrol £77  (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £702
  • Return Train £64 (Barcelona to Salou) or hire car -£1000

Total cost £1100 (or £2100 with a hire car for 2 weeks)

Driving from Stratford upon Avon

  • Petrol £450 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £289 (Dover to Calais)
  • Tolls £170
  • Hotel stays £120
  • Food £150

Total cost £1135 approx
Total time 17 hours


UK to the Algarve

Ok, so this one probably isn’t for the faint of heart, but it could make for a fun adventure!

The Algarve in Portugal is world-renowned as a beautiful summer holiday destination, beloved by Brits for decades. It offers beautiful scenery, great hospitality, and fantastic weather.

Driving to the Algarve is time-consuming, but with an exciting overnight ferry ride, stunning scenery and amazing locations en route, this could be a break to remember. Our stats show:

Flying from Gatwick airport to Faro

  • Petrol £57 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £890
  • Train £42 (Faro to Lagos) or car hire £1000

Total cost £1270 approx. or £2270 with car hire
Total time 14 hours with no delays or cancellations

Driving from Stratford upon Avon to The Algarve

  • Petrol £330 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £1540 (Portsmouth to Santander)
  • Food (meals included on the ferry)
  • Tolls £22

Total cost £1640 approx
Total time 48 hours


UK to La Rochelle

A real winner in the driving versus flying battle, La Rochelle is a destination you should definitely drive to.

La Rochelle has a fascinating history, as well as one of Europe’s best aquariums and natural history museums. It’s a great place to visit as a family - and it won’t break the bank to get there.

Flying from Gatwick airport to La Rochelle

  • Petrol £57 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £1000
  • Airport transfers £30 or car hire £1000

Total cost £1370 approx or £2370 with car hire
Total time 10 hours with no delays or cancellations

Driving from Stratford upon Avon to La Rochelle

  • Petrol £224 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £289 (Dover to Calais)
  • Food £100
  • Tolls £110

Total cost £723 approx
Total time 11 hours



UK to Zandvoort

The Netherlands might not be an obvious choice for your summer break - but with this level of convenience it should be.

Zandvoort offers the best beaches in the country, with beautiful white sands and undulating dunes. It offers 9km of gorgeous beaches, great food and a bustling nightlife. All this - only 8 hours away in the car.

Flying from Gatwick airport to Amsterdam

  • Petrol £57 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Airport parking £180
  • Food and drink £50-£100
  • Flights £1032
  • Train £52 or car hire £1000

Total cost £1420 approx or £2420 with car hire
Total time - 8-9 hours with no delays or cancellations

Driving from Stratford upon Avon to Zandvoort

  • Petrol £150 return journey (Based on 40mpg in a family SUV)
  • Ferry £289 (Dover to Calais)
  • Food £100
  • Tolls £10

Total cost £549 approx
Total time 8 hours

Enjoy your summer!

Author

ChooseMyCar Staff Writer

ChooseMyCar Staff Writer

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