Don't look to the skies this summer – snap up a no-fly deal

Problems with air travel mean holidaymakers can sample greener, cheaper options, says Sarah Barrell

British Airways strikes, volcanic ash clouds, economic gloom: it's been a rough year for the travel industry but for no-fly operators things are looking up.

Bookings for Eurotunnel (08448 797379; eurotunnel.com) rose 30 per cent during the ash crisis. There is still availability, though peak weekends in school holidays are busy. One-way fares currently cost about £150 per car. This can include up to nine passengers plus luggage. Travel off-peak and lead-in fares are from £44.

Eurostar (08432 186186; eurostar.com) carried an extra 110,000 people during the ash shutdowns, and have gained BA travellers stranded by the cabin-crew strikes. Advance bookings for the summer are up this year, but the cheapest return fares – £69 to Paris, Disneyland Resort Paris and Belgium, and £65 return to Calais or Lille – are still available on select journeys. A promotion encouraging travel on to the south of France has a special offer of £69 return to Avignon, Aix-en-Provence or Marseille to mark the introduction of Eurostar's trial code share with French railways (SNCF).

French Country Cottages (0845 268 1028; french-country-cottages.co.uk) is offering 15 per cent discounts on selected properties across France. Four-night short breaks in northern France start at £325, based on two sharing, including ferry crossings.

Keycamp (0844 406 0319; keycamp.co.uk) still has summer deals at European campsites, starting at just £685 per party of four, per week, including ferry crossings. "We've seen an increase in interest from people wanting to avoid cancelled flights," said Keycamp's Dave McKenna. "We've even had instances of customers booking both flights and ferry crossings to cover all eventualities."

The ever-growing network of high-speed trains brings wider Europe within reach. One specialist in this region, Inntravel (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk), reports steady bookings for summer. It still has good availability in Swiss properties, including a discounted deal (savings of £75 per party) for a week's self-catering/walking in the Bernese Oberland. The price, £637 per person, is based on six sharing, and includes rail travel by Eurostar/TGV/regional rail via Paris and Lausanne (11 hours' journey time in total). Valid for departures between 3 July and 27 August.

Let the train take the strain all the way to the Italian Lakes. For those able to travel outside July and August there some excellent discounts across Italy, many of which are to be found at loveitaly.co.uk, the official website for the Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy. Make the journey part of the experience with Railbookers (020-3327 0869; railbookers.com), and travel through the Swiss Alps, with an overnight stay in Lausanne, then nine nights at the three-star Hotel Belvedere on Lake Garda for £786 per person, based on two sharing B&B accommodation, including train travel.

Since April, Holidaylettings.co.uk has seen hesitant international holiday home bookings, with a gradual rise in areas accessible without flying, notably France. The company still has good availability across Europe. For example, ferry across the Bay of Biscay to Santander, Spain, and spend a week in the penthouse apartment Sanxenxo in Galicia, near La Lanzada. Prices from £388, sleeps seven.

Ferries to Santander depart from Portsmouth or Plymouth with Brittany Ferries (0871 244 1400; Brittany-Ferries.co.uk). During July and August, most peak sailings are full, but off-peak (midweek or outside school holidays) there is still good availability. Peak summer sailings to Santander start at £675 return for a car and four people, including en-suite cabin accommodation. Journey time is 24 hours. Brittany Ferries is also offering 15 per cent off packages to Spanish villas and 25 per cent off French cottage holidays. To find out more about ferry destinations and operators, go to discoverferries.co.uk.

The cruise industry has proved hugely resilient in the face of the economic downturn, enjoying unprecedented growth over the past two years. The Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) has noted a rise in people taking the train to the point of their European cruise departure and an increase in passengers cruising out of the UK.

"Overall cruise lines have experienced good bookings," says Penny Guy from the PSA. "However, there are still limited opportunities – specific cruises on specific dates – at attractive prices." Go to discovercruises.co.uk for more information.

Not sure you want to commit to two weeks at sea? Test the waters with a cruise/hotel holiday, spending two nights among the Tall Ships at Antwerp, when 80 wind-driven vessels from 15 countries compete in a series of races, then two days on dry land exploring this buzzing Belgian city. Available through DFDS Seaways, from £229 per person, departs Newcastle 10 July (0871 882 0885; dfds.co.uk/tallships).

By rail, sea or road, summer destinations are closer than you think, and if you plan carefully, getting there can be half the fun.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee