After a rather stressful flight to Italy for my first holiday away with a toddler, I decided to try the ferry on my next trip, staying at a Little Eurocamper Paradise Parc just outside of Paris called La Croix du Vieux Pont. I found the journey much easier, so here are my top tips to ensure a plain sailing ferry crossing with a little one…
Travel at night
Coming from the North West of England, I had a 4 hour drive to Dover, then 2 and half hours drive once we were in France. My daughter’s pretty good in the car but can get frustrated in a traffic jam so I decided to travel through the night. [responsive-image id=’3094′ align=’left’ caption=’Fast asleep in the car’ alt=’Ferry travel with a baby’]I was doing the driving, so made sure I got an early night ready for my 2am alarm. We packed up the car and at the very last moment took my daughter out of her sleeping bag and carried her out to the car seat.
She inevitably woke up, but remained calm and within an hour was back asleep, sleeping through until we were about 30 minutes from the port.
We drove through the day on the way home and we had to do several stops and struggled to keep boredom at bay, so next time I’ll definitely do a night time drive both ways.
Being just one year old, my daughter was too young to be entertained by a tablet or i-spy so keeping her entertained through our return daytime journey was a struggle. In the gaps between sleeps, here are a few ideas to help prevent a melt down:
Food – this is the most effective distraction tool…until they get full.
TV – I played her a few episodes of Topsy and Tim on my phone, but she soon preferred to start throwing my phone around instead.
Toys – I had a little backpack full of car-friendly toys I could hand to her one at a time throughout the journey.
Photos of themselves – My daughter loves looking at photos of herself. Set up a slideshow of images on your phone and that’s a good 30 minutes sorted.
Forbidden items – This is a winner with my little girl, hand her stuff she’s not normally allowed to play with like your house keys or handbag and she’s delighted.
Socks – In the last hour of our return journey I think madness took over and I decided to start using her socks as hand puppets. If only I’d discovered this sooner, because she was in hysterics for the remainder of the journey!
[responsive-image id=’3097′ align=’center’ caption=’Video arcade fun with Daddy!’ alt=’Ferry travel with a baby’]
[responsive-image id=’3104′ align=’right’ caption=’Croissant for breakfast’ alt=’Ferry with a baby’]The timing of the ferry on the way out was perfect for breakfast. Given it was a 6:30am crossing it was a little too foggy to explore the deck outside, so we sat down and had breakfast – a croissant given we were headed for France! She was also easily amused in the on board shop and saying ‘Hiya’ to the other passengers.
On the way back we were on an afternoon crossing so were able to explore the deck and look at the water and birds, which she really enjoyed. But what she actually enjoyed most was the video games area on board! Meant for teens rather than toddlers I’m sure, but she was drawn by all the bright flashing lights and enjoyed playing driver on the car games and getting on the motorbikes (with Daddy steering of course!).
[responsive-image id=’3092′ align=’right’ caption=’Out on the deck’ alt=’Ferry travel with a baby’]The 1hr 30 mins crossing between Dover and Calais was a great break from the car for us all and tires out little ones ready to sleep on the next leg of the journey. My daughter was asleep in the car before we’d driven off the ferry in France and woke up not far from the parc. I’d highly recommend ferry travel with toddlers and it’ll definitely be my first choice in future, plus it’s all part of the holiday adventure!
Have you got any tips for travelling by ferry with a toddler? We’d love to hear them in the comments below or over Facebook!