Car Ferry Etiquette, What You Need To Know!

You Have Decided To Cross The Channel By Boat, But What Is The Car Ferry Etiquette?

For some people, the only way to travel to the continent to start their holidays is on the cross-channel ferry. There are several ferry operators who offer sailings from the English ports of Dover, Portsmouth, Newhaven, Poole, Weymouth and Plymouth to ports in France, Spain and Holland.

Car Ferry Etiquette- Cars going on to a ferry

Image by Brittany Ferries

Despite the opening of the Channel tunnel over 20 years ago taking a car ferry is still a very popular choice with many passengers, offering them a chance to relax, stretch their legs and enjoy some fresh air before arriving at their destination.

There are however a few etiquette rules that those people who have never used the ferry before should know.

Car Ferry Etiquette number one – Arrive with plenty of time

Allow plenty of time to reach your ferry terminal, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. Your ticket will tell you what time the sailing departs and more importantly how long before the crossing you need to be there. It is important to stick to this time-frame. The time between arrival and embarkation allows the ferry company staff to sort out the vehicles into the order they want to put them on the ferry. Large vehicles such as lorries, coaches and caravans are often put on first, or last, in the bow or stern of the ship. Smaller cars are usually placed on upper car decks which are then raised to allow more vehicles to be put on underneath. Everything is carefully planned.

Once you have been put in a line on the dockside it is important that you do not stray too far from your car; if you are not there when they start to put vehicles on the ferry you could hold up a line.

On the car deck
If you have never been on a ferry before you may be concerned about just how close the cars are parked, don’t be. The staff know exactly what they are doing it is important to follow their instructions. You should leave your car as soon as you can once you are parked. There are a few things you need to remember to do:

Car Ferry Etiquette parked cars on a ferry

cars parked on a ferry

  • Turn off your car alarm (a rough crossing can set alarms off)
  • Put on your handbrake
  • If you are towing using extending mirrors push them in so that people will be able to get past your car
  • Take everything you need for the crossing with you, access to the car deck isn’t allowed during the crossing
  • Be careful squeezing between the cars

Don’t forget your car ferry etiquette on arrival

You will probably be anxious to get back to your car so you can continue with your journey, however if you are on a higher car deck or were one of the last vehicles onto the ferry then do not queue on the stairs to get onto the car deck; allow others who are near the front of the ferry to go down to the car deck first. If they are parked in the very front then nobody is getting off until they do!

Don’t start your engine until you are told to by a member of staff. Drive slowly off the ferry and remember you will now need to drive on the right-hand side of the road!

By Tunnel or By Ferry? Which One Will You Choose?

By Tunnel or By Ferry, What’s the Best Way to Get to The Continent?

Ferry or Channel Tunnel?

For many Brits travelling to the continent this is the big question and one that can completely divide families. Whether you are travelling with your car, a caravan or even a motorhome there are several choices available to you and making the right one can be a little overwhelming at times.

So, which is the best way to get to the continent? Here we look at the relative pros and cons of each choice.

UK to Calais the tunnel is quicker than the ferry

By Tunnel or By Ferry - image of P & O Ferry

Image from

With over 30 crossings every day Dover to Calais is probably the best known and most popular of all the ferry crossings. It is also the quickest ferry crossing there is as well. There are several ferry operators who run out of Dover and when it comes to picking which one is right for you they are in fact all very similar, both in terms of price and with the facilities that they offer on board. There is usually a choice of places to eat, some seating areas, a duty free and a selection of amusements – after all when a crossing is this short just how much can you do?

Whilst this is the quickest ferry route it still isn’t as fast as taking the channel tunnel, where the journey takes just 35 minutes and departs from Folkestone.  Because the journey is so short there are no facilities on board. It is however possible to travel via the tunnel with a caravan as well making it a very practical way to get to the continent. When it comes to the price the tunnel is in fact more expensive than a ferry from Dover to Calais, even when booked well in advance.

When considering the cost of the ferry or tunnel it is important to factor in the cost of getting to your UK departure point and getting from your destination port to your final holiday spot. You may also need to factor in overnight stops, both in the UK and maybe on the continent as well, depending on the length of your journey.

Alternative Ferry Routes

If you are going the North west of France; Brittany or further down the west coast, or if you are heading to Spain then you will probably be better using a ferry that goes from Portsmouth or one of the other ports in that direction rather than Dover. Whilst these crossings do take longer they certainly have their advantages.

If you only have the one person who drives then an overnight crossing will allow you to combine a necessary overnight stop with your crossing, in fact you will be asleep for the bulk of the crossing, waking up in time to eat breakfast before leaving the ferry ready to start your journey down France. The crossing to Spain takes even longer and can make a pleasant addition to your holiday.

Weight up the costs of the ferry crossing itself, together with the petrol cost for driving to your destination and any overnight hotel, or campsite fees you might need and the difference between a longer and a shorter crossing may not be as much as you think.

By Tunnel or By Ferry - image of Euro Star

Image from The Guardian


If you are travelling with a pet then by tunnel or by ferry is an important factor to consider.  If you decide by ferry then remember that your pets will need to be left in the car whilst you travel.  Each ferry have their own rules on pet travel, with some allowing you to visit your pet with a member of the crew.  Although the car park areas can be warm when you first arrive the temperature is regulated.  Always check with the ferry you are travelling with to find out what there specific regulations are.

Travelling by tunnel means you do stay with your dog through out the journey, you will probably find that your pets are more relaxed about travelling than you are.

Taking your leased car abroad

If you are leasing a vehicle and wish to take it abroad you will need to get written permission from us first

Please ensure that you have the correct insurances in place for foreign travel and road use.  Check the country you are travelling in, as many have legal requirements which are different to the UK and require compulsory equipment to be in the car.  If you do not have the everything in place you may find your self with on the spot fines from the local police!!

Do you have any tips on travelling by ferry or by tunnel?


Airport Car Parking Scams

Airport Car Parking Scams and How to Avoid Them

airport car parking full of carsYou have booked your holiday, carefully checking that all the details are correct, your flight and connections are all sorted and you have bought everything that you could possibly want to take with you. All you need to do now is pack, and get yourself to the airport.

If you are fortunate enough to live close to the airport then getting a taxi or even asking a family member for a lift is the ideal solution, however for many people this is not an option because of the distance from the airport. You want to feel that your car is in safe hands whilst you are far away, in fact you don’t want to be worrying about your car at all whilst you should be enjoying your holiday.

Secure airport parking will give you peace of mind. However, there are a few things you need to consider to make sure that your car is secure whilst you are away.

Many airport parking scams revolve around unscrupulous companies who collect your car from you at the airport to take to a secure parking location; in many cases, they are in fact not parking your car with the type of security you would expect. This could mean your car is parked somewhere unsecure for several days without being moved and has the potential to become the target of a theft.

Choose a reputable airport car parking company

This may sound obvious but with so many companies out there offering airport parking, and new companies appearing all the time, the choice can be overwhelming. If possible use a company based on personal recommendation. Check online before you book a company and see what others say about them. This is one of those instances where picking the cheapest company may not be the best option; there is usually a reason someone is much cheaper and it may mean they are cutting corner with the security of your car.

Put valuables away
Although official airport parking companies will use car parking spaces with plenty of security cameras and good lighting it is important to make sure that you do not leave any temptation in view. Remove any valuables from your car before you leave home and make sure that anything you do leave in your car is in the book out of sight; it isn’t worth taking any risks.airport car parking, with parking sign and control tower

Not only does pre-booking often offer you the best prices but you should also be able to choose the best car parking position for you by comparing all the available options. Book a space that is close to the terminal you need and this will mean you can avoid any long walks late at night to find your car; this is beneficial for your safety. If you have used a car park where you park your car yourself in this way you will know where it is, and will avoid the issue of a company who say they will park it securely for you but don’t.

Getting a good deal on your airport parking

It is well worth going onto comparison sites to compare the prices for parking, especially if you are going for a longer period of time.  Make sure that the deal you are getting is from a company that can be trusted, check reviews – always do your back ground checks!  Remember to check how you will get from the car park to the terminal, sometimes the saving of money can cause you all sorts of bother, especially if you are with young children and a lot of baggage.  A few pounds extra may be worth the spend!


Tyres – A Complete Guide to Tyre Safety

How Safe Are Your Tyres?

Old tyres are dangerousTyre safety is a very important part of the maintenance of your car yet it is something that many people overlook. There are several basic checks that you can carry out that can make a huge difference to the performance of your car; they will also make your car safer. In addition, tyres that have been properly maintained should have a much longer lifespan, so spending a little time looking after them could save you some money in the long run.

Tyres and the Law

The law requires that your vehicle is fitted with the appropriate tyres; that means the correct size and type for your car. You must also ensure that the tread on your tyres is always above the legal limit which is a depth of 1.6mm. If they reach this depth they should be changed immediately, although many experts recommend changing them at 3mm as this way they will remain as safe as possible and you won’t forget to change them when they do reach the limit.

Tyre information

If you are purchasing new tyres there are a few things that you should consider. Obviously, they should be the right type and size for your vehicle, however the following factors should also be taken into consideration:

·         Load index – in respect of maximum load

·         Speed symbol

·         Tread wear

·         Type – all season or winter

·         Brand – it is worth buying a trusted brand

Tyre Pressure

Having the correct tyre pressure can make a huge difference to the costs of motoring. Incorrect tyre pressure can have a big effect on fuel economy, it can increase the pressure load on parts such as wheel bearings, CV joints and the tyres themselves; all of which increase the servicing costs for your vehicle.Check your tyres pressure

Under inflation of your tyres can lead to a build-up of heat in the tyre which in turn can lead to the internal structure of the tyre becoming damaged. Over inflation can lead to tyres that are more fragile than normal and any hard impacts that your vehicle may encounter can lead to punctures or cuts to the tyres. Tyres that are either under or over inflated can lead to serious accidents resulting in injuries or even fatalities.

It can be hard to tell if you tyre is under inflated, or over, just by looking at it. The pressure needs to be monitored manually; some cars have sensors attached that can do this for you. You should check your tyre pressure regularly, especially when the weather is constantly changing. This could help to prevent you having an accident. If you have alloy wheels you should be aware they are more likely to have pressure changes than steel ones.

Age of tyres

Over time your tyres will age; some tyres age faster than others. Ageing tyres can be recognised with the following signs:

·         Driving causes vibrations through the tyre

·         Cracking of tyre walls

·         Distortion of the tread

·         Deformity of tyre body

You should have your tyres replaced as soon as they show these signs of age. You should make sure that you check your tyres on a regular basis, replacing them can be costly but they are important to the safety of your car and how you drive.

Even if you are leasing your car, you are still responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle which includes your tyres.


Breakdown Cover, Do You Really Need It?

Breakdown Cover – A Necessary Cost or Something You Can Do Without

Young girl pushing car with no breakdown coverIf you have ever broken down on the side of an incredibly busy road, and been faced with the choice of how to get your car fixed or moved so that it can be properly looked at, then there is a good chance that you will argue that breakdown cover is a very worthwhile expenditure. If, however you have been fortunate enough never to find yourself in that situation then you may question why you should bother spending out for something that you may not need to use. No matter how new your car is, or how reliable it is accidents can, and do happen, and unexpected breakdowns can certainly happen.

What is breakdown cover?

Put simply breakdown cover is a policy that you take out to cover any repairs or the cost of rescue should your car stop breakdown. There are three main companies who offer breakdown cover; RAC, AA and Green Flag, as well as a host of smaller companies. If you should breakdown at the side of the road they will send a vehicle out to your location to look at your vehicle and see what the problem is, if they can’t fix the problem at the roadside then they will tow you to your home or to a garage depending on the problem.

If you do not have breakdown cover you need to find a local garage who can fix the problem for you or contact the Highways Agency who will arrange for your car to be towed to a local garage, both options, together with the costs of actually fixing your car could prove to be very expensive.

The options

When it comes to breakdown cover there are plenty of different options that you can look at for your policy so it is worth having a good look around to get the right policy for you.

  • Personal cover – as the name suggests this covers the person and not the car so you can use it even if you are in someone else’s carBreakdown cover is essential when on a motorway - Ladies broken down
  • Vehicle cover – this just covers the named vehicle and is generally cheaper
  • Roadside assistance – A mechanic will come to you and attempt to fix your car at the roadside. If they can’t fix it you will be towed to a garage local to where you have broken down.
  • National assistance – If a mechanic is unable to fix your car you will be towed to a single destination in the UK; your driveway or local garage
  • Home start – Help when you have a problem with your car on your driveway or up to a quarter of a mile from your home
  • Onward travel – If your car needs to be kept in a garage this will guarantee car hire, overnight accommodation or public transport to get you home.

So, do I need cover?

Breakdown cover can be very useful.  What you need to consider is if you would prefer to spend a small amount each month to be covered or if, should the worst happen, you will be able to find the money to pay for towing and repairs if you don’t have cover.

It might feel like you are throwing money away but in the long run having breakdown cover could prove invaluable.

Help minimise breakdowns by car leasing with us.  Lease a new or nearly new (less than a year old) vehicle and simply change it every 3 years how simple is that! see more here.


How to Keep Cool in the Car

Travelling this Summer – How to Keep Cool in the Car

The wonderful thing about the summer, hopefully, is that the sun finally gets a chance to shine, and when it does it can get hot. The problem is that when it is hot and sunny outside it can turn your car into a mobile metal sauna.

So just how do you keep your car cool in the summer so that you can enjoy travelling and spending time with the family.

parking in shade to keep a car coolHow hot is hot?
When exposed to the sun for long period of time the interior of a car can get incredibly hot; in fact, the temperature inside the car will be hotter than the temperature outside. On a day when the temperature is around 21 degrees Celsius it is possible for the inside of a car to reach around the 40 degrees’ Celsius mark. It only takes half an hour for the temperature to become uncomfortable, which is why it especially important to consider the options for keeping it cool inside your car, especially if pets or small children are amongst your passengers.

Try to park in the shade when you can as this will help keep your car cool, and make it much more comfortable to be in when you do get back in. If you are not able to find a shady spot and you will be gone a while it is worth parking somewhere that might be shaded later on, for example under a tree or near a building as the sun moves so will the shade. Purchase a UV heat shield or a sun visor and place it in the windscreen of your parked car, this will help keep the interior cool.

sunshades can keep your car cool in summer

sun shades keeping a car cool in summer

Plan ahead – if you know you will be going out in a little while, then it is worth opening the windows on your car a little for half an hour or so before travelling, this will help to cool the interior down and will let the hot air out. Driving with your windows down may seem like a good idea, after all it will push a good breeze through the car and make it much cooler, however this increases the drag on your car which will mean you are using more fuel to make your journey. The best option is to drive for a few minutes with the windows open to push the hot air out and then close the windows and switch on your air conditioning, if you don’t have air con maybe its time for an upgrade?

Other things to consider
Even if you manage to make it feel cool inside your car, it could still be hot so it is important to make sure that you and your passengers keep hydrated. Water can also be useful for cooling down the hot metal on the buckles of a child’s car seat, simply wipe the metal with a dampened cloth and as the water evaporates it will help cool the metal making them much safer near small children.

Warmer weather doesn’t have to mean your journeys are uncomfortable. Follow the tips and tricks above and travelling in the –hopefully hot – summer should be a lot easier.

Summer Weekends Away – What to Put in the Car

Summer is Here and Time for Weekends Away, but don’t Forget….

weekends away family in carThere is something about the long hot days and warm evenings of summer that make people just want to pack a bag, throw it in the car and head off for a weekend away, especially on the coast, so that they can make the most of the fantastic weather. If you want to be able to just pack up and go without forgetting any of those essential items then it might be a good idea to make a list so that you don’t forget anything – after all, less time spent packing means more time spent enjoying yourself.

The Weather
The most important thing to remember is that if your weekends away take you to anywhere in the UK then you should remember that the British summer can be a notoriously fickle time. Your weekend away could in fact feature most types of weather, whilst you might plan for hot weather it is entirely possibly you will also encounter heavy rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds. In fact, hailstorms have occurred in recent years as late as July! So, your essential summer weekend away packing should probably include sunscreen, after sun, a floppy hat, an umbrella and waterproofs and almost certainly a woolly jumper just in case. When it comes to planning for the weather you really can’t be too careful!

Medical Kit
I find it is always worth having a small medical kit handy when travelling, you won’t need much but sometimes it can be hard to get to the shops for something, especially when you are in an unfamiliar area and it is late. Plasters are always handy in case of blisters caused by flip flops or sandals, headache medication, and something for indigestion. If you take regular medication then remember to make sure that you pack this as well. If you are going somewhere near the water then you may also want to pack a cream for insect bites.

Obviously, you will want to pack enough clothing for your weekend; don’t forget that jumper just in case the weather turns cold, and also a pair of long trousers – these can useful if you need to cover up in the sun or if it turns a little colder. Pack a couple outfits that you can easily add a layer to, or remove a layer from depending on the on beach one of many weekends away

Children, yep don’t forget them on your weekends away!

If you have children then even a weekend away will mean packing a lot of things, ring ahead to where you will be staying and see if they can provide you with some of those essentials such as a cot and highchair so that you can free up some space in the car. Make sure that in addition to their clothes, and plenty of spares, that you also pack any medications, favourite toys and books. If you have older children don’t forget to pack their electronic gadgets.

Once you have everything you need and anything you might possibly need just in case then you are finally ready to head off for your weekends away, all that remains to do is have fun.  If you are struggling to fit everything in to your car, perhaps its time for an upgrade? check out our non status car leasing here.

Get Ya Tops Off – Convertibles

Summer is Here – The World’s Most Well-Loved Convertibles

The British summer may be a fleeting thing but when it is here the convertibles will be out in force. Can there be anything better than driving down a small country lane with the roof down, the sun shining and the wind blowing in your hair, convertible drivers would answer that with a firm no. As a nation, we are rather in love with the convertible, perhaps we all watched too many James Bond films growing up, and despite our rather disastrous summers this love shows no real signs of abating. In fact, according to AutoTrader, the UK is one of the largest convertible markets in Europe, a little inclement weather does not put us off.

Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar e type one of the best convertibles

Courtesy of

Arguably one of the most beautiful convertibles ever built, and certainly worthy of a mention, the Jaguar E-Type is one of the world’s most-loved convertibles. With its sleek lines and distinctive shape this is one car everyone is sure to recognise on the roads. The early models feature a 265-hp 3.8 litre engine whilst later models were made with a larger 4.2 litre engine and an updated transmission.

Mazda MX-5
With its easy to use manual soft top as standard, fantastic handling and sleek styling the Mazda MX-5 is very popular with convertible lovers. This car is regarded as one of the best British roadsters that money can buy, and with over 920,000 sold it’s not hard to see why they hold the record for the most popular 2-seater sports car ever. With a 167-mph 2.0 litre engine and six speed manual transmission this car makes cruising down those country lanes a breeze.

Porsche 911
This beautiful cabriolet offers its driver all the performance of a Porched coupe, but with far more accessibility. Whilst it might be a little on the expensive side, the good news is that as convertibles go this one retains its value, around two thirds of its original price after three years. Despite its fantastic performance it is still a very fuel-efficient car and its need to be serviced is minimal. The addition of a turbo charged engine makes this car faster and more fuel efficient than its predecessors; it’s certainly one to look out for on the roads.

Audi TT Roadster
Quite simply one of the most stylish cars on the road; not only is the Audi TT Roadster stunning to look at but is also a great drive. Incredibly well built the T Roaster is a very safe drive and has the addition of four-wheel drive. The build quality is outstanding and well worth the slightly higher price tag. The only downside is the limited cabin and boot space, however if you are planning a summer weekend away packing light would certainly solve this problem.Audis tt convertibles are stunning

Jeep Wrangler
Not a convertible in the traditional sense however this one has an advantage over many others available; it’s a five seater. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the advantage of the fabric or folding roof of the more conventional convertibles, the Jeep has freedom panels, however it could be argued that they don’t offer much freedom as they require around half an hour to remove. Probably not the best convertible for the UK either where the weather can turn inclement at the drop of a hat. But boy does it look good!

Although we can’t count on the weather to stay nice enough to have the top down all the time, there’s no denying the appeal of some of these stunning convertibles.  Whats more even if you have an unhealthy credit score you can still lease a convertible from UltraCar, find out how here.

Which is your favourite convertible?

Car Camping Trips, Our Tips

Packing Hacks for Car Camping Trips

boot filled with camping gearCamping might seem like the perfect way to spend your summer, however when you find yourself faced with a mountain of camping gear, clothes, food and toiletries and a limited amount of space in your car it can quickly begin to seem like a bit of a nightmare. There is certainly a bit of an art form involved when it comes to getting everything that you need into such a small space but there are a few things that you can do before you start that will make it much easier. They might just prevent you from tearing your hair out as you find yourself unpacking everything again because you need to check if you already packed something.

Make a List of camping items

I can’t stress how much help a proper list is when you are packing for a camping trip, especially if space is tight and you need to make sure that you pack only the essentials. Write everything down on your list, you could make separate lists for things like clothes and then pack then in holdalls, and cross them off as you pack them. This will eliminate the did I pack it or have I forgotten scenario. Over time you should be able to refine this list and reuse it to make subsequent trips easier.

A Good Foundation
The key to packing a lot of things into a small amount of space starts with a good foundation. Lay out all your camping equipment close to the boot of your car and take a good look at it. Choose sturdy heavier with flat sides like your camping table, your tent and ground sheet or your camping stove. Place these items at the bottom and then work up slowly. As you go you will create little pockets of space around some of the larger objects. Look at the items available to you and try and fill the spaces as much as you can; not only will this give you more space later on, but it will also keep everything else from moving whilst you travel. Remember some items such as shoes can be used to fill up small spaces so if you can’t fit them into a bag with clothing don’t worry about it. If you might need access to a bag thing about where are how you position it so that you can still get at the zips.well packed boot ready for camping

Think small
If you are really struggling for space then consider the option of doing laundry on your campsite and reduce the number of items of clothing you pack. Decant your toiletries into smaller bottles; this is a lot cheaper than buying travel sized toiletries. Whilst buying food items in advance might be economical if there isn’t enough space in your car then you would be better to avoid doing this and put the money to one side to take with you; whilst most campsites have their own little shop this can be expensive, however it is always possible to find a nearby supermarket and stock up. Remember what you buy whilst on holiday will take up extra space on the way home so only buy what you need otherwise you may struggle to pack everything on the way home.

What are your camping stories?

New Driver Insurance

New Driver Insurance – The Basics Explained

Driver tearing l plate - new driver insuranceCongratulations after all those driving lessons, and the hours spent practising you have just passed your driving test. Now it’s time to get out on those roads unsupervised and enjoy being able to drive yourself from place to place without the need to be accompanied. Before you do though it is important to make sure that you have the appropriate insurance in place; you don’t want to have to stop driving before you have even really started. Car insurance, especially the first policy you buy, can be a bit daunting but here are just a few of the basics explained to help you.

Car insurance types
When it comes to choosing the type of insurance that is right for you there are just 3 types to choose from:

  • Third-party only – this type of insurance covers you against any damage to other people, cars or property, nothing else
  • Third-party, fire and theft – this covers your car is it is damaged in a fire of stolen in addition to the benefits provided by third-party only
  • Comprehensive – this cover the benefits of the other 2 types of insurance and also covers your car against damaged caused by an accident

It is important to remember that a comprehensive policy covers your car for any damage that may occur in the event of an accident, either minor or major, it does not however cover and damage that occurs to your car as a result of general wear and tear.

Picking the right policy for you as a new driver

It is important to shop around when you are looking for an insurance policy, as prices could vary considerably. Make sure that you are comparing like for like to get the most accurate comparison. Whilst your budget might be a big factor in the type of policy that you choose remember that unless you have comprehensive insurance you will end up paying out quite a bit is you damage your own car.

There are a couple of things to consider:

  • Whilst monthly payments might suit your budget more they could end up costing you up to 30% extra so you should consider what type of payment options you can affordfemale driver smiling with new driver insurance
  • Don’t add anyone to your policy who won’t be driving your car; additional drivers don’t always make a policy cheaper
  • There are plenty of online tools for calculating your mileage; use one to help you make the most accurate estimate you can for your insurance

No claims bonus
As a new driver, you will not have built up any no claims bonus; drive sensibly, and within the speed limit and make sure you pay attention to the roads. Avoiding having an accident will help you to build up your no claims bonus which will count for you each time you need to renew your car insurance.

Driving and all the associated costs of owning your own car can be expensive; do not be tempted to drive without getting the appropriate insurance. Not only is this an offence that is currently being clamped down on but there are also steep penalties in place for those people caught driving without insurance; fines, prosecution or even the seizing and destruction of your car.