Getting to Spain - the move over
It couldn't be easier! - Hop on a plane, hire a car (or not as the case maybe) and in a short space of time, you are in the Villamartin area.
Of course thats straight forward, but if you are moving over, there are a whole host of other issues to consider before jumping on that plane.
You might need to think about the family pet as well as your luggage and possibly the furniture.
To pardon the pun, these are my suggestions in order to think outside the box!
I have recently put together various suggestions for some friends who will be driving down from the UK later in 2020, with a family pet. Let's look at the dog first:
He could go in a kennel in the hold on the same flight you are going on.
You could use a dog transport service, your dog goes in a van, with other dogs and gets dropped off locally for you to collect.
Brittany Ferries options:
Pet friendly cabin
Kennel on board.
4. Or of course, with the dog in the car, you could simply get a Dover to Calais ferry and drive down with the dog. (its a long way - see below.)
This graphic has been copied from the Brittany Ferries website.
We have used the majority of the ferry routes, apart from the DFDS Newhaven to Dieppe service. These days our preference is the Brittany Ferries route to Santander.
Brittany Ferries routes:
Portsmouth is just so different to Gatwick, for a start there is none of the stress involved at going through check-in, what about my liquids etc. By comparison to flying, it's just so easy.
But back to the pooch for a second.
On board the Brittany Ferries boats, you either have a pet friendly cabin, so can take your pet into the boat with you. Or you can berth him in a Kennel and visit them and take for a walk in the dog exercise area.
The pet friendly cabins will sell out very quickly and some boats don't havre them. (Pont Aven being one - although on this boat, you can leave your pet in the car on the shorter French crossings.)
The Brittany Ferries website shows the Pet options on a per boat basis, details can be found here: https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/ships/cruise-ferries
Which Brittany Ferries route?
By far the easier route is Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao - or if you are coming from the Midlands, maybe Plymouth to Santander.
You arrive at the dockside in your car (or as a foot passenger), drive on, cruise over, have dinner, maybe a few drinks and sometime the next day you arrive into Santander. From there it's a day's drive to Villamartin.
We do it slightly differently, in as much as we arrive at the quayside in our Motorhome, drive on and when we get to the other side, we split the journey into two days, staying at a campsite just North of Madrid. Although just like the pet friendly cabins, availability is limited for Motorhomes.
Note: These options might change. Due to Covid19 Brittany Ferries have just announced cuts to their winter 2020/2021 schedule.
After Santander, our next favourite route option is Portsmouth to St Malo.
Typically the boat leaves Portsmouth about 8pm and arrives into St Malo around 8am the following day. St Malo looks as if it's a nice town, steeped in history and we really should stop and wander around, but sadly that has never been the case so far!
The distances and timings in the guide above will give you an indication of how far Villamartin, Orihuela Costa is from the various ports. Depending on how much time you have, you could make a holiday of it and explore France and Spain as you drive down.
Motorhome timings are slower; we would take 3 days to drive down from St Malo, staying overnight in Bordeaux and then Zaragoza.
A friend of ours every year drives back to the UK, with a friend and her Labrador, via Calais. They will check into an IBIS hitter on the way, as they are generally pet friendly.
Motorway or not? Driving that sort of distance, unless you are making a holiday of it. then its motorway all the way. Typically tolls in France will cost around €100 to €150. In Spain there are very few toll sections as far as routes from the ports are concerned.
If you are going to do this route, I would suggest using one of the toll tags. The idea is that you buy this tag, leaving a £20 deposit (refundable when returned) and then you simply drive through the toll booths without stopping. Next month you get the bill and pay by direct debit.
Ok thats the route sorted out, what about luggage?
There are a number of companies offering one-way removals to Spain, we had an arctic truck when we moved over!
In the UK there is a good chance that your local removal company might offer an overseas service. Failing that there are loads of adverts in the local newspapers here for companies that will have partnerships with UK based companies.
The company we used was based in Rojales, with a partner company in Derby. The truck arrived on the Friday, loaded up and headed to the freight ships at Poole for the Saturday night crossing which was due to arrive into Santander on the Monday. We in the meantime got the Portsmoth to St Malo ferry with our motorhome and raced to Villamartin, where we arrived on the Monday. Our furniture etc. was then put into our new house on Wednesday, having signed at the Notary at 10am. The arctic lorry, then spent the next week working around this area, before picking up several loads and heading back to the UK.
A load of that size might be extreme, so maybe a "Man with a van" might be more appropriate.
Another alternative could be useful if you are going to rent out your house in the UK, so have no furniture to transport. It might simply be a few suitcases. There are now companies who will collect a suitcase and deliver it to your door a few days later.
One company is quoting a 24kg case will cost £33 and arrive in 3 or 4 days. Other options and sizes are available.*
*19th August 2020.
Note: If you are driving down in your UK registered car, you should change its registration onto a Spanish plate within 6 months of arriving.
However, there are a limited number of companies in the UK who specialise in left hand drive cars.
As ever with something like this, check everything and do your research before parting with any money.
Hopefully that gives you a few suggestions, other than flying from Gatwick etc.
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Neal Ball August 2020
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