Eurotunnel - A fast and simple train taking around 40 minutes from Folkestone in Kent across to Calais. Day trippers can expect to pay around £60 return including a standard car, longer stays and non standard cars (trailers etc) are charged at higher prices. The drawbacks are that the facilities on board are very limited and you are generally restricted to your own vehicle for the duration of the crossing.

Ferries - The next option is to travel from Dover (once again in Kent) across to Calais in France. P&O, LD Lines, Seafrance and Norfolkline are the operators (Norfolkline operating to Dunkerque, a few miles north of Calais). This will be around a 90 minute crossing with full on board facilities for the family, shopping and catering including bars at attractive prices. Once again, day trippers and short break customers can expect a deal usually priced within a few pounds of the Eurotunnel option.

NB: Seafrance charge a supplement at the port if you wish to return from a day trip on a different ferry than the one specified on the ticket, and P&O reduce catering facilities on some early and late crossings.

There is also a service from Hull. This service takes around 8-10 hours and arrives at the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium itself. Whilst facilities on board are excellent, the cost of the crossing can be expensive.

Transeuropa Ferries operate a service from Ramsgate to Ostend (again a Belgian arrival point) operating three / four times per day. The crossing is almost 4 hours, however, they do not operate the fluid pricing policy introduced by the other ferry operators and you can see every price for every sailing up front on their website before you book.

An advantage for the foot passenger is that Ostend Ferry Terminal and train station are very close together, meaning you're instantly linked with the rest of Belgium and continental Europe.

The routes are becoming quite competitive and this is making day tickets from about 30 GBP each way. The main operators to search are: P&O, LD Lines, Seafrance, Transeuropa, Eurotunnel, P&O & Norfolkline. It is well worth checking each website directly as there can be a significant difference between fares for the same routes and times.