Next summer my family and I (including a 3 year-old and a 5 year-old child) will be traveling from Hungary to the UK by car. I will know the date we want to cross the English channel by March, but I will know the time only on that day (depending on how far we managed to drive from home in the previous days, we might be arriving at Calais from Cologne, Brussels, Ghent, Brugge or someplace between these places. So it could be morning, afternoon or even evening).

Is it feasible that we purchase our tickets only when we arrive at the terminal or do I need to book it days (or weeks) ahead and try to make sure we arrive in time? I'd rather not wait for hours at the terminal with the children.

  • 1
    How about reengineering your travel plans so you visit a tourist location near the Eurotunnel, and spend [flexible, 2 to 10] hours there? Then if you are running ahead of schedule (who does that?) you spend the day there, and if behind, just a quick meal. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 17:40
  • From Cologne to the Calais Eurotunnel terminal is only a four-and-a-half hour drive, and the other places you mention are closer. So your window of uncertainty is nothing like as big as the whole day -- if you know you'll be setting off from one of the places you mention at 09:00, you'll be arriving between 10:30 and 13:30.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


Cheaper if you book early, but there are still reasonable deals to be had a day or two before. You can pay a lot to just turn up without a booking. There are plenty of crossings (up to 4 per hour) and it runs all night, so it is never fully booked for days on end, though you might have fewer choices of departure time still available when you do book.

Guess your arrival time as best you can. If you arrive early, you can just wait (the town or Cite Europe is a lot better choice than the rather poor facilities at the tunnel compound). If you arrive up to 2 hrs late they will just put you on the next available. If you are going to be later than that, call them before departure time and try to move your booking and you will get a new 2 hrs late window (this is easier if you have an excuse like massive traffic jams); however, you might have to pay more.

One useful trick that I've used is to book a night in one of the hotels near the tunnel. You get more certainty on your departure time and get to travel the tunnel refreshed the next day.


If you know your departure times, book as early as possible so that the ticket would be cheaper. It's the first suggestion on the Eurotunnel booking page itself:


If you arrive up to 2 hours late, changing the ticket is free, and for up to 24 hours you only pay the applicable fare difference. I believe that's still a very good option if you can roughly tell when is the likeliest that you'd arrive.


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