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You can get to Dover for free if you find your lift before you board the ferry - tickets are paid for by vehicle and ''not by passenger''. The limit is two for a lorry (more if there's more seats) and several with a car. While looking for a lift, tell people about this possibility, many don't know about it.
You can easily change lifts in the harbour terminal, after ticket and passport control and before boarding the ferry. Find a lift before coming to Calais, and you might well have some time before the ferry leaves, especially so if you've come with a lorry. Use this time well, walk around the huge parkings (which is perfectly fine) and talk to as many people waiting for their ferries as you can. You'll often be able to get a better lift, especially one going past London if you're going north. There might be an issue if the number of passengers coming into the harbour isn't the same as coming onto the ferry. However, [[User:Zenit|Zenit]] followed said strategy successfully in May 2011 - P&O don't check the tickets again as you enter the ferry (only as you enter the port), Seafrance ''might''. It might be a bad idea to let the vehicle that brought you into the port in the first place cross without you. If somebody tries to give you shit, you won't be able to "prove" that you'll be crossing etc.