40 articles Articles posted in Holidays

Getting Prepared for Your Holiday

Now that the weather is getting warmer, many of us are finally starting to wind-down and think about our yearly holiday. The problem with holidays is that all the prep can be such a stress that it’s hard to unwind once we finally get to our destination, so I thought I’d share with you a few tips that can make your life easier while you’re preparing for your trip.

Order Medications Online

From regular prescription meds that we need to take every day, to basics like paracetamol and antihistamines, most if us take a few different medications on holiday with us each year. Using an online pharmacy like UK Meds to order everything you need well ahead of time can save you the stress of picking up prescriptions as everything you order will be delivered straight to your door.

Weigh Your Bags

Is there anything more annoying than getting to the airport, realising your bags are too heavy and you’re going to need to pay a hefty fee to take excess baggage on the plain with you? We highly recommend getting a suitcase scale and weighing them yourself before you go so that you can be double sure you’re not going to get stung for fees.

Online Check-In

I’m stilled awed by this one, but the ability to check-in online means less time waiting around in airports and going through all of that aggravation. Doing online check-in means that you can spend your time in the airport enjoying a pre-flight cocktail and perusing the duty-free at your leisure!

Buy it There

Often, we spend SO much time and money shopping before a holiday, when waiting to buy things when you’re there can be beneficial in many ways. Most places you’ll go will have a supermarket nearby (we saw someone online the other day saying they did a Lidl shop in Tenerife!), so you could buy toiletries, nappies, sun cream and other items. They’ll probably be cheaper than they are in the UK, and you’ll also save space and weight in your suitcases if you aren’t lugging these heavy, bulky items along with you.

Book in Advance

If you’re planning excursions and day trips while you’re away, there will be lots of things that you can book in advance, like water parks and coach trips. This will save you the bother of doing it while you’re there, can help to navigate a language barrier and means that any money you take with you will be for luxuries and treats!

5 Family Cruise Destinations

When Husband and I were planning our wedding, one of the options was to go on a cruise and get married while we were on board. Ultimately, we chose the Maldives, but I’ve wanted to go on a cruise ever since. What we’ve recently discovered is that family cruises are a great option for a family vacation, and there are loads of amazing destinations that you can choose from. Here’s our top five destinations for a family cruise:

Scandinavia

Husband and I are both big fans of Scandinavian society and their way of life, and the countries we’d visit on a Scandinavian cruise are incredibly interesting and beautiful. Cruises are a great way to see a lot, all on one trip and being able to go from county to country is really appealing. There’s also the opportunity to see the Northern Lights on some of the cruises, which is a real bucket list item for all of us.

Caribbean 

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to go on a cruise around the Caribbean?! Sun, crystal seas and  incredible stops at some of the most beautiful islands in the world. I’ve always wanted to go to Jamaica and all four of us are HUGE Bob Marley fans, so some cultural sight-seeing around the island would be another ultimate experience for us.

Mediterranean

Although Europe is only a hop, skip and a jump away from the UK, I still feel like I’ve seen relatively little of it. I’ve been to Malta twice and really love it, but I’d love to see a lot more of the Mediterranean, like Spain, Italy and Greece. One thing we love about Mediterranean culture is the way it’s very family oriented – kids aren’t expected to be “seen and not heard” like they are in other places and it’s not unusual to see families all out together and eating a meal at 10pm!

China

A lot of people automatically think about cruises being on the open ocean, but river cruises are also an option and allow you to see the side of a country that a regular cruise wouldn’t let you see. China is a country I’ve always wanted to visit, and although the main cities seem fascinating, a river cruise would allow you to see the rural parts that you might not otherwise get to visit.

New York

America is quite a way away and when you’re not a fan of flying, going by cruise is a fantastic alternative. I’ve always wanted to visit New York and doubling it up with a cruise would be make it a really memorable trip!

Are you regular cruisers, or a complete newbie like us?Where are your ultimate cruise destinations? Is there anywhere you’d absolutely love to visit? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

A Real Girl’s Guide To Holiday Preparations

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In a utopian world, we would all be able to roll out of bed, yawn beautifully and head to the airport looking like a VS model about to head down the runway without us having to do anything. Unfortunately, though, Donald Trump is President of the United States, which is all the evidence we need to know we don’t live in utopia.

But before you give up on everything and cancel the flights you’ve just booked and all the bucket-list activities your family was looking forward to, we want you to know that, while it isn’t one-hundred percent easy, there are a few things every girl can do to look their best in time for a vacation.

So, without further ado, here is the real girl’s guide to getting vacation ready:

Step 1: Tune That Diet

Literally, the first thing you should do after booking your flights, hotels and whatever else is committing to a healthier lifestyle. Not one of those fads that say you can get shred in six minutes or slim in two days, just a nice gentle lifestyle upheaval with, let’s say, two months to go. Drink lots of water, snack on walnuts, chow down on avocado and eat oily-fish. Looking vacation-good is a matter of feeling good, and that comes from a healthy lifestyle. Simple.

Step 2: Pamper Yourself

Most men find this part of the process pretty hard to understand, but there are a bunch of appointments you deserve to make in the build-up to a vacation. We’re talking about a bit of retail therapy with one aim: find a perfect sundress. We’re talking about getting pampered at the hairdressers, nail salon, waxing parlour and all that sort of stuff. If you really want to, and there is nothing saying you can’t, book in a quick tan too, as well as some brow and lash touch-ups. It’s a girly thing.

Step 3: Photograph Everything

You may be thinking that photographs are for the holiday itself, but you’d be wrong. Photographs are just as important before and that’s because real girls lose stuff, misplace things and have forgetful memories. As such, get the camera up on the phone and snap some pictures of your passport, your prescription medicines and any paperwork you’re probably going to lose at some point. It’s just not worth the risk.

Step 4: Wintery Feet

This is one of those appointments you should have made but, surprise-surprise, forgot to make. This is bad because our feet are the most abused part of our bodies and so a lick of paint isn’t going to be enough to sort them out. Not properly anyway. The simplest way to do this is to file away the dead skin before you shower, and then let your feet soak in an intensely hydrating foot lotion. Your feet will be on show on holiday, so make sure they are beautified.

Step 4: Have A Hair Cut

Sun, salt, sand, sea and all that sort of exposure is going to wreak havoc on your hair, which is why we recommend you get your haircut before you leave and properly washed and protected. A great way to do this yourself is to use a lovely conditioner. It’s the perfect prep for an overexposure of sun.

Having Great Adventures While Travelling On A Budget

A Strategic Approach

Even if you’re in debt, you’ve got to go on a vacation every now and then. If you’re clever about it, you can do so without seriously compromising your payback strategy. You may always have that dream vacation to Australia on the backburner, but just because you can’t go Down Under, doesn’t mean you can’t have the same kind of adventure on a budget vacation.

One of your best bets in this regard is going to involve getting assistance from professionals who understand your situation, who can give you the proper information to help you inform your travel plans.

According to Debt Academy, “When you are overwhelmed and consumed with worry about debt, you need answers. And more than answers, you need solutions. Debt Academy is committed to helping everyone struggling with crippling debt so that you can hold your head high and not avoid another call from the ‘unknown number’.”

Once you have the right answers, you can ask some additional questions. As in something to the tune of: “Now that I’ve managed to consolidate my debt into a single monthly payment of $1,200, after expenses, I have $200 a month left over! What kind of vacation can I put together with $200?”

Possibilities

Well, with $200, you might be able to finance a weekend trip somewhere. But with $2,400, you might be able to spend a month in a fine locale and really get your emotional and psychological well being back where it should be. How can you turn $200 into $2,400? Well, in a word, save.

It’s hard to save money when you’ve got debt, but it’s not impossible. Perhaps establish a secondary revenue stream through the internet. Provided your wages aren’t affected, and you’ve just got debt, it’s possible to pay all your bills and save a little, too. It just involves cutting on creature comforts.

Take coffee and food at a chic coffee shop, for example. If you buy something from such a place daily, you’ll spend three dollars per visit at least, which is $1,095 over the course of a year. Instead, spend $95 on a Sam’s Club-sized tin of your favorite coffee and a machine, and save $1,000 for a vacation!

Once you’ve managed to secure a vacation “nest-egg”, however small, now it’s time to determine where you’ll go. You want to find areas where you can get the best amenities for the lowest price. Well, in some scenarios. Sometimes you may be interested in camping somewhere exotic. But if you’re going the resort angle, you may find some decent options.

Affordable Vacation Packages

You can find some great, affordable vacation deals on this website which offers some low rates. This is certainly worth looking into. As you’re researching potential areas where you might want to travel, you might also want to look for options that have similar discounts. Think of it like vacation “Big Lots”.

Are you familiar with “Big Lots”? Well, this is a department store that sells overstocked items and those which have been discontinued, but yet must be moved. You can get great discounts.

Sometimes you’ll get something at a quarter of its initial selling value. Sometimes with vacations, if you go to a resort town in the off-season, you can get some excellent rates. Additionally, there are sometimes rolling promotional packages during the “in” season as well. Whatever your budget, there are ways you can have the vacation you need on the budget you’ve got.

Family Holiday Bucket List – Sicily

SicilyHusband and I spend a lot of time fantasising about where we’ll visit when we’re able to start taking holidays and one place that we definitely agree upon is Sicily. It’s considered to be a ‘wilder’ version of Italy and there are SO many things about the place that pique our curiosity. We’re planning to rent a villa in Sicily as we think it’ll provide a really good base for us as a family to explore from, and it also gives us the option to have lazy days in our accommodation, or to eat in rather than visiting restaurants for every meal. Here are just five of the reasons we’d love to visit Sicily:

Mount Etna

Obviously, one of the things which springs to mind as soon as most people mention Sicily is Mount Etna, which is an active volcano on the island. It’s possible to climb the mountain and there’s a cable car which takes you to the summit. Once you get there, the views are truly breathtaking and while it’s all very well seeing other people’s photos, it’s a view I’d like to take in with my own eyes.

The History

One of the things that a lot of people don’t realise is the huge amount of Greek history which Sicily has, including one of the best examples of a Greek temple on the planet! Husband and I love a bit of historical sightseeing and would be absolutely in our element wandering around temples for the day.

The Food

Every time I see a plate of Sicilian food, my mouth starts to water involuntarily! From the fresh fish to the cured meats, the pasta, the gelato, the cannoli and other pastries – I could go on, but I don’t want to start drooling on my keyboard! I guarantee I will come back from Sicily having gained a LOT of weight (fortunately there’s a lot of villas in Sicily with a pool, so I could keep some of the weight at bay while I’m there!). 

The Architecture

From what I can gather, the architecture in Sicily is something to take notice of, not least of all because the island has a long history of different cultures using the island as a travelling way-point. Years ago, I read in a book that whenever you’re in a new city, you should look UP at the tops of the buildings because there are often little hidden treasures than so many people miss because they simply never look up, and I reckon Sicily has a lot of these treasures to find.

The Coast

Coming from the South East of England means that I’ve always been fairly close to the coast wherever I’ve lived, and it’s given me a real love of the sea and beach. Sicily’s coastline looks absolutely stunning in every single image I’ve ever seen and I’d love to spend time both on the beaches and travelling the coastline.

Have you ever been to Sicily? Is it a favourite location for holidays for you and your family? Do you have any tips for hidden gems? Do leave me a comment below.

How To Pack for a Cruise

Packing for a cruise might seem like packing for any other type of holiday, but actually there are things that you might want to remember which aren’t things you’d usually take away with you. Today, i thought I’d put together a little list to help you if you’re packing for a cruise so that hopefully you get everything in before you set sail!

Formalwear

Many ships have strict dress codes for certain nights or certain areas and there’s nothing worse than boarding and realising you don’t have appropriate attire. Most ships have evenings where formalwear will be required (that’s men’s suits and cocktail dresses for women – take a look at Suits Men), or smart casual which is basically what you’d wear for date night, with no jackets required for men. Take a look at the ship’s dress code ahead of your holiday.

Over the Counter Meds

Things like paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin are usually available to buy on board but usually at a much higher price than you’d pay at home. Take a stash with you to avoid paying a huge premium for basics like this, and they usually take up minimal space in your bag anyway.

Chargers

Taking chargers for all of your devices is imperative if you don’t want your batteries to run out, and although most of the main brands will be available on board, again, the prices will probably be very high and you don’t want to spend your holiday cash on things that you could have just as easily taken from home.

Hangers

If you plan to pack a lot of easily-creased items then there’s a good chance you’ll want to hang them up but cruise ship wardrobes are notorious for being scant in the hanger department. If you’ve a bit of space in your case, chuck in a few extra plastic hangers so that you don’t look crumpled or have to spend the entirety of your cruise ironing things!

Think About What You DON’T Need to Pack

You’ll still have a baggage limit on a cruise, so thinking about what you don’t need to pack is just as important. On many ships, the bathrooms will already have basics like soap, shower gel, shampoo and toothpaste, which will save weight in your case. You’ll also probably have a hairdryer in your room, too.

Planning for School Holidays

Planning for school holidays- the stress-free way

For kids, the six-week school holidays fly by in no time at all. For parents; they seem to drag on and on.

It can be hard to keep the kids entertained during the summer school holidays. Everything seems so expensive with days out costing a small fortune and if you have to fit work in too, finding childcare can be a nightmare. All in all, the school holidays can be a very stressful time for parents.

So here is a list of tips to help you plan a stress-free school holiday that everyone will enjoy.

Make a budget

Money is often one of the biggest stressors for parents and in the summer holidays money plays a huge role in just about every decision. The kids may be eating you out of house and home or wanting to go on days out and if you must take time off work or hire a babysitter, your costs are mounting day by day.

So, make a budget at the beginning of the holidays to help you manage your finances. Factor in any time off work or childcare costs and set aside extra money for the weekly shop. Once you have the essentials down you can plan how much money you have to spend on trips out or spending money for any holiday you have coming up. Writing it all down will mean you are not worrying and stressing about whether or not you can afford something as you will know exactly where you stand financially.

Plan ahead

Planning days out ahead of time can greatly help to relieve any stress. Last minute decisions or kids claiming boredom can be very stressful for parents but planning days in advance can give you and the kids something to look forward to. Booking tickets to see something on the West End Stage is a great thing to plan in advance and could well save you some money if you book ahead. It will get any moaning kids off your back and booking in advance online often saves you money too. Looking at a long range weather forecast can give you a good idea when it is best to do outside trips like the zoo or beach and also gives you a heads up if you need to look at indoor day trips too.

Work with other parents

Parents up and down the country will be in the same boat as you this summer and it is a good idea to get your heads together with your kids’ friend’s parents to keep each other sane this school holiday. Arrange play dates to keep the kids entertained but also to give each set of parents a helping hand if they need to work or run errands. Work together to reduce each other’s stress levels- as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and working together will benefit you all.

Make the most of it

At the end of the day, kids aren’t kids for long. Try to shake off any stress and worry and just enjoy having your kids around more than usual. You don’t have to spend money to have fun- grab a picnic and head to the park. The kids will make friends to play with and you can enjoy the (hopefully) good weather as you watch them have fun being a kid before school starts again.

 

Three Irish Holidays To Make Your Friends Green With Envy

Ireland has so much going for it as a holiday destination, and it’s easy to forget that considering it’s just a short hop across the sea. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday somewhere beautiful, though, there’s a lot of charm to a place that doesn’t cost the earth, is quick to get to and doesn’t require you to dust off your A-Level French or German.

In fact, that’s damning Ireland with faint praise. The whole island is filled with spots that grab you by the wrist and demand your attention. The greenery, the small towns and the buzzing cities all have a real pull and once you come back, you’ll be aching to return there. Interested? Then have a look at some possible destinations and get planning.

Belfast

Wikipedia

First up, a place where you won’t even need to calculate exchange rates. Belfast is in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK — but it’s got a character that mixes the best of British and Irish to make it one of the finest cities in Europe for a family holiday.

The shopping is excellent – get yourself to Victoria Square and Castle Court and pick up a few bargains. For some culture, pick one of the many museums here — the Titanic Museum is well worth the visit, and the area around it has been regenerated into the Titanic Quarter, a thriving slice of the city filled with attractions. Then head back to the city and experience fine dining Irish style. Irish stew, Ulster Fry, or something a bit more esoteric? The choice is yours.

Cork

Wikipedia

The people of Cork have a saying: “Irish by birth, Cork by the grace of God”. This irritates people from elsewhere in Ireland, and might seem arrogant to you until you visit Cork. It really is a gem. Like many of Ireland’s cities, it’s on the coast, and the waterfront areas are beautiful. Nearby, you’ll find Blarney Castle, home to the stone of the same name. Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you’ll be blessed with the “Gift of the Gab” — which given that most of Ireland’s history has been passed down orally, may be true!

Head back to the city for the night time, which is a special experience. Take your choice from some fine lodgings, including two of the best Maldron Hotels in Ireland, and check out Main Street’s great pubs. There’s live ceilidh music most nights, which is a thing you must experience if you’re on the Emerald Isle.

Dublin

Wikipedia

Finally, the capital city. Dublin has everything that a city needs: it’s soaked in history, some of it tragic and some more uplifting; it’s beautiful, with busy streets lining the banks of the Liffey; most of all, it’s one of Europe’s most vibrant capitals. There’s shopping to be done, and plenty of places to give your credit card a workout. Of course, there are also pubs — a pint of Guinness in Temple Bar is more or less a rite of passage for holidaymakers here.

On top of all that, if you want culture, Dublin has it in spades. Once home to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats, there’s a poetry and a linguistic charm to Dublin reflected in museums to all of those names. In short, it’s a perfect place to round off a trip to a part of the world that will leave you wanting more.

Exploring the Mediterranean with Larry Lamb

When Husband and I were planning our wedding, we narrowed it down to two choices; one was the Maldives and the other was a cruise. Ultimately, the Maldives won, but we’ve both still got our hearts set on a cruise one day in the future. One of the things which we love about the idea of a cruise is being able to stop at several different places to see cities along the way, experiencing a different culture at each port. Just recently, Thomson Cruises challenged Larry Lamb to explore the Mediterranean to meet some new “Cruise Mates” – watch this video to see how he got on at one of his stops!

Ibiza is somewhere that I’ve wanted to visit for ages, and although it’s got a reputation for being the clubbing capital of the world, it’s actually great for travellers of all ages, including families, and has some beautiful sights and beaches. Because the Mediterranean is so close to us in terms of flying, I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to take a cruise there, but actually it would be perfect for us because Husband is NOT a fan of flying and it would allow us to see so much more in a shorter space of time.

Mediterranean lifestyle and culture is so appealing to me; I’ve been to Malta twice and the main thing that I love is that everything is geared up for families. Kids aren’t expected to be seen and not heard and it’s completely normal to see kids dining with their parents at 9pm, rather than the kids being ushered off and evenings being adults only. If we’re on a family holiday, I want everything we do to be for the WHOLE family!

Something that Larry Lamb said really confirmed how perfect a cruise would be for us. He said: “I teamed up with Thomson Cruises to show that people aren’t restricted to just staying on the ship – there is a wealth of amazing people from different cultures and backgrounds that cruise-goers can meet when they step ashore at a new destination. Hopefully the films we have created will inspire holidaymakers to try cruising and meet their very own Cruise Mates.”

Managing Director of Thomson Cruises, Richard Sofer, said: “We knew that Larry had a love of travel and meeting new people – made evident by his ability to speak five different languages – making him the perfect person for our Cruise Mates challenge. It was great to see him really get into the spirit of the trip, meeting an array of fascinating locals who bring to life the different destinations that TUI Discovery 2 visits. We’d really love our holidaymakers to now step ashore, explore each destination and discover as many of their own Cruise Mates as they can, because we know meeting new people whilst on holiday is proven to increase our happiness.” Larry’s journey can be followed at https://cruise-mates.co.uk/

Making the Most of Summer with all the Family

Summer is in full swing, the kids are off school and it is the perfect time to enjoy some valuable family time out and about together. So what are you going to do? You can do something cool like a trip in an RV. But make sure to take a portable ice maker with you because instant ice is always handy in summer.

As a parent, summer is an interesting time of year. We love having the kids’ home, but six weeks is an awfully long time to keep them busy! After the initial excitement of being off school for the summer wears off, there is still a month that is void in their calendars.

To avoid catching the boredom bug, which can result in a long, long summer for mums and dads, days out is a great way of breaking up long periods of nothingness. Kids can only sit around and play video games for so long, after all.

Trip to the Seaside

Who doesn’t look forward to a trip to the seaside in the summer? This is an annual tradition among many families who make full use of the summer holidays to take the kids up to the beach. Buckets and spades and watching the waves make for a fantastic day out, especially when you add ice cream into the mix!

In the UK, we are lucky to have many glorious beaches to spend the day or weekend, on the account of us being an island, and it would be rude not to take full advantage! Blackpool is a favourite among many families, who affectionately refer to the North West seaside resort as England’s answer to Las Vegas. While that may be overselling the area just a little, Blackpool is still a fantastic place to take the kids.

To the City

A day in the city, surrounded by shops and countless places to eat, makes for an exciting and, equally as, tiring day out. To make the most of a trip to some of the bigger cities in the UK, why not stay for a few days so as you can fit as much in a possible?

There are many hotels in cities like Nottingham, London, Manchester and Edinburgh (to name but a few) that are perfect for families looking to explore the local area. Depending on where you go, some hotels will also offer entertainment of their own, meaning that the hottest ticket in town may just be right outside of your hotel room door.

Of course, though, when you visit some of the biggest and most historic cities in the UK you don’t want to be confined to your hotel. Many attractions offer discount deals during the holiday season that families can make the most out of. Not only will children have a great time, they can also take away an educational aspect.

Going Abroad

It is no secret that travel agents and airlines hike up prices during the holidays. You might believe that it is too late to book anything for this summer, but this is where you would be wrong with many comparison websites and agents offering late discounts.

The only downside is that late deals generally offer little to no flexibility in terms of dates and rooms, hence why they are available at a discount. If you are able to find a package that works for you, however, you will be in line to make a massive saving on a holiday that would have otherwise come at a premium.

Whatever your summer has in store, ensure that there is something in store for everyone and that the children do not waste away their summer bored indoors. Summers are the time for making family memories, so do not squander the opportunity as it will be gone before you know it.

It is understandable that you may begin to worry about your vacant property while away for long periods of time, but the worry can be eliminated very quickly – there are many vacant property security solutions available right at your fingertips! It’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy your travels.