34 articles Articles posted in Holidays

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. 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

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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?

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.

Sweet Burritos (Camping Recipe) – #campfirecooking

When I was a kid, the vast majority of the holidays we went on were of the camping variety. The south of England is pretty packed with family-friendly places to camp and on years that we couldn’t afford a big holiday, we’d still get taken for the odd night camping here and there, which felt like such an adventure. Unless you’re camping on a  site with great facilities, campfire cooking can take some thought and preparation – it’s unlikely you’ll have refrigeration beyond a cool box (which doesn’t stay cold forever) so finding food which won’t perish without a fridge is essential.

Just recently, Simply Hike got in touch and asked me to create a campfire cooking recipe. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’ve been eating a low carb diet for around six months now, but I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try to make something sweet, decadent and TOTALLY off plane! Here’s my recipe for sweet burritos:

Sweet Burritos #campfirecooking

Sweet Burritos (Recipe) - #campfirecooking
 
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Cook time
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A sweet take on a burrito
Author:
Recipe type: Campfire Cooking
Ingredients
  • Flour tortillas (I used special ones with a foldable end)
  • Bananas
  • Mini marshmallows
  • A bag of giant chocolate buttons
  • Tin foil
  • Cast iron pan
Instructions
  1. Place your pan on your campfire or camping stove and allow it to get hot
  2. Tear off a strip of tin foil which is about the size of an A4 sheet of paper
  3. Place your torilla on the foil
  4. Peel a banana and place it in the middle of the tortilla
  5. Sprinkle mini marshamllows down one side of the banana
  6. Line your choloate buttons along the top of your banana
  7. Wrap your tortilla, remembering to fold the bottoms in first to create an enlosed pocket
  8. Wrap your tinfoil tightly around the burrito and place it in the hot cast iron pan
  9. Cook it for a minute at a time on each side, turning frequently
  10. You'll know it's cooked when you give the burrito a squeeze and it feels squishy inside!
  11. Eat around the campfire!

Sweet Burritos #campfirecooking

This is honestly the sweetest, most indulgent thing I’ve eaten in months and it was SO worth it! It’s the perfect dish to top off a whole day of camping and will definitely help you to drift off into a cosy slumber when you crawl into your tent at bedtime. And don’t worry about all of the calories, because you’re bound to burn it off with all of the walking/tent erecting/other activities you’ll do whilst on your camping trip! This recipe can also just as easily be made a home on the hob, so don’t feel like you have to wait to make it!

Do you have a favourite camping recipe? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear all about it.

 

Making Holidays Simpler

As you’ll know if you read MTW regularly, we’ve yet to take the girls away on holiday. Having an elderly dog makes it basically impossible, but we’d love to take them away sooner rather than later and are lucky enough to live close to an airport which flies to some really great, family-friendly destinations. I’ve been doing some research on how to make family holidays easier to manage and thought I’d share some of them with you here:

Know the Lingo

I’m not suggesting that you get yourself fluent in the language of the place you’re travelling to, but having SOME knowledge of the language is really important. I find that, here in the UK, language education is woefully lacking and according to a survey conducted by Holiday Autos Car Hire, over a quarter of Brits don’t bother to learn ANY language before they go on holiday, and just under a quarter said that they only holiday in resorts where they know people speak English. It’s all well and goo d until you find yourself lost or in an emergency and completely unable to communicate, when knowing a bare minimum could really help.

Know The Etiquette

When I was 16, I went on holiday to Malta. I stayed in an area which wasn’t really full of holiday makers and I wondered why the locals looked disgusted with me when I left the flat in a bikini top! I was young and naive, failing to realise that this wasn’t really the done thing in a fiercely Catholic country, but had I bothered to read up first I’d have worked out that bikinis should be limited to beaches and touristy areas. This kind of knowledge is absolutely essential in some countries and could be the difference between staying safe and not.

Have Your Papers in Order

When Husband and I went to the Maldives, we didn’t realise until the last minute that we’d need to purchase a visa to stay there once we got to Male airport. All of our money was in travellers cheques and it was only by luck that we managed to change some up to enable us to get our visas. Knowing what paperwork you need to either gain entry, or in case you need healthcare, is vital.

Provisions?

When travelling with young kids, it’s essential to know what you can buy once you get there and what you need to take. Are things like nappies, wipes, formula milk and kid-friendly snacks readily available or do you need to pack these before you go? Getting to a foreign country and realising you can feed your kids or buy them nappies is a huge disaster!

Medications

If you don’t speak the native language, the prospect of finding medications like Calpol or Nurofen to give to your kids can be really daunting. From not knowing what to ask for to the potential of giving the wrong dose, it’s a minefield which can be easily avoided by packing your own. Take a First Aid kid along with paracetamol, antihistamines and anti-inflammatories and you’ll have most of your bases covered.

Do you have a holiday tip you’d like to share? Leave me a comment below!

Can You Be A Tourist In Your Own City?

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While the idea of a summer holiday may be the thing that keeps most of us going for much of the year, sometimes, it’s just not feasible. It might be a financial concern or just not being able to justify the time off work, but the fact remains: this year, you’re staying home.

This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon all plans for a little fun and exploration, though. In fact, it gives you the perfect opportunity to be a tourist in the most unique way: touring your home city.

How Much Of Your City Do You Really Know?

Do you know –

  • The local history of your city? How it came to be founded, how it’s changed, how it’s adapted as the world has altered around it?
  • The best bars, restaurants, museums, places to go and things to experience?

Have you ever:

  • Spent a day just wandering around your city for no specific purpose? You have no errands to run, no one you have to rush off and meet, no specific time you have to go home. Just wandering around, exploring hidden back streets, browsing in shop windows?
  • Sat in a coffee shop for hours on end for no real purpose enjoying the feel of being out and about?
  • Ventured on a day trip within a few hours of your city to a local site of interest, be it historical, a theme park, or just an experience day?

If you’re anything like the rest of the populace, then chances are, you haven’t done any of those things. You’re too busy being bogged down in the minutiae of your usual life. You don’t browse; you go for a specific purpose. As for sitting down for a coffee and soaking up the ambiance – why would you do that in public when you can get go home and do it?

The interesting thing is that all of the above have one thing in common:

You’d Do Them On Holiday

Think about it: if you travelled to a foreign country, you’d think the above were a great way of spending your time. You’d explore, take your time, wander with no specific destination in mind. You’d soak up the local history, for sure – in fact, you might know more about the history of a foreign city than the place where you live!

So Why Not Be A Tourist At Home?

If you can’t get away for a full holiday this summer, then being a tourist without leaving your own city is the perfect solution. It’s also full of benefits that can make visiting a foreign land a pain. For example, you can go home to a bed you know you’re going to like rather than putting up with a poor hotel mattress; you can buy a scooter to explore on, rather than paying the extortionate rental fees; and you already know the language so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.

While it might not be the summer holiday of your dreams, that doesn’t mean spending a summer truly exploring your home city can’t have its advantages as well. Every city has a story to tell – isn’t it about time you listened?

Why Bermuda is a Top Family Holiday Destination

Usually when we think of Bermuda we think of Honeymooners and young couples soaking up some quality R&R time. However Bermuda is much more than just sun, sea and sand so today we are taking you through the activities and things to do in Bermuda that make it a top holiday destination for families.

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Exploration

There is so much to explore in Bermuda and so much to do that will keep the kids happy and entertained. Heading to the Bermuda Aquarium, museum and zoo promises a top day out for kids and parents alike. It showcases over 200 species of indigenous fish in both open ocean environments and coral. The zoo also offers the children to get up close and personal with with weird and wonderful creatures and animals from all corners of the World.

The crystal caves of Bermuda are one of the most impressive things you’ll ever show your children. The crystal caves are one of the largest caves on the island and can be accessed by walking across a pontoon bridge over Cahow Lake, which is a 60-foot deep lake surrounded by breath-taking stalactites and stalagmites that have been forming over the last 30 million years.

Get Those Bathers On

With so many water activities available in Bermuda there’ll barely be a moment when your kids aren’t out of their bathers. Aside from just beach and pool activity, there is actually an opportunity for you and your kids to swim with dolphins. Dolphin quest allows children to swim, play and touch with beautiful bottlenose dolphins, whilst the highly-trained dolphin trainers will educate your family all about the crucial roles humans play in maintaining and improving their marine home.

Snorkel Park Beach is one of the top destinations in Bermuda for snorkelling and there are many different snorkelling schools down there that can take children off in groups to explore the underwater part of the island.

Knowing which are the best beaches is crucial when heading to Bermuda. Horseshoe Bay Beach is most certainly one of the most beautiful, with its long sweeping white beaches. It’s a family favourite for its long stretches of beach and peaceful nature.

Heading to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse for an afternoon is a great idea also, as it offers breath-taking, panoramic views. You have to climb 185 steps to get to the top but the incredible vantage point the lighthouse offers is well worth the climb.

Get Caught Up in the History of Bermuda

Bermuda has a rich history and is a fascinating place to explore all the wonderful monuments and interesting buildings and museums.

Make sure you check out the St. Catherines Fort, which dates back to 1612. It’s a really fun place to take the kids as it’s one enormous real life fort that they can play in and explore.

If your children are interested in weaponry, there is a fantastic weaponry museum showcasing historical artefacts of British military operations. If the children get a little hot and bothered seeing the sights, then luckily Tobacco Bay Beach is a mere five minutes walk away where there is some fantastic snorkelling for the family to cool off.

So, as you can see Bermuda is much more than it seems, and has so much to offer for families travelling to the beautiful island for their family holiday.

Thinking of Foreign Lands

Just recently, Husband and I have decided that we really need a holiday. It’s been over a decade since we’ve left the UK and the girls have never been away, so it’s definitely time to get packing! We’ve got a few ideas of where we’d like to go as a family, and I thought I’d share some of them with you:

Malta

I’ve been to Malta twice myself, before marriage and kids, and I think it’s basically the perfect short-haul destination for families. There are cities, beaches, historical relics, brilliant shops, restaurants, activities, and everything is family friendly.

Paris

Before Husband and I ever met, we actually both went to Paris at the exact same time without even knowing it, and it’s somewhere we’d both love to revisit. I think we could make a really great family break out of it, combining time in the city to see all of the sights, as well as a couple of days at Disneyland! Agoda is a great place to look for good deals on accommodation around Disneyland Paris.

Iceland

Iceland is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and there are SO many things I want to see there, from the Blue Lagoon to the rugged volcanic landscapes. Polar bear spotting and Northern Lights trips would be such an amazing experience for the girls and taking there somewhere which isn;t one of the ‘ordinary’ destinations really appeals.

Ibiza

I never made it to Ibiza in my clubbing days, but I’ve heard and read a lot about it as a family destination and it actually sounds perfect. There’s LOADS to do and apparently the northern side of the island is much quieter and more family-oriented. I’d still be tempted to watch sunrise at Cafe Del Mar, though 😉

Lake Garda

Another place which seems perfect for families is Lake Garda. There’s loads to do for families, like watersports and sightseeing, and there’s a real edge of luxury cool which would appeal to most grown ups. Mediterranean countries always have a real acceptance of kids in restaurants and public places too, which makes eating out as a family so much easier!

Where is your favourite place to go as a family? Do you have any destinations on your family bucket list? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear all about it.

Brilliant Family Holidays In Europe For The Adventurous

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If you’re from an active family, a quiet, relaxing resort holiday might not be your idea of fun. You probably prefer the call of the wild, getting your hands dirty and your feet wet to lazing on a sun-lounger or paddling tentatively in the sea. Here are just five family holidays around Europe which have an adventure at their heart and adrenaline as their fuel, but which are suitable for families of all ages.

Cycle Austria

The great thing about a cycling holiday is that it’s completely adaptable. Each family member can have a bike, or you can mix it up with kiddie saddles, trailers, and even tandems. There really is no better way to experience the stunning scenery than by bike, though. Around the mountains in Tyrol, Austria, there is something of a cycling holiday revolution going on. There are hilly, fast-paced routes, or more sedate and flatter trails for following, depending on what you fancy, and the scenery is nothing if not dramatic. Comfortable accommodation and other fun sights make this a great introduction to the world of adventure holidays.

Undertake an Arctic expedition

If you’re not scared of a bit of cold weather, the northernmost parts of Europe are amazing adventure holiday destinations. From husky sledding to whale watching, Santa Claus to the Northern Lights, there are active breaks for all the family, and you’re all guaranteed to fall in love. Kids love the snow, and there’s plenty of it up there for making snow angels and having snowball fights. The scenery is out of this world, and so is the adventure.

Explore the Highlands

If you want to stay a little closer to home, head up to Scotland for some great outdoor adventures. Ziplining through valleys and treetops, kayaking and sailing in monster-infested lochs, and abseiling through waterfalls are all the order of the holiday, so if your kids are little adrenaline junkies, this is the trip for you. And once they’re done scaring the life out of mum and dad, the landscape is great for a stroll, a picturesque bike ride, and a good meal in one of the traditional local pubs.

Canoe the Norwegian coast

If you’ve got yourself some water babies, why not explore the beautiful watery world of the Norwegian coast in summer? The fjords and valleys are green and fresh, full of wild flowers and incredible animals. You can kayak or canoe, or if you feel safer, stick to dry land and walk. There are even some great campsites, if you really want to be at one with nature.

Surf Cornwall

Sticking to closer to home again, Cornwall is a great compromise for outdoorsy kids and more indoor-loving parents. Get them booked into a surf school for the day at Newquay while you enjoy a coffee in one of the cute little cafes, or cycle the Camel Trail, before visiting idyllic little seaside villages such as Port Isaac, and feasting on the amazing fish and chips.

Adventure holidays are a great time to burn off steam and gather new experiences, and there are some amazing opportunities right on our doorstep in Europe.