22 articles Tag holidays

Saving for the Summer

Saving for the SummerWith the summer holidays fast approaching, many of us have started to think about our finances over the coming weeks. Keeping kids entertained for six weeks isn’t cheap, and the cost of summer can seem truly daunting. With that in mind, I thought I’d look at some things you can do to top up the funds, ahead of this expensive time of year.

Get a Part Time Job

Childcare can be super expensive, but if you’re not currently working and need some extra cash, there are lots of part time jobs out there which can fit around family time. From courier work to bank nursing at your local hospital, out of hours options are there, providing you’ve got someone to watch the kids in the evening.

Get a Loan

While I wouldn’t usually suggest getting yourself into debt, as long as you’re sensible with making your repayments on time a loan can be a useful buffer at this time of year, and getting a loan can even help to repair bad credit if you ensure you stick to your repayment plan. There are also loans for bad credit if you don’t have the best credit rating.

Cancel Any Services You Don’t Use

This is a great time of year to take a look at your finances and cut back on anything that you really don’t need. I currently pay £10 a month for a gym membership, which I barely use, and although a tenner doesn’t seem like much, it’s enough to make your eyes water when you think about it as £120 a year!

Streamline Your Shop

If you’re like us and end up wasting food because of less-than-savvy shopping, this is a good place to start when it comes to money saving. Sit down and look at HOW you shop (weekly, monthly, day-by-day) and work out where most of the waste is coming from. You could also think about WHERE you shop and whether there’s a cheaper option out there, like Lidl or Aldi. Meal planning is also often a good way to help you to be more frugal. 

Get Your Walking Shoes On

Many families are guilty of jumping in the car for short journeys, which would actually be more than walkable. Unless you’re in a massive hurry, try to make any journey of a mile or less on foot – or even better, get the bikes out and get the whole family cycling. As well as cutting your fuel costs, it will get you all moving and will also reduce your carbon footprint – everyone’s a winner! 

Do you have any fab money saving or money making tips for my readers? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. 

Find Money You Might Not Even Know You Had!

MoneyWith the summer holidays just days away, a lot of us will be thinking about how we’re going to afford all of the days out and activities that we’ll be wanting to do with the kids. It would be nice to be able to do a different thing every single day, but with the best will in the world, that’s just not in the budget for most of us. There might be, however, some money hanging about that you didn’t even realise you had, and we’ve got some suggestions of how to find it:

Outstanding PPI?

It’s hard to believe that anyone could still have any outstanding PPI claims with all the reminders on TV, radio and in the papers, but there are still a whole bunch of people who still haven’t claimed. It’s a simple process that could see you entitled to hundreds, even thousands of pounds!

Old Accounts

If you’ve changed bank accounts over the years, there could still be accounts in your name, laying dormant, with money in them. Write to the bank who you were once with and ask for details of any old accounts and you could be in for a surprise windfall!

Premium Bonds

If you’ve got Premium Bonds and haven’t seen much of a return, you might actually be better off cashing them in for an injection of cash now, rather than hoping they’ll come up long term. If you are hoping to win the top prize you probably need to know that the odds of winning £1million are 1 in 35,926,766,878. So I wouldn’t count on a payday anytime soon.Even winning the lowest prize of £25 is a 1 in 24,500 chance!

Pension Plans

If you have a pension plan that you don’t pay into any more, it’s worth having a look at the terms, as some plans will allow you to release the funds early, before the term is up. Have a think about any plans you may have paid into and contact the companies to see if it’s possible to withdraw the money. a

Cash Around the House

This one might be slightly less lucrative, but still worth a try. Gather up any old purses, handbags, wallets and money boxes and pillage them to see if there’s any cash that you forgot about. My kids own about 20 money boxes each and have managed to gather together the cash for some desperately needed toy on more than one occasion!

Don’t forget, the PPI deadline is 29th August, so you’ll need to get your act together if you think you might be entitled to claim!

Ways to Fill the Summer Holidays When You Aren’t Going Abroad

pony schoolIt’s fair to say that Husband, the kids and I are all homebodies. We love the idea of going abroad on holiday but when we had Chuck is was impossible and Maureen is still a little bit too young for us to leave her for too long, so a jaunt abroad is off the cards for now. We do, however, like to fill the summer holidays with as many days out and activities as possible, so that the kids don’t get bored and do that annoying bickering thing that kids do when they spend too much time at home, with only each other to play with! This is just a few of the things we do each year:

Pony School

We’re lucky enough to live close to a few different riding schools and some of them run pony schools in the holidays where the kids spend one day a week riding, grooming and generally “horsing” about (HA!) with the friendlier ponies at the stables. It’s usually about £25 per session and the kids need over the knee boots from UK footwear specialists Uppersole, but it’s pretty good value when you think about how long they get to spend with the ponies.

Garden Beach

Last year, we bought a massive paddling pool, set up the slide, sun loungers, a Bluetooth speaker and some mocktails and had what we called “The Garden Beach”. It was like a very miniature version of lazing around the pool on holiday, the kids thought it was amazing and I loved the chance to sit in the sun and read my book! This year, we’re planning on elaborating and even having a tent by the pool which we may spend the night in, if the kids are brave enough!

Fruit Picking

One of the things we have planned this year is a bit of Pick Your Own – it’s something I did when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it, and as soon as I told the girls about it, they found the idea really exciting so it’s on the list of things to do this summer.

Get the Bus

The kids are lucky enough to have Mummy’s Taxi Service which means they get ferried everywhere in the comfort of our car, but neither of them has ever really experienced public transport much, so they’ve asked if we can take a trip into town on the bus! This may sound very run-of-the-mill, but when you consider that we live in the countryside with one bus stop a mile away and buses which run quite sporadically, I suspect it may be more of an adventure than your usual bus trip!

Cookery Classes

Our local supermarket has a test kitchen and every year they run kids cookery classes throughout the holidays. They’re about £7 per session and include all of the ingredients they need to make a different dish each week. It’s a really nice way for the kids to spend a morning, plus they learn new skills and have the thrill of bringing home and eating what they’ve made.

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.

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.

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?

Best Locations to Have a Holiday with Your Dog

Many pet owners don’t want to leave their pets behind when they go on holiday, whether that is somewhere close to home, or a little bit farther. Dog friendly holidays are becoming increasingly more popular, and even if you want to get some sun in a hotter climate, there are some great options for places to go, as well as reasonably priced companies offering all the help you need to ship dogs to your holiday destination, safely and happily. Here are some of the best holiday locations for you and your dog:

England

England’s quarantine laws have recently been lifted, allowing for free travel for dogs from most countries. This is ideal as England is one of the most dog-friendly places, with plenty to see for humans and their furry friends. The country and the cities are great for walking- something your dog is sure to enjoy. And it is not often that you can take your dog to see truly historical features like those on offer in England.

Greece

What dog doesn’t want to spend all day at the beach? In fact, you might argue that dogs usually have more fun than their human counterparts. Greece offers plenty of beaches, where you and your dog can enjoy in equal parts. If you go in the spring, your dog will be most happy as temperatures won’t be too high for them, and if they are, most places have air conditioning, so you are set!

Switzerland

The rules for dog travel to Switzerland are indeed lax, allowing easy entry for you and your dog. This spans to their use of public transportation as well, making it easy for you and your dog to catch a plan, train, or boat. Small dogs can even travel for free! As an added bonus, most restaurants in Switzerland even let your dog dine with you! A true dog haven!

Spain

Spain can be an extremely relaxing trip for you and your pup. Laying by the pool, catching some sun rays, all of this is extremely appealing when traveling with your puppy. Spain in general is pretty laid back. This makes taking your dog with you anywhere very easy. The largest cities in Spain even have specialized dog exercise and toilet areas. This is ideal when spending the day sight seeing. Just make sure you don’t let your dog get overheated in the Spanish sunshine!

It is important for dog owners to do all the necessary research before going on the holiday of their dreams. This includes checking what your pet needs to have (passport, vaccinations, etc.), talking to your vet for advice, and ensuring that not just the place you are sleeping is dog friendly, but that there are also local things to do with your dog that you can both enjoy and that you are both welcome in.

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.

Exploring The British Isles: Ultimate Staycation Destinations

If you’ve been reading any lifestyle news at all lately, you will know that staycations are on the rise. More and more people are shunning expensive holidays abroad in favour of staying on their home ground. But it’s not simply a ploy to save money on your yearly break. Many of us underestimate the beauty and fun that our own country can provide, on the same level that we appreciate visiting other cultures. After all, sometimes it can be quite rewarding to get back in touch with your own culture again. But what if you fancy doing a ‘semi-staycation’? This is the kind of holiday where you still stay on home turf in terms of the British Isles, but the destination is more than just a couple of hours drive away. Here are our top picks for a staycation that’s far away enough to feel like a holiday – but still easy to get to.

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Glasgow

When most people think of Scotland, they think of Edinburgh. After all, it’s said to be the cultural capital (as well as the actual capital) of the country. Huge events such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival draw massive crowds year in, year out. But, if you want a more authentic Scottish experience, why not give Glasgow a try? It’s a much more cultural place than people think, full of quirky eateries, great museums and of course, lots of distilleries. The Kelvingrove Gallery is a must-visit and the stunning Loch Lomond is just a short drive away. If you’re based in the South of England, the only problem is getting to Glasgow. But don’t automatically think you need to take the car or train. You can compare cheap flights to find a plane that will take you there from a nearby airport. It’s much easier when you have young children, and potentially cheaper too!

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Dublin

If you’re looking for a lively, vibrant staycation, look no further than the Irish city of Dublin. Easily accessible by either plane or ferry, it’s a great option for a weekend break – but there’s so much to do, you could easily stay for a week! The busy district of Temple Bar is a must see, with many pubs open until the early hours all playing traditional Irish folk music. But, if you are hoping to get a good night’s sleep, it’s best to stay slightly further out of the city centre – there are plenty of rentals available at reasonable prices. If you’re up for a bit of general silliness, take the kids to the National Leprechaun Museum – yes, it really exists! Children are also permitted to the world famous Guinness Storehouse – but they’ll have to make do with a soft drink!

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The Isle of Wight

If you’re looking to get off the mainland for a beach-focused holiday, look no further than the Isle of Wight. The largest British island is situated just off the South coast, a mere two hours away from London. As well as beautiful beaches and generally good weather during the summer season, the Isle of Wight is also known as the ‘Dinosaur Island’ due it’s rich fossil heritage. So, if your children are fascinated by prehistoric history, get them on the famous Dinosaur Trail. There is also an adventure park with gardens and plenty of other outdoor activities, ranging from golf to extreme water sports!