Let’s do London

Being from a small town in North Wales large cities have always factor daunting but having been to London a couple of times this year and have realised it’s not actually that big and scary!

Whenever I look at creating an itinerary for London I only factor in the tube if it’s really necessary – by this I mean that a lot of ‘tourist’ attractions are within walking distance from one another. Like all of the below:

Of course, you will want to get the underground to a station that’s initially nearby and I would suggest Piccadilly Circus.

From your starting point you can then make your way to Trafalgar Sq., and then make your way along The Mall to Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. If you then head to St. James Park – the other side of The Mall – you’ll eventually come to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament. Once you’ve taken in the amazing architecture it’s a walk over Westminster bridge to the London Eye. Along Southbank there’s a lot for families to enjoy and plenty of places for refreshments.

Although, this is only a small part of London it’s a great itinerary for half a day (if you’re a quick walker) or a full day to get your bearings

From the London Eye we headed to Waterloo station and took the Jubilee line to Tower Hill to see the Tower of London.

This worked for us, next step is paying for the experiences.

Disneyland Checklist in a Nutshell

In April ten of us went to Disneyland Paris for a long weekend during the Easter holidays, and we had an amazing time. We managed to find seats in restaurants and go on almost every ride in both parks.

This was down to good planning and the Disney App but there are many more tips we can give, so here they are in a nutshell.

Before You Go

  1. Pack for all weathers, Paris isn’t always warm so make sure you have a raincoat, umbrella, and long trousers just in case.
  2. Take sensible shoes because it’s a long day walking around the park, and if you don’t have a fast pass then you could be standing in line for a long time!
  3. Think about where you will eat before going, you can book restaurants by calling or you may have time to do a little shop in a local supermarket if you have time spare.
  4. Check what meals are included in your deal because for us breakfast was not included in the price.
  5. Download the Disneyland Paris app

When You’re There

  1. Check the park opening times haven’t changed and head to the park slightly early so you aren’t stuck in a queue to enter. If you are staying in a Disney hotel, you may be entitled to extra magic time so make the most of it!
  2. Take a look at the app to see ride times throughout the day because it will save you soooooo much time.
  3. Make the most of small coffee, hot dog and popcorn stand, as these may be your refueling stops until your main meals.
  4. If you don’ want to see parades then make use of the low queuing times and get on those rides.
  5. The Studio has some fantastic roller-coasters but closes earlier than the main park so know what rides you want to go on before you visit and check the show times.

Preparing for Disneyland Paris

We are off to Disneyland at the end of April and there are a lot of things to consider, including the weather, clothing, and food.

Over the last few months, we have been watching YouTube video after YouTube video, to gain as many tips as possible before our trip. This is the first holiday we are taking as a whole family, including Nan, Grandad, Aunties, and Uncles, so we want it to be as special as possible.

This means preparing as much as we can for all types of situations. Here’s our preparation list based on all the blogs we have read and vlogs we have watched.

Weather Preparation

We travel in April and so the weather conditions may vary, anything from rain to sunshine, it is unpredictable. Therefore, we plan to pack for all weather conditions.

For the journey there, we will layer up wearing a t-shirt, jumper, jacket/hoodie, and coat to save room in the luggage. This means we will have our coats with hoods ready in the event of rain, a couple of t-shirts in case of sunshine and deodorant because with all the layers we will smell!

Taking an umbrella and poncho are also good ideas, as they are small and take up less room than a coat. Alternatively, we can buy ponchos there and bin them before our journey home.

Preparing to Walk a LOT!

Walking around theme parks can be tiring as they are large, and busy, even waiting for rides takes its toll on your legs, especially if you have small children. For this reason, we will be packing flat shoes that have a nice amount of padding for comforts, like pumps and trainers.

In the past, I have taken shoes and walked so much that I’ve ended up with holes in my shoes! This memory always reminds me to take more than one pair.

For the smaller children I will be taking spare socks and shoes as they don’t like being uncomfortable and if their socks get wet I’ll never hear the end of it.

Eating with no Meal Plan

Regular Disney goers seem to encourage meal plans, but we are not planning on doing this instead, we have made reservations the buffet restaurant, Buffalo Bill’s. The prices here seem reasonable for Disney and there is something for everyone at 35EUROS per adult and 19EUROS per child (according to the website).

However, it is not the evening meal we are concerned about, it’s the fact we don’t have breakfast and there aren’t any shops near the hotel! So, I’m thinking we will pack croissants and some snack boxes for breakfast and lunch, as we are travelling by coach this should be okay.

I realise this isn’t the most informative post but I would welcome any suggestions for meal times from regular visitors.

SUSTAINABILITY AND TOURISM

When I was a student, we had many lectures and seminars on sustainable tourism and this is a concept that is still hugely relevant and that we can all consider when travelling.

Firstly, what is sustainable tourism? Well, it is about creating a positive impact on the place you are visiting through the economy, environment, and society. This post is going to provide 5 main tips that I have learned from my course and put into practice when travelling myself.

Searching for Accommodation

Jersey Accommodation

Using large booking sites may generally save us money but it can cost accommodation providers a lot to feature on aggregator websites in the first place. In the past, I have found a hotel online and have called them directly which has resulted in a lovely room with a view for the same price as a general room on a comparison site, due to the accommodation provider retaining a larger part of the fee.

Keep it Local

Shop Local

When travelling it is nice to get a real understanding of local culture by dining and shopping in store and restaurants owned by locals, but also where the food and products served are sourced locally.

This can require research but nowadays it is easier than ever before, you can simply ask your accommodation provider or the restaurant where their products come from before deciding to eat or shop there. By ensuring produce is from local providers and spending time in places owned by locals you are helping the local economy, rather than giving money to large chain restaurants or stores.

For example when in Sicily we ate in restaurants that advertised fresh products sourced from the local area, and you may find many businesses use this as a selling point.

In Your Hotel

You may not be able to control the way a hotel works but there are some things you can do to assist in sustainability, here are some ideas below:

  • Put your towels away once used and do not leave them lying around or in the bath after every wash, as they will be washed every day unnecessarily. Instead, consider using them a couple of times before leaving them out to be cleaned;
  • This is an obvious one, but turn off anything you are not using such as lights in rooms you are not in, and the television;
  • Be mindful when using the A/C, consider opening the doors if you are in the room, or finding a shaded area to relax if you are tired of the heat;
  • On days you do not need the room to be changed or cleaned leave the ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door to avoid unnecessary cleaning.

Getting Around

D7438D34-5102-4982-B102-2C120AED5990

When at your destination think of alternative transport options such as bikes, hikes, and buses. Again, this is something to consider before choosing your accommodation location as you should ensure you are close to a train/bus station or within walking distance to local amenities, alternatively look at cycling routes.

When in France I try to cycle as they have brilliant routes, compared to the UK anyway! This is the perfect way to get around in cities and small towns to decrease your impact on the environment.

If you do use a taxi then try tipping your driver, as in many countries the income is not great and this could be direct profit for their wage.

Recycle

You can recycle in many ways and not just by placing things in a recycle bin, here are some simple ideas:

  • Reuse plastic water bottles – simple!
  • Give any maps or brochures you no longer need to other tourists, or return them to reception/tourist office;
  • If you plan on throwing old clothes or cheap clothes away to make room for new items, ask around for places you may be able to take them for others to make use of;
  • If you have leftover toiletries, take them home.

These are easy things to do and I hope you will consider doing them on your next trip. I am sure there are other things you could suggest and I am interested to hear what you do to help with sustainability please share below 👇👇

Before I’m 40

So, this year I turn 30, granted not until December but still, it is on the horizon. This has got me thinking about where I would like the next 10 years to take me – travel wise.

10 years seems like a long time and although I have many personal goals, I also have travel aspirations, such as going to a long haul destination – which I never have!

Although there are many places I have not seen, I do have a list of my top 5, which is only one place every two years – seems doable – fingers crossed.

USA – Florida

Of course, I want to travel to Florida for the theme parks and would like to do this in my early 30’s so that my son is still a teenager. Everyone I know who has been to Florida absolutely loves it and wants to go again, and again, and again!

The biggest cost seems to be the theme parks, with accommodation and flights being on offer regularly. If we go we want to do both Universal and Disney, as well as have a couple of days to enjoy the beach.

According to my research, Kissimmee is the place to be if staying in a villa, as it is in driving distance to many amenities, as long as we get a hire car.

Any advice on this destination would be great, including how to get park tickets that don’t cost ridiculous money.

Canada – Toronto

As the largest city in Canda, this is the place to be if I am only going to visit the once. My main decision is what season to go, summer and winter both appear fantastic – and guidance is welcome.

Checking out the CN tower, and taking a visit to Niagra Falls would be on the to-do list.

Norway – Tromsø

The main reason for visiting Norway would be to see the Aurora Borealis, but it would be pot luck if I actually got to see it, so maybe a couple of trips would be required. However, it can be costly and I would like to stay in a nice hotel too.

I have chosen Tromsø as this is a northern area so there’s a chance to see the lights clearer.

A husky ride would also make this trip even more fabulous as well as experiencing The Sami way.

USA – New York City

This had to make the list, again it is a place people love for the famous sights, as well as to experience the hustle and bustle of city life.

Having looked into a trip here a fair few times I would like to visit here in my late 30’s when I could take my son without worrying about losing him to the crowds.

It would be a dream to stay in a hotel near Times Square at Christmas and visit the Statue of Liberty. Of course, a trip to Central Park is also a must!

China – Singapore

Singapore seems like a fabulous city filled with innovative design such as the Gardens by the Bay.  Many of the attractions are unique in terms of what they offer, like 1 Altitude, and Sentosa Island – which is filled with activities including Universal Studios.

This trip would be a mixture of learning, taking in culture, but also letting go and enjoying some theme park fun!

There we have it a plan for the next 10 years with a few trips dotted in between, probably to Austria, for a weekend, and Jersey, to see a friend. If you have any suggestions of where to visit when in any destination please let me know I’m, always looking to tips.

2018 in 5 Memories

2018 has gone by very quickly and it was a year filled with highs and lows, but there were certainly lessons learned, that have set us up for the coming year.

Every year comes with surprises but 2018’s surprises weren’t so great, the planned times were amazing but other than those I have loved and lost these are the main memories I would like to take with me for 2018.

Hen Party

Heading to Porthmadog for my hen party was great, and an amazing surprise. I had visited this place for years as a child, as my family owned a caravan there and this was our only holiday every year – looking back it was great.

We spent the weekend celebrating and it got a little messy but the last night we spent pampering ourselves so we were ready to leave on the Monday. I just wish I had of taken more pictures, but I guess, you don’t when you’re enjoying yourself in the moment.

Wedding

wedding pictures

Our wedding was amazing, and truly was one of the best days of my life, and I would do it again.

Finding a venue and planning can be stressful but on the day I totally didn’t care because there was nothing I could do about it, so I just focused on having a bloody good time. This would be my advice for any bride to be – just enjoy yourself.

Honeymoon

Sicily Honeymonn.PNG

Sicily was the perfect place for a honeymoon it had everything we could possibly want. The glorious beach, a great hotel, shopping, history, and good food… take me back!

Home Improvements

home improvements 2

Moving into our new home about one year ago I would like to have done more than we have, but when we look back we’ve done a lot. This picture shows how much we have done to the toilet.

This year we would like to continue updating the home and we have already started in the living room. The only issue is that every room seems to be grey and white – think we need to widen our colour palette.

Family Time

Family Time.PNG

After losing someone very close to me last year my family has become even closer and we are making sure we have celebrations as frequently as possible because this is what matters. My family is quite big and it can be difficult to keep up with what’s going on with everyone but it is important to make the time and I will cherish the times we all spent together in 2018.

When looking at your memories in this way the year seems so much better, and perhaps the good times were overshadowed by the odd negative experience. This year I plan to remain positive and implement techniques I have learned to do this such as meditation, The Law of Attraction, and exercise. Come on 2019!

Short Breaks in the UK

Not the most exciting post, but I thought it’s a start for the new year. With lots of big occasions coming up in 2019 and with two holidays already booked we need some alternative plans for the celebrations.

As the new year kicks in I am beginning to feel pressured into arranging more getaways for our special occasions. But, with two holidays already planned for Disneyland and a cruise later in the year, the other plans will have to be overnight stays or a little domestic tourism. Here’s my list of lovely retreats for 2019 in the UK for those special celebrations.

First Anniversary

The last year has been filled with highs and lows, and one of the best times was our wedding back in May. A lot has happened since then and it feels as though it was a long, long time ago but we want to celebrate so here’s what we’re thinking:

The Shankly Hotel – Liverpool

Living in North Wales means we can easily reach many great cities in the North West of England, one of them being Liverpool. This seems like the most ideal spot for celebrating our wedding anniversary, with plenty of restaurants and hotels available. Plus, we both support Liverpool, therefore we are considering a stay at The Shankly Hotel, of course, we will require food too.

This hotel seems perfect, the interior looks rustic yet modern and the facilities are great. The bar, restaurant, and large bath in the bedrooms are all bonuses for us. Friends and family who have stayed have all enjoyed their experience with some planning another stay.

The Llyn Peninsula

Alternativly, we are considering a day out near the seaside along the Llyn peninsula. The thing putting us off is the weather, but this area is one of my favourite places including Porthmadog, Morfa Nefyn, Anglesey, and Criccieth. The beaches here are beautiful offering coves of blue sea and rustic landscapes, they are romantic whilst telling a story of years gone by.

30th Birthdays

Both my husband and I are celebrating our 30th birthdays this year and we want to make them special. I already know what I want to do, instead of a gift I want to head to London and see a show, but I can’t decide which one, the choices are Chicago, Hairspray, or Matilda – if anyone has any suggestions let me know.

When it comes to accommodation I’m happy with a basic hotel with breakfast, as we’re probably not even going to be in there for long!

Another option is to combine our birthday celebrations and opt for a longer break in Ireland or Scotland, both places we have never been to.

Sons Birthday

In March we usually take to Alton Towers waterpark and stay in the hotel or the Enchanted Village, we love doing this, but as we have done this on several occasions we are thinking of doing something a little different.

London

At the top of the list is London, with so much to see and do we are considering a weekend break as a family to explore the Natural History Museum, take to the London Eye, and visit the Tower of London. A visit to the Lego shop will probably take place too. This may seem like a very educational trip but it will be a jammed packed weekend – we could even save Matilda for this visit.

Blackpool

Visiting the Pleasure Beach, indoor waterpark, and Blackpool tower this will be a weekend filled with fun and games and probably more appealing to my son than the London adventure, but when the weather isn’t great your mood can also be dampened so this may be one for the summertime.

Although with the Blackpool Resort Pass coming in at £55 and allowing entry to 6 attractions, this may work out a lot cheaper.

 

 

Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations

After enjoying our honeymoon last year, and having witnessed many friends getting married, then trying to find that perfect honeymoon spot I thought I would take some time to create this post, in hopes it makes finding the perfect destination I little simpler for 2019 honeymooners.

Before searching for the ideal honeymoon spot, create a list of must-have criteria, and potential limitations. For example, we could only take time out for one week and therefore could not travel long haul. We also like to do different things when on holiday too, I like to see the sights and explore the culture and history of the place, whereas my husband prefers to relax on a beach and take a swim.

These criteria narrowed our list of places to visit leaving us with a focus on Europe, and as we have been to several European countries we wanted to try somewhere different but that was on my list of places I really gotta see – this left us with Sicily.

To help you create your list and get you thinking, here’s a list of my top 10 potential honeymoon destinations.

An Italian Honeymoon

Rome

If you are searching for a place that has a little of everything then honeymoons in Italy may be for you.

From the cities where you can see history come to life to the spectacular coastlines such as the Amalfi Coast, newlyweds could indulge in fine wine and local cuisine. With so many places to see it is also possible to visit more than one location so Venice, Florence, and Rome may be on the cards.

This is a great place for historical, relaxing, or culture honeymoons. If you love the ocean and want a taste of the tropical life, then the next destination may be the place for you.

Honeymoon in the Indian Ocean

If you love the water and want to travel a little further then a honeymoon in the Indian Ocean can offer just that. The sounds of the ocean and surrounding rainforests will make sure your troubles melt away as relaxation kicks in.

This destination is perfect for a 2 week getaway for those looking to take the time to simply be together.

South of France – Your Luxury Honeymoon

Villefranche

The South of France is one of my favourite places with amazing beaches, plenty of cuisine and amazing accommodation options this is a romantic place for your honeymoon.

If you are searching for a quieter destination within reach of other places on the coast, Cap d’Antibes is a brilliant option. Alternatively, if you are looking for spectacular beaches then head to St Tropez.

Australia’s East Coast

If one resort is not enough then a tour along the East Coast of Australia can help achieve what you are searching for. From Brisbane/Cairns to Sydney.

If you are looking for a tour then you may need 3-4 weeks to really get into it and have time to adjust to the time difference.

Honeymooning in Marrakesh

Marrakesh2Marrakesh is a beautiful city in Morocco that offers a glimpse into medieval ways, in the walled city. The souks are perfect for shopping, whilst the mosques, palaces, and gardens allow for cultural exploration.

The flight to Marrakesh isn’t too long from the UK and when I went we were here for 1 week which was enough time for us to take a few trips and relax too.

Barbados West Coast

In the Caribbean lies the island of Barbados, which is known for being a happy place. In fact, it is described as being 21 miles long and a smile wide.

The west coast is particularly popular for honeymooners with St James offering famous sandy shores, luxury shopping experiences, and fabulous hotels. Moving further down the coast in St Micheal lie beaches filled with character as the coast becomes more rugged.

This beautiful island is a tranquil environment for a honeymoon and is the height of luxury.

Ibiza Not Just a Party Town

Known primarily for its nightlife Ibiza may not appear to be the best honeymoon spot, but its crystal-clear waters and boutique hotels can be perfect for a happy couple.

If you are looking for a place that is lively, luxury, with hidden gems for relaxation then Ibiza is for you. Ibiza is also home to beautiful vineyards offering tastings and tours for those looking to escape from the main action for the day.

Out of the Sunshine and Over to Iceland

Not all of us are searching for a sunny trip and that’s perfectly fine, I don’t like being in the sun all day, in fact, I prefer the winter!

Iceland is famous for witnessing the northern lights, its Blue Lagoon, and dramatic scenery all of which are perfect for a romantic setting. Many of the hotels here are traditional for the area with a Nordic design that makes you feel warm. This is an especially good destination for a Christmas honeymoon.

New York, New York

This is perhaps the busiest of places on this list but it has a way of making every individual feel special. There are plenty of tours, museums, and galleries to keep you busy, and that’s not including the shopping opportunities – oh and don’t forget to catch a show!

The great thing about this getaway is that you can visit for 4 days and still feel like you have seen and done soooo much, but staying for at least a week is best, in order to see enough without rushing.

Don’t Fancy Going Abroad?

cropped-borth-y-gest4.png

My last destination is right here in the UK because I have many friends who either don’t want to travel or are scared of flying and I feel many times these domestic tourists are forgotten about.

If you have read my blog posts about North Wales you will know I am a big fan. The Llyn peninsula offers amazing beaches in tranquil environments so you can get lost in your own thoughts and spend quality time together. Some of the beaches have clear blue seas and just around the corner are green fields ideal for a countryside stroll.

This is my top 10 list for honeymoons, from long-haul destinations to perfect places right here in the UK.

How To Stay Connected While Traveling

When you decide to travel, you don’t always think about every aspect of heading off on a trip to somewhere new and exciting. All you’re thinking about is how exciting it will be to get out there and see the world, and often this means that you don’t about what you’re leaving behind – your friends and family.

Staying connected wasn’t always easy, but nowadays, thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever before to remain connected to your loved ones, even when you’re not around. So the next time you head off on a trip abroad, make sure to think more carefully about how to stay connected.

Wondering what the best ideas are for staying close even while far apart? Read on for an array of handy hacks and ideas!

13757EEF-995B-47DA-BB75-03810D61C03B.jpeg

Take advantage of instant messaging

The issue with staying connected while apart used to be tricky because it could be expensive sending text messages from abroad. However, that’s no longer the case thanks to the birth of iMessage, Whatsapp, Viber, and Facebook Messanger, as each of these services can be used to message for free, from anywhere in the world, just as long as you have an internet connection. Pretty cool, huh? Of course, you’re not always guaranteed free internet access – and you don’t want to use your data as abroad it can cost a lot to use – which is where having a mobile hotspot device can come in handy to have.

Send digital postcards

Yes, these are a thing. Instead of buying a postcard, why not use a postcard-making app where you select a photo that you’ve taken, add a message to the back, add an address, and the company then sends the postcard for you. How cool is that? You might not be able to write the postcards by hand, but it’s a much quicker and easier way to stay connected.

Video chat

Another option for staying connected while traveling is video chatting with your loved ones via FaceTime and Skype. If you want a close chatting experience, where you are face-to-face with your friends and family, then video chatting is the best route to go down as it allows you to chat as if you were face-to-face, instead of thousands of miles apart.

Email

Emailing might be seen as old-fashioned by some, but if you’re traveling abroad in a different time zone and want to stay connected to your loved ones without having to stay up late to chat live, then emailing is a great option. While you could opt to send a letter, emailing offers a much faster and more effective communication method worth considering.

There you have it, everything that you need to know about staying connected while traveling.

 

 

Local Christmas Trips With The Family

Christmas is coming and there are many places close to home I would like to take the family. This is my list of top five days out for the Christmas season.

Firstly, I live in North Wales, just 15 minutes from England which is really convenient as we can access beaches, cities, and scenic countryside pretty easily. This means there are plenty of places to visit during Christmas.

Number 1 – Chester Christmas Markets

Christmas markets always get me in the mood for this wonderful time of year. I would like to go further afield but as this is the closest one to me I will be going into Chester.

This is a quaint market that can get quite packed so I plan to go as early as possible as my son doesn’t like too many people around. When visiting any market you need an empty stomach to indulge on hog roast, sweets, and roasted chestnuts. There is also a gin bar which I will be visiting along with a quick stop for a hot chocolate.

The markets are great places for all of the family but take a moment to find out the best time to visit based on what type of atmosphere you like most.

Number 2 – Chester Zoo

15589796_10155693362437178_4099018396162456280_n

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo are fantastic for little ones, we went last year had a lovely time. The atmosphere is joyful, although it is usually very cold so a scarf and gloves are on the cards.

When you arrive just take the trail indicated and enjoy many animals, and flowers all lite up guiding you along the path. This is a fun place to explore especially for the children as they discover animals in a whole new light!

We went to the canteen for a hot dog and hot drink to warm us up before leaving, and this was okay although I would probably grab something on the way home next time.

Number 3 – Garden Centres

This may seem boring but even if you have no interest in gardening then this is the time to take a trip here. The garden centres near me have amazing trees decorated to perfection, which provide the best inspiration for your tree at home. I do find the price of many of the baubles high but you can always look and recreate within your budget.

Children, especially small ones, love seeing the lights and decorations surrounding them and the many Santa’s and Snowmen bring a smile to their faces.

It’s also nice to visit the onsite cafe and have a hot drink, cake or lunch surrounded by the festive decorations, this is a great time to think about what you might buy.

Number 4 – Ice Rink

I live quite close to an ice skating rink and don’t seem to visit it much and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to take a trip. I am not great at ice skating but I can stay up (well from what I remember I can), but it is great to give it a go.

It can be pricey but it is Christmas after all. The main expense is hiring the skates as I don’t go often even to purchase my own. Again, once the skating is done food is a must!

Number 5 – Chirk Castle

It’s time to learn about Christmas history at Chirk Castle. This year the castle are doing a make-believe Christmas that follows the stories of former children who lived in the castle.

As well as learning there are also glorious decorations in the State Rooms and a fairy-tale trail that tell stories of dragons and fairies. This is an amazing time to let your children discover and enjoy Christmas in a totally new way.

I will be visiting this castle during the festive season and will be sure to create a post all about our discoveries.

There we have it my little list of Christmas activities for 2018.

Thanks

 

Sophie