Top Tips for UK Travel on a Budget

Travelling is a wonderful way to see the world, explore new places and immerse yourself in a different culture. However, it can be expensive, particularly if you are a frequent traveller or you’re with the whole family.  Luckily, there are many ways in which you can cut costs and stick to your budget without compromising your travel adventures.

We just spent the Summer in the UK and we had a great time, but we definitely did find it expensive, despite staying with family!

Here are some top tips and ideas to help you make your money stretch further and ensure you have a memorable trip for all the right reasons! Perfect for a trip to the UK, or even for a staycation if you’re already living there!

top tips for uk travel on a budget

Be Flexible

It’s often possible to get much better deals by shopping around and experimenting with different dates and travel options. Whether it’s flights, accommodation or tourist attractions, you never know what deals you might uncover until you look.  Of course most people don’t have HUGE amounts of flexibility in their travel dates, but you’ll be surprised how much travelling one day earlier or later can make in your costs!

Top Tips for UK Travel on a Budget

Accommodation

Five-star hotels are without doubt the dream.  Lets reality check though, the chances are that they will be out of your budget. Instead, make sure to do plenty of research and shop around. As I’ve said before, deals can be found all over the place!  So, always make sure you are happy with your choice and price before booking anything.

Similarly, it may be a good idea to consider alternative accommodation options to your traditional hotel. There are B&Bs all over the country, camping is always a cheap option, and cheap caravan holidays don’t have to mean giving up all your favourite home comforts. Plus, an alternative method of accommodation could be a great way to pique the kids’ interest in your trip!

Transport

Taxis are appealing, but public transport is far cheaper and often a more efficient way to travel in the UK. For instance, if you are visiting London or staying in the capital, the public transport networks including the Underground and London buses are fantastic. Seriously, you don’t need car hire in London!

Conversely, if you are planning to do a tour of the country or will be visiting multiple places, a hire car could be a great way to save money on train or taxi fares while giving you the freedom to explore where you want, when you want.  Outside of London rail costs are often hire than hiring a car!

Eating Out

Takeout coffees, delicious brunches, late lunches and hearty dinners.  There are countless amazing places to eat and drink in the UK.  Before you know it, your food costs can really begin to rack up. If you are in self-catering accommodation during your trip to the UK, cut costs by eating in, at least some of the time!

When you’re eating out opt for more budget-friendly restaurants – especially if you are travelling with a large party.   Again, think ahead and look online for places doing discounts and offers.

Top Tips for UK Travel on a Budget

Attractions

This will entirely depend on what you’re planning, but there are always ways for the budget-savvy traveller to cut costs. Again, make sure to research before you travel. That way you can budget for the costs, such as entry fees.   Many big attractions have huge offers year round so look online for discount codes or where to get coupons.

There are endless of opportunities to get out and explore the great British countryside for free – who says you can’t experience the UK on a budget?

 
Obviously, not all of these ideas will work for everyone.   But I hope that they at least give you a little inspiration on how small changes can give you big savings!  UK travel on a budget is definitely possible, even with a family!

Planning a trip is one of the most exciting parts of the whole adventure, so make the most of it and get ready for the getaway of a lifetime!

I DO! 6 Honeymoon destinations newlyweds WANT to travel to

I DO! 6 Honeymoon destinations newlyweds WANT to travel to

Many brides to be will tell you that choosing their honeymoon destination is almost as difficult as the wedding venue!  Whether it’s a far flung beach in a stunning, tropical location, a city that’s full of culture and bright lights or maybe something that’s a little more budget friendly.

If you’re struggling for inspiration then don’t worry.  Check out these 6 top honeymoon destinations that newlyweds want to visit!

Seychelles

Seychelles is undoubtedly one of the ultimate honeymoon destinations.  I promise there’s no bias  because I live here!  If you are dreaming of white sandy beaches, ultimate luxury, and relaxation, then look no further!   Island hopping here is a must, as each island offers something unique!

If you’re looking for a little adventure during your stay, try Scuba Diving, or one of the many beautiful hikes across the islands.

Seychelles is also a must visit for honeymooning couples with an interest in environmentalism.  There is a vast array endemic species to discover – many of which are endangered.  Eight national parks, six of which are marine parks, mean that there are many unspoiled and protected areas to explore.  There are also two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Vallee de Mai and Aldabra.  Many hotels, and resorts have their own environmental programmes, and actively encourage their guests to get involved.  The government is working hard on environmental issues too, plastic bags have been banned for more than a year, and plastic straws are also soon to be banned.

Niagara Falls

Everyone should see the beautiful and dramatic falls at least once in their lifetime.  So, why not incorporate it into your honeymoon?  The crashing, cascading and roaring water has attracted couples in love for centuries and it’s still ever popular.

There are plenty of places to stay around the area, each with an abundance of honeymoon and romance packages.  Check out Marriott on the Falls for a little inspiration.  While many people travel to distant lands with white sandy beaches, some prefer the magic of being close to nature whilst not leaving the city to far behind. Just don’t forget your rain coat!

Alaska

If you picture spending your honeymoon in a bikini and little else, then perhaps this one isn’t for you.  Alaska calls to couples of an adventurous spirit – for those who prefer their beaches icy cold and bracing!  Take your own guide across a beautiful ice capped mountain and a glacier or two!

With its abundance of wildlife at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, including humpback whales, bald eagles, puffins and even bears, Alaska is the honeymoon that just keeps on giving.  Just be sure to pack plenty of layers!

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

You might be thinking of Amsterdam’s famous coffee shop scene or of course it’s liberal Red Light District, but if you think that’s all Amsterdam has to offer then you’d be wrong.  Steeped in history with beautiful architecture this blissful city will swallow up honeymooners with it’s rustic and laid back charm.  Walk or cycle through the city’s historic streets, have a drink and a bite to eat at one of its many open air cafés and restaurants and enjoy 5* cuisine at the canal side.  One thing is certain – you’ll be back!

Cotswolds, England

If the idea of the romantic English countryside makes your heart flutter then a honeymoon to the Cotswolds is calling.  This breathtakingly rural area filled with rolling hills, charming Medieval villages, gorgeously thatched cottage roofs, not forgetting meadows as golden as the local stonework that will simply take your breath away.

With hotels and charming Bed and Breakfasts housed in 18th Century buildings you can experience the very best of what the English countryside has to offer.  From homemade jams, cheeses and preserves to idyllic country views and vistas that are straight out of Jane Austen novel.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Another destination for adventurers or those that want to see nature at it’s most beautiful.  Endless opportunities for trekking and hiking, bathing in hot, steamy springs and lagoons and of course, the ultimate in romance – the Northern Lights.

 

 

I hope that this gives you some inspiration if you are planning your honeymoon!  I’d love to know if there is anywhere you would add to this list?

A City Break In London With Kids Bucket List

So I recently wrote a post with a few ideas of places to take a short break in and around the UK with kids that are on our bucket list.  I thought I would follow that up with our bucket list of things to do with the family in London.

We have never ‘done’ London with kids, and it is definitely on our to do list.   Everything about London is pretty much the opposite of everything that my kids know in their lives* and so it will be so amazing to take them there and see their little minds be blown. *Seriously we went in an elevator when we were on Mahe over the Easter Holidays and they literally could not believe it when the doors opened and we were somewhere else.

So here are a few of the things on our London Bucket List.  Hopefully it will give you some taking a trip to London with kids.

The London Eye

The London Eye is a beautiful way to have fantastic views all across London.  When going with kids, you can beat the queues by booking fast track tickets. It’s a little more pricey but saves having to wait in lines with the kids! Trip Savvy has some more great tips for going on the London Eye with Small Kids

The Theatre

Going to see a show in London is something is a truly an iconic thing to do.  Of course, the classic would be to watch The Lion King. But, there are loads of different kid friendly shows on all over London like Room On The Broom and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (two of the boys favourite books!).  Check out Discount London for tickets.

Riding the Underground

While the underground might be a tedious part of a Londoners daily travel commute.  It would definitely be exciting for the kids to ride around on.  Hopping on and off different trains would be a total highlight for them.

a city break in london with kids bucket list

Museums

Museums make for great days out with the kids.  Most are free for under 18’s and some are free for everyone.  You can’t beat a free day out!

The boys are yet to go to a museum, we just don’t have anything like that here.  Well, we have a couple of museums but they are certainly not geared up around kids.

Freddie is totally dinosaur obsessed and so a trip to the Natural History Museum would be an absolute must for us.  I can not wait to see his face the day we take him there when he can see some real dinosaurs!

I would also love to take the boys to the Science Museum where there is loads of hands on interactive stuff for them to get involved with.

There are countless museums for all different things in London.  You’d be hard pushed not to find at least one you and the kids will love!

a city break in london with kids bucket list

Afternoon Tea

How very English!  It would definitely be cute to take the kids for afternoon tea.  There are loads of kid friendly places to choose from all offering yummy treats for kids and grown ups.

 

The Iconic Landmarks

Wandering around to visit Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Covent Garden would all be so much fun for the kids.  To give them a glimpse of the things that are so iconic about London.

city break in London with kids bucket list

There are so many ‘pop up’ activities in and around London all year too, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for fun, and often free, activities for kids in Museums, Parks and Theatres!

Is there anything you’d add to this list?  I’d love to hear some more ‘must visit’ places in London with kids.

 

Short Breaks With Kids in and around the UK

We are coming up to our next UK Trip and we are getting super excited about our visit.

As the boys are getting older we feel like we can adventure more and more and visit new places.  We have already booked a short trip to France where we will be doing Disneyland and then heading down South for my Sister in law’s wedding.

Booking that has definitely made me realise that there is so much in and around the UK that is accessible to us when we visit that we really need to take advantage of during our visits.  So I thought Id write down a few different things as a mini travel bucket list of short breaks with kids on our next few visits to the UK.

Short breaks with kids in and around the UK

Scotland

Mark and I have NEVER been to Scotland which seems crazy to us both.  We are totally desperate to go and explore such a beautiful part of the world.

short breaks with kids in and around the uk

I want to explore Edinburgh which just looks like the most picture perfect city in the world with so much history and culture and then head out to highlands where there seems to be endless adventures waiting.  CairnGorm Mountain looks amazing, especially the funicular railway.  I know the boys would love that, trains are of course a big novelty to my little island boys seeing as there are no trains here.  VisitScotland has a great itinerary for the highlands with kids

 

The Channel Islands

Geographically in-between the UK and France, The Channel islands are neither British or French. They may be small but they are steeped in history.  Guernsey is the closest to the UK and the Bailiwick* of Guernsey also covers  the islands of Alderney and Sark.  There is also of course Jersey which is it’s own Bailiwick.

I think we would make Guernsey our base and then head off to explore other islands from there.  You can reach Guernsey with Condor Ferries

short breaks with kids in and around the uk

Castle Cornet is definitely going to be a must for us.  The boys love castles and this is a whole island castle!!

Lots of little islands also means lots of coastline to explore which is definitely something Arthur and Freddie love.  The Channel islands have some seriously beautiful beaches, which means a lot coming from us!

*If you’re wondering what this word means it’s basically the ‘division of or district’…..I’d never heard of it either until I started reading more about the Channel Islands!

 

The Lake District

A walking holiday is something that really appeals to me with kids.  In the UK the Lake District is the obvious choice.  Apart from being absolutely beautiful, there are huge amounts of activities for kids of all ages – A definite bonus when the novelty of walking wears off for the kids!  The Lake District National Park website has huge amounts of information on what’s going ideas.  I love that they have a dedicated section to people walking with pushchairs too.

short breaks with kids in and around the uk

Staying Safe as a Solo Traveller

Going away with family and friends can be fun, but there’s nothing like the freedom of solo travel. Exploring a new city on your own time, with no demands to alter the route or having to sit down for a break when you are ready to go.  Read on for more about staying safe as a solo traveller.

The idea of travelling solo can scare some people, but it isn’t necessarily dangerous.  It’s all about being prepared and knowing what to do if you get yourself in a difficult situation. Knowing the better destinations to visit and how to hold yourself when you are walking around. But be realistic, there will always be risks, even staying in your own country is no guarantee of safety.  Knowing and preparing for these risks is the best action to take.

 

Plan Ahead

Your journey begins before you board the plane. From the moment you start planning your solo travel, you want to be prepared. Start with your travel insurance, providing as much information on destinations and activities as you can.

Learn about the areas you are going to visit.  Read up on other travellers who have gone either solo or as a group. Find out areas to avoid or if there are certain times of day, or even year, that are considered unsafe.

Plan your initial route to your accommodation.  Then consider planning routes between your intended destinations.  This will save you some hassle on your trip and give you more time to explore.

Learn about the local customs and cultures, for instance, common clothing found in the area. When travelling, you want to be able to blend in, rather than accidently declare yourself a naïve tourist.  Or worse, culturally offend someone!  Learning some basics in the native language will also benefit you greatly. Being able to speak a few words will almost certainly help locals warm up to you more should you need help.  Being able to read a few words will really help you too.

Familiarise yourself with the types of scams you may find in the area, this will allow you to avoid them and walk away when you suspect something isn’t right. Although you should always be aware of your surroundings, rather than expecting to be picked for a con.

Check out this Foreign Travel Checklist for some more guidance from Gov.UK

staying safe as a solo traveller

Accommodation

When choosing your accommodation, try to choose somewhere that someone you know has used and had good experiences with. If this option is not available, find somewhere with good quality reviews across a number of trusted sites.

Consider quality and safety as well as budget. Hostels can be great fun, not to mention nice and cheap, but come with increased safety risks. There are plenty of hotels, boutique and chain offering cheaper rooms for solo travellers without compromising on safety and comfort.

For example, the Crash Pad rooms in a Nottingham city centre hotel – these rooms are designed to be stylish and comfortable, but for use of solo travellers only.

Time of arrival at your accommodation is important.  Arrive as early as you can in the day.  Not only will this help you find your location easier, but you’ll get a better feel for the surrounding area. If you come to find your accommodation isn’t going to be suitable, you’ve also left yourself some time to find alternative arrangements.

Never give away your accommodation while you’re travelling, close friends and family being the exception. Your base of operation is your area of safety and given this information away could cause you trouble in the future.

While You’re Travelling

Be a smart traveller and make sure you’re prepared for when you are travelling around. Keep the number of personal items to a minimum so you have less to worry about (and check!) and make sure they are kept hidden securely on your person at all times.

Keep spare cash or an alternative credit/debit card hidden away from your main purse or pocket. If you are caught out by a pickpocket, at least you won’t be stranded with no means to pay your way.

Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.  You don’t need to be suspicious of everyone but certainly be more reserved than you would be at home. You’ll want to keep a clear head, steering away from drink and drugs – this could impair your judgement and make you an easy victim. Never give away personal information and make sure that you stay in populated areas.

Make sure you are polite while travelling but know when to make a fuss. Should you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you shouldn’t be afraid to alert those around you.

Anywhere you travel, make sure you do so with confidence, you don’t want to make yourself look like a nervous traveller or an easy target for scams.

Before heading away, you can also register your journey with your government and/or leave your journey details with friends and family. This way if there is any unrest in a destination country you will be advised and it’s easier to track where you might be.

When you’re sufficiently prepared, travelling alone can be an enjoyable experience where you can learn a lot about yourself.

Where will your next journey take you?

staying safe as a solo traveller

When to Fly to Avoid Flight Delays and Cancellations

Starting off your adventure with a canceled or delayed flight can throw a major wrench into your travel plans. During the lead up to a trip, you might find yourself worrying about the possibility that you could end up spending longer in the airport than you had originally intended.
The good news is there may be a way that you can stack the odds in your favor.  Travel sites and airlines are frequently known for keeping track of important flight data.  By using this information, you can learn a little more about the best times to schedule your flights.

Read on for tips to avoid flight delays and cancellations!

When to Fly to Avoid Flight Delays and Cancellations

The Best Times of Day for a Flight

When scheduling your next journey, one of the first things to think about is when in the day you’re going to take to fly.  In most cases, the early bird will get the worm with flight choices.  Flights that leave between 6 am and 7 am are generally the most likely to be on time.  This is because they haven’t had chance to be affected by other issues that might have appeared throughout the day.
The later in the day your flight is, the more likely it is that you’ll face a problematic “stacking effect”. One slight delay quickly becomes a huge issue, or even a cancellation. The trend for increasing flight delays continues up to 6 pm in most cases, at which point it starts to taper off again.
According to experts, even the smallest delay can cause a ripple effect causing even more delays in the future.

First thing in the morning, you’re starting with a fresh set of planes, fewer passengers, and shorter lines.  That means that you don’t have to worry as much about unexpected issues. What’s more, air traffic is lighter the earlier you fly.

 

The Best Days for a Flight

You might be surprised to learn that Saturday is one of the best days to fly according to some statistics. That may be because people prefer to start their vacation earlier in the week.  Or maybe people assume that  weekends are going to be busy, so they ensure to book throughout the week instead.
Whatever the reason, research shows us that Friday is generally the worst day to travel. Up to 30% of flights being delayed that day on average. Additionally, Friday is also the day when more flights are scheduled.  This means that there are more chances for problems with air traffic and cancellations.
Here’s your insight into which days you should choose for your next trip or vacation:
the best days to fly.png

The Best Seasons for a Flight

Importantly, the details given above can differ depending on which airline you choose to fly with.  Also, which airport you’re traveling from, and where you’re going to.  Another point to consider is the season. Although the question of which season to pick is a little harder to pin down, here are some general rules to follow:

Avoid Fridays during Summer: You already know that Fridays are the busiest day of the week for airports, but the problem becomes even worse during summer when the children are out of school and more people decide to take vacations.

Be flexible around the holidays: If you’re flying around the holiday season, remember that a lot of other people will be hoping to get home to their families too, this means that peak activity levels and prices can both begin to spike.

Travel during the low season: Finally, make sure that you always look for the low season around your destination – which is when it’s less likely to get the most visitors. This will help you to choose a more delay-free time to fly.

Looking at all the above, it seems as though the best thing you can do is travel as early as possible on a non-holiday Saturday sometime during the year. Of course, even with statistics, you can never know exactly what’s going to happen with any given airline.

Ultimately, you should always be prepared to handle the stress of a cancellation or delay, no matter how hard you try to avoid them.  Building extra time into your plans to account for delays will help too!

 

I hope these tips have helped, let me know what you think and if you have any more to share!Don’t forget to check out my tips on staying healthy while traveling with the family!

Moving Overseas? Make packing easier!

When you’re moving long distance, especially if you’re moving to another country completely, packing can be a complete headache. What do you take? What can you leave behind? How are you going to get it all done? These are just some of the questions that plague your existence as you plan the packing stage of a life-changing move. But you know what? Packing for an overseas move doesn’t have to be all that difficult.

make packing easier for moving abroad

Here are some simple tips to help you make your move easier:

 

Enlist Help

If you don’t want to go into total meltdown, then you’ll want to ask a few good friends or family members to help you out. Not only will they be able to assist you with the physical aspects of packing, but they’ll be there to help keep the kids occupied and encourage you to get rid of the unnecessary when you really don’t want to, which brings us to…

 

Declutter

If you’re living in a house that’s brimming with stuff, it’s going to be really, and I mean REALLY expensive to ship it overseas. In most cases, it just isn’t practical to take everything you own. This is why you need to get serious about your stuff.

 

Go through your house making an inventory of what you have.  Sit down and hash out what you NEED to take with you, what you would like to take, what can be left behind and what might be difficult to transport. Making Sell, Donate, Trash lists are super helpful.  Feeling organised is so empowering when you’re moving abroad.. If you plan to move back sometime, keeping your stuff in storage is also an option. Just bear in mind it might be tough convincing the kids to give up their much-loved toys!

 

Hire an Experienced Moving Company

make packing for moving abroad easier

Hiring a long-standing moving company who has experience with moving long-distance, like the ones at https://www.mybekins.com/locations/oakland-ca-movers/ , is essential if you want your stuff to reach its new destination, and in one piece. Of course, you’ll have to do your part by very carefully packing it up with lots of bubble wrap and the like to minimize the chances of it getting broken on its long journey.

 

Use Vacuum Bags

For all your clothes bedding and even soft toys, use vacuum sealed bags. They hugely reduce the amount of space these things take up. There’s some great ones at Bed Bath and Beyond.  It’s often volume as opposed to weight that you run out of first, so this really helps!  

 

Embrace Being Unburdened

make packing for moving overseas easy

 

If there’s one thing that will help make packing for an overseas move easier for you, it is embracing minimalism. There’s a certain feeling that comes with unburdening yourself of possessions you thought you’d always have that is so liberating. This makes it much easier to leave stuff behind. So, put the focus on your new life and remind yourself and the kids that you can always replace stuff if you really need to and packing should become very easy to you very quickly.

 

Good luck with your move!