Travel & Days Out

Places to go, do, see and explore.

What You Need To Know To Invest In Travel Luggage

Travelling is fun until you have to start packing and you realize that not everything you need fits into your travel bag. Worse still is trying to stuff your essentials, then the zip rips off, and you have to start all over again. However, all these inconveniences are avoidable if you consider the following helpful tips on investing in travel luggage.

Convenience

Not every journey is the same, and as such, you need an appropriate bag on a given occasion. Get a convenient carrier bag to allow all your essentials to fit in. You may have to overstuff a too-small bag while, on the other hand, a big load for a few items may look out of place and tire you.

You need to know what you require on your trip to get only the necessary items and a fitting bag. You can get ideas on presents for people who travel, so you do not leave any necessary items behind. Some of the products that may interest you include a travel neck pillow, water bottles, portable chargers, and passport holders.

You can get yourself a backup bag that will come in handy should you need extra space for your valuables. You can use it for other purposes as well as it can serve as storage for items you will not need at all times while you move to a hotel. Before investing in your travel luggage, you need to ascertain what is most convenient for you in your journey.

Material Quality

The material of your luggage is crucial as it makes or breaks your trip. A soft material costs less and is ideal for items you can carry around since you will handle it with care. However, big luggage that needs checking may get damaged since the handlers may not pay special attention.

You need a hard and durable material for luggage that will not be by your side on your trip. Some materials are hard and heavy, which may make it a burden for you, and that will not be necessary for carry-ons.

Size Matters

Bulky luggage on a short trip can be a bother since you will have to move around with it. Before the start of a journey, you need to know how long your stay is and the things you need. A small bag may not fit month-stay essentials, while a big one may not be appropriate for a two-day visit.

Larger piece of luggage may also mean added expenses as you may have to pay for any extra weight at the airport. Carry-on bags will make things easier for you as you will not have to pick it up upon arrival. Before you pack, you should ask yourself if the bag’s size is the right one for your travel needs.

Be Unique

The last thing you want is running after a stranger, telling them they have your bag only to find out it is not. You could also pick another traveller’s bag, thinking it is yours. All this confusion is avoidable if you personalise your luggage.

Since there is no telling what another person’s favourite bag will be, why not customize yours? You can have yours drawn a unique pattern or wrap a ribbon around it to make it stand out.

Top Rated Toronto Tourist Attractions You’ll Love

At the moment I’m sure lots of us are honing our travel bucket-lists just waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to lift so that we can explore the world again.

One of the destinations I am really looking forward to visiting is Toronto.  It is often called the New York City of Canada but is reputed to be much cleaner and safer.  There is something to suit the budget of every traveller and you can buy cheap flights to Toronto without breaking the bank.

Toronto is the capital city of the Canadian province of Ontario and it is the country’ most populated city. Situated on the north-western shore of Lake Ontario, the city is recognised as an international centre of arts and culture and, in fact, is one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Toronto is warm and humid in the summer but the winter is typically very cold and windy, with frequent snow.

Toronto highlights you’ll want to visit

Below is a list of unmissable things to do on a visit to Toronto according to the travel guides.

Take a walk down Bloor Street

This is the Park Avenue of Toronto where you will find designer labels such as Gucci and Prada and the  Holt-Renfrew department store. If you can afford $500 for a pair of jeans, this is the place for you. but window shopping and people watching are always free.

Visit the quirky shops of Queen Street

Here is where you’ll find trendy clothing stores, independent record shops, and other quirky establishments. Look out for the legendary Horseshoe Tavern where every great Canadian music act has played since 1947.

Stroll through Chinatown

If you are looking for authentic Chinese cuisine, exotic herbs or rare teas, Toronto’s Chinatown is the place to head for. Chinese restaurants shy away from the traditional “North American Chinese” menu, serving a variety of authentic dishes to over 400,000 people of Chinese background in Toronto.

Shop at the CF Toronto Eaton Center

Minutes away from popular Toronto attractions such as the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and the Art Gallery of Toronto, the mall is a six-storey structure with a glass ceiling modelled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.

It has over 285 stores with a great food court on the lower level. Make sure to visit New York fries and order the Poutine – a blend of french fries, cheese curds and gravy.

Take a trip on the subway

The Toronto subway is clean, safe, and easy to navigate. There are two main lines, the Younge-University-Spadina and the Bloor-Danforth. From the subway, you can get to all of the main tourist hotspots.

Visit the top of the CN Tower

The world’s tallest building at 553m (1815 ft). The view is amazing. At the top of the tower is the world-class 360 restaurant. The floor does a complete rotation every 72 minutes and, when dining, you will get to view the city below from each direction.

Indulge your passion for art and culture

Toronto is an art enthusiast’s dream and is home to several major galleries and museums.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is the largest in Canada with more than 40 galleries.  The museum displays both artworks and natural history items and has the largest collection of avian and mammalian skeletons in the world.

The museum’s Far East Collection is the largest collection of far eastern artefacts outside of China and features the Ming Tomb, a complete seventeenth-century warriors tomb and the only complete Chinese tomb in the West.

The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is home to more than 2,000 pieces of ceramic art with a collection featuring everything from pre-Columbian pottery to classic European porcelains of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The Art Gallery of Toronto has strong collections of European and Canadian art.  One of the main attractions of the Gallery is its collection of Henry Moore sculptures, one of the largest in the world.  Henry Moore personally designed the exhibit space for this collection in 1974.

For more than thirty years the Textile Museum of Canada has celebrated international fiber art. Their permanent collection contains more than 12,000 textiles, from pieces as much as 2000 years old to modern designs, with samples from more than 200 regions of the world.

And, lastly, why not visit The Bata Shoe Museum, housed in a whimsical, shoebox-shaped building designed by architect Raymond Moriyama.  The museum is home to a 4,500-piece, semi-permanent “History of Shoes” exhibit that highlights examples of footwear spanning time and the globe, from ancient Egyptian sandals to the stilettos of the 1990s.

Gourmets will love St. Lawrence Market

Considered in the top twenty-five markets in the world, it has over 50 speciality vendors. Great vegetables, fruits, meat, cheese, and seafood abound. On the lower level, visit the St. Lawrence Market Juice Bar. They specialize in freshly squeezed juices of all kinds and related products.

Visit the eclectic Kensington Market area

Dating back to the original settlement of Toronto in the 1790s by the British, you will now find a diverse area of shopping representing the cultures of Portuguese, East Indian, Ethiopian and Caribbean.

Eat in Little Italy

Here’s where you’ll find wonderful Italian coffee shops, gelato, music bars and great night life – including latin dancing.

As you can see you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to holiday highlights in Toronto.

Have you visited this great city?  What would you recommend?

*Collaborative Post

How To Plan a Perfect Family Trip To Brazil

Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country, and also the largest in the South American continent. The republic forms an enormous triangle-like shape on the continent’s eastern part with a coastline covering an impressive 7,400km along the Atlantic Ocean. Brazil is a go-to destination getaway to visit with kids and family. 

Planning for a trip to Brazil can be an exhausting task, but we are here to help you. Planning a family trip to Brazil has some peculiarities, just like any other country. Knowing the basics of what to do and how things work will go a long way. If you are planning to travel with a family, there are several things to take into account.

Book Through a Travel Guide/Agency

Vacations are supposed to be stress-free and bonding time, especially with family and kids around. Planning a vacation all by yourself is time-consuming. To save time and potential stress, some of South America’s best travel experts recommend to book here to have your activities and destination places planned out. Find an ideal package that works for you and explore some of the best places to visit in Brazil. When using a travel agency that is familiar with Brazil, you can be sure to expect the best services and options available for you and your family.

Check If You Need a Visa

A visa is a document that allows you to enter another country. No permit means no traveling. Different countries worldwide have additional requirements for visitors who want to visit that particular nation, and mostly it depends on the country of origin of the passport you have. Visa applications take considerable time due to the extensive paperwork involved, so be sure to plan well. 

Note that there are countries whose citizens do not require a visa to travel to Brazil. Citizens in such countries only need a passport (valid for at least six months) and proof that one can pay for their stay in Brazil. Check with your local consulate in your country and learn more about the documents required to obtain a visa to travel to Brazil.

Best Time of The Year to Visit Brazil

The weather patterns and conditions in the South American continent are not what you would expect anywhere in the world, and this is because weather conditions vary for most of the year in Brazil. Most experts suggest visiting Brazil during the dry season from May to September, as this is mostly the peak months for most travellers globally. This period is perfect for sightseeing and visiting nature parks and nature spots, and this may also be the ideal time to go camping and hiking in Rio with kids and family. 

Learn Simple Phrases and Words in Portuguese

Unless you speak Portuguese, then it will be a big surprise for you since most people in Brazil don’t speak English, especially in the smaller towns located away from the main cities. The language barrier can be a struggle. To curb this, learn a few basic phrases in Portuguese beforehand, while still planning for your trip. 

Below is a list of essential phrases in Portuguese:

  • Hello – Olá
  • Please – Por favor
  • Thank you – Obrigada (fem.), obrigado (masc.)
  • Good morning – Bom dia
  • Good afternoon – Boa Tarde
  • Good evening/night – Boa Noite
  • Do you speak English – Voĉe fala inglês?
  • I don’t speak Portuguese – Eu nã falo português
  • Can you write that down, please? – Você poderia escrever isso?

Learn about the Brazilian Culture

After taking care of the planning, the fun part is learning a little bit about the traditions and country culture. You don’t have to go all out and learn everything under the sun about Brazil, but understanding the basics will be beneficial during your stay in Brazil, e.g., feijoada and caipirinha are the national drink and dish to many people. 

Knowing that will help improve your authenticity and experience in Brazil. Other than samba, there are plenty of music styles that the Brazilians are proud of, such as sertanejo, forró, and axé. Finally, familiarize yourself with public holidays and local celebrations to help you when planning for your trip.

Essentials You Need to Pack for Brazil

Prepare a list of some of the important things you will need for your trip. More importantly, you need to make a list in advance, as this will help you figure out whether you need to buy something earlier. Here is a short version of some of the useful things you will need for your stay;

  • Repellent – this one is essential, especially for the mosquito bites. Consult a pharmacy or a doctor on the best ones, especially for kids.
  • Pocket WIFI – the WIFI in Brazil is sometimes slow, stay connected by relying on a pocket WIFI.

Finally, with the steps above, you can be sure to enjoy your stay in Brazil and know how to plan for such a trip.

Must-see Sites In Valencia You’ll Want To Visit

If you are planning your next European break, the beautiful port city of Valencia which lies on the southeastern coast of Spain should be high on your list. With over 4.5 million people visiting the city each year it has a lot to offer.

With its accommodation to suit every budget, a Mediterranean climate, a historical old town and several beaches, Valencia combines the essentials associated with both a city and a beach break. Making it a great choice if you like to mix adventure with relaxation. It is also the birthplace of one of Spain’s most famous dishes, paella. Therefore, making it a great choice for foodies too.

Here are just some of the top Valencia attractions that you must visit.

The City of Arts and Sciences

The number one attraction in Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences which is a cultural and architectural complex. It is located in the riverbed of the Turia River in the east of the city. The Palace of The Arts was designed by local architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. Many compare it to the Sydney Opera House and it is easy to see why.

The complex includes several attractions. These include Oceanogràfic (aquarium), The Hemisfèric (3D cinema), Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía (opera house), The Umbracle (open-access garden) and The Ágora (an events venue). During the summer months especially, people from all over the world flock to The Palace of The Arts. Therefore, tickets should be bought in advance to avoid queues and avoid disappointment.

La Lonja De La Seda

La Lonja De La Seda is considered to be a masterpiece of Valencian Gothic architecture. It was built between 1482 and 1533 is a must-visit when in Valencia. The name translates to the “Silk Exchange”. This refers back to when Valencia was one of Europe’s main trading cities. This UNESCO World Heritage is a great option if you love both history and architecture.

La Lonja De La Seda is located in the city centre in front of Valencia’s Central Market. Therefore, why not combine a visit to both when you visit Valencia?

Central Market (Mercado Central or Mercat Central)

As one of Europe’s oldest and largest operating markets, a visit to Valencia’s Central Market is a must. Especially if you are a foodie. With over 900 stalls covering more than 8,000 square metres, selling everything from fruit and vegetables to fresh fish, cheeses and olives, there is something to whet everyone’s appetite. There are also restaurants within the market where you can grab a local delicacy, a cold drink and watch the world go by.

Even if you are not a foodie, a visit just to see the stunning modernist building with a beautiful entrance and colourful tiles, the market is housed is highly recommended.

Valencia Cathedral

Located in the Old Town, Valencia Cathedral also known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral or Valencia Cathedral is an impressive building. It was built between the 13th and 15th Century. Predominantly Gothic in design, baroque, Romanesque and neoclassical influences and aspects can also be seen.

In the Cathedral, you can visit the “Chapel of the Holy Grail”. Here you will find one of the supposed Holy Chalices which is believed to be the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper.

Barrio Del Carmen

Barrio Del Carmen is in the heart of Valencia’s Old Town. The thousand-year-old city neighbourhood grew between two walls, the Muslim and the Christian. It is a beautiful and bohemian place that many visit for the culture and leisure options available. Here you will find terraces, bars, restaurants, markets and boutiques together with late-night bars, live music venues and clubs. Therefore making this a popular and lively neighbourhood to visit regardless of the time of day.

It is also home to a number of museums. These include the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM), el Museo de la Prehistoria and el Museo de Etnología.

Malvarrosa Beach

With several beaches along the Valencian coastline, it’s a tough choice deciding which one to visit first. However, Malvarrosa Beach, which is situated between the town of Alboraya and Calle Acequia de la Cadena is a firm favourite for both locals and tourists alike.

Located just minutes from the old town, Malvarrosa Beach is a stunning 1-kilometre long, 135-metre wide golden sand beach with Blue Flag status. The beach has a range of amenities including showers, lifeguards, medical stations and drinking fountains together with several restaurants along the promenade which runs the beach.

I hope these recommendations and tips to plan your trip and itinerary when visiting Valencia help. It is a city which has something to offer everyone. With an abundance of history, culture and the bonus of several beaches and amazing food, you really must tick Valencia off your list as soon as possible.

Holiday Budgeting Suggestions For Low-Income Families

Paying for a holiday has become difficult for lots of families at the moment. Not only has the economy been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the travel industry itself is in turmoil. As job losses mount up, many are focusing solely on covering their household bills and squirrelling away enough cash to help them through the winter months.

On the other hand, it is the long summer holiday and with our kids having spent an unprecedented amount of time out of school and away from their friends, giving the kids some sort of break is just as important – not least to protect their mental health. Before the Corona Virus struck, many parent strove to take their children away at least once a year.  Creating family memories is really important.


So what can we do?

Cut back on spending as much as possible

If you sit down and go through your day to day expenditure, you’ll probably be surprised at just how much can be frittered away without you really noticing. Few of us have the discipline to monitor every single expenditure but creating a household budget is never a wasted exercise. You may want to consider a short term loan.

Firstly, it’s important to note that most families waste a fortune every single month. That happens because they don’t think hard enough about the purchases they make.  You’ll find some ideas for curbing your impulse buying in this post.

Food is a big expenditure for lots of us but there are ways you can save on feeding the kids during the summer holidays.

What about travel companies that allow payment instalments?

Some travel companies allow people to pay for their bookings in instalments – either on a pay monthly basis or, alternatively, with a low deposit so you can secure your holiday. All of which seems like a good idea were it not for the fact that you will pay a hefty APR for the privilege.  To give you an idea, Lastminute.com are charging an APR of 29.9%.  That’s not such a cheap trip.

With the travel industry currently severely impacted due to COVID-19, you’d need to be extremely careful if you want to travel abroad – both due to the financial security of the travel companies and the ever-changing quarantine rules for countries in Europe and farther afield.  Jobs are being cut left right and centre – British Airways, Hays Travel, EasyJet to name just a few.

You can find ABTA’s latest advice for international travel here and it doesn’t make for optimistic reading.

Then there has been the news that some companies have been digging their heels in when it comes to issuing refunds.  More excellent advice can be found on Martin Lewis’s Moneysavingexpert site.

All of which makes the prospect of travelling abroad a decidedly dodgy proposition – even if you can find someone to take your booking and actually deliver your holiday.

Have a staycation – explore the kids’ home country

Many would agree that a staycation at home in the UK is a much safer bet. We have some beautiful places on our own shores. Arranging a camping trip or something similar could ensure the children get a well-earned break. In most instances, the little ones won’t care about seeing the sights – they just want to spend time with their parents.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a UK staycation is cheap.  Far from it.  Rumour has it that accommodation in tourist hotspots such as Devon and Cornwall is booked almost up to September 2021! It has also been a boom time for Airbnb properties.

Your best bet is probably to scour the budget hotel websites to see if you can find any deals on accommodation for last minute travel.  A quick Google search for Budget Hotel Deals UK reveals plenty of options still available if you are quick off the mark.  Just make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for and check out their cancellation and refund policies.

You’ll find that the number of rooms available may be reduced to adhere to social distancing and yes, you will likely have to wear a mask in public areas.

You might also find deals on sites like Topcashback.co.uk or with subscription dining cards such as Gourmet Society and Tastecard.  Experience companies like Buyagift.co.uk and Redletterdays.co.uk may also have some offers for short breaks.

Don’t forget to check supermarket loyalty cards too like Tesco Clubcard.

Stick to day trips

Many of the UK’s tourist attractions are starting to reopen, although you will need to book tickets online and observe social distancing when you are there.  Generally, we have found toilets are available but no dining, just takeaway food.  It’s just as easy to take a picnic.

We recently visited Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds and are planning another trip to Berkeley Castle next week.  Bristol Zoo and Clearwell Caves are also on our list.

At least with a day trip you have a lower financial outlay and if you do need to cancel it’s not such a heavy financial loss – although the kids will be disappointed.

You may be yearning for the beach but, having seen the pictures of Bournemouth Beach, Camberwell Sands and Durndle Door in Dorset,  I think we’ll be giving the sands a miss for quite some time to come.

A sand pit and a sprinkler in the back garden are cheaper options!

Finally, I think it’s important to explain to your kids the reasons why you can’t go on holiday and reassure them that they will be able to go a little later on (hopefully!).  Kids are pretty astute at grasping these things and we parents have enough to feel guilty about as it is.

Have you got any suggestions for cheap and cheerful holidays in these uncertain times?  Let us know!

Natural Health Travel Health Essentials For Your Hand Luggage

Here are 3 small, but incredibly useful additions to your summer holiday medicine kit. They are all ideally sized to throw in your handbag as you rush out of the door after the kids on summer day trips too.

Headaches

First up is a product to soothe your headache – the Arkopharma Migrastick, an all-natural alternative to conventional painkillers which uses 100% pure and natural essential oils to help relieve pain caused by headaches and migraines.

Simply roll over temples, forehead or nape of the neck using circular massage movements.

The Migrastick with its rollerball

I was a little sceptical, I admit but it has a refreshing smell and is surprisingly cooling and long-lasting when applied to the temples.  I think it would certainly help soothe a brewing headache when you are miles away from a pharmacy.

A note of warning though,  you cannot use this product if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or if you suffer from epilepsy.  And, it’s not for use on children under the age of 12.

Migrastick is small enough to have on you at all times. It’s also reasonably priced at £6.29 and is available from Amazon, Holland & Barrett and selected independent pharmacies and health stores nationwide.

Nausea and travel sickness

If you suffer from traveller’s tummy or are feeling a bit nauseous from too much sun, try The Ginger People’s Gin Gins CARAMEL – Tasty ginger and caramel sweets. They contain a massive 30% ginger per sweet.

Working mainly in the digestive tract, ginger helps to boost digestive fluids and neutralize acids, making it an effective alternative to anti-nausea medication, without the possible unpleasant side effects. These are ideal travel sweets to keep in the car’s glove compartment to calm wobbly tummies without having to break out the travel sickness pills.

Gin Gins from The Ginger People

They taste like a zingy, ginger, more chewy version of Werther’s Originals and certainly have a kick to them. The ginger may also help mums to be fighting morning sickness. Gin Gins Caramel are available from Amazon and Holland & Barrett stores nationwide.

Mosquito Menace

Finally, there is Zap-It!  I don’t know about you but mosquitoes and midges seem to love biting me in the hot weather. They have a way of putting a real dampener on things when you’re outside, with their dive-bombing and blood-sucking antics.

So whether you’re backpacking through South America, camping at a festival, out for a run or just barbecuing in your back garden (guess which one I do the most of!), Zap-It! is a handy gadget in your armoury against those big, angry red bites.

It can be used as and when required by all the family, but not on babies less than 2 years of age.

Zap-It! will stop the itching and reduce the swelling of the bite (but note: it will not remove toxins or infection).  You simply place the flat end of the gadget on to the bite on your skin, hold the Zap-It! between your first 2 fingers and squeeze the button with your thumb.

Press the button quickly, 5 times or more as soon as possible after being bitten for fast relief.  The Zap-It! will also work through light fabrics.

Each Zap-It! will relieve up to 1,000 bites – enough for many years of bites or itches! It is available in different colours from selected health stores, pharmacies, garden centres, all Asda shops and Superdrug. Zap-It! is also available online from Amazon or www.ecobrands.co.uk.

Three cheap, simple items that are easy to throw in your bag.  What are your must-have travel health essentials?

How To Plan For The Greatest Holiday Possible

Just having a holiday is fantastic all on its own, but our time away can always be improved. Everyone knows and probably is familiar with how things can go wrong during a holiday, which is why we should plan our vacations as best we can. True, even the best of plans can still get ruined, but there are many ways in your hands to control how things will go. Excluding some unexpected events, here is what you can do to ensure that you have the best holiday possible.

Before you go

The best way to ruin a holiday is by worrying about things back home. Before you travel, make sure to tend to things like unpaid bills, urgent house repairs, home security, or what you plan to do with your vehicle while away. The whole point of a holiday is to get away from these responsibilities, not to take them along with you.

Vacation of a Lifetime

People love to dream about “the vacation of a lifetime.” Truth be told, you can make every vacation special and treat every holiday like the vacation of a lifetime; it doesn’t matter where you go, what you do, or how long you stay. A simple weekend getaway could be a once in a lifetime experience when you spend each day doing the things you love and make you happy.

Avoid Peak Times

Holidays are a notoriously busy time for travel. You’ll be lucky if you can even book an airline ticket. Even if you do, it might be during an inconvenient time for you, and you can expect cancellations or very long waits at most airports. To avoid having your trip ruined before it even starts, the BitLux team suggests you consider booking a private jet charter. These private charters can take you to almost any state and you can find several international options also.

You won’t have to fight tooth and nail to get a booking that suits your schedule, avoid the crowds and the unpredictability of airports, and get a free online quote. That way, you can kickstart your holiday early!

Do Something New

You will never know the benefits of trying something new until you try it. Lots of us are creatures of habit. We go on holiday once, have a great time at a particular location, and keep going back to the same location every year.

Understandably, you would want to repeat an amazing experience. However, there are tons of amazing experiences and places in this beautiful world of ours, so why limit yourself? Even if you have private reasons why you want to spend a holiday in a particular location each year, at the very least you can try different activities, stay at a different place, try different foods, and so on. Trying something new means learning something new and experiencing new feelings of happiness and contentment. Plus, you’ll have new things to tell everyone about when you get back.

Too Little vs. Too Much

We can all be perfectly happy just resting on holiday, free from obligations, and away from no-fun stuff. But, most likely, you’ll want to do some activities. If you have nothing to do, you’ll get bored, and if you include too many activities in your itinerary, you’ll be overwhelmed and exhausted. Moreover, unless you have a lot of time, you probably won’t be able to do all the things you have planned.

Strike a balance of the activities you want to do; don’t do too little nor too much because extremes aren’t good. Prioritize your activities and where you want to go. Go for quality over quantity. Create an itinerary but keep in mind that it has to be reasonable, so don’t get carried away.

Second Guess Reviews

There’s no doubt that we depend on reading reviews for everything and anything. We sometimes even read reviews on products or services that we have no intention of buying, at least not in the near future.

Reviews are good, but very subjective. What one person finds horrible another might find heavenly. That’s very confusing and leaves you shuffling back and forth trying to decide on where to stay, where to go, where to eat, where to go for the best entertainment, as well as all other aspects of your holiday. There’s a whole bunch of things you can find out about your destination spot from the locals, so take reviews with a pinch of salt.

For a super holiday, treat everyone like a once-in-a-lifetime event, and be open to all the wonderful moments you can have if you take the time to plan ahead. The effort you put in advance will surely pay off later. Even if your vacation has a bumpy start, make sure to end it on a positive note. When you do that, your holiday cheer will linger with you for quite some time.

Tips For Coping With A Child’s Car Sickness

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being gradually lifted, many of us are planning if not a holiday then a day out or too.  For longer stays this involves making endless lists, bulk buying toiletries and trying to summon up the energy to do the packing. On top of this, there’s extra stress if you are travelling long distances by car or if you or your children suffer from car sickness.

I wasn’t too bad as a child but my sister would be looking green before we’d travelled more than a couple of miles!  Cue much packing of potties and urgent pitstops in lay-bys.

My dad gave me some sensible advice about assembling a basic kit for coping with car sickness.  He suggested carrying a large plastic box in the boot with a change of clothes per child, including towels, wet wipes and also a big bottle of soapy water for quick clean-ups. He also advised carrying travel potties or old ice cream cartons.

My parents used to give my sister Sarah and I travel sickness pills and packets of Wrigley’s Double Mint chewing gum to give us something to focus on.  And we quickly learned that reading whilst the car was moving was a no-no!.

I asked some of my fellow parenting bloggers how they cope with the nightmare of car sickness and they had much wisdom to share.

Tips for dealing with car sickness

Here are a few of their suggestions which also include advice for travelling on ferries and planes.

Shannon says “maybe not for a child for fear of them choking. How about lollipops? Or even a chewy toffee or sweet?”.  [sarbthoughts.blogspot.com]

Mary says “My nephew used to really travel sick even on short journeys but it all stopped when he used child travel bands. He’s just left Uni so I don’t think it’s an issue any more, but they certainly saved us all having empty ice cream tubs in our car when we’d take him out!  With ferries – don’t sit at the front of the boat or look at the horizon.” [Over 40 And A Mum To One]

Claire says “I always had a pack of wipes, plastic bags and spare clothes. Keep a window open to let air in. Don’t let them drink milk, and strong juice before the drive or during. Keep snacks light.” [familypanelreviews.co.uk]

Helen says “I had really bad travel sickness as a child and the only thing that worked was a bobble on my wrist. The ones with the metal bit pressed on the inside of my wrist. Not sure how safe it is but it 100% worked”.

Lisa of Travellovingfamily.com has a great post about coping with travel sickness on aeroplanes.

Tips from a Flight Attendant – Preventing Travel Sickness

Mellissa says “When all else fails Kwells is great and suitable for those over 10. You can take one as soon as you feel ill although it is better to take one 20 minutes before the journey.” [Flydryexplore.com]

Rebecca says “Avoid dairy products before you travel if you suffer from travel sickness, they seem to make it worse! Two of my children suffer badly but not so bad if they’ve not had dairy products.” [www.mumof3boys.co.uk]

Sophie says “For ferries, I discovered that laying in a chair like you’re in a rubber ring (if that makes sense) helps because the sensation is more like bobbing along on a lazy river” [onetenzeroseven]

Coral says “I was only car sick in smooth cars never in land rovers or lorries. Was told sitting on a newspaper prevented it. Mind over matter I guess. Doesn’t help in a cyclone in Fiji though. Avoid reading and devices. Look at the horizon. I talked a person out of seasickness on a ferry. NLP and hypnosis can work.” [Travellingcoral.com]

Michelle says “My parents used to give me child travel sickness tablets & anti sickness wristbands.” [Looking For The Silver Lining]

Katy says “Distraction can be a fantastic way to ease the anxiety of a child who gets sick on long journeys. Often the anxiety can be what makes the child feel unwell. Packing toys, games or even a tablet can be a great way to distract a child!” [www.katykicker.com]

Rebecca Ali says “My mum used to keep a cool bag with ice-cold water or go to the on-boat bar and get some ice which used to help loads (especially on boats and planes). Cars I was okay with but my granny always uses limacol in the car – it’s a super strong lemon-lime scented thing that she’d rub on a cloth and breathe and apparently that helped her from her youth to now.” [Pocahontas Jane]

So there you have it – quite a few votes for wristbands which I’m off to try.  Otherwise, I’ll be relying on travel sickness tablets for children and a big bucket safely stowed in the boot!

Do you have any tips to add?  Please share them in the comments below.

5 Tips for Visiting Las Vegas

Las Vegas is an extremely notorious destination for tourists. The city has a reputation for being wild and unpredictable, so many people don’t know how to prepare for a Vegas trip. It’s easy to get caught up in the vices of the city like gambling and partying, and making the wrong decisions can get you in some serious trouble financially. Thankfully there are some things that you can do to prepare for your Vegas trip that will ensure that your vacation runs smoothly. What exactly are these tricks that you can employ while in Sin City? Here are five tips for visiting Las Vegas.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Travel Out of Season

Vegas has lots of hotels and large gathering places, which makes the city a great place to host various conventions. Many organizations and industries take advantage of this, hosting their conventions within the city. Some of these conventions may attract thousands of people at a time, and there may be more than one convention happening at any given time. As you might expect, when a convention is going on in the city, rooms fill up quickly, and those that still remain get jacked up in price. As a result, if you’re looking to save money on lodging costs, then a quick search to ensure that no large conventions are going on during your travels would be wise. 

Pack Warmer Clothes

Many people assume that since Vegas is in the desert that the area’s climate will always be warm, but that isn’t always the case. Nights in Vegas can get pretty chilly, especially during the later months of the year. While you certainly don’t need to bring a winter coat to be warm, a light jacket or sweater to throw on while you’re cold can certainly suffice. Even during the summer, you may want to even pack a light jacket. Casinos, bars, and hotels will often crank the AC up to avoid the desert heat, often overcompensating and turning the inside temperatures freezing. Having a light jacket or sweater in your bag can be a great way to stay warm if you ever have to deal with something like this. 

Set a Gambling Budget

If you’re visiting Vegas, then chances are you’re going to try your hand at gambling at least once or twice. There are dozens of casinos in the city, and gambling and Vegas are essentially synonymous at this point. Despite how fun and exhilarating gambling can be, it can also be extremely dangerous and addictive. Sure you can win lots of money gambling, but you could also gain absolutely nothing and waste all of your time and money. Many Vegas trips can be absolutely ruined by gambling too much, as those with little self-control could find themselves absolutely cleaned out by Vegas casinos. Before you take your trip, set a hard cap for how much you can spend on gambling. Once you lose that amount of money, it’s time to stop and walk away. You don’t want to regret a great Vegas trip simply due to bad mistakes from gambling, so this is a great way to prevent that from happening. 

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Choose Meal Times Wisely

Just like how travel times to Vegas have peak times, so too do Vegas meal times. After a long day of partying and gambling, Vegas visitors will want to unwind with some amazing food before finishing off the night at the club. The prime time to grab some dinner in Vegas is usually in the middle of the evening, and during this time period restaurants fill up. Not only is it extremely difficult to find someplace to go without a reservation during this window of time, but most establishments also hike up their prices when it’s time for dinner. Due to this, it’s probably in the best interest for your sanity’s sake and your wallet that you either get dinner really early or really late in order to avoid the long Vegas lines.  

Helicopter Tours

Vegas is an absolutely gorgeous city, which is just one of the many reasons why people love visiting the city. One of the best ways to experience the city is through one of the many helicopter tours that various businesses have to offer. While on one of these tours you can take in all of the glory of Vegas, seeing just about everything that the city has to offer from the air. You can see famous sights around the city as well as the gorgeous skyline. Who knows, you may even want to aerially scout out locations for Las Vegas houses for sale, being so impressed with the city that you want to stay there permanently. Vegas is a beautiful place, and experiencing the city’s view from the air only further adds to the city’s wonder. 

How To Get A Great Night’s Sleep On Holiday

If you do a lot of travelling, it’s fair to say you will be familiar with two things, a stiff neck and shoulders and a lack of sleep. I don’t know about you but I always hate to leave my own bed and no matter how comfortable my travel accommodation is, I am always extremely glad to see my own bed again. So how do you get a great night’s sleep on holiday or when you are travelling?

Tips for a great night’s sleep on holiday

1. Use blackout blinds for the kids.  You can find portable ones that just attach to the window with sucker-pads.

2. Don’t be afraid to nap – use the power of the siesta.  In any case, we should all be staying out of the sun between 12 pm and 3 pm.

3. Make sure you take the kids’ favourite comforters – but don’t lose them.  We once had to trek across what seemed like half of Cornwall because Ieuan left ‘blankie’ in Tescos in Truro.

4 If it’s hot you might find it cooler to stay in cotton pyjamas as the cotton will wick away any sweat.

5. You can find lots of tips to help your kids sleep in hot weather in this post.

6. Avoid alcohol and high sugar / high salt foods.

7. Avoid eating too close to sleeping.  A light supper is fine – a three-course meal, not so much.

8. Stock up on bottled water but get it free at airports. A trick I read recently from money-saving expert Martin Lewis is to take an empty water bottle through to the departure lounge and fill up with free water from one of the airport water fountains.

9. Carry the kids’ pyjamas in your hand luggage so you don’t have to route through suitcases to find their things. If nothing else we make sure we’ve got the kids’ toothbrushes to hand

10. To avoid jet lag you might be better off staying up until the ‘normal’ bedtime in your new location to allow your body clock to reset

11. Earplugs, eye masks and travel pillows are your friends. A decent travel pillow will help support your neck while you travel and add a comforting touch to your hotel bed.

12. Try a travel pillow which gently supports your head and neck, allowing you to sleep more comfortably when travelling.  If you suffer from a bad back, as I do, you can also use a travel pillow for a bit of extra support in the small of the back.

13. Block out the light with a sleep mask. Try one made from silk for extra softness.

In his book “The Fitness Mindset“, health expert and author Brian Keane in his book gives some very helpful advice about improving the quality of our sleep.

If you don’t go to sleep, you’ll get a cortisol (a steroid hormone) driven ‘second wind’ that can keep you awake until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM. “If you can stick close to your body’s circadian cycle and get to bed before 11:00 PM, you will wake up feeling more rested than if you get the same amount of sleep starting later.

Obviously easier said than done in a different time zone but if you know when you are likely to feel tired you can at least adapt and do something to boost yourself and stave off fatigue.

Secondly, switch off your brain.  Journalling, meditation or even just some deep breathing may help. Perhaps you could carry a little travel journal to record your thoughts or write a list of things you are grateful for (being seated together on an EasyJet flight?  no airport delays?)!

Travelling, whilst exhilarating, is often stressful and with some careful planning and understanding the needs of your body, you can do a lot to improve the quality of your sleep and rest, even when you’re thousands of miles from home.

If you are planning to travel this summer, particularly with the kids, we’d love to hear your tips.

Tips For Travelling By Car Safely This Summer

Now that the summer holidays are approaching and many of us are about to hit the UK roads and motorways, it’s worth thinking about how we can keep ourselves, and our children, safe whilst we drive.  Travelling by car safely this summer is easier if you follow these tips.

Photo by Ben Shanks on Unsplash

Travelling by car safely this summer

Make sure your vehicle is legally roadworthy

We all know that our cars must have a current MOT and be adequately insured.  Even though we no longer need to display a tax disc, the police are able to track untaxed vehicles on the road.

Top up your fluids

Fuel, oil and water levels need to be topped up before we set off and our tyres checked and inflated to the correct pressure. It’s best to top your fuel up before you hit the motorway to avoid any price hikes on fuel which frequently seem to hit the unorganised driver.

Carry a safety kit

It is a good idea to carry a well-stocked first aid kit in the boot, as well as some bottled water and some (non-meltable) snacks.

Check your breakdown cover is valid

Is your breakdown cover up to date and do you have the relevant contact numbers already entered in your phone in case you get stranded on the M25?

Secure your little ones

Travelling with little ones means we need to make sure we are up to speed with the rules and regulations about child car seats and ensure everyone is wearing their seat-belt.

Prepare for car sickness

If your kids suffer from car sickness, it’s also worth taking a bowl, cloths and some soapy water, plus a change (or two!) of clothes for them.  You can bet that the day you don’t have these things is the day you’ll need them.

Charge your SatNav or Phone

Before you go, check your SatNav is in good working order and is charged.  We recently found that ours wouldn’t charge in-car and the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry cut out at a critical moment going around a roundabout.  Taking a good old-fashioned OS Map is a good back-up.

Stick to the speed limit

Make sure that you drive within the National Speed Limit for the road you are on – not only with this keep your licence point free but it will help you keep your petrol consumption down.

Don’t drink and drive – and watch your meds

If you have had a lot to drink the night before, remember that you may still be over the limit the next morning.  Some prescription medications may also leave you drowsy and nowhere near as alert as you need to be.

Take a break to deal with tiredness

Tiredness kills so make sure that you have regular, scheduled breaks, particularly when travelling with little ones, for toilet breaks, food and, in my case, coffee!  You might want to pack sandwiches though because the cost of feeding a family at the UK motorway service stations is often high.

Keep your little ones amused

It’s also useful to carry a picnic rug or blanket to sit on, or for the kids to snooze under.

You’ll want to take a selection of CDs for the kids.  Some kids are able to play on iPads and read in the back of the car but we’ve found this increases the risk of travel sickness.  Luckily we’ve finally outgrown the CBeebies classics so we don’t sail down to Devon to the dulcet tones of Mr Tumble any more.

Nervous driver?  Learn to deal with your nerves

If you find driving a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, Kwik-fit has an excellent guide entitled “Keep Calm And Drive On” to help you feel more confident on the road.

Chris Gilbert, a former Metropolitan Police driving inspector who taught Princes William and Harry to drive advises us to “drive more consciously” so that we anticipate situations rather than react.

I don’t know about you but it can be tricky to drive consciously when you have two kids arguing in the back, the SatNav cuts out and the Husband is trying to give you conflicting directions.

But we should be as alert as we can to what is going on around us, rather than faffing about changing radio stations or trying to unearth the last Werther’s Original from the glove compartment because Ieuan hates mints.

Another excellent piece of advice is to make sure there is an adequate gap between you and the car in front.

The advice is that you should keep at least a two-second gap between yourself and the car in front. You can count it from a road sign as the car ahead passes it.

Don’t be a nuisance on the road

Tailgating is probably one of the biggest annoyances experienced by drivers and I have found that women driving their kids seem to attract more than their fair share of tailgaters for some reason.

Other regularly mentioned annoyances from other motorists include:-

– leaving rear fog lights on when there’s no fog and it’s just raining

– driving everywhere with their lights on full beam and dazzling approaching drivers at night

– drivers who don’t put their lights on when it’s dark and tipping down with rain

– drivers who abruptly change lanes at the last possible moment at motorway exits – sometimes leaving it too late and crossing the hatched area

– drivers who drive while using a hand-held mobile phone – incredibly this is still a frequent sight, as is drivers trying to text with one hand on the wheel.

Wherever you’re off this year, make travelling by car safely easier by following these tips.

Tips For Taking Kids To Paris

Paris is one of my favourite cities and, having studied the language up to my second year in Swansea University (I majored in English Literature), my love of all things Francais is still going strong. Once we are allowed to travel freely once more, a trip to the City of Light is at the top of our agenda, particularly since Ieuan will be studying French in his first year in secondary school.

There’s an art to planning a trip with children though, isn’t there?  You have to get the right balance between family activities and things for you to enjoy as a couple so that everyone has a good time.  Kids tend to have a low boredom threshold these days so planning an itinerary in advance is a sensible thing to do.

Paris offers a wide array of places to learn and places simply to have fun. Here are just a few examples:

Perhaps your children would enjoy a donkey ride or an ice cream on the right bank at the Jardin de Tuileries, or on the other side you can enjoy the large green open space of the Champ de Mars

Here you may be able to enjoy one of Paris’s famous colourful puppet shows featuring adventures in gothic castles and oriental palaces.

The entertainment you choose will, of course, depend on the age of your children so why not think about purchasing Disneyland Paris tickets so the whole family can visit Mickey Mouse and his friends?

By Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10213567

If your children enjoy learning, why not visit one of Paris’ many museums. Quite apart from the most popular of these, the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, why not visit Le Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic) where kids can learn about illusionists and their craft from the 18th century to the present day. Or how about Le Musée d’Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History) where the kids can see the skeletons of dinosaurs, including a giant crocodile and other huge creatures of the past.

By The original uploader was MykReeve at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2335318

If you have older children who have an interest in history, you may want to visit Les Catacombes de Paris, which is an underground tunnel comprising nearly 3,000 feet of dank walkways. Throughout the tunnels, you will learn about the macabre arrangement of over 6 million skulls and skeletons. During the Second World War, the tunnels were used by the French Resistance.

Once back in the daylight, you’ll find plenty of shopping malls and beautiful department stores including the famous Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. There’s plenty of choice for family-friendly shopping, including children’s bookshop Chantelivre or how about Maison DoDuDinDon, a bright new emporium for kids and adults full of toys, teddies, clothes and other items just waiting to be browsed through.

After shopping, choose a hot spot to enjoy a meal together. If you are on the run, check out Paris’s fabulous Tea Diners. The Tea Restaurants serve hardy sandwiches, salads and a variety of tea blends. When you sit and relax with your children, enjoying a meal and a cool drink, it brings the family together.

If you’re not ready to return to your hotel, there are plenty of cinemas to watch a family movie or perhaps you’ll fancy a swim in the hotel pool before rising early for your trip to Disneyland.

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait!