Travel & Days Out

Places to go, do, see and explore.

Family Friendly Fun In Amsterdam

There’s no denying that Amsterdam is a beautiful city.  It is one of the largest historical city centres in Europe and has over 50 museums.  You may know Amsterdam best for its vibrant nightlife but there is plenty to do on your family holiday. Here are just a few of the things you can do in family-friendly Amsterdam.

Things to do in family-friendly Amsterdam

Museums

Popular with kids is the Tropenmuseum (the Tropical Museum) where the displays (art, photographs, music and film) depict the lives of cultures outside of the West, focusing on the tropics and subtropics.

family-friendly Amsterdam - The Nemo Science Museum
The Nemo Science Museum

Or there is Amsterdam’s Nemo science museum which is best suited for children over 6 and features interactive science exhibits, experiments & shows in a huge, waterfront, boat-like museum.

Amsterdam is a great destination to introduce your children to culture, both artistic and literary.  You could visit the Van Gogh Museum which displays over 200 of his works, including landscapes, still lifes and drawings and letters. These are displayed alongside works from Van Gogh’s contemporaries so that visitors get real insights into his life and work.

family-friendly Amsterdam - a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh – A Self Portrait

And of course perhaps the most famous museum is the Anne Frank House. Perhaps more suited to older children, nevertheless, the story told by Jewish wartime diarist Anne in her diary is one of the most terrible and moving in the 20th century and to see the home in which she was imprisoned brings to life the ordeal she and her family endured. Anne Frank’s diary is still read by school children across the world today.

family-friendly Amsterdam - Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House

Canals & Boats

Experiencing Amsterdam by boat will give you a different perspective on the city. There are loads of different types of boat tours – there’s an Amsterdam Pizza Tour or an Amsterdam Burger Tour or you could take an evening canal cruise.  There’s even a children’s party cruise on the ‘Pancake Boat’ where the kids make and decorate their own pancakes.

family-friendly Amsterdam - a canal boat on the river

Bicycles

There are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people – over 800,000 bicycles! Cycling is a way of life in Amsterdam and the city has a great network of bike paths and cycle routes. Cycling is also a great way to explore the city.

family-friendly Amsterdam - bicycles on a bridge over a canal
Image credit:  Anna & Michal

You can hire bikes called ‘bakfiets’ (cargo bike) which have a wooden compartment in which your kids can sit.

family-friendly Amsterdam - a mum and her kids on a cargo bike
What a cute way of sightseeing!

Foodie Treats

There is a vast choice of restaurants featuring international cuisine and street markets aplenty where you can sample local fare such as Stroopwafels or Poffertjes.

Stroopwafels are chewy syrup waffles first made in the town of Gouda in the Netherlands during the 18th century. They are made from two thin layers of batter with a sticky syrup filling in the middle. In Amsterdam, you can find freshly made stroopwafels at Amsterdam street markets like Albert Cuypmarkt and Noordermarkt. Stroopwafels are a great accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea and come in various sizes. The most popular size fits perfectly as a lid on your coffee which softens the cookie and melts the syrup. Yum!

Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes made with yeast and buckwheat flour found at outdoor markets and on many street corners in winter. They are typically served topped with powdered sugar and butter. Usually served on a little paper plate with a tiny fork for smearing the butter, they can be really messy to eat if it’s windy as the powder sugar will cover your face and clothing!

family-friendly Amsterdam - a stroopwafel vendor
Image Credit:  Flickr: Nenyaki

Flowers

We all know about tulips from Amsterdam but it’s great to see the street markets awash with a riot of colour. Why not visit the floating flower market or Bloemenmarkt. All the stalls are located on floating barges along the canal, which is how the flowers used to travel from the fields to the city.

Fresh flowers are still brought in daily, but these days come by lorry! You are sure to find your favourite flower here, from the traditional Dutch tulip to the more exotic varieties.  In December you’ll also find Christmas trees.

It is also very easy to reach Amsterdam with more than 300 direct flights to Schipol Airport which is 20 minutes from the city centre by train.

As you might expect for a major tourist destination, there is a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets but be sure to do your research to check what is included in the cost of your stay. For example, with some of the family-friendly hotels, bike hire is included in the price.

Have you and your family visited this amazing European city? What sights would you recommend?  Where would you most like to explore in family-friendly Amsterdam?

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City To Countryside In 2 Hours: 3 On Trend Weekend Getaways

At the end of the week, why not buckle up your seatbelts and head straight to the countryside for a weekend retreat? Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, as well as sharing their Shire titles, also boast a conveniently close proximity to London. This, combined with their stunning scenery, makes these spots the ideal counties to escape to.

Below is a roundup of the most idyllic hotels to stay in for a weekend away from the city.

The Mews at Sopwell House, Hertfordshire: 1 hour drive from London

Sopwell House

 Originally an old stable block, the newly renovated Hertfordshire oasis comprises 16 Mews set within the 12-acre grounds of the stunning Georgian manor house, Sopwell House.

With the choice of studio, one bedroom and duplex mews houses, each of the properties is styled in a quintessentially British manner. The glamorous retreats benefit from full use of the Sopwell House Hotel’s elegant restaurants and award-winning spa.

The Mews surround a stunning communal botanical garden with a hydrotherapy pool, designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Ann-Marie Powell. Many have their own private terraces with sunken hot tubs.

Sopwell House

The Mews at Sopwell House is at Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, AL1 2HQ.  For reservations, please call: 01727 864477.

Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire: 2 hour drive from London

This escape needs no introduction. Belonging to one of the most exclusive group of members clubs in the world, there’s no wonder why Soho Farmhouse has been frequented by the likes of Henry Holland, Princess Eugenie and Alexa Chung. The charming seven-bedroom farmhouse is set in 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside and the retreat boasts a four-bedroom cottage as well as 40 additional cabins. Activities on offer include pony hacks across the fields, tennis on the all-weather courts, boating from the boathouse pontoon and football on the five-a-side grass pitch.

Soho Farmhouse is at Great Tew, Chipping Norton, OX7 4JS.  For reservations, please call: 01608 691000.

Coworth Park, Berkshire: 1 hour drive from London.

Located in acres of picturesque parkland– this luxurious country house hotel on the borders of Windsor Great Park boasts high-end style coupled with a countryside ambience. As part of the prestigious Dorchester collection of hotels, the retreat comprises a Georgian style Mansion House and self-contained converted Stables and Cottages. An understated palette of subtle colours lends an air of calm to the spacious rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a spa as well as equestrian and polo facilities.

Coworth Park is at Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE.  For reservations, please call 01344 876600.

Family Holidays In The Italian Riviera

The Italian Riviera on the coast of Liguria is one of the most spectacular places to take a family vacation.

From the breathtaking scenery, the warm blue water, and pristine beaches, this area has everything to make the kids and parents equally happy.

A perfect way to explore the Italian region is to hire a car with kid and family-friendly features through one of the popular European car hire companies (like Primerent for example) and discover the ocean villas and glamorous towns with space and comfort.

Explore the Ligurian Coast

There are many options for your family on a trip around the Ligurian coast.

A great place to start is in Genoa. This city has stunning architecture and museums dotting the port city. The palaces along Via Garibaldi will be sure to even astonish the kids because of their beauty. The covered market place is a great place for everyone to try different foods and enjoy a bit of the lifestyle.

Portofino, a fishing village turned escape for the rich and famous, is an incredible place to visit. The pink buildings perched on the cliffs are a site to see and it is a perfect walking city where kids can explore old castles and parents can enjoy cocktails with one of the best views in the world.

For a more beach atmosphere and sun soaked vacation, be sure to stay in Alassio. This is a beach town with incredible beaches and a water park that will keep kids entertained for hours.

Finale Ligure is another beach resort and medieval town all in one. There is an amazing 12th century abbey and charming seaside neighborhoods. This is a recurring theme for Liguria, mixing the historical beauty with natural views.

There are so many places which make it perfect for a family holiday and a memorable time. Your children will love exploring a beautiful beach lined landscape and the parents will enjoy some of the best food and views in the whole world.

There are no words that do justice to the beauty of this Italian region, you will have to see it for yourself!

How To Master Holidays With Kids In 4 Simple Ways

Just because you have a family, it shouldn’t limit your travel options. In fact, there are loads of families who constantly travel the world, and it seems to work just fine for them. Here is what I’ve learnt from them and my own travelling experiences with kids.

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Habit

The first step is to get them in the habit of travel. The more that the little ones get used to travelling, the easier it will be for them. If you can’t afford to travel abroad all the time, go on day trips. Stay with friends or family so they get used to not sleeping in their own bed.

Cook dishes from the country you will be visiting so they get into the habit of eating the local style food. If you expose them to all these new experiences when they are young, they will grow up with wanderlust and find travelling a breeze.

Get them involved

The next step to getting your kids ready for their holidays is to get them involved from the beginning.

Children learn about all sorts of places at school, so they may even have an idea of where they would like to go.

Even if you pick the location, show them the types of activities on offer there and ask them what they would like to do. You could even make it into an arts and crafts activity.

Get some travel brochures of the place that you are going to and getting the kids to cut and paste the things they like the look of.

Prepare for the expected and the unexpected

An essential step when taking the kids on holiday is to prepare for both the expected and unexpected. For example, if you know that your little ones get car sick, make sure that you have their bands and medication. Schedule in frequent stops too, so they are as comfortable as possible.

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Preparing for the unexpected is not so easy, but there are a few things you can do. Firstly make sure that you have your euro health card with you. Whilst the UK is still a member of the EU this will entitle you, as UK citizens, to free or discounted emergency medical care in the EU.

Of course, when the UK leaves the EU following Brexit, the validity of these may be in doubt but travel expert Simon Calder advises that before joining the EEC, the UK had reciprocal health agreements with many European nations and it is likely that a similar range of deals will be put in place.  You need to check before you go.

It’s also useful to take an emergency first aid kit for less serious incidents. This should contain plasters, antiseptic and ibuprofen, as well as after sun and diarrhoea powders. It’s always better to have this stuff and not need it, rather than need it and not have it. You don’t want to spend your time away trying to find a chemist in an unfamiliar place.

Stick to your routine

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The next step to successful travel with kids is to help them to stay in their routine as much as possible. Children can become cranky easier if they don’t eat and sleep at their normal times. Try and keep to their regular schedule as much as you can.

If you know you will want to stay out later in the evenings, get them into the routine of having a longer, later nap for a few weeks before you go.

What tips would you add for a stress-free holiday with the kids?

Rome Or Paris? Which City Of Love Should You Visit?

Rome and Paris are both known as great romantic cities. Of course, Paris is arguably the “official” “City of Love”. But does it deserve the title?

Here’s a quick comparison of the two cities for those of you who can’t decide which one to visit for your next vacation!

Pixabay

Architecture

The architecture of Paris is much more modern. During the nineteenth century, the entire city underwent a massive overhaul. It was reinvented, becoming more spacious and featuring more contemporary design. It is frequently updated to this day. It is, after all, a metropolis competing with the likes of London, Tokyo, and New York City.

Many, of course, will prefer this. But Rome is much more classic in its architecture. Most of the city hasn’t changed much, from a structural standpoint, in hundreds of years. This, of course, is exactly why people will prefer it. The very name “Rome” drips with fascinating history!

Wikipedia

Parks

Both of these cities have incredible parks. Rome is filled with government-preserved open spaces. These parks are themselves filled with spectacular classic art and sculptures. Perhaps the most beloved in the city is the Villa Borghese gardens, which is the third-biggest park in Rome.

The parks in Paris aren’t so densely occupied by artistic feats. You’re more likely to see larger, greener areas filled with more flowers and vegetation. They make for a good contrast from the rest of the city, which is usually filled with hustle and bustle.

 

Wikepedia

Accommodation

The quality of the accommodation available to you in either city is, of course, impeccable. These are two of the most beloved vacation destinations in the world, after all! They have a big industry for catering to people seeking getaways that are luxurious in the extreme.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t affordable accommodation, of course. But if that’s what you’re after, then you definitely have a better chance finding it in Rome. Paris, like the other cities I mentioned earlier, isn’t exactly known for its budget accommodation. Rome is a lot better in this regard. Rome vacation rentals are not hard to find, and you’ll come across far fewer “premium” price tags.

Wikipedia



The weather

You may think that the weather couldn’t possibly be that different across these countries. They are, after all, right next to each other. But thanks to whatever freak miracle of science compels it, Rome is noticeably hotter than Paris.

The average highest temperature in Paris is about 15.5°C, compared to a potential 20.5°C in Rome. The latter averages at about 15.6°C; Paris averages at about 12°C. It’s not really for me to say which is better, exactly. Some people look at high temperatures and run away. Others will see temperatures nearing the 30s and start booking their vacations right away. If you prefer more sunshine and heat, then Rome is for you. When summer comes round, it’s a scorcher.

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Final thoughts

Ultimately, how can one make such a stark choice? Both of these cities are amazing and definitely worth visiting. Ultimately, it really depends on what vibe you’re looking for. Those who want a more relaxed and historically-deep vacation should check out Rome. Those who want more “cool” and metropolitan vibes should check out Paris. Either way, try to find some time in your life to see both!

Sicily’s Best Seaside Holidays

For a perfect family summer holiday, there is nothing better than relaxing in the warm sands of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, surrounded by nature and spectacular habitats where rare species of flora and fauna complement the diversity of the environment.

Beautiful Sicily

Sicily is the best choice for families because it has all of this and more, thanks to the rich geological transformation it has undergone over thousands of years as a result of the ongoing volcanic activity of the island – and also due to its strategic location, where diverse underwater currents and winds cross- making the region a transitory point for the migration of many species of birds and marine life.

In Sicily you can enjoy a picnic and a swim in the best pristine beaches of the island and its Aeolian and Egadi Archipelagos, or retreat inland to the fresh air of the mountains of Madonie, Nebrodi, Vendicari, and Etna to recharge your batteries and visit local agroturismo farms.

Best of all, you can rent the most beautiful Sicilian villas for your beach holidays in Sicily to make your stay more authentic at affordable prices- accessorized with swimming pools, terraces and luscious gardens- some with direct access.

At San Vito lo Capo (on the Trapani coast) you will marvel at its turquoise waters and soft sand, with the towering rocky cliffs of Monte Monaco looming overhead, making it a primary location for rock-climbing enthusiasts.

The pretty fishing village of Cefalù in the North is a piece of millennial history where the Lungomare beach (with the best pristine sands in Sicily) is located only a few steps from the streets of the old town and a short climb away from the scenic La Rocca promontory.

Mondello is a local spot for Palermitans and where you can experience the best of any beach – lush surrounding vegetation, and 1 ½ miles of white sand. After all, locals know best!

Lido de Fiori is designated as a blue-flag kid-friendly zone; a primary choice for families due to its shallow waters. Parents can enjoy a glass of wine from the regional specialties of nearby Selinunte.

Calà Mosche is rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy; little known by most travellers, it is a small quiet haven with no bars, located in the Vendicari nature reserve and embraced by lush flora. It is only accessible by foot.

Which would you like to visit first?

Fun In Wales This May Bank Holiday

If you’re lost for something to do this on Monday, why not check out one of the great guides below.

You’re sure to find an activity you’d like to try.

Just click on the links.

21 Things To Do This May Day Bank Holiday Weekend

As usual, Walesonline.co.uk have a great guide. From Dylan Thomas’ poetry in Laugharne to falcolnry in the Black Mountains, there’s something for everyone.

Dylan Thomas Boathouse Laugharne - things to do May Day Bank Holiday 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse At Laugharne

#FindYourEpic with VisitWales.com

Wales is such an amazing country.  Just click on the link about to find a wealth of events near you, from seeing archaeological treasures such as mummies and even Indiana Jones’ hat and whip at Cardiff Museum, to learning about artillery warfare in Newport or what about a deep sea fishing trip in Ceredigion?  No excuse for spending another day buying bedding plants at your local DIY superstore….

Cwmcarn Forest - things to do May Day Bank Holiday 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Beautiful Cwmcarn Forest

Events in The Valleys

There’s never a dull day in the Valleys.  What about going on the International Dawn Chorus Walk in Cwmcarn Forest on 1st May or the Annual Nantgarw China Works Antique Fair on the 2nd?

Cadw

Cadw’s bank holiday fun includes the Company of the Raven at Kidwelly Castle where you can try your hand at archery, or you can Dare To Meet The Dragon at Caerphilly Castle and be captured by this mythical monster.

Caerphilly Castle - things to do May Day Bank Holiday 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Majestic Caerphilly Castle

The National Trust

Why not learn to play croquet at Dyffryn Gardens,  walk through wildflower meadows at Lanlay or explore the 17th-century beauty of Tredegar House with its wild and flamboyant history?

Or there’s the Mother Distracted weekend guide for any time of year.

Caitlin & Ieuan at Dyffryn Gardens - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin & Ieuan at Dyffryn Gardens

Let me know if there are any events I should add!

Have fun!

Review: Vango Starwalker Junior Dragon Sleeping Bag – Camping Fun For Kids

Readers of this blog will know that being ever-so-slightly ‘outdoors averse’, I am making a real effort to love all things camping, and, er, outdoorsy.

The Husband and kids, on the other hand, adore being outside and my days of demanding high thread count sheets and a minibar are looking increasingly numbered.

sleeping bags for children - Ieuan testing his Vango Starwalker at The Knap, Barry

I cannot claim to be quite ready to audition for the next series of Bear Gryll’s “Mission Survive” but for the sake of Caitlin and Ieuan, I am willing to at least contemplate a lifestyle that doesn’t necessarily include a hotel inspector.

In preparation for this year’s sojourn into the great outdoors, we were given the opportunity to try the winner of “Best Family Product” in the Outdoor Industry Awards 2016 – the Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag.  It’s really important to find good sleeping bags for children so that they feel comfortable and safe.

[amazon_link asins=’B01AZNJXOK,B01NBVEEEE,B00H5IPJ4M,B00QIJP5D4,B00D7CNJ7O,B00IJYGZQ2,B01NCIPGVI,B018IYXWU4′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’mothedistr-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’25be6131-bff0-11e8-b76d-83da517424c0′]

The Vango Starwalker Junior is a versatile sleeping bag, which gives children freedom of movement with the option to zip off sections at the legs and shoulders.

It comes in two designs, the dragon or the panda and, because the bottom zips off, the kids can easily run around the campsite in it to keep warm or, in Ieuan’s case just because he enjoys being a dragon.

The Starwalker Junior is made from 210T microfibre polyester with single hole siliconised hollow fibre insulation to increase durability.

sleeping bags for children - Vango Starwalker in 'Dragon'
The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag in the Dragon Design

It has a hood for additional warmth and a large front zipper so the kids can get easily in and out.  It has a 9 Tog rating and is suitable for children up to 150cm tall.

What I particularly like about these sleeping bags for children is that these can be carried as a rucksack so that you can get the kids to help carry their own stuff.

sleeping bags for children - Vango Starwalker in 'Panda'
The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag in the Panda Design

We got Ieuan to test it out for us on terrain which would make Bear Grylls proud (the beach at The Knap, Barry) and once into it, we had difficulty persuading him to take it off.  You can see from the photos that he was still wearing it at tea time and he is currently campaigning to take it bed with him.

It has some lovely little design touches, such as a dragon’s tail and a dragon’s face on the rucksack. We found the sleeping bag to be well made with sturdy zips and stitching.

The removable bottom section will be a great help on those occasions when there are frequent toilet trips and your child could certainly wear it on chilly evenings – perhaps for a bit of star-gazing.

We will certainly be taking it with us on our next camping trip.

If you are looking for sleeping bags for children, the Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag retails at around £34 and is available from www.amazon.co.uk.




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Day Trip Ideas That The Whole Family Will Love

When you’ve got little ones, you’re always on the lookout for fun and different things to do with them. No matter how much to see and do there is in your local area, after a while it all gets a bit too samey. There’s only so many times you can visit the zoo or go bowling without losing your mind with boredom. That’s why sometimes it’s a good idea to mix things up and explore a little further afield.

Day trips can be a great way to get the whole family out and about, having fun and exploring. It’s just a case of selecting the best places to go for a family-friendly day out – we’re spoilt for choice as the UK has so many amazing places to explore.

To help you choose the best locations for family day trips, I thought I would put together this handy guide. Hopefully, this will allow you to find the day trips that are most well suited to you and your family.

London

For a city day out, it has to be London. Cardiff is pretty great too, but compared to London, it’s nowhere near as exciting. Home to the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, The National History Museum, and so much more, there is an array of things to see and do here.

Whether your kids are science lovers or are mad about history, London has something for everyone. The London Dungeons, The London Duck Tour, and The Science Museum are all perfect places for a family day out.

Cornwall or Devon 


Are your kids beach mad? If your little ones love building sand castles and splashing about in the sea, then a day trip to Devon or Cornwall could be ideal.

There are so many beautiful places to explore in these two regions. From white sandy beaches to idyllic areas of countryside.

For a fantastic family day out in Cornwall, St Ives, Perranporth, Newquay, or Padstow are all great. In Devon, Dartmouth, Salcombe, and Goodrington are all perfect places to explore.

Kent 

If your kids love places with lots of history, then Kent is the perfect place for a day trip. There are so many beautiful castles and ancient ruins here that make it the perfect place to spend some time exploring.

Whether you choose to visit Tudor castles or Canterbury Cathedral, you’re sure to have a fantastic time. Of course, Kent isn’t just known for its history but also for its beer. So after a little exploring, a pub lunch could be the perfect way to recharge your batteries.

The Jurassic Coast 

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One of the best places to take kids with an aptitude for adventure has to be the Jurassic coast. This 96-mile radius of coastline, spanning from East Devon to Dorset, is famed for its fossils.

On the beaches along this coastline, there are hundreds of thousands of fossils ready to be found. While you’re not allowed to chip fossils off the rocks, what you can do is collect ones that have already been dislodged. For kids who love adventure or are dinosaur mad, this is the ideal day trip.

Hopefully, these ideas will give you plenty of places to visit and explore with your little ones. When life gets too samey, mixing it up is important.

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How To Have A Great Family Holiday On A Budget

Going on vacation can be quite an expensive affair. However, it does not have to be if you follow our handy tips. By stretching your budget as far as you can, you are able to have the holiday of your dreams without going broke.

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1. Examine Your Children’s School Schedule 

Going on vacation in the “off season” costs less money. However, the off season does usually align with the dates that children have off from school. It is important not to pull them from class too often or their education could suffer. What, then, do you do? Communicate with your children’s teachers. Find out if there is a down time during the year where your children would not be missing much of their essential academic work. For example, the last few days of a term are often pretty quite at the school.

If the school seems amenable, consider taking them out for a few days for a vacation. Look for a time when they already have a Friday or a Monday off, so you can take advantage of the long weekend. However, make sure to stay away from bank holidays, as you are likely to pay a premium if you go during these times.

Also, remember that you don’t have to go away for five or six days. Even just a few days can help to rejuvenate your family and bring you all closer together.

2. Look For Value 

Certain locations are cheaper to travel to, while others are more expensive. There are a number of reasons, however, that prices for a vacation destination may vary. If you are looking for a good deal, consider heading to Spain. Prices are down about twenty percent, and there are several nice theme parks in the area that your family is sure to enjoy. In addition, Portugal and Morocco are great choices as well. Finally, Bulgaria is another country to consider.

Also, if you really want to save money, think about staying in the UK. It is a lot cheaper to head to a destination closer to home rather than going out of the country. And, there are lots of great things to see and do in the area!

3. Get a Good Deal On A Flight 

Pay attention to the days of the week when booking your flight. If you leave on a Tuesday rather than a Friday, for example, you may save more than 30 percent on the cost of your airfare! Also, try to avoid heading home on Sunday. You could pay almost 50 percent more for your flight if you do! And if you are going on a trip within the UK, check UK free stuff websites, as most have good deals with attraction parks like Alton towers.

Plan your trip well. If you are able to purchase your plane tickets several months in advance, you will get a better deal on them. In general, you want to be at least two months out from the date of your vacation. In addition, remember that there is nothing wrong with using different airlines to fly out and then back in to your home airport. You can save money if you do so.

4. Make Sure Everything Is Included

An all-inclusive vacation often saves you money in the long run, as you won’t have any extra expenses to contend with. If you use Expedia or On the Beach to book your trip, you may find that you have more options in this area.

Some package deals are truly a great value. They offer something for everyone, including your children. You will find that your flight, hotel room, meals and even entertainment options are taken care of with most all-inclusive packages. This means that even though the figure may seem expensive at first, it is not that bad when you break it down according to everything you are getting for the money.


5. Do A Home Swap! 

If you really want to visit another country but you don’t have the funds, consider swapping homes with another family. There are companies that handle these arrangements; you simply let them know where you live and how big your home is. Figure out where you want to go and your family then stays in another family’s home. That family will stay at your place. You don’t have to pay anything for your accommodations! In addition, the family whose home you are staying in can guide you to great restaurants and activities in the area.

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6. Look Online For Foreign Currency 

Because it is convenient, many people try and change their money at the airport. However, rates are usually terrible there. Instead, purchase currency online and get the best rate possible.

7. Consider A Youth Hostel 

At one time, youth hostels were only for students. That is no longer the case, however. If you choose to stay at a hostel, you can expect to have a nice room in a great location. There are websites that can help you find competitively priced hostels.


8. Look Out For Deals For Children

Some places will let children travel for free, depending on their age. Always ask about any such discounts. In addition, if your children are just outside of the “free” range, talk to the operator and see if you can negotiate a deal. They may be willing to work with you to get your business.

9. Set Up Airport Parking Ahead Of Time 

If you do not set up your airport parking in advance, you could pay a pretty penny for it. Instead, go online and schedule something ahead of time. You could save about 10 percent by doing this.

10. Be Careful When Using Your Cell Phone 

If you go out of the country, turn off data roaming on your phone. Otherwise, you could have large fees waiting for you.

For more ways to save money, check out www.wowfreestuff.co.uk.

The Easter Bunny Springs Into Action At National Trust & Win A Family Weekend Pass

The Easter Bunny has kicked off his 2016 schedule in style, with the National Trust unveiling a show-stopping giant topiary bunny at Stourhead, in Wiltshire.

Children with the topiary Easter bunny at Stourhead for National Trust - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Easter Bunny makes first stop at Stourhead to kick off the National Trust’s nationwide Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 

The topiary bunny has been created to celebrate the ninth year of the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts.

The hunts will be taking place at 271 National Trust locations over the Easter weekend (25-28 March).

A family on the National Trust Easter Egg Hunt in partnership with Cadbury's

He is set to deliver 362,592 chocolate bunnies to 271 National Trust places around the country. 

Families are invited to unleash their inner explorer at these adventurous hunts taking place across the country.

Stourhead, known to many as the location of the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, played host to the Cadbury Easter Bunny’s first destination this year, as he begins his nationwide tour to generate excitement ahead of the upcoming Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

The iconic gardens and Palladian mansion, given to the conservation charity in 1946, is just one of the locations providing a beautiful backdrop for an Easter day out.

At a towering height of 8ft, the frame of the impressive topiary bunny, celebrating the Cadbury Easter Bunny’s visit, took a whopping three days to create. If laid flat, the length of the steel wire used for this creation would be that of two football pitches!

His accompanying 4ft friends used the combined talents of a team of four over a five day period, using enough wire to cover the length of a further five football pitches in the process.

Hoping to delight children and families alike this Bank Holiday Weekend, the smaller topiary bunnies will be on display at Wimpole, Stowe, Killerton, Castle Ward, Fountains Abbey, Hardwick Hall and Tredegar House.

The Easter bunny has been very busy indeed, delivering an impressive 362,592 Cadbury Dairy Milk Bunnies around the UK.

Visitors to National Trust places across the Easter holiday weekend will be able to take part in special Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts, with every child receiving a Cadbury chocolate treat for getting involved.

With over 270,000 people getting involved in a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt last year, and over 3 million people welcomed to participating National Trust places over the Easter weekend, the charity is hoping for another great turnout.

You can find your nearest hunt here: Cadbury.co.uk/Easter or check the list of participating properties below.

Scroll down and you can also find out how to win one of two Family Weekend Passes.

Participating Properties

Castle Ward, County Down
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at the Easter Fair, 27 – 28 March, 12pm – 6pm

There’s a mystery to be solved at Castle Ward and we need your help! The Easter Bunny has hidden clues all over the front lawn, can you solve the puzzle? You’ll be rewarded with a tasty Cadbury chocolate treat at the end. Stick around afterwards for a whole day of fun at the Easter Fair. Visit Phil’s Farm, take part in the chicken run race and tuck into some delicious local food.
Price: £8 per adult, £3.80 per child (normal admission charges apply)
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward 

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, North Yorkshire 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 10 April, 10am – 4pm

I spy with my little eye… an Easter bunny! This spring at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal little bunnies have been hoppety-hopping around the estate. Head over bridges of the river Skell, explore around every corner of the Abbey ruins, and follow the waterways of the Georgian gardens to find
them and get a yummy Cadbury chocolate treat. There’ll be lots of family fun along the way too, including crafts in Swanley Grange and a brand new adventure playground.
Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01765608888
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire 
Cadbury
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at Hardwick, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

Get outdoors at Hardwick Hall this Easter and grab a trail sheet for the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt. See if you can follow the clues that will lead you around the house, garden and Lady Spencer’s Wood, and then collect a delicious chocolate treat at the end. After you’ve had your fill of chocolate why not seek out more adventures with the ‘Famous Five’-inspired trail or try your hand at some special Easter crafts.
Price: £3 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01246 850430
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick-hall

Killerton, Devon 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 19 March – 17 April, 11am – 4pm 

Visit Killerton this Easter to explore the estate in search of mysterious clues left by the Easter Bunny. The egg hunt will lead you along winding paths through wild woodlands and blooming orchards to find the Bear’s hut, ice house and chapel. There’s a yummy chocolate treat to tuck into at the end, so what are you waiting for?
Price: £2.50 per child (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01392 881345
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/killerton

Stourhead, Wiltshire
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm 

Take a trip to Stourhead this Easter where egg hunters can explore through towering trees, by mystical grottoes and past a glittering lake. Make a day of it and bring a picnic, best enjoyed on the rolling lawns with views that stretch across the Wiltshire countryside. Afterwards, keep the family fun going and play giant games in the garden.
Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01747 841152
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

Stowe, Buckinghamshire 
Stowe’s Sleeping Beauty Quest – Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March 10am-4.30pm

This Easter embark on a quest to awaken Sleeping Beauty from her slumber, and in return claim your delicious chocolate treat. Fairy-tales, myths and legends have been weaved through the garden, where chivalrous knights and courageous princesses will hunt for clues. The quest will take you past mystical lakes and deep into the Sleeping Wood to claim your egg and finish on a happily ever after.
Price: £2.50 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01280 817156
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

Tredegar House, Monmouthshire 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 – 28 March, 11am – 4pm

The Easter Bunny has been up to his old tricks again at Tredegar House. He’s left a trail of clues around the garden for you to follow. Solve the puzzle to claim your chocolate treat, then why not explore the rest of the estate? There’ll be loads of other Easter crafts and activities to try your hand at.
Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01633 815880
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tredegar-house

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire 
Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, 25 March – 8 April, 10.30am – 4.15pm

Take a trip to this beautiful country home complete with a working farm and resident bunnies. Rhyming clues will lead you on an egg hunt around the gardens, but to claim your chocolate treat you’ll have to find the hidden magic word.
Price: £2 per hunt (normal admission charges apply)
For more information, please call 01223 206000
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than over 600,00 acres of countryside, 775 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Over 20 million people visit every year, and together with 4.5 million members and over 62,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its’ work to care for special places forever, for everyone.

For more information and ideas for great seasonal days out go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

I have two free Family Weekend Passes (2 winners) up for grabs for you and your family to enjoy at your convenience (though please note this would not be redeemable on a Bank Holiday weekend).

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget.  UK entrants only and terms & conditions apply.  One entry per household.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 8th April.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy egg hunting!

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

More free competitions at www.theprizefinder.com

Best Guides To What’s On In And Around Cardiff This Easter

If you’re lost for something to do this Easter, why not check out one of the great guides below.

Source: Flickr: Barnley Moss
Image credit:  Barnley Moss

You’re sure to find an activity you’d like to try.

Just click on the links.

Easter Activities In And Around Cardiff – mumsintheknow.co.uk

A great list of Easter Holiday activities, from lambing to egg decorating.

18 Awesome Easter Activities happening in South Wales over the bank holiday weekend – walesonline.co.uk

A list of activities (some free) happening between April 3 and 6, as well as during the wider school holidays for the whole family.

Caitlin on picnic rug - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin enjoying a picnic

Family Easter Holiday Roundup – visitwales.com

A great list of local places to visit.

Events in The Valleys

What’s happening in our Valleys communities over the bank holiday break.

Easter events at Cadw

A list of those Cadw sites hosting Easter events, including Easter Egg hunts.

Ieuan at Raglan Castle - Easter Events Cardiff 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
Ieuan at Raglan Castle

Easter Fun In Wales with the National Trust

Or there’s the Mother Distracted weekend guide for any time of year.

Caitlin & Ieuan at Dyffryn Gardens - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin & Ieuan at Dyffryn Gardens

Have fun!