Travel

Glamorous Getaways I’d Love to Go On

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Michael Gwyther-Jones

 

The great British weather hasn’t been consistent as hoped for and though I get to travel for work sometimes, there’s not much opportunity to catch some sun as much as I would want to. As great as it is going away with the kids, I would love to go away with my husband. So I’ve been dreaming. about where I would go if I could get away again.  Here are some of top destinations on my stylish travel list.

 

Barcelona

 

There are lots of glamorous things about Barcelona and so far, everyone that I know has has been tells me it’s great and one city that I would love. The city has incredible architecture, lots of sun, beaches and not to mention a whole lot of delicious food. There are lots of stylish boutique hotels to choose from, whether you want modern or more traditional. Some of them have terraces with fantastic views of the city. As well as seeing some of the city’s architecture, especially all the Gaudi structures, I would love to get some shopping done. There’s a huge range of places to shop. They range from familiar favourites like Zara to local Spanish brands. It’s the perfect city break / holiday destination – it’s great for hustle and bustle of you like sightseeing but also chilled and relaxing if you want just a lazy holiday.

 

South of France

 

The south of France, and specifically the Cote D’Azur, has been the place to be for celebs for ages. Everyone knows about their favourite places to go. They include St Tropez and Cannes, especially when the film festival is on. It’s not cheap to spend a holiday there, but you would certainly be living in the lap of luxury. I would love to stay in luxury accommodation like this one. I like the beautiful villas you can find all over France (airbnb is great for this), one with a swimming pool, of course! And when I’m not lounging by the pool in my bikini, I’d have to go shopping, or at least browsing, in all the designer stores and boutiques.

 

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

 

Okay, so maybe this one is a bit of a stretch. But you can’t say it’s not glamorous. This island belongs to Richard Branson, and it’s definitely a top place to spot celebs. There’s probably not much there to do with style and fashion, but it’s fashionable enough all on its own. Normally you have to hire the whole idyllic island, but you can also book a room on special weeks. The island’s Instagram has hot tubs, white beaches and turquoise seas. And people running across the sand like they’re on Baywatch.

 

Cartagena, Colombia

 

Cambodia wasn’t on my mind or on the list. Until a colleague mentioned and and showed some amazing pictures, now I too, want to visit at some point. A lot of people don’t know much about Colombia beyond its reputation for drugs and Shakira. But Cartagena is full of passion. It’s on the Caribbean coast and it’s full of history. The best thing about it might be all the music, whether it’s salsa, meringue or techno. And you can spot some celebs hanging out there too.

 

At the moment, I’m busy helping other people reach their holiday destinations. But when I have some free time, I definitely want to spend more than 24 hours somewhere relaxing.

8 Tips for Taking a Trip With Young Kids

If you’re taking a trip with young kids, it’s normal to feel a little apprehensive. They need more care and attention than older kids, and there’s always the worry that something will go wrong. To make sure nothing bad happens while you’re away, use these 8 tips:

1: Take Comforts from Home

Young kids may not get used to their new surroundings as quickly as you’d like, so take comforts from home to help them. Don’t pack too many; you don’t want to risk anything happening to them. Simply take a stuffed toy and maybe a game or two.

2: Try to Keep a Loose Routine

You won’t always be able to keep a strict routine on holiday, but at least try to keep a loose one. Try to make sure they get up and go to bed at the same time, and take naps at the same time. Try to feed them at the same time too. This will help them to have a much better time.

3: Take Things Slowly

You need to take things a lot slower when you have kids. They’ll need breaks for food and the toilet more often than you will. They might even need to nap. Take it all in your stride. Make sure you plan for things like this happening. If you fill up your itinerary too much, you’ll be left disappointed when you don’t have time for everything.

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4: Take a First Aid Kit

Kids can get into all kinds of trouble, so make sure you take a first aid kit full of plasters and antiseptic spray. Take any other medication you think you may need too. You can’t be too careful when travelling with young kids!

5: Research Child Friendly Activities

Make sure the area you’re travelling to has child friendly activities. You could even book them in advance if you like, which could potentially offer discounts. There’s plenty of family active fun you can have, from hiking to kayaking! You definitely don’t need to spend all day cooped up or doing boring things because you’re with kids. Make the most of your time away!

6: Find Kid’s Clubs

You might want a little bit of time to yourself on holiday, which is fine as long as you find a good kid’s club. Your children will be able to make new friends and have some playtime to themselves while you do something for adults.

7: See Your Doctor

Make sure everybody sees the doctor before you leave to ensure you’re all in good health. You may need to get new vaccinations or something similar to keep you in top shape.

8: Double Check Documents

Double check any documents you have to take with you to ensure that they’re accurate. You may need to take more documents if you’re travelling with very young kids.

Use these 8 tips to make sure you and your kids have the most fantastic time on holiday. Leave a comment with any tips of your own. See you next time!

Fantastic European Countries To Take The Kids On Holiday To This Summer

Now that it is so easy to get to the continent, the reasons for spending our annual family vacation at home are becoming fewer. It is our duty to educate our children in the ways of other cultures because when they grow up it is likely that international employment will be an everyday fact of life thanks to the digital age where communication has no limits.

Take the family to Europe this year and sample some of its delights. There are a lot of countries to consider when planning the holiday, and I hope that these suggestions will help you reach a decision. Here are some fantastic European countries to take the to this summer.

France

France is a big place and the climate varies from north to south. If you seek sunshine and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world then you could do worse than to head for the southern mediterranean coastline. For a party atmosphere visit Cannes when the film festival is on and rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

Luckily, the Disney corporation decided to build their second biggest attraction near to Paris. Ask any child what their dream destination is, and they are likely to say Disneyland. You can travel there on the Eurostar if you don’t fancy the drive or flight.

Italy

The youngsters will have learned all about the Romans in school, so take them to see what treasures they left behind. The colosseum is almost as impressive today as it was two thousand years ago, and the amphitheatre at Verona is a sight to behold. Book some cheap accommodation through the site Venere or another online agency that offers attractive deals. Pompeii and Herculaneum await, and you will see the look of wonder on your children’s faces as they see a city frozen in time, the inhabitants locked in their death throes for all eternity. Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried both cities in ash a couple of thousand years ago, and few had time to escape.

Spain

If you are seeking stunning beaches, warm weather, and a place where there will be lots of other kids to play with, take them to one of the Spanish islands. Teneriffe remains a favourite destination for people of all ages for good reason. The Mediterranean offers warm, clean water, and the beaches are pristine.

Switzerland

Kids love snow, and there is plenty of it in the Swiss Alps. Have they ever been on a skiing holiday before? All of the resorts cater for families, and there are slopes to suit every ability. When you are not hurtling downhill at a suicidal pace, there is plenty of time for building snowmen, sightseeing, and exploring the charming towns and villages.

Greece

There are many archeological wonders to behold in Greece. Take them on a tour of the Acropolis so they can see how the ancients lived. Of course, the climate is ideal for a beach holiday too.

I think you will agree; there are some incredible things to see and do only a few hours away by air travel. Until you explore what is almost on your doorstep, there is little point in traveling further afield. Book your holiday today; you won’t regret it.


Image credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones on Flickr.

 

 

How to Have an Amazing Family Vacation Without Ever Leaving the Country

It’s fairly easy for a family vacation to become very expensive, very quickly. As a result of this, you might be putting off the prospect of taking your family on vacation this year. What you might not be aware of, however, is that you can have an awesome family vacation, without ever leaving the country. What’s more, you’ll find that these kinds of vacations often cost a lot less, than those that require you to use a passport. So what you can you do, within your country, that would make for an amazing family vacation that is also affordable?

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Hire a Cabin

A great way to experience the outdoors, and spend some quality time together, you can always consider the option of hiring a cabin. If you do not know much about hiring cabins, there is no need to worry as the process is not as hard as you might think. Most of the time, all you need to do, is get an understanding of what your needs are, and how much you’re willing to pay. From that point onwards, you’ll then need to focus on what kind of location you’re interested in visiting. You’ll find that different locations have different benefits, with some being near large urban areas, and some being more isolated, in the depths of the woodland.

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Go On a Road Trip

The other option you have, in relation to planning an amazing domestic family vacation, is to go on a road trip. A road trip will need some planning ahead of time, and you might need to think about how you can keep your costs down, as it can still get expensive. To go on a road trip, you might need to rent out a motorhome.

However, if you know someone else who owns a motorhome, you could borrow theirs. In any case, you must endeavour to be insured on the motorhome you’re going to be using, just in case an accident happens. To keep your motorhome costs down, you could consider using a motorhome insurance comparison website, to help you find a good insurance deal.

City Break

Should you find that your family loves the busyness of built up urban areas, you can also consider the option of going to one the more popular cities nearby. With the help of a train, you’ll be able to access most of the larger cities with ease. Picking the right city could be a little tricky, so you might want to check ahead of time, which city is the most interesting at the time of year you’re thinking of vacationing.

No More Flying?

As you can see, therefore, you can have an amazing family vacation, without ever having to leave the country. Just because you don’t have to book a plane flight, does not mean you don’t have to do no planning or prior preparation. Even if you’re visiting a nearby city, it is key that you plan ahead of time, so you can make the most out of your trip. Once you know how to do things the right way, you’ll be keen to go on many more family vacations, all of which don’t require for you to leave the country.

Image credit: hjjanisch on Flickr; Wonderlane on Flickr; William Warby on Flickr.

Five Fabulous Family Trip Destinations

The entire family looks forward to your yearly vacation, and it’s up to you to find a place that is not only new and exciting but that will also offer something special for every member of the family from youngest to oldest. It’s not easy to make everyone happy, and you’ve probably already hit the old standbys such as the various Disney parks and the Grand Canyon. Fortunately, there are many wonderful trip destinations that are a little off the beaten path and will be sure to satisfy even the most difficult to please family member.

1. Chickasaw Country, Oklahoma

Begin your visit with a day at the cultural center in Chickasaw Nation where you can learn about the rich history and culture of the Chickasaw people. Located on 109 beautiful acres, you will have access to interactive learning centers, theatrical environments; exhibit center, large-format theater, amphitheater, sky pavilion, research center, garden village and more. From there, you may choose to enjoy many different activities including visiting or even camping at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area where you will be surrounded by the beauty of nature while you hike the many trails, see an abundance of wildlife or take to the water for fishing, scuba diving, water skiing, sailing, swimming and more. You may also enjoy Air Donkey Zipline Adventures, the Ada Arts District and so much more.

2. Branson, Missouri

Located in the heart of the beautiful Ozark Mountains, Branson has long been considered one of the best family-friendly destinations in the Midwest. Amazing live shows are always on tap and include comedy, country, tribute and rock and roll shows to name just a few. The entire family will enjoy activities such as Silver Dollar City with its wonderful rides and entertainment, White Water Park, parasailing, golf and more. Go to branson.com to learn more.

3. Salt Lake City, Utah

If your family loves to snow ski, then this is the place to visit. With at least eight world-class ski resorts in the area, you are in for a wonderful time. When you aren’t skiing, you may enjoy visiting the Natural History Museum of Utah where you will see enormous dinosaurs and amazing artifacts or Hogle Zoo where you can see grizzly bears, polar bears, seals, sea lions, river otters and bald eagles. You can even go on a treasure hunt through Double Key Treasure Hunts. Click on visitsaltlake.com to learn about many more activities.

4. Saint Pete Beach, Florida

Water lovers will adore this beach destination. Fort de Soto Park is perfect for families that enjoy gentle waters that are perfect for swimming or fishing. Many beach trails are here for nice walks and it has a wonderful playground as well. Other area attractions include High Tide Slide water park, Shell Key Shuttle for a day of bird and dolphin watching as well as collecting beautiful shells, museums, golf and more.

5. Dillon Beach, California

Even the family dog is welcome at this great location. You won’t run out of things to do at this gorgeous soft-sand beach. Sand dunes are waiting to be climbed, tide pools are ready to be explored with a variety of interesting creatures and shells left behind and you can even enjoy digging for giant clams. Other activities include boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, boogey boarding, windsurfing, sail boarding, sea kayaking, surfing on the awesome waves and boating.

These are just a few of the many great vacation destinations that you can find all across the states. Give them a try, and you are sure to find one or more that turn out to be all time family favorites. Relax and enjoy your time off with your family, and have a wonderful time while you all make memories that will last you a lifetime.

Best Family Beaches

There are so many exceptional family beaches in this world that it is difficult to zero in on just a few of them. However, let me describe three that are far apart but which might be in your vacation area.

Mayflower Beach, Dennis, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is known for beautiful white soft sand clean beaches, and here the water is calmer with little or no seaweed, and the huge tidal flats are teeming with sea life. Children can spend hours digging for hermit crabs, sea snails, periwinkles, clams and more. When the tide goes out, it’s about a quarter mile walk to get to the water through sand. However, once the tide turns, it comes in quickly.

If you are here in late August, there is an annual sand sculpture contest for kids and families.

Kama’ole Beach Park III, Maui, Hawaii

Nicknamed “Kam 3”, this is one of a trio of beaches that are separated by outcroppings of lava rocks. Ideal for young kids, the clear water has just small waves, and they can see the fish and tame sea turtles. On land, they can build sand castles and sculptures, fly a kite or toss a Frisbee, play on swings, eat shaved ice, or have a picnic with provided barbecue pits.

North Beach, Racine, Wisconsin

Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, it is the widest beach on the lake, being more than a mile wide in some spots. For a rock collector, the north side has an amazing variety of different colored rocks.

When you and your children aren’t enjoying the summer water or watching sailboats and people kayaking, you can walk or bike, fly a kite, or play volleyball. The kids can set sail on pirate ships and use swings and slides at Pirate’s Cove, one of the largest playgrounds in the state. Also note that it is only a three block walk to the Racine Zoo, where a highlight is feeding a giraffe.

Best Shopping Destinations

Consider holidaying in a place where shopping is elevated into an art form.

Singapore

Singapore’s national pastime is shopping, and the locals are proud to share it with visitors. The famous Orchard Road is Singapore’s iconic shopping destination and can’t be missed, but don’t forget to check out Haji Lane for great vintage finds, or historic Kampong Glam district for a more ethnic flair. Singapore charges a 3% Goods and Services Tax, but visitors who spend more than S$300 can apply for a refund. To maximize your shopping experience, visit during the annual Great Singapore Sale, a nation-wide, months-long shopping extravaganza.

Marrakesh

Shopping is a competitive sport in Marrakesh, where savvy hagglers can score discounts up to 80%. The souks between the Djemaa el-Fna and the Musée de Marrakech are among the world’s most exotic places to shop. Be sure to visit Souk El Kebir for Morocco’s famed leather goods. Souk El Attarines, the spice and perfume souk, is also a must-see (or perhaps must-smell). Visit Souk Smarine for clothing and textiles, and Souk Siyyaghin for jewelry. If all this sounds a little overwhelming, hire an official shopping guide, or take a break from the souks and hit up the modern shops on Avenue Mohammed V.

Hoi An

The tailors and shoemakers of Vietnam’s shopping capital Hoi An can furnish you with a whole new wardrobe in days, and for less than the cost of buying off-the-rack at home. They have a good command of the English language and their shops are conveniently located next to the cloth markets where stunningly beautiful, high quality fabrics can be purchased at a fraction of the prices Westerners are accustomed to. Bring in your favorite pieces (or pictures) and have them cloned for a fraction of the price of the original. While waiting for your fabulous new wardrobe to be completed, visit the Old Town’s beautiful galleries, shops, bars and restaurants.

Theme Parks of Florida

For many families, a Florida vacation is a surefire way to create a lifelong memory. The state features numerous theme parks, but several of them are destinations that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. For instance, be sure to buy admission tickets to Disney World, Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Magic Kingdom

If you’re planning a trip to Florida, then you must include the Magic Kingdom on your itinerary. The theme park will enchant your kids whether they’re young or old. At the park, take pictures in front of Cinderella’s Castle and enjoy a stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. Your family will also enjoy the park’s many activities, which include:

• Parades
• Fireworks
• Shopping
• Themed dining

While visiting the Magic Kingdom, you can ride classic attractions like “It’s a Small World,” “Mad Tea Party” and “Dumbo the Flying Elephant.”

Universal Studios

If your family loves movies, then a trip to Universal Studios is essential. The park’s rides are based on popular films, so your family members will feel as though they’re going to be blown away on “Twister…Ride it Out,” and once they hop onboard “Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride” and “Jurassic Park River Adventure,” they’ll have the chance to face their fear of monsters. Other entertainment options include:

• Shows
• Shopping
• Character experiences

Universal Studios will appeal to kids of all ages since the park includes “Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone” along with exciting 3D attractions like “Terminator 2: 3D Battle Across Time.”

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

In 1999, Universal Studios expanded by opening Islands of Adventure. The amusement park features seven themed islands that include “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” “Marvel Super Hero Island” and “Seuss Landing.” It also has:

• An interactive play area
• A section with water based rides
• Amusing holiday celebrations

Islands of Adventure will ignite your body’s adrenaline levels as the park’s rollercoasters are state-of-the art and intense. However, if thrill rides aren’t for you, then the park will still entertain you with its live shows and movie themed décor.

Reasons to Vacation in Florida

The state of Florida has diverse theme parks. While there, your family can enjoy the enchanting experiences that Disney is able to provide as well as the movie style magic offered by Universal Studios.

5 Useful and Convenient Travel Apps

Let’s face it. Traveling can be a real pain! Here are five apps for your smartphone that will take some of the hassle out of holidays and everyday commutes.

1: Google Maps

While the bare-bones software comes standard on iPhones, the new and improved app provides much better and more detailed information for users on the go. For example, you can now customize your transit routes based on how much you’re willing to walk or how much time you have before your next appointment.

2: The Entertainer

It can be difficult to find sales when you’re wandering around a strange city with no idea what a good deal even looks like. This is where the Entertainer comes in: It functions as a coupon finder that will use local advertisements and GPS tracking information to show you where and how you can enjoy nearby savings.

3: Worldmate

Going abroad? Worldmate will keep all your travel data organized and secure. You’ll no longer need to fumble around your inbox looking for your digital flight vouchers or hotel booking information. Everything will stay sorted and ready for you in a single place!

4: Quintessentially

Everyone needs a taste of luxury now and then, and Quintessentially has you covered for spa dates, boutique recommendations and five-star restaurant reviews. If you’re looking to plan a weekend getaway or a romantic trip for two, this is the app you’ll need to build an unforgettable experience.

5: The Converted

One of the essentials of overseas travel, the Converted will provide instant currency conversions between everything from dollars to rupees. It’ll also take care of those pesky Fahrenheit/Celsius and mile/kilometer translations, too.

While we may dream of sunny islands or spur-of-the-moment road trips with a gang of trusted girlfriends, most of us are too weary of stressful travel to plan anything major. With these five apps to clear the way, however, you might be able to consider a vacation after all!

Road Trips With Kids

Road trips have the potential to be fun and exciting, especially when you are taking them with your closest loved ones, but traveling with kids can often be a challenge. The trick to a successful road trip with young ones is to make the journey fun and exciting. Children equate sitting and doing nothing with punishment, and it is hard for them to understand that the end location is worth the boring drive. If you want to spice up your road trips and keep your kids from resenting the long hours in the car, try using some of these methods:
1) Make Frequent Stops
This is quite possibly the most important aspect of a successful road trip. Try to start out a few hours earlier than necessary to make sure you have time to stop every hour or hour and a half to keep your children’s minds at work and anticipatory. A child may have a hard time being patient for six hours, but sitting for an hour or so until the next stop makes the wait seem to go by much faster, even if it actually adds time. These stops can be educational too! Try planning your trips around pit stops like national parks, cool museums, historical land marks, and other fun excursions that will keep your children entertained while introducing them to new places and ideas.
2) Give Them Something To Do In The Car
Whether you turn on a movie, listen to a book on tape, or jam out to your favorite sing-a-long, giving your kids something to do in the car will definitely make the time fly by faster, especially with frequent stops. This can also be an educational tool, especially if you listen to an interesting book during your car ride.
3) Engage Your Kids
Avoid taking a nap or plugging in your headphones during long car rides. Your kids see and respond to you; if you are excited and engaged, they will be also. If you’re listening to a book or watching a new movie, stop it regularly and talk to them about it. What do they think of it so far? What will happen next? A classic favorite for long car rides in my family is singing campfire songs and our favorite new tunes together. Fun word games are also fun, try making up stories together and telling silly jokes. If you are having fun, they will have fun too.
Making road trips fun may seem like a daunting task, but if your kids are happily engaged and exciting about the next stop, it will make your job much easier. Odds are the time will fly by faster for you too!