benefits of travelling with children

Travelling with your children: The benefits and caveats

When you’re a parent, you want to ensure that your child gets every possible opportunity to make their life as happy, healthy and fulfilled as possible.

Of course, a huge part of this means that you get to make fun memories together as a family. Another important part, however, is making sure that they have an education that prepares them for everything life brings their way. And as important as school undoubtedly is, a good education needs to go beyond that.

It needs to encompass everything from how to cook nutritious meals to the important of regular exercise to why it’s important to get enough sleep and even how to work the washing machine. It means exposing them to as many different places, cultures and different people as possible to give them a balanced outlook on life.

It means encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones, aspire and achieve. 

 

For all these reasons, and many more, it’s said that travel is the best education for young people. And while they certainly get some of this on their family holidays in new and exotic lands, there’s much debate on whether parents can and should take children on longer international trips, staying away from their home country for months at a time.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the benefits and caveats of taking your children travelling (COVID notwithstanding, of course)…

 

It’s an immersive, hands-on learning experience

The opportunity to immerse themselves in new cultures, sights, scents, tastes and sounds is the most hands-on learning experience they can get, awakening dormant parts of their minds and engaging them in their learning in ways that they rarely experience outside of school.

Children learn in different ways, and it’s important to engage them visually, aurally and kinaesthetically (looking, hearing and doing) to ensure that they get a holistic learning experience. The kind that they remember from years to come, rather than blurring together in the way that lessons (and school days) can. 

 

They can still engage with the curriculum

Of course, kids will learn while travelling by visiting sites of historical interest, checking in at museums, walking through galleries and walking among the natural and man-made wonders of the world.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make time for the curriculum too. The past few months have shown parents that with some resources from their kids’ teachers, and a little patience they can engage their kids with the curriculum even if they’re not in school.

 

It may be more affordable than you’d think

Travel gives kids experiences that are valuable in ways that can’t be measures in pennies and pounds. But needless to say, you have to think about money before sailing (or jetting) across the world with your little ones in tow.

Still, while there are certainly cheaper ways to spend your time, you may be surprised by how affordable you can make it, especially when travelling to certain destinations throughout Asia. Places like Kuala Lumpur, for instance, offer luxurious living for a fraction of what you’d pay in any UK city. Take a look at some of these charming Ara Damansara condo for rent. Home-sharing apps like Air BnB can also be an invaluable resource when travelling with your youngsters.

Using airfare tracking apps can also save you a small fortune when getting around, especially when you can be flexible about when you travel. While you’ll undoubtedly want to make dining out part of your experience, further savings can be made by shopping and eating like a local at your chosen destination. 

However, while there are undoubtedly awesome opportunities when travelling with your kids, you need to approach it with your eyes wide open and be aware of the caveats and risks. 

 

Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

This is one situation where your motto should be that of the scouts… “be prepared!”. As nice as it is to hope for the best, it’s also essential to prepare for the worst. For instance, you should ensure that every member of your family is covered by a travel insurance policy that meets the needs and circumstances of your trip.

Whenever you book a flight, know what to do if it is cancelled or delayed. And whenever you plan a trip, it’s a good idea to have a backup in case weather or circumstances make it untenable on any given day. 

 

Mastering the balance of “school” and fun

Finally, one of the finest lines you’ll walk is keeping the trip fun for your kids and finding time to educate them.

While there’s bound to be some overlap, you’ll need to be able to compartmentalise your time effectively, so that you manage to imbue “class” with the gravity and importance it deserves, while also ensuring that the trip is a fum, rewarding experience for your whole family. 

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

What should you be teaching your kids about travelling_

What should you be teaching your children about travelling?

For a small child, going on a long trip for the first time can be endlessly stimulating, and endlessly dull.

There will be new sights, sounds and experiences to get excited about, as well as long stretches of inactivity during which the child will have to amuse themselves.

 

Let your kids lead the way

It might seem counterintuitive, but if your children have to spend all day following your orders, then they’re likely to get bored. Plus, they won’t develop the ability to figure out travel on their own. Have them lead the way through a railway station or an airport. If you’re following just behind, then you can always rush things along, or take corrective action where appropriate.

 

Give them a map

A map will help your kids to understand where it is that they’re going and how it is that they’ll get there. These days, the maps we look at tend to come on digital devices like smartphones.

Get your kids to follow motorways and train lines, and work out in advance which junction you’re getting off at, or which station comes next. If you’re waiting for trains to King’s Cross station, then why not work out where the train will be stopping along the way?

 

Let them know when they have to behave

There are few things more annoying for a passenger on a long-haul flight or train journey than a screaming child in the same carriage. Warn your child in advance that they need to control their exuberance. That way, when you need to tell them to quieten down, then they won’t be able to say that you didn’t warn them!

 

Get them to learn about the places they’re visiting

As well as being inherently interesting, making a trip educational provides a kind of distraction that’ll prevent your children from getting bored along the way. If you’re curious about the places you’re visiting, then that curiosity will naturally infect your children, too.

Uncovering new information about a place in advance of getting there is a skill that will serve your children well when they come to embark on their own travels – so getting curious to begin with is a great way to get the ball rolling.

At present, international travel isn’t quite as free and easy as it was last year. While it’s still possible to hop on a plane and travel to a foreign country, many of us are electing instead to keep things domestic with a ‘staycation’ in Britain.  But however far you’re travelling, it’s important that your child is kept aware of how they should behave.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Ways to plan a road trip with kids

How to plan a road trip with kids

A long road trip can be agony if you don’t have a plan in place to keep the kids occupied. They’ll get bored, and then they’ll seek to occupy themselves – often in ways that you might not appreciate.

To save yourself from a nightmare that stretches for hours and hours, it’s worth thinking in advance about how you’ll keep them occupied, and what you’ll see along the way. 

 

Certain kinds of vehicle are more suited to long trips than others.  For example, the spacious interior of a Peugeot 5008 SUV is going to suit the task better than that of a smaller vehicle.

Here are some other things you might want to think about to plan a brilliant road trip with the family:

 

Make sure that everyone is rested

A lack of sleep is sure to result in frayed tempers. The driver, obviously, needs to be able to concentrate and pay attention to the road ahead. But sleep-deprived children are also going to be unpleasant to be around.

On the other hand, if your children are actually asleep for a portion of the trip, you might find that things are that much more bearable. Pack some pillows and blankets and make resting easy for them.

 

Go to the toilet before you leave

Your children should be encouraged to go to the toilet just before you leave. That way, you’ll be able to minimise the chance that they’ll need to go when you’re on the road.

 

Plan your rest stops

Just about any large task can be managed by first breaking it into smaller ones. And the same applies to road trips. Research in advance where you’re going to be stopping. Most drivers need a break every two hours or so, and ideally more often.

Get the kids looking forward to these leg-stretching opportunities by counting down the junctions. If you’re driving with another adult, then you might take turns just to share the burden, and to keep things interesting.

 

Bring entertainment

Modern parents have a considerable advantage over older ones, in that they can simply provide the kids with a smart device like a tablet computer and leave them to entertain themselves. Just make sure that you bring along the appropriate chargers. Books are a reliable hit, as they provide entertainment that lasts for hours rather than minutes.

Some people tend to start feeling sick if they’re forced to read on a moving vehicle, however, so look into audiobooks as an alternative.

 

Bring snacks

If your children are getting stressed because they’re hungry, than a packet of nuts is unlikely to make much of a difference, at least not directly. What it will do, however, is provide an incentive for good behaviour.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Reasons escorted tours make amazing holidays

4 reasons escorted tours make amazing holidays

This summer has definitely been a strange one when it comes to holidays and travel.

There have been all sorts of limits and restrictions put in place that have left a lot of people with a feeling of unfulfilled wanderlust.

Hopefully one day, sooner rather than later, things will improve, the world will open up again, and we’ll all be free to travel and explore new places again.

When this time comes you might want to think about a new way to discover new parts of the world, and an escorted tour could be an amazing option.

Here are 4 reasons why:

 

1. They take the stress out of planning a holiday

When it comes to planning a holiday normally there are so many different things to book and organise.  You need to sort your travel to and from the destination, your accommodation, your activities and trips out while you’re there and so many other things.

For some people this is part of the fun of going away, but for others it can all end up feeling really stressful.

If you fall into the second group of people then an escorted tour could be a great way to take that stress away.  All the travel and accommodation is arranged for you, as well as all the days out while you’re away.

 

2. You have an expert on hand all the time

When you go on an escorted tour you’ll have a tour manager with you who will know the places you’re travelling to really well.

So you can relax knowing you’ll get to see all the best sights and get insider knowledge on the best places to visit for a bite to eat or a cup of the best coffee in town.

You’ll also more than likely have local guides who can give you honest advice on which places are worth making the effort to visit and might even be able to give you access to places not normally available to the general public.

 

3. They’re a great way to make new friends

When you go on an escorted tour holiday you’ll be travelling with a group of other people.

Throughout the holiday there’ll be chances to chat, mix, and mingle with everyone which can make the whole thing even more fun.

What’s really great is that you’ll know that the people you’re travelling with are like-minded and excited to experience the same things as you.  Say you’re on an escorted tour in Canada, you’ll get to meet a group of other people to experience things like the beauty and wonder of Niagara falls with, which can be especially great if you’d otherwise be travelling alone.

 

4. There’s less stress all round

Holidays are never meant to be stressful, but things like driving in a different country and navigating unknown roads can mean you miss out on really enjoying some of the stunning scenery and leave you a bit stressed out when you get to where you’re going on your day out.

With an escorted tour you really can just sit back and enjoy the views.

No worrying about adjusting to driving on the other side of the road, no stress about missed turnings or confusing road signs.

Just relaxing in a comfy seat on an air-conditioned coach enjoying all the sights from the windows as you make your way to another great day out.

 

Have you ever been on an escorted holiday?  Is is something you would consider in the future?

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

5 Easy to forget Factors That Could Impact Your Next Vacation

5 easily forgotten factors that could impact your next vacation

Family vacations provide some of the greatest highlights of our lives. Sadly, they do not occur nearly as often as we’d like.

So, when they do arrive, it’s imperative that you make the most of them.  While you will have spent lots of time building your bucket list of destinations to visit, several issues will impact your enjoyment.

Here are five commonly overlooked factors that you must not ignore.

 

1. Timing 

Before booking a vacation, you must ensure that you time it well.

First and foremost, knowing where to travel in which month will allow you to avoid visiting the wrong place at the wrong time. However, you should also consider your situation. Fitting the vacation into your child’s school holiday schedule is crucial.

Meanwhile, depending on your job role, it is possible that you will feel the full benefits of recharging the batteries at a certain time of the year. Ultimately, you must do what’s right for you.

 

2. The Journey 

Vacations are a source of creating and capturing magical moments with your loved ones. Nonetheless, they can cause a lot of stress too, especially if you fail to prepare.

Travelling long distances with children is notoriously stressful. Taking an iPad loaded with games and their favourite TV shows is a great option for flights and car journeys. Colouring books and other simple activities will aid the cause too. Furthermore, snacks and regular hydration should be a priority during the trip to your destination.

 

3. Accommodation

Your accommodation isn’t just a place to rest your head, it’s a temporary home for the duration of the stay. Its importance on your vacation could not be greater.

The location can impact your adventures while the comforts, security, and facilities are all vital features. As regular readers that pay attention to the right column of this page will know, I am a firm supporter of timeshare rentals. However, private villas and short-term home rentals are great options too. Overpaying for hotels is no longer needed.

 

4. The Preparations

Everyone loves buying a few holiday outfits. In truth, you should have very little trouble finding clothes while you’re away. When packing your luggage, beauty products and healthcare items should take priority.

On a similar note, knowing what injections are needed for the location of your holiday will make a big impact. Nobody deserves to get ill while they’re away, but prevention is the best form of protection. Or else, you may be forced to spend half of the vacation in the hospital.

 

5. Guests

If you are planning a trip that’s exclusively for your household, you won’t need to worry about this factor. But anybody planning to vacation with friends and other relatives should take extra care. Holidays are known to destroy friendships, which is why you must consider the travel party. If someone is needy or uncompromising, it may stop you from truly enjoying the trip.

Time spent together is great, but you need some personal space during the trip too. Otherwise, you’ll need another holiday once you return.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Tips to get the most out of a trip to Bluestone wales

Top tips to get the most out of a holiday to Bluestone

Disclosure: We were given a 4 night stay at Bluestone but all words, photos and opinions are my own.

We’ve been to Bluestone national park resort three times now, and each time we go it seems like we learn something new about how to get the absolute best out of a holiday there.

So I’m writing this post partly as a reminder to ourselves for the next time we go, and also to hopefully help anyone else who’s planning a holiday to Bluestone to really make the most of their stay.

 

I think that no matter what you do really you’ll have an amazing time at Bluestone because it’s just a truly lovely place to go for a holiday, but there are some things worth knowing and keeping in mind to really get the best out of it.

 

The lodges

The lodges are generally really well equipped with everything you need but there are a few things worth knowing about:

  • There are tumblers, wine glasses and mugs in the kitchen, but no pint glasses.
  • We’ve stayed in three different lodges and they’ve all had a grill pan and roasting dish but no simple baking tray, so take one or two with you if you know you’ll want to cook things like chips while you’re there.
  • The twin bedrooms often have just one bedside table in between the beds, which of course means just one bedside lamp.  Not always an issue, but if your children are like mine one might want to read at bedtime when the other wants dark to get to sleep, so think about taking a little reading light with you.
  • There are no clothes airers in the lodges but you can get one from guest services if you want one, useful for drying towels and wet coats.

 

What to take (and what not to take)

  • There are towels in the lodges but you can’t take these with you to the Blue Lagoon, so pack some towels if you plan on swimming there (which you absolutely should).
  • Whether you hire a buggy or not, pack comfy shoes to explore the resort.
  • You don’t need to take a hairdryer with you, there was one in each bedroom of the lodge the last time we stayed.
  • If you’re going to Bluestone in the winter you might want to take a torch with you.

 

Getting the most out of the resort

  • If you think you’ll want to eat at any of the restaurants during your stay then it’s worth booking this before you go, they do get quite busy.
  • If you don’t want to cook but don’t fancy eating out either then the food from the chippy is really good and can be taken back to your lodge.
  • Budget for some treats while you’re there.  There are quite a few places around the resort where you can treat yourselves to drinks and snacks and they’re all really lovely.  Ty Coffi in the village has seasonal goodies on offer, from different flavoured milkshakes in the summer to tempting hot drinks in the winter.  The drinks from the cafe at the adventure centre are really good, and the bar in the Serendome has a great range of drinks available.
  • The Blue Lagoon is free to use when you’re staying in Bluestone and is so much fun for the whole family.  Just remember to take a pound coin for the locker.
  • The serendome is amazing, but it really is just like being outside so take their advice to wrap up in the winter months.

 

Make sure you’re kept informed

  • There’s an app you can download that is really useful for helping you find your way around the site and also for keeping up to date with news and events from around the resort.
  • The other top tip is to turn the TV on in the lodge in the morning and check for any messages.  If the weather is bad then things like the winter lights might not be on, or some paths around the resort might be closed, and these kinds of things will be shared with you in these messages.

 

Get to know the village

  • The village is the central hub of Bluestone resort and it’s worth having a wander round there on  your first day to get the lay of the land.
  • There’s a play park for the children and a lovely treehouse play area for them to explore.
  • This is also where the cafe, pub and restaurants are.
  • Newton stores is the little supermarket on site that, despite being small, has pretty much everything you could need.  We packed loads of food and drink to take with us on our last trip and after looking around the shop we’ve said we’ll bring far less with us next time.  The shop was well stocked with everything from food and drink to toiletries and household goods.  You can even buy individual dishwasher tablets which is really useful.

 

  • If you spot them in Newton Stores, grab a little Welsh deli pasty, they are amazing.

 

Make full use of the time you can be on site

  • You can arrive on site hours before check in time and stay on site for hours after you check out on your last day, so plan to make the most of that time.
  • On our last stay we checked out then parked back up in the longstay car park and walked back round the village and around the lake, before going over to the Blue Lagoon for one last swim.
  • You can use all of the facilities from the Blue Lagoon and the Adventure centre to the new Serendome, so no matter what the weather is doing you can find something to do before you check in and after you check out of your lodge.

 

Enjoy Bluestone at every time of the year

  • Spend some time on the Bluestone website before you go to get to know what will be on offer during your stay.
  • In the spring and summer months you can enjoy a walk through the woods to Camp Smokey for drinks, burgers and the experience of toasting your own s’mores.

 

  • In the winter months there might be fewer hours of daylight but there is still so much to do.  With the Blue Lagoon, the adventure centre and the Serendome there are lots of options for things to do with the children even if the weather isn’t great.  And then you have all the festive fun of a Kingdom of the Elves break in the run up to Christmas and the truly magical winter lights in the new year.

No matter what time of year you go to Bluestone you’ll have an amazing time, and hopefully these tips will help you really get the best out of every minute of a holiday there.

Have you been to Bluestone?  What was your favourite thing to do there?  What do you wish you’d known before you went?

Bluestone winter lights break review

Winter lights break at Bluestone – Review

Disclosure – we were given a mid-week winter lights break at Bluestone for the purpose of this review, but all words and opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago Steve and I did something that I’m not sure we’ll be able to top.

We were invited to go on a 4 night break to Bluestone, and we kept it a secret from the children.  So we picked them up together after school on the Monday, and kept them guessing as to why the car was jam packed full of our stuff.

It was only once we were halfway there that I told them that they weren’t going to school for the rest of the week.  And they then guessed almost straight away where we were going and oh my word I’ve never seen them so excited.

We’ve been to Bluestone twice before and it is somewhere we all absolutely love.  The first time we went was in May 2017 and we fell in love with the laid back atmosphere and the freerange philosophy.  Then we went for a Kingdom of the Elves break in 2018 which was such a different experience but in all the right ways.

Nerys has asked every month since then when could we go back for another holiday so she was thrilled to be surprised with a trip at the start of this year.

 

You can arrive at Bluestone any time after 11 am and use the facilities on site, and then you can check in to your lodge from either 3pm or 4.30pm depending on what type of lodge you’ll be staying in.  We drove over after picking the children up from school so didn’t get there until around 5.

If you can get there earlier it would be worth it, partly to make the most of your time there and partly to avoid the queues at the check in points that we were caught up in at 5 o’clock.

Once we got to the desk though it was plain sailing and the staff were just as friendly, welcoming, and helpful as we remembered.

We got our keys and welcome pack and then headed off to find our lodge.

Now, we did have a bit of fun trying to find our lodge in the dark, mainly because I have no sense of direction.  What we did find a big help over the course of our stay was the map on the Bluestone app.  You put your lodge details in and it then gives you directions from where you are back to your lodge, and it updates as you go using gps.

We were staying in a Tenby connect lodge in Castle Close, and we were excited to get in and check it out because we’d never stayed in one of those lodges before.

The Tenby lodge was lovely, with most of the living space downstairs and then the master bedroom and ensuite shower room up on a mezzanine floor.

It sleeps 6, between the master double bedroom and 2 twin bedrooms.  This particular lodge was a ‘connect’ one, which means it’s attached to another Tenby lodge and you can open a door between the two to make it sort of like one huge lodge.  This would be perfect if you were going with a big group.

We did find it a bit noisy having neighbours in the lodge attached to ours (the sound really does travel between the lodges) but it wasn’t really a problem.

 

We had 3 full days at Bluestone and didn’t leave the resort once.

There is so much to do on site that we really don’t feel the need to go anywhere else, but I know if we didn’t live by the sea at home we would probably want to get out and explore one of the nearby beaches at some point.

Our favourite thing to do at Bluestone is visit the Blue Lagoon so we spent a few hours each day of our holiday there.

The children are both quite confident in the water now and they really love the lazy river and the wave machine.  Nerys was big enough to go down the slides this time, but decided against it.  Rhys on the other hand couldn’t get enough of them and kept dragging Steve up for another go on them.

One of the great things about going to Bluestone in the winter is the surreal feeling of going outside in the lazy river into the cold and the rain.  It was actually hailing at one point when we were out there and it’s just such a bizarre experience!

 

When we weren’t at the pool we were either in the Adventure centre or the new Serendome.

The weather was really wet and windy most of our stay so it was brilliant to have these places to visit and let the children run wild out of the rain.

The Serendome was a brand new experience for us, it was still being built last time we were there, so we were really excited to go and check it out.

We were all really impressed with it.  Steve said a few times that it made the holiday for him, it was just a perfect finishing touch to the resort.

 

The Serendome is basically a big umbrella, so it’s open to the elements on the sides but the huge dome that covers it keeps out the rain on wet and wild days.

It’s a brilliant way to be outside without being out and exposed to the elements, although you do need to make sure you wrap up warm if you’re visiting in the winter months because it does pretty much feel as cold under the dome as it does outside.

 

There’s a fab mix of things to do in the Serendome. 

It’s free to get in and there’s a sand play area and water play area which are both so much fun and amazing for sparking creative play.

There’s also the imagination garden which my children both loved.  It has these big blue shapes and cogs and things that you can use to build basically anything you can imagine.

We also found a little play park area with swings and a little slide, and another space with garden games and giant lego blocks to build with.

If you get peckish while you’re there there are a few different places to grab a bite to eat and there’s even a bar which looked like it had a great selection of ales and cocktails on offer.

For children who are a bit more adventurous you can book a session on the go carts that whizz around the dome or a climbing session on the Sky Walk.  What’s really great about this is that there’s a mini skywalk option for younger children and those who don’t fancy going quite so high up in the sky, and there’s also a wheelchair friendly course so almost everyone can have a go if they fancy it.

The go carts and the Sky walk do cost extra though, and it’s often worth booking these kinds of activities in advance.

 

The thing I was most looking forward to on this break was seeing the winter lights, so I was gutted to find out that on the first few nights we were there they weren’t on as the weather was so bad.

We held out hope though and luckily on the Wednesday the wind died down and the rain cleared for long enough for the show to go on.

The winter lights trail starts at the entrance to the woodland walk down by the lake and, honestly, you can’t miss it.

When you’re in the village there’s a big notice projected on the side of one of the buildings pointing you in the right direction then as you get closer you can see the main path to the woodland walk lit up in rainbow colours.

Once you’re in the woods the magic really begins.

We went when it was properly dark outside and it was so beautiful to see all these different light displays leading through the woods.

There were giant butterflies and flowers up in the trees, fish with moving lights in an underwater themed display and of course the magical fairy houses.

 

 

We probably spent about half an hour making our way around the trail taking it all in.

Everywhere you looked there was something else to see, so even though there were quite a few other people there it never felt like you were waiting to have your turn to enjoy a part of it.

At the end of the trail there was a little area set up with fairground mirrors and a few games where you turned handles or pressed buttons to make things move on the screen which the children really enjoyed.

 

The last day of our trip we checked out of our lodge (you have to check out by 10am) and then parked the car up in the long stay car park.  The weather had really cleared through so it was dry and the wind had dropped down so we took advantage of the extra time on site to wander round the village and visit the lake.

The resort was so quiet, I think most people do tend to head for home straight away after checking out, so it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves.

We played in the park in the village for a bit, popped into Newton stores for a few treats and then walked down to the lake.

We’d brought Nerys’ walkie talkies with us so we split up and walked different ways around the lake, talking to each other.  The children had a great time and it was really nice to get some fresh air and stretch our legs before leaving.

 

We had such a wonderful holiday all in all, and I am thrilled that we actually got to see the winter lights; I’d heard all about them from friends who had been before and the whole thing absolutely lived up to my expectations.

This is one of the things I really love about Bluestone, no matter what time of year you go there is something different to experience that makes the trip extra special.

After our last trip I wrote about the perfect time of year to visit Bluestone and now, having visited during the winter lights festival, I’m still just as undecided about it as I was then!

It all depends what you want from your holiday I suppose, but honestly, I think any time of year is the perfect time to visit Bluestone.