Getting the most out of a family holiday Florida

How to get the most out of a family holiday to Florida

If you could go on a family holiday anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I think for a lot of people the answer would be Florida.

A family holiday to Florida has it all really.  As long as you go at the right time of year you’re almost guaranteed good weather.  You have Disney and Universal to explore as well as loads of stunning beaches, museums and landmarks.

There are some things to keep in mind though, to really get the most out of a family holiday to Florida:

 

Plan ahead for the flight and for jet lag

Flight times from the UK to Florida are around 9 hours, so you’ll need to be prepared for keeping your children entertained for that long.

A lot depends on how old your children are, but things like sticker and activity books are great to pop in your carry on bag.  If you’re flying with a toddler then this post from Flying with a baby is full of ideas for activities to keep them happy.

Older children are a bit easier to plan for and may well just be happy with a book or two and something to watch/music to listen to.

 

The other issue you’ll have to deal with is jet lag, with Florida being 5 hours behind the UK.

Children are generally more susceptible to jet lag so you’ll need to have a bit of a plan in place to cope with it.  Things like allowing a day or two at the start of the holiday for everyone to adjust will help.  Keep these days a bit more low-key while you get your bearings.

Jetlag and Mayhem have got a great list of tips on dealing with jet lag and kids, including setting your watch to local time as soon as you arrive, getting out in daylight as much as possible to help reset your body clock and getting the children on to local time as soon as you can.

 

Hire a car

To really make the most of a family holiday to Florida, you’ll most likely need to hire a car.

That way you can get around easily and visit all the theme parks and attractions that you don’t want to miss.

One thing to keep in mind though is that there are tolls on the major highways.  So make sure you include those costs in your budget.

 

Plan your itinerary before you go

If you’re planning on visiting Disney world and Universal while you’re in Florida then you really need to plan our you itinerary before you go.

You can book fast passes in advance for Disney which is well worth doing so you can avoid some of the lines for the most popular rides.  So take a bit of time to do some research and decide what you want to do and when.

If you have a few weeks in Florida then you might want to plan to alternate days at the theme parks with quieter days exploring the area.

Florida has got some beautiful beaches to discover, including Clearwater beach which has been named the best in the USA.

 

There are so many places in Florida to visit and create some amazing family memories.

You can get take in all the sights from the top of the ICON Orlando 360, which is Orlando’s answer to the London Eye.  A ride on the wheel lasts 23 minutes, which is plenty of time to take it all in but not so long that little ones will get bored.

Children will also love a visit to Ripley’s believe it or not which is a museum full of all things weird and wonderful.  And if you have a space-lover in the family then the Kennedy Space Centre is worth the hour drive from Orlando.

 

It’s well worth spending time really researching what you want to do in Florida as a family, and hopefully this post has helped to point you in the right direction to really get the most out of a holiday there.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Reasons cruises are great for family holidays

3 reasons cruises are great for family holidays

When you think of a family holiday, you probably think of a holiday park somewhere.  Or an all-inclusive sunshine break with a good kids club.

I’m not sure if you would immediately think of a cruise.

As it turns out though, cruises can make great family holidays.  Whether it’s exploring Europe with all-inclusive Emerald river cruises or something a bit further afield, cruises can be a fab option for families.

Here are 3 reasons why:

1. There is lots to do for children of all ages

Most cruise ships will have a kids club, and an equivalent for teenagers.  So children of all ages will be kept happily entertained, and well looked after.  If you think your child might use the club then take them along on the first day, so they can meet other children right at the beginning instead of trying to join in later on in the holiday.

There’s quite often baby sitting services too if you’d like to go out for dinner just the two of you some evenings.

When you want to spend time as a family on board there are all sorts of activities you can do together, from swimming to rock climbing and even ice skating on some ships.

 

2. Even fussy eaters will find something to enjoy

One of the things that cruise ships are famous for is the huge choice of food available.

So even if your child is a really fussy eater they’ll be able to find something on board to tempt them.  A cruise is also a great time to give more adventurous eaters the chance to try foods from all sorts of different countries and cultures.

 

3. You can have amazing family experiences

As well as brilliant times on board the ship, you’ll have amazing experiences as a family when you dock in different places.

You can normally chose to book in for organised tours and excursions, or you can plan your own trips as a family.  Either way you’ll make memories to last a lifetime together.

 

If you’re considering a cruise for your next family holiday then there are some things to think about and plan ahead for.

One of the biggest issues on board these ships is health and hygiene.  So make sure your children understand about washing their hands properly, and carry hand sanitiser with you so you can keep everyone’s hands nice and clean.

 

If anyone in the family suffers with travel sickness then spending a lot of time on a boat might be an issue.

There are some things you can do to help though, like booking a room closer to the middle of the ship where there’ll be less movement.  You can also buy seabands which use acupressure to help with motion sickness.

 

One last tip that is genius for families is to do your washing while you’re still on board the ship.  Take your dirty clothes to the on-board launderette and have it washed and dried before the end of your holiday.  That way you won’t have piles to do when you get home.

That tip comes thanks to Fizzy Peaches who wrote all about their experience with going on a cruise as a family for the first time.

 

Have you ever been on a cruise as a family?

Is it something you would consider?

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

surprising facts about cruises

7 surprising facts about cruises

I’ve never been on a cruise but absolutely love the idea of them

There’s something quite special about waking up in a new place each day, and really enjoying the journey to see different towns and countries.  One of the highlights of a Mediterranean cruise would be seeing the beautiful coast lines as you sail around.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading into cruise holidays and they sound like no other type of holiday.

Here are some surprising facts about cruise ships that you might not know:

There is no deck 13

I’m not superstitious at all about the number 13 (I was born on Friday the 13th) but a lot of people still are.  And this means that on quite a few cruise ships the numbers of the decks go from 12 to 14, missing out number 13.

What is quite interesting is that on some Italian cruise lines it’s deck 17 that’s missing, because it’s thought to be an unlucky number in Italy.

 

You can’t take your iron on board with you

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about taking an iron on holiday with me, but for anyone who was considering it you’d have to think again.

You’re not allowed to take an iron on board with you because of the fire risk.

So try to pack clothes that you can get away without ironing, and take anything that does really need doing to the ship’s laundry service.

 

The walls of the cabins are metal

The main reason for this is fire safety, and safety in general.

What’s fun though is that you can use magnetic clips and hooks to hang your things from the walls and ceiling in your cabin.  It’s a great way to save some space if your cabin is on the small side.

 

The carpets are designed to stop you getting lost

Cruise ships are big.  Really big.  And it can be really easy to lose your bearings as you wander round the ship.

To help make things a bit easier some cruise ships will have different coloured or patterned carpets on the different sides of the ship.

 

Cruise ships have godmothers

I think most people know that boats are christened, but did you know that they’re also given godmothers?

The Disney Dream has Jennifer Hudson as its godmother, while the Nieuw Statendam has Oprah Winfrey.

 

The anchors are incredibly heavy

Of course anchors are heavy, that’s the whole point.

The anchor on a cruise ship though can be as heavy as four African forest elephants, which is about 20, 500 pounds.  Generally though the ships try to avoid dropping the anchor unless they absolutely have to.  The anchors can be harmful to the delicate ecosystems in the water, and most cruise ships are able to stay in place without dropping their anchors.

 

Some of them are floating art galleries

If you’re after a little bit more from your cruise ship in the way of culture then you might want to take a trip on the P&O cruise ship Britannia.

This particular ship has an art collection on board of around 8000 pieces, worth about a million pounds.

Did you know these facts about cruise ships?  Which one was most surprising to you?

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

adventure holidays

Why adventure holidays are good for you and your family

Holidays don’t need to be all about chilling by the pool and vegetating on the beach, they can be incredible learning experiences and opportunities for genuine growth. This is particularly true of an adventure holiday, where you might be cast out of your comfort zone a little.

But aside from the obvious (the clue is in the name) what else are adventure or activity holidays actually good for?

Here, we’ll underline a few reasons why you might want to consider a true adventure for your next family holiday.

 

The challenge 

Knowing how far you can push yourself is an incredibly important thing, particularly if you’re trying to mould your children into engaged and responsible individuals. You might never have thought you and your family could handle white water rafting down the Grand Canyon or trekking Kilimanjaro, but you’d be amazed at what you’re capable of when you push yourself.

 

The perspective 

Adventure and activity holidays allow you to experience a familiar location from an unfamiliar perspective. You might have been to Paris or Disneyland a few times, for example, but cycling through France is a completely different and potentially more rewarding experience.

 

The culture 

When we travel to typical tourist destinations we are often sequestered in our little bubbles. We’ll only meet other like-minded people and will probably only end up eating the same foods. Adventure holidays, meanwhile, are all about introducing yourself to new cultures, experiencing new flavours and new points of view.

 

The memories 

You are unlikely to remember a beach holiday to Spain in 30 years. But you are definitely going to fondly remember that time you climbed up the side of a mountain in Nepal or mountain biking in Macedonia.

 

The skills 

There can be few things in life as rewarding as picking up a new skill. Activity holidays are all about learning new skills that you might be able to use in your everyday life. This can be social skills, fitness skills or even more specific skills like making a secure knot or being able to start a fire without a match.

 

The health and the happiness 

With many kids today spending half of their lives glued to a screen, the health and wellbeing of our children has never been more at risk. Obesity and social disorders are at an all-time high and a great way to mitigate some of that risk is to make sure your kids are being active and spending time with their family. Family adventure holidays often mean coming together as a family to solve a problem or get through a challenge and this will not only help bring you closer together, it will make you appreciate each other too.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Ways to get around London

7 ways to get around London

There’s a lot to see and do in London. Whether you want to see the sights or go on a Monopoly pub crawl, it’s important that you plan out how to get around this vast capital. There are a number of modes of transport to consider, each with their own pros and cons.

Here are just some of the 7 most popular ways to get around.  

 

Go on the tube

The London Underground (AKA the tube) is the most common and convenient way of getting around London in most cases. Oyster cards are worth investing in if you visit London frequently. Alternatively, you can simply buy a London Travelcard that will allow you to travel freely (there are single day card, three day cards and seven day cards). Make sure to research ahead in case lines are closed and avoid rush hour on a weekday if you don’t want to be crammed into a train like sardines.

 

Try other rail services

London also has a number of overground services which can extend to places that the tube doesn’t. There’s also the DLR, which is an automated train system with links to London City Airport and ExCel. Finally, there are also trams around various parts of London. Most of these transport options are covered by the London Travelcard.

 

Ride a double-decker bus

The bus network in London can be another option. It’s slower than the trains, but it can be more scenic (especially if you ride the top deck). Most of London’s buses are also covered by the London Travelcard. There are then bus tours that you can take, some of which have open tops that are perfect for the summer. These bus routes are perfect for seeing the landmarks. There are also themed bus tours including ghost tours.

 

Take a black cab

The black cabs are also iconic in London. They’re a lot more expensive than buses and trains, however they do offer more freedom – you’re not stuck to a timetable and can catch them in the early hours of the morning when the trains and buses aren’t running.

 

Hire a chauffeur

If you’re celebrating a special event such as a hen night or a birthday, you could even consider looking into chauffeurs in London and hiring your own private vehicle. This could allow you to make multiple stops without booking a taxi each time. You could even look into limo hire.

 

Catch a ferry down the Thames

You can also explore London from the water. There are a number of ferries and cruises that operate along the Thames. These can allow you to see all the sights from a new perspective. There are even dinner cruises in which you can enjoy a meal as you travel down the river.

Walk it

London is a big city, but it’s possible to walk between many of the attractions in the centre. You’ll save money by doing this and you could see sights you may not otherwise have seen such as street entertainers, quirky shops and markets. A walk along the Thames is particularly worthwhile. 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Cultural visit to London

Ideas for a cultural weekend away in London

London is such a diverse city with all sorts of things to do. You can spend your trip looking around all of the tourist attractions like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Dungeons.

If that doesn’t take your fancy, you can take a historical tour and visit places like the HMS Belfast museum or maybe take a history walk. Maybe none of that interests you and what you’re really looking for is a great cultural experience.

The good news is, you can find that in London as well. These are some of the best cultural attractions that the city has to offer.

Ideas for a cultural weekend away in London

Galleries

London is packed full of some amazing art galleries showcasing work from some of the best artists around the world. If your tastes are more traditional, the Tate is the perfect place to start. You can also visit the Tate Modern if you’re interested in something more contemporary.

Both of those galleries are completely free so they’re ideal for a budget trip. Galleries are a great place to go with the family so you can give your kids a new experience in London. There are some other great galleries like the Saatchi but you do have to pay admission and it’s not ideal for kids because some of the exhibits are a bit out there.

 

Theatres

Seeing a show in London is a brilliant experience and if you’ve never done it before, you should absolutely make it a priority on your next trip. There is such a huge range from family friendly musicals to classic Shakespeare so whatever your tastes, you should be able to find something that suits you. The only problem is, the tickets are quite pricey sometimes.

However, if you look for last minute theatre tickets, London shows don’t have to be that expensive. You can usually get cheap seats from as little as £15 which is a lot less than you’d pay if you booked through the normal sites.

 

Museums

There are plenty of interesting museums in London and the great thing is, most of them are completely free. The biggest and best known is the British Museum and you could spend days lost in there. They’ve got some great exhibitions that span all different periods of history and the artefacts that they’ve got on show there are incredible. The Rosetta Stone, the Lycurgus Cup and the real life mummies that they’ve got in there are some of the best highlights.

You’ve got the Natural History Museum as well where you can see a giant T-Rex skeleton which is sure to be a hit if you’re visiting with the kids. There are loads of other exhibitions on all sorts of different animals so if you and the family love wildlife, this is the best museum for you.

If you’re interested in science, you should definitely visit the London Science Museum while you’re there. It’s great for kids because there are lots of interactive exhibitions that they can get stuck into, as well as an interesting display on the future of space travel.

 

If you’re looking for a cultural weekend away in London, these are some of the best attractions to visit.

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Tips save money travel UK

Tips for saving money when travelling in the UK

When you’re looking to travel, you’ll often notice it seems to be cheaper to travel abroad than it is to travel in the UK.

However, thankfully there are lots of great ways to save money when travelling around the country. So, whether you’re looking to stay local, or you’re looking to travel a little further afield in the UK, here you’ll discover some of the best tips to help you save money.

Tips for saving money when travelling in the UK

Take advantage of off-peak travel

You can save potentially a lot of money on UK travel if you choose to travel off peak. This is especially true if you plan on taking the train. You’ll find that off peak tickets come at a much lower price, and there’s even the possibility you could benefit from super-off peak prices.

Another great tip with public transportation is to book in advance. If you already know what dates you’ll be travelling, booking well in advance can save you a lot of money on the cost of the journey compared to booking on the day.

 

Head to cheaper regions

Did you know that some parts of the country are cheaper to travel to than others? Obviously, areas close to home are going to be cheaper than those far away, but when it comes to the overall travel experience including the cost of accommodation and entertainment, there’s some regions which are much cheaper than others.

These cheaper regions include the north of England, Wales, Devon and Scotland (providing it’s outside of Edinburgh). Take time to research the different locations before deciding which one would be right for you.

 

Consider buying sightseeing passes

If you’ll be heading to any of the major attractions in the UK, you could save money by investing in sightseeing passes. Theme Parks and major cities offer sightseeing passes which allow you free entry or free admission onto the rides. You can even buy Heritage passes, which allow you entry into some of the UK’s top heritage attractions. You can buy a Heritage Pass from the National Trust.

Travelling around the UK can be expensive, but with the clever tips above you could save potentially a lot of money. Don’t forget to check out the free attractions in the area you’ll be visiting too. These can save you a small fortune on the cost of your little getaway.  

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post