When Babies Fly: Airplane and Travel Advice for Stressed Out Parents

 Travelling with a baby is a logistical challenge at the best of times, but planning an airplane journey could turn out to be a stressful parenting experience, unless you prepare for it beforehand.
One of the issues associated with air travel that you can’t legislate for is when your flight is delayed, and according to a care and assistance survey carried out by Bott & Co Solicitors, you may not always get as much assistance or information from the airline as you might have hoped, but at least you can prepare your baby for the flight itself.

Seating arrangements

admin-ajaxThere is a cost implication attached of course, but it is often worth considering the option of buying your baby -depending on their age – their own seat next to yours on the plane, rather than just settling for having them on your lap or at least try to make sure you can book a bassinet seat so you have your arms free during some of the flight. Bear in mind that during any turbulence or during take off and landing you won’t be allowed to keep the baby in the bassinet, so sleep will be quite interrupted – so much like a normal night with  a baby then ;)  With this in mind, although you may not particularly fancy the idea of lugging their usual car seat around the airport, the familiar feel of their usual seat, could help them to settle
better throughout the journey.
It is always best to check with your airline regarding their travel restrictions and requirements for babies, as many are likely to weight restrictions for the child, which might dictate your travelling options and whether they are on your lap or need a separate seat.

Consider a travel pram

You probably won’t find it too difficult to find someone who has taken their regular stroller with them on a plane journey, only to find that it has been damaged in some way by the time it comes back into your possession via the baggage reclaim carousel.
Finding your usual mode of transport has been damaged is a source of frustration and is going to raise the stress levels. This is why it often works out to be a good tactic to consider buying a slightly cheaper but perfectly serviceable stroller – if not simply relying on a sling – you can take with your when you fly with your baby. You can normally pick up a suitable stroller that will do the job safely for a budget price. That way, you won’t be so stressed if it does get damaged in transit, and at least you have the option of your usual pram when you return home from your flight.

Plenty of supplies

admin-ajax (1)You will already be aware that travelling light when it comes to babies, takes a bit of forethought.

Read more: When Babies Fly: Airplane and Travel Advice for Stressed Out Parents

My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book – Book Review

If there’s one thing that was going to be an indisputable winner in this house, it was always going to be My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book*, which we received as part of our Parragon Book Buddies mail this week.My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

What we love about My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

Well, where to start! My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book gives you 128 pages of fairy tale themed activities. The book is shaped (rather than just a square book) which always adds a fun element, for whatever reason, and is as you would expect, full of colourful illustrations. while it’s clearly a fairy tale book, it doesn’t feel overly girlified, meaning it’s not sickly pink. It stood out to me that the background of the cover is blue, which I really liked, subtle though it is.

The book is divided into four chapters – The Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Essentially this means that the activities, games, searches, mazes, colouring, counting games, drawing activities and more are all themed along the story. Each page contains a line of the story, and there’s an activity for each page. Each story has similar activities, but they are themed on the different stories, so it doesn’t feel terribly repetitive. Added to which you’re unlikely to do the whole book in one sitting, so that’s not a problem at all. Noticeable in this book was the absence of stickers, which seem to be a staple of all activity books, but the children didn’t miss them and I didn’t miss peeling them off the living room floor.

This book would be great for cold and rainy evenings, or great if you’re headed somewhere on a road trip this half term. Or in fact just as a screen break during what promises to be a rainy half term! It’s sure to be a winner with fans of fairy tales, and will provide a good few hours of entertainment.

My Giant Fairy Tale Activity BookWhat we don’t love about My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

Honestly, looking for something to dislike in this activity book would be being pedantic. There’s nothing in it that was offensive or not to like. Except maybe Hansel and Gretel’s candy house. It made me want to lick the icing off a cupcake. Bad Hansel and Gretel.

Where can I find My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book?

Published in December 2015 by Pavilion books, My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book has an RRP of £9.99, and is available at that price from Amazon. The Book Depository has it for £4.71 delivered.

Going on Vacation With Your Grown-Up Kids & Their Kids

Guest post contributed by Joyce Evans

Going on a family vacation when the kids are small is one thing, but going on one when they are grown up and have their own families is another matter entirely. It can be great fun getting three generations together on vacation, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure it all goes to plan.

Decide Who’s Paying for What

Budgeting for your vacation is the most important thing to keep in mind when you start planning. Don’t leave this up in the air because it could cause problems later on. Is the vacation your treat? Will you pay for accommodation and someone else pay for food? Or will all the families split the costs of everything? Make sure everyone knows what’s involved in advance so you can all plan properly.

Another sensible option could be an all-inclusive holiday. That way you can all split the cost at the start and then forget about it so everyone can budget for the vacation in advance and avoid disagreements.Granny and Grandpa

Choose a Location Suitable for Everyone

Spend some time searching for a location that has things to do for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. A skiing holiday could be a great option because it will have lots of things for everyone to do. Somewhere like Park City could be ideal and you can easily find suitable Park City lodging.

Also think about the distance you will need to travel to arrive because the journey can be the most stressful part of all. 12-hour car journeys are never fun, especially when lots of people and kids are traveling in a group, so you may want to choose somewhere that is easy to reach. Hold a family meeting to come up with ideas, and get everyone involved in the process.

How Much Time Will You Spend Together?

Staying together the whole time may sound like fun, but what happens when you want to do different things? You may want to go to the museum while the kids just want to go to the beach every day.

Make sure you know what you want to do, and get your children to decide on the things they want to do as well. Then you can make a plan of the things that you want to do together and the things you want to do separately.

If you do want to do different things during the days, make sure you work out the transport situation. Will each family rent a car, or are you staying in a location where you can walk to the attractions?

Book a Vacation Home Instead of a Hotel

Choosing the right accommodation is essential. Hotels are not ideal for large parties because you will all be staying in separate rooms and it can also work out as more expensive. Staying in a vacation home has many benefits because it is more fun, and it is often more affordable and practical.

Share the experience together by finding somewhere that provides enough space for everyone. This could be a large vacation rental, or you may want to rent two places next to each other.

Start Planning Your Perfect Vacation

Vacations with the extended family are great fun, but you want to make sure you get some proper planning in beforehand. The more planning you do, and the earlier you start, the more likely you will be to enjoy a great time and avoid potential disagreements. So keep these tips in mind, make sure everyone is involved in the planning, and have a great time on your next family vacation.

Joyce Evans is a seasoned vacation consultant. She aims to provide handy tips and advice online to help your travel plans run smoothly. You find other articles written by her on various travel-related sites.

Free Things to Do in Orlando

More than 75 million people visit Florida each year, and many of them visit Disney World in Orlando. Planning a trip to Orlando can be expensive, especially if the vacationing parties plan to visit areas of high tourism. A family can take alternative measures by participating in some free activities that Orlando has to offer. Frugal customers can discover that Orlando has much more to offer than Disney World.

The following are some suggestions for free activities and for saving money on an Orlando trip:

Visit the Children’s Library

children_books_library_public_orlando_downtown
Families can always stop by the children’s library if they would like to take their children to partake in a free event. The Orlando children’s library has a wide variety of events in which children can participate. The library’s Kid Connect program has programs and events such as mascot games, crafts, gaming and other fun events. Parents can take their children to the library just to read books, as well, since it’s always a good idea to plan a chill out day in the middle of your holiday.

Stop at the Flea Market

The largest flea market in the United States is located near Orlando, Florida, and people refer to it as Flea World. Visitors can pick up a wide variety of inexpensive clothing, food and goods from more than 1,700 vendors.

There’s also the Winter Park farmer’s market if they want to experience more than one flea market. The Winter Park farmer’s market offers a haven for foodies, and families who want to eat well, despite being on holiday.

Walk Around in the Gardens

Harry-P-Leu-Gardens-22724

One of the best things about vacationing in Florida is that the state contains a great deal of beauty. Visitors can stop by the Harry P. Leu Gardens, which is a huge park that offers beauty as well as historical components. Access to the gardens is free, but the area is only open between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on the first Monday of every month of the year.

Visit Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park. July 1999.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is another place that a family can visit free if they visit during the month of September. The park provides free access to anyone who shows up with a library book – although it doesn’t say which library, so you could probably take your books from home too! The park offers a natural history museum as well as outdoor activities.

Additional Ways to Save Money on an Orlando Trip

Planning ahead can make travel more affordable too. Here are a few tips:

  • Use social media to see what’s hot and happening around where you’re going.
  • One thing that savvy travels do well, is to compare hotel rates in Orlando before planning the rest of their trip. Affordable hotels in Orlando all appear on comparison sites that will show a hotel’s prices as compared to other hotels in the area – and helpful reviews to help you make your decisions too. The Hipmunk site is an example of one website that provides a side-by-side comparison of hotels.
  • Another tip for saving money on an Orlando trip is to search for package deals, coupons and promotional codes. Promotional codes can offer discounts on rental cars and other accommodations, saving often hundreds on your travel. Credit cards and special membership cards may provide you with access to discounts too.
  • Start planning your trip to Orlando at least 60 days in advance to maximise the savings too,from your local trainfare to the airport, to your flights and accommodation.

This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a complete travel platform that allows you to do everything from comparing charter flights and train rides, to finding the best resort hotels and Airbnb rentals.*

Plan Your Stay Play Explore Adventure This Summer

A couple of months ago, my family and I were invited to visit Leicester on a Stay Play Explore overnight break, and as avid travellers and day trippers, we were more than happy to hop the ferry to the mainland and spend a night in Leicester. Now, Leicester may not be the first play you think of when you’re planning a mini break, but hopefully by the end of this post you see why you should.

What is Stay Play Explore?

Stay Play Explore is an amazing way to spend two to three days. Honestly, between you and me, I have no idea how anyone makes any money off this offer, because it’s such good value!Stay Play Explore Hotel

The premise is simple: book your Stay Play Explore Family Fun or Adventure holiday, and choose from three ‘activities’ that you can do during your two days in Leicester, as well as spending a night in a hotel with breakfast included in the price.

We opted to book a different hotel near Leicester the first night so that we could get a bright and early start to the first day of our Stay Play Explore Family Fun break.

Now, let’s start with the hotel. I know you’re thinking budget family hotel, right? You’re wrong. Our hotel was the beautiful Sketchley Grange Hotel complete with swimming pool, kiddies pool, jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. The room was exquisite. The view was beautiful. We’ve stayed in some nice hotels in our time, but I pretty much think this one took the cake. Booked independently this family room would have cost us £160 for the night according to the sign at reception.  Read a detailed review of the Sketchley Grange Hotel by clicking here.Stay Play Explore Stonehurst Farm

What does Stay Play Explore Family Fun include?

Aside from your bed & breakfast in a four star hotel, there are five activities you can choose from as part of the Family Fun package:

You can choose any three of these, so since we had two full days, we chose Conkers for a full day, the National Space Centre for a half day, and Stonehurst Family Farm for the other half day. You do not have to do all three activities in two days. Your tickets are valid for several months, and if you’re able to you can come back another time and use the one you haven’t yet on a different trip. Or you can choose to book an extra night’s accommodation and use the third on a third day.

We opted for the National Space Centre (read a full review here), Conkers (full review here) and Stonehurst Family Farm (full review here) and had two fantastic days out.Stay Play Explore National Space Centre

We worked out that for two adults and two children, the National Space Centre would have cost us £37 (£48 with two children over 5), Conkers would have cost us £32.95 (under 2’s are free) and Stonehurst Family Farm would have cost £18 (under 2’s are free). For our family of four with one under 5, the total for these three activities would have been £87.95 (£98.95 with two over 5).

(My partner and I are pretty certain we remember the price of the hotel being £160 a night for a family room, but looking on line right now rooms are available for as low as £79, with an additional £37.50 for breakfast.) Add the beautiful hotel with the evening swim, king sized bed and full breakfast in the conservatory and our total would have been (based on the website price) £204.45, (£215.45 with two over 5’s).

Stay Play Explore ConkersSo… how much does the Stay Play Explore Family Fun break cost as a package deal, for all the above? Three activities, the hotel and breakfast will set you back: £129. For our family with the activities we chose, we saved £75.45.

If we had opted to go to the zoo or the theme park instead of the animal farm, our savings would have been £108.03 or £119.96. Those are huge savings for a two/three day break!

TIP: One thing to note if you are booking this is that you must  print out the vouchers that will be emailed to you. We assumed that – like with the 100’s of other places we’ve been, the electronic voucher would be okay, but no, you have to print the voucher out THREE TIMES so that you have one for each attraction. Even the forestry venue, Conkers, insisted on printed vouchers, which we found rather ironic!

If you’re trying to find short breaks to fill up your summer, I cannot recommend Stay Play Explore Leicester enough. I know we’d love to go back for the Family Adventure package when my girls are a little older, and I’m just waiting for that first girly weekend occasion to come along so we can book on the Gourmet Taste package too!

*We enjoyed two beautiful days in Leicester in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Five Family Activities In San Diego

Creating a bucket list can be a lot of fun but actually going out and doing everything on your list is another level altogether.

San Diego has so much to offer and so many different activities and attractions to get through, you can create a bucket list all of its own. As you will find when you search for your hotel accommodation through a site like Hipmunk, San Diego is an ace tourist destination for families and you will find that there is never enough time to get through everything on your list, so here are some of the top suggestions to consider for anyone heading to San Diego this summer.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego ZooThis is probably the big daddy of all the visitor attractions on offer in San Diego and it is not hard to see why when you pay a visit to this world famous zoo. The ever-popular Pandas and Gram the Rhinoceros who paints with his lips are just two highlights in a day that is going to be packed full of adventure and discovery. A good way of getting around as much of the 107 acres as possible in a day is to get a ticket that allows you to ride on the guided bus tour and also take the Skyfari arial tram for a birds-eye view of the animals.

SeaWorld

San Diego SeaworldIf marine life is your thing then SeaWorld San Diego needs to be on your bucket list. SeaWorld has been designed to let visitors get up-close and as personal as possible with an amazing array of marine life, from dolphins and penguins to polar bears. The park also runs regular shows which includes the popular Shamu Rocks, featuring their famous resident killer whale. If all the marine life was not enough in itself, there are also a number of theme park rides that are included. Journey to Atlantis adds some adrenaline to the day as well as Manta, which is a high- speed coaster designed to emulate the journey of a Manta Ray, with plenty of twists and turns.

Legoland

san diego legolandGenerations have grown up playing with Lego toys. Legoland theme park brings everything to life with a stunning collection of creations made from those colorful bricks. If you have small children to entertain, Legoland is one of the best theme parks to visit as they will find rides just made for them that have age limits to keep the older ones away. Bigger kids are also catered for to a certain extent and there are all the amazing Lego creations to enjoy, but this is a day out for young families that will create some great memories.

Whale Watching

san diego whalesMany people would include whale watching on their bucket list and San Diego is the perfect place to tick that particular adventure off your own list. Between December and April every year, around 20,000 grey whales migrate from the Bering Sea to the lagoons of Baja California, and this makes from an awesome spectacle when you get yourself a ticket to see these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.

There’s a choice of whale watching excursions and the Birch Whale Watching trip is carried out with a marine expert from nearby Birch aquarium on hand, to give you some fascinating and educational insights into these whales and their migration habits.

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

san diego aircraft carrierSome boys never grow up and a visit to see this 970 foot-long aircraft carrier will not disappoint. The USS Midway regularly earns rave reviews and is considered to be one of the star attractions in San Diego. There is a lot more to see beside the big ship itself, with over 25 aircraft on display, all on board a navy ship that was the largest in the world between 1945 and 1955.

Start making your San Diego bucket list and then plan your journey with your family in order to share some unique and memorable experiences.

Evelyn Ramsey is a traveling English teacher. She enjoys posting her experiences on the web. Her articles can be found on many travel and vacation sites.

21 Reasons To Visit Ladram Bay Holiday Park

Last week my family and I had the amazing fortune of being in Ladram Bay, in Devon on England’s South Coast. I say amazing fortune because the weather was incredible. Our first two days there were shrouded in mist and the final four were beautiful sunshine, so we got to experience the best of both climates.

I had trepidations, heading off for a caravan holiday in a holiday park. I’ll be honest – I didn’t think it’s my kind of thing. To me a holiday involves a backpack and a passport, and maybe a youth hostel (I still think I’m 18, clearly), so I went ‘for the sake of the children’. Ladram Bay, however, can have me back any time. We had such a fantastic time, and here are our top 21 reasons why:

  1. The views are spectacularLadram Bay Views

    Ladram Bay ViewFrom the moment you enter the park and head down the hill, your breath is taken away. You enter the park at the top of a mountain, and it’s downhill all the way to the cliff edge, where there’s a wedge that leads to the sea. I think you’d have rotten luck to not have a single glimpse of the ocean from your caravan, as they’re all on a slope. We were in the front row, with a balcony and it was the most beautiful view to wake up to and have dinner to in the evening.  To one side you have high open fields, to the other a beautiful cliff face and in front the ocean. There’s nothing not to love.

  2. The facilities are brand new
    Ladram Bay Facilities

    They’ve had a huge renovation recently, so when I was chatting to regular visitors they were saying that some of the facilities, like the new mini golf area, weren’t even finished two weeks before our visit. The gym was still under construction during our visit, and they were extending the balcony on the restaurant so that more patrons can enjoy those amazing views I mentioned above.  The swimming pool is fantastic, clean and with a squishy ‘bladder’ that I’m sure helps insulate and keep it warm too. It’s the first holiday park heated pool I’ve been in that’s actually been warm enough to swim in, even in cold weather.

    The showers, sauna and steam room are almost spa-like in their appearance – you certainly don’t feel like you’re in a state run swimming pool. Add a dash of aroma therapy to the steam room or some sandalwood to the sauna and you’d think you were in a spa.

  3. The facilities include a pool and pool play area…

    There is so much to do. After previous visits to holiday parks, I’ve learnt to pack a craft box, some story books, a few DVD’s.  On this trip, in six days, we didn’t even open the Trunki. There wasn’t a gap where we had nothing to do – unless what we were doing was nothing, by choice. And we didn’t even get to do everything.

    The pool is almost Olympic sized with a bubble section on one side. It also has a brand new kids play area, with toppling water buckets, a water feature, spraying worm, slide for smalls and larger slides for kids of all ages, or just kids at heart.

  4. and a spa and a sauna…

    I’ve already mentioned this, but for tired and worn out parents, it’s worth a separate mention. There’s a sauna and a spa and they don’t allow children under 17 in them. Yayness. I still think they could add a few drops of essential oil and turn it into a spa experience, but it’s not billed as a spa, so fair enough.

  5. and an adventure play area, arcade area, soft play & mini golf….

    The adventure play area is something we meant to get to, but never quite made it to. There’s a pirate ship, a zip wire, swings and more. There were pretty much always children in that park! There’s a games arcade and a small soft play are and dinosaur themed mini golf too. I found the arcade a little pricey, but it’s not their fault I can’t stop once I’ve set my mind on a specific number of tickets!

  6. and a a full schedule of Start and Ozzie’s Crew Activities

    Start Activities Ladram Bay

    The highlight of ‘things to do’ at Ladram Bay, however is the activities. Between the paid for activities run by the Start Team (and by paid for, I mean around £3.50 an activity, not near £10 like a place we visited last year!) and the free activities run by Ozzie’s Crew (the Greencoats) there was never a shortage of something to do.

  7. The kids entertainment is excellent

    Ladram Bay Facilities

    The only way I can really describe the people running these activities is by saying that they were born for these jobs. They were so engaged with the children. They made you feel like you wanted to be there, they wanted you to be there and more importantly, they wanted to be there. They very quickly got to know the children’s names, and used them. They went above and beyond with entertaining the kids, even if we happened on a member of the teams on their lunch breaks.

    These guys (and girls) made our holiday! (Shout out to Greg, James, Lee, Dan & Ryan – my girls normally ‘don’t like boys’ and they loved you guys!)

  8. The accommodation is luxurious and comfortable

    8I can’t speak for all the caravans, but we were blown away by the one we were in. It had more storage space than our house does (I’m not kidding. We have no cupboards.) It is well stocked – I brought a sieve and funnel for my Kefir, but that’s not something most people take on holiday – with everything you need for self-catering, had a microwave, oven, stove and large fridge and freezer (again, more than we have at home!). There was even an airing cupboard (I know you’re imagining my house right now, but yup, we don’t have one of those at home right now either!)  Oh, then there’s plenty sofa space, and a fire place (my house is starting to sound positively grim now – it’s not really), and a balcony with outdoor seating. On and not one, but two toilets. The kids were stunned by this luxury!

    The beds were comfortable, the linen was cotton and pleasant, and the heating was really useful for the first two days once we figured it out.  There’s a reason my two year old wants to go back to the caravan instead of being at home! Oh and a decent sized TV with what I think was Freeview channels.

  9. There’s also a choice of accommodations

    Ladram Bay offers a choice of accommodations, so a large party can sleep in the luxury cabins, or a group of four can  have a budget caravan. You can have a caravan with or without a balcony, or with a jacuzzi on the balcony. Or a touring caravan pitch if that’s your thing. There’s a vast range of choice and related price options. You can use the facilities whether you’re there in a camper van for a night or a static van for six months.

  10. They offer great value last minute deals

    If you’re like me and like to do things on the fly, Ladram Bay’s website is a good one to check for last minute offers. The prices are really reasonable. Off peak they don’t have quite the same number of activities on (i.e Start activities are only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays off peak, if I recall, and the shop has shorter opening hours, but still completely acceptable!)

  11. Ladram Bay has a beach and a forest and a mountain

    I love the beach, but I don’t like lying on it in the sun, so for me having variety is a bonus. There’s a forest you can climb up the mountain to, there’s a mountain you can climb, and there is a beach. I think it’s wonderful having a variety of options so you can please everyone. I took the children rockpooling while my husband climbed the mountain – we were all happy!

  12. You can tick off some of your #50things
    18

    You know we love our National Trust #50things campaign, and on this trip we ticked off explore a cave, hold a scary beast, discover the creatures in a rockpool,  and build a raft and you could also do a few others, like canoe down a river except it would be the sea or if you’re small like mine, the pool.

  13. The staff are happy to be there

    I’ve said this before, but it really struck us: the staff are happy to be there. When I asked Ben, the Pebbles Restaurant manager if he thought that was true, he pointed at the view and said ‘How could we not love working here!’

    I asked a few of the staff what made working there good, and they all said the management really look after them. For example, when they designed the kitchen they specifically opened it up so that the chefs could still enjoy the view rather than being stuck in a windowless box all day. I think that’s awesome.

  14. Ladram Bay StaffThe staff are really attentive

    I’ve mentioned how good they are with the children before, but I was really struck by how good they were in looking after everyone. Even if there were just the three of us in the pool, there were three life guards on duty – and they all seem to rotate position every 15 minutes or so to keep fresh, I suppose. When the pool was really full and the sauna and steam room were being over run by a group of about 20 15 year old boys, it didn’t take long for one of the life guards to stick his head in and make sure all the under 17’s were out quickly. No one is left to run riot, so the holiday isn’t ruined for everyone. I love that.

  15. You can eat decent food on site

    We’ve all bought over priced, terrible food. We accept stale chips, dry burgers and limp lettuce as part of holiday park food. You don’t get that here. We didn’t eat from the take away, but we did visit Pebbles Restaurant twice – read the full review here – and the food was amazing. The children’s options were what I would call standard, and not overly exciting, but the rest of the menu is fantastic. I had the most amazing, locally sourced rib eye steak with melt in your mouth dauphinoise potatoes. It was incredible. And that’s just one of the meals. If we were in the area and not at Ladram Bay, I’d still drop in for a meal!

  16. You can do all your grocery shopping on site

    There’s a little shop on site that stocks pretty much everything you need, though we found the selection of nappies to be on the slim side. There was everything else though, especially if you’re camping and find yourself short of anything. There’s a fab range of food stuff, and fresh food, as well as freshly baked pastries and while they could charge whatever they want, really, we didn’t find the prices to be over the top – it certainly wasn’t worth driving the 15 minutes to Exmouth instead.

    You can also send and receive mail from the Reception if you need to.

  17. There’s limited internet

    There’s communal internet in the Waves Bar, but that was down for two days. There’s also an option to pay for wifi in your caravan. At £20 for one week, it isn’t ‘cheap’ and it didn’t always work well. Vodafone doesn’t get signal all the time, but EE was fine for syncing my laptop to a phone internet. My advice: unless you’re like me and have to work even on holiday, embrace it. Leave the phone and enjoy the time with your family. Forget about the internet. Just spend time.

  18. The whole family is catered for

    We’re a man, woman and two girls under 10 so maybe we’re not the widest demographic to judge by, but I think every age, size, preference, is catered for. There wasn’t a thing lacking the whole week and not once did we think “oh, I wish we could… “

  19. You manage your budget

    19

    One ice cream or one a day, restaurant dinner once or daily, activities once or daily, it’s all up to you. You don’t have to spend more money than you would do at home. Between the beach, pool, soft play, adventure play ground and taking your own bat and ball onto the lawn area, you don’t have to spend money. It’s not like you’re being milked dry at every corner.

    Cook in the caravan, eat at the restaurant, grab a takeaway, it’s up to you.

    Pay for activities, do the free activities, your call.

    You spend what you can afford and you’re unlikely to feel too left out if you don’t do everything

  20. It’s a family owned site

    The site is family owned, and has been for 70 years. They have an allocation of Hoseasons caravans which allows them to ‘compete’ for awards, but for the rest Ladram Bay is family owned and run, and you can feel it. While it has all the hallmarks of a UK caravan holiday site, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a corporate machine.

  21. There’s plenty to do off site

    If you want to leave the site, there’s so much to do in the area. From a historic fishing village called Beer to a fun family day out at World of Country Living you could not spend a single day on site, but that would be a waste – and that’s huge for me to say. Normally I’m all about getting out and exploring, but we had so much fun and were so busy, and yet so relaxed at Ladram Bay we didn’t even want to go off site and even extended our holiday for an extra day – both brand new experiences for us!

To be fair and balanced, I should add a negative, so one thing I would like to see more of is a focus on local food in the shop. The owners of the site also own a butchery, I think, so having a ‘Devon Local Food’ section would be nice. The fresh meat in the shop is delicious, but it could be from anywhere. You can buy local chutney, jam and mustard in the shop too, but again some local produce and local specialities (cheese, for example) would be nice for foodies like me. It would probably just require a change in marketing, rather than produce!

So those are our reasons to visit Ladram Bay. We hope to be back again soon and would love to see you there!

We were given four nights at Ladram Bay for review. Thoughts and opinions were entirely our own. 

Next Stop: Tenerife?

We’re just home from a week on the Jurassic Coast line of Devon – I haven’t even unpacked all our bags yet – and here I am browsing the internet for our next holiday. I don’t know about you, but knowing there’s a trip to somewhere new in my future pretty much changes my outlook on everything. Hanging up laundry seems less tedious, hoovering the floors is exercise for that *cough* bikini body *cough*, whatever it is, knowing there’s a trip on the horizon just makes everything brighter.

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This year we’ve swum in the Indian Ocean, and the North Atlantic Ocean and since the Southern Hemisphere is a bit far for a second visit in one year, I’m turning my attention to a beloved holiday hot spot for UK holiday makers: Tenerife.

Now, I’ve never been to that part of Spain, which is all the more reason to go – especially since it has such a distinctive ‘top half’ and ‘bottom half’ split, where we can disappear into natural beauty, and still never be far from activity, fun and entertainment.

On our recent week away we only went onto the beach once because it was a pebble beach, which is just something I can’t get used to, and don’t particularly love, so I think the sandy beaches of Tenerife look rather perfect too.

Of course where you are and where you’re staying are only part of what make a perfect holiday perfect, so I’m quite drawn to the range of things to do in Tenerife too – from an aquarium to waterparks and shows, there’s something for everyone, really!

I’ve been spoiled this year with two beach holidays already, so I guess it’s a bit cheeky to be dreaming of a third, but like I said – the thought of spreading my wings and needing a passport colours the normal days.

So tell me, where will you be jetting off to this summer?

Four Tips For Planning A Group Holiday

For most of us, planning a holiday is very much a matter of wanting the best of something – be it luxury, comfort, experience, excitement or relaxation – that our money can afford us. For that week or two, we want to believe that we are kings of the world, with no problems that weigh us down, or limits that hold us back. That is, after all, why we’re going on holiday – to escape our every day, and enjoy something a little different.

When you’re travelling as a group – if that’s a family of four or a club of 100 – there are some things to keep in mind:

Capture

Know what you want from your trip

When you’re planning your holiday, it’s important to first establish what you want from it. It’s no good looking forward to a backpacking holiday where you get to experience the local environment and explore something new and end up stuck in a resort where everyone just wants to lie by the pool. On the flip side, you don’t want to get home worn out from being dragged from museum to museum when all you wanted was to be pampered in the spa. What one person wants from the holiday may not be the same as the next, so arrange ‘group’ activities, and allow for free time.

Make sure there’s something for everyone in your party

An action adventure holiday may not be as fun for a mum with a new born as it will be for the rest of the group. Or for someone with a heart condition. If they have to sit on the side lines the whole trip, it won’t be much fun for them, or anyone else worrying about them.

Choose a resort like Delphin Palace in Turkey that caters for both the sightseers and the pool-lyers, the watersports enthusiasts and pamper party, the adventurous eaters and the simple palettes.

Prearrange your eating and dining plans

If you’re staying somewhere self catering, pack the basics like salt, herb pots and olive oil – having to buy it all fresh when you arrive at your destination is expensive, especially when you already have it all at home! Know if you have to pack your own dishwashing liquid and toilet paper so you don’t have to rush out to the resort shop to top up on those essentials. Know what’s available where you’re staying and if one or two people are going to be responsible for cooking for everyone, make sure everyone pitches in with the cleaning – no one goes on holiday to be everyone else’s servant!

When in Rome…

Capture2Or anywhere else, really, learn a bit about where you are. I’m not saying write an exam at the end of your stay, but learn something about where you are. What’s the local cuisine like? Is there a special dish known to the area? Is the architecture different to everywhere else. Expand your view of the world a little at a time.

Or go the whole hog, like the traditional Turkish Hotel Delphin Diva and really live yourself into the experience. You’re only there for a little while, you may as well make the most of it!

Understand that everyone is different though, and if there’s something you really want to do, and others don’t, utilise some of that individual time I mentioned above!

Away In My Airplane – A Book To Prepare For Travel

This week we read Away In My Airplane a sweet little book about a boy who takes his airplane out for a spin through the rain, through the sunshine up and down. It’s a journey of imagination and the repetition of the phrases and concepts of ‘through the rain’ and ‘through the sun’ make the book almost rhyme like.

Written by Margaret Wise Brown, and illustrated by Sir Fisher Henry, the illustrations in Away in My Airplane are beautiful, bold, deep and striking. I love full page, bright colours in children’s books, and I think – for me – this book does it just right.

away in my airplane

As I said, there’s a lot of repetition, which makes it nice for children. Nursery rhyme like. It’s nice.

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Each page has sun and rain/night and day/light and dark.

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It’s the perfect book for kids preparing for a long haul flight, specially as you can draw parallels to the upside down time zones, and flying through the clouds, above the clouds, shortened or lengthened days.

The only negative from this book, in my opinion, is the font – it makes it quite hard to read upside down, which I often end up doing with two children who both want to sit in front of the book!

Away In My Airplane is available at Amazon UK, Amazon US and The Book Depository, which offers world wide free delivery.

I like doing a craft activity with the children when we’ve read a new book – it gives us time to discuss the themes in the book, and it gives us time to mull over a story, rather than just move on to the next thing.  For this activity I Googled a template for how to fold a paper plane, which the girls then took time decorating with stickers and paints before we took them outside to see how far and high they could fly. 640px-Paper_Airplane

Between you and me this was an interesting lesson in following instructions too: I had two pieces of paper, and followed the same instructions, and yet the planes came out different! Neither flew particularly well either, between you and me, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. They laughed and played and had fun. It was great, really.

Airplanes

*We received this book as part of the Paragon Book Buddies programme. Thoughts and opinions are my own.