2020 brought with it a significant number of challenges, seen across a number of sectors – with hospitality and travel being among those industries that were hit particularly hard. The restrictions on these areas have been significant, and experts warn that while the vaccine roll-out and plans for moving out of lockdowns are underway, a complete recovery of these industries could take up to four years – particularly if we’re talking about reaching pre-pandemic levels.
One thing that has come out of this, though, is the rise in people turning to the great British shores for their break from reality, instead of flocking to the nearest airport by default. Towards the end of the first lockdown, UK travel bookings experienced a significant boom. And this surge in staycations is likely to remain a more permanent fixture than many had initially imagined, particularly as overseas travel continues to remain unpredictable.
Manny from The Wandering Mother agreed, saying: “Since the first lockdown we have focused on travelling within the UK. It’s something we’ve always done, but definitely not as often. We are also a big fan of glamping and there’s so many wonderful places to visit in the UK. This year, we’ll be glamping near Wales.”
Once again, people are longing to escape the boredom of lockdowns and get out of their homes which, for many, have become multi-functional places to live, work, and learn over the past year and a bit. No wonder the walls are starting to feel like they’re closing in a little!
Whether your coming from Richmond or Runcorn, Greenwich is a major tourism town that sees thousands of people paving its streets every year. This year has seen a rise in tourism again and with lockdown officially behind us all, the streets of Greenwich are starting to fill up.
I originally published this post in August 2020 but have revised it again to keep it current with this year’s events. Spending a day trip visiting Greenwich during the summer holidays can be easy, cheap and very enjoyable for the whole family. Train companies usually offer GroupSave discounts when travelling during summer holidays if you’re coming from outside of London.
If you’d seen my post a couple weeks ago, I was so happy to announce that I was able to book us for a short two-night staycation. Last week, we stayed at the Kits Coty Glamping site in Aylesford, Kent. I booked this family trip for us during the summer holidays and it was the only set of dates that were free to book in Gretel House at the time of searching.
How to travel to the Kits Coty Glamping site
The glamping site is in Aylesford which is near to Maidstone in Kent. It’s about a 50 minute train ride from Greenwich however we decided to get a minicab to take us which was about 30-40mins journey in the car. Train tickets are about £15-20 per adult (book in advance for cheaper return tickets or two single tickets) then you’d need to either get a bus or minicab from the Maidstone station to the glamping site. On the way there we did get stuck in a bit of slow-moving traffic as it was approaching rush hour when we left. Check-in at Kits Coty is after 3pm which was perfect because it meant that the kids didn’t have to miss school on arrival day.
If you have your own car and want to drive to the site you can do, Gretel House has its own car park area and the other accommodation have a shared car park area. For driving directions, make sure you read the details in the Kits Coty guestbook which you can bookmark on your phone.
Arrival day at Kits Coty
Once we arrived, we were greeted by the super-friendly Ami who owns the site with her husband Mark. She told us that we were lucky enough to have the site all to ourselves as it was a school weekday so no-one else was booked to stay at any of the other accommodations. Yay! I was super thrilled as it’s usually rare to have a site like this all to ourselves but it did make everything a little easier for us and the kids, especially considering all things COVID. Ami showed us around and to our accommodation which we fell in love with seeing immediately. It looked even more beautiful and magical in person. Little Man said to Ami “Wow! It’s even better than in the pictures!” and boy was he right. 🙂
Kits Coty – Gretel House
Inside Gretel House
Whimsical bunk beds for the kids
Gretel House is a wooden cabin (I believe it’s cedarwood) and is ideal for small families with two adults and two children. It could probably fit a cot-bed or crib in the house too but do check with the owners if this is allowed. The charming sized bed for me and Daddy P looked so romantic with the flower wall behind the bed. The whimsical wooden built-in bunk beds for the kids were as cute as ever. The beds were super comfy and so warm we never got cold at all. There’s also a radiator in the room but we hardly needed to turn it on.
Gretel benefits from having its own eco toilets (a urinal and a sit down toilet) but it’s only for those emergency wees. It did come in handy for us as the kids needed to wee (what felt like) almost every hour or two.
We unpacked our small suitcase and bags as fast as we could before exploring the grounds. The glamping site has a magical fairytale theme – we spotted the White Rabbit’s hole (Alice in Wonderland) as well as the Cheshire Cat.
What and where to eat during your stay…
If you’ve brought your own food or are able to drive to the nearby supermarkets, you can keep all of your perishable foods in the communal fridge and freezer. We only brought dry cupboard foods with us so we kept that in our cabin and ordered takeaway for the two nights. The first night we ordered the local Chinese takeaway which was tasty and affordable. The second and last night, we ordered Dominos which arrived fast and tasted good like usual. If you have a car you may be able to drive out to eat out but as we don’t drive we were bound to the glamping grounds.
If you plan to make all your own meals, there are gas cooking rings available by the kitchen for you to take back to your accommodation and use. If you didn’t book any meals before you can still do so on site but be aware that Ami and/or Mark require 24hrs notice to prepare your booked breakfast/evening meals.
Things to do at Kits Coty Glamping:
make a fire and toast marshmallows
have a little barbeque or picnic in your own garden
book a stone-oven pizza making experience
go on one of the nature walks around the estate to see the animals, the woods, the Kits Coty stones, and Kits Coty House
tie a ribbon onto the Wishing Tree and make a wish (bring your own ribbon!)
We thoroughly enjoyed our nature walks in the woods. It was so relaxing and therapeutic – like the perfect escape away from all the hustle and bustle of city life, away from the stresses of COVID and lockdown, and it was the family time we were craving for to strengthen our family bond.
Our Best Bits at Kits Coty…
My favourite part of our staycation were the nature walks and toasting marshmallows in the fire pit. Luckily, Daddy P knew exactly how to build a campfire so we didn’t have to figure it out. The wood logs are provided for by the site but you’ll need to bring your own firelights or buy them from Kits Coty which only cost 50p so it was not a massive investment. Our fire was burning for a couple hours and the crackling of the fire burning was a lovely soothing sound. The warmth of the fire kept us nice and toasty.
The kids loved the whole experience but said they really enjoyed relaxing in the hammocks and sleeping in their Gretel bunk beds. They also enjoyed the nature walks and seeing Daddy P climb up a tree in the woods! LOL
So do I recommend Kits Coty for first-time glampers?
100% I do! We had the best family experience glamping and I am so thrilled that we got to do it at Kits Coty. Years ago, I’d taken the kids camping at a family festival however after that experience, I’ve realised that I love glamping soooooooooo much more. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed being with nature and the outdoors but I also love my creature comforts just as much. I need a warm bed, hot showers and flushable toilets no matter where I go haha! I just can’t do with being fully immersed in nature just yet – especially when I can’t stand creepy crawlies so if you’re squeamish or not a fan of bugs, crawlies and anything else that has several legs or eyes, you might not be a massive fan of glamping. Our Gretel cabin wasn’t 100% bug free but that’s to be expected when you’re outdoors. We had a couple spiders in the cabin but quite a few daddy long legs flying about at night which scared the children. I reassured the kids that they don’t bite and eventually, they were able to get over it and had a good night’s sleep.
We will definitely be coming back to glamp again at Kits Coty next summer if we don’t go abroad. The site was amazing and I have no doubt that during the holiday season, this place will be fully booked. I was super chuffed that we had the site all to ourselves because if there were other families around, some things may have been very different ie. we might’ve had to queue to use the kitchen, toilet or shower, we would’ve been trying to manage bathroom timings so we don’t take too long in the communal areas and other things.
We’re looking forward to our next family travel adventures!
The kids will be going back to school on Monday and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Part of me is thrilled that they are going back, seeing their friends and finally get back to learning but there is another part of me that is anxious about how it’ll work in terms of social distancing, whether there will be another lockdown and just general hygiene safety measures.
As much as I’d like to think that the kids’ learning will pick up and resume like they’d never left but I’d be dreaming. Personally I think that the whole of September will most likely be at a slower rate as schools ensure all children are at the same level of learning before the ‘real learning’ can commence again.
With that said, I’ve made a conscious decision to book a little two nights trip away at Kits Coty Glamping for our family of four. We’re due to check-in on Tuesday afternoon so the kids will be going to school in the morning and we’ll head down to the site by late afternoon in time for dinner. We’re checking out Thursday morning so my plan is to either leave early enough to make it back for school (Aylesford, Kent is a 40mins drive from our home) OR we’ll check-out before 10am and spend the rest of the day visiting museums for educational visits and other learning activities.
Who are Kits Coty Glamping?
Ran by Mark and Ami, Kits Coty Glamping is a serene family-run glamping site in Aylesford, Kent. They couple encourage other couples and families to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy, everyday lives and relax in their peaceful accommodation and surroundings.
Embracing the noise of nature is promoted (no amplified or live music, no shouting and screaming, loud talking etc) which is wonderful but our family is naturally a little on the loud side so I’m not sure how it’ll pan out but keep your fingers crossed for us and for the other families staying at the other houses nearby. Hopefully the kids will be able to exert some self-control!
Where we will be staying…
The Gretel House
This charming, little rustic cabin will be our home for two nights in a couple of weeks. The cosy cabin can house up to two adults and two children which is perfect for us.
The Gretel house has been fabulously kitted out by Kits Coty and the kids are super excited to sleep in the cosy little bunk beds which are nestled into the wooden walls. Take a tour of the cabin on the company’s website.
Gretel is our enchanted woodland themed cabin perfect for families with small children and couples alike.
– KITS COTY GLAMPING
The Gretel cabin is the smallest out of all the accommodations offered here. The largest accommodation houses up to six people and there are shared bathroom facilities (with hot running water) onsite. There are also shared toilets however on the Kits Coty website, it states that the Gretel cabin has its own toilet, I hope this is correct as that’ll really help if Little Miss needs the loo at night time.
I’ll write a little review on our staycation once we get back and let you know all about it… whether we were quiet enough or not! :-S From first impressions, we are really looking forward to it as it looks fab. Let’s hope it’s not as cold as when we went camping a few years back…
The beautiful village of Megève in the French Alps is set to hold the inaugural edition of L’Essentiel later this summer, with the three-day wellness festival already creating a buzz amongst seasoned yoga enthusiasts and those new to the ancient discipline. The brainchild of respected yoga teacher Katy Mission, the programme is being organised by Megève Tourism in collaboration with Satiam™ Yoga and will comprise 17 workshops and experiences spanning the themes of yoga, nutrition, cooking, meditation, and aromatherapy.
Set to take place September 11-13th 2020, the festival will showcase the discipline of Satiam Yoga, which was devised by Katy and is a practice centred on breathing and posture exercises. Katy, who is the founder of the popular Satiam Academy, works as a ski instructor in Megève during the winter months and is on a mission to bring the benefits of her discipline to the mountains this summer. Satiam, which combines the Sanskrit word for ‘sit’ and the English words ‘I am’, enables those taking part to improve their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Against the backdrop of recent global events, the festival is taking place with a view to helping attendees relax and rejuvenate after, what has been for many, a uniquely challenging time. Drawing on the peacefulness, tranquillity and serenity of the summer mountains, visitors will have the opportunity to get back to nature by taking part in a variety of enriching activities. They include a specially curated well-being breakfast prepared by the plant-based chef duo Wild Seeds, a class with Aria and Gus exploring the virtues of ‘Warrior Flow’ yoga, and an energising yoga dance session with the body movement specialist Angélique Favre.
L’Essentiel will be hosted at Megeve’s Le Palais, the largest leisure complex in the Alps. The centre, which features a vast array of superb facilities including Turkish baths, a year-round ice rink and a state-of-the-art spa, will welcome health-conscious yoga lovers from all over France and beyond, for what is set to be a fun and informative weekend for both experts and novices alike.
At the event, where tickets are priced between €20 and €55, festival goers will also have the opportunity to shop for yoga clothing and accessories, as well as for bespoke and ethically made jewellery. In addition, vegan food and drink will be available throughout, and for those wishing to celebrate, an array of organic wines will be on offer.
L’Essentiel is the latest event to cement Megeve’s position as the leading centre for wellness holidays in the region. With yoga retreats and superb spa facilities, the village is the perfect destination for anyone wanting to simply unwind and relax. Beyond the festival, visitors can also choose to get active with a huge range of hiking, biking, climbing, and fishing excursions on offer at this time of year, or opt to play tennis or a round of golf on a world-class course. Visitors can also reconnect with nature through an array of transformative experiences, think horse-back rides to the summit of Mont d’Arbois to admire the spectacular sunset, or taking to the skies over the Alps in a light-aircraft. For more details about L’Essentiel and for ticket information visit the festival website: http://www.satiamfestival.com (website is in French, use Google Translate)
The sound of jazz will return to Megève
Sadly, Megève’s renowned International Jazz Festival was cancelled this year, but organisers are excited to announce that the event will return 2-4 April 2021, when hundreds of artists will descend on the village for the fifth edition of the much-loved event. The sounds of New Orleans will come to Megève with performances set to take place in the streets and at lively venues throughout the village, with the higher profile concerts held at the impressive Le Palais night club. The festival will showcase an eclectic range of performances from domestic and international artists, with past headliners having included Gregory Porter, Marcus Miller and Norah Jones, with the 2021 line-up being much anticipated.
Megève International Jazz Festival
Go There: Megève is only one hour from Geneva Airport, which benefits from direct, low-cost flight access from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds. Return flights from London Gatwick to Geneva with EasyJet are priced from £43pp.
For more about Megève please visit: https://megeve.com (images copyright of Commune de Megève)
Set in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, Megève is a stunning traditional winter sports and summer village that has been popular with artists, intellectuals and holidaymakers for more than a century. The traffic-free, cobbled medieval centre features an abundance of artisan shops, galleries, and a beautiful array of four-and-five-star hotels, as well as no less than four Michelin-starred restaurants. But Megève is also becoming increasingly popular with British holidaymakers seeking a charming getaway on the slopes or in the summer mountains without the price tag, thanks to a growing number of chic and affordable accommodation and dining options.
This guest post was written by Tim, Heaven Publicity
We are now back from our short trip Paris and Disneyland Paris. It was an amazing experience but looking back it, it did feel a little chaotic. We rarely stay or visit anywhere expensive because (1) we just can’t afford it and (2) we don’t want to travel anywhere too far because we want to be mindful of other passengers on the plane. The kids are very active and I don’t think the other passengers will be thrilled with us on a long-haul flight, no matter how much we could try to bribe them with on-board treats.
How to visit Disneyland Paris on a shoestring budget
Before our trip, I googled Disney Paris on a budget but it seems like the word budget is not all it seems. There’s different types of ‘budget’ – I always thought budget meant as cheap as possible but apparently not.
We are not a family with disposable income so we really do have to save for months on end and make sure our money goes far when organising the kids’ birthdays. This year we splashed out and booked two nights in Paris and a day’s visit to Disneyland Paris. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and it was a first-time experience for all of us so that made it even more special.
If you’re like us and want to visit Disneyland Paris but only have a tiny budget, this post might be a little eye-opener for you. Make sure you do your own research too so you can really make the most of your family trip. There’s a few things we had to cut out of our plans due to the awkward weather when we went and lack of time.
…Let’s get started!
Book park tickets far in advance
Booking your park tickets in advance will save you a lot of money. If you do plan to visit the park more than once in the year, an annual pass might be worth a considering. However if you can’t afford the annual pass or unsure that you’ll visit again in the year, just buy the day tickets. Admissions during the holiday periods are much more expensive than term-time visits so keep that in mind too. If you have a young child or children in nursery, you can really make the most of those off-peak tickets by going term-time. We went during summer holidays so we had to buy SUPER MAGIC (super-peak) period tickets so we didn’t get a hold of cheap tickets.
One day/one park tickets for 2 adults, 2 children = £281 Total spent: £281
Shop around for deals. We booked our tickets directly on the DLP website but there are many online websites that offer Disneyland ticket deals. For example, after booking ours I found tickets for one day park, hotel and Eurostar tickets for £99 per person.
Save ££: if you don’t have a specific date in mind, search on travel deal sites for the best deals. Usually you can get a good deal on Travelzoo for park tickets, flights and accommodation. Yay!
Top Tip: Go during term-time for the cheapest tickets. If you can’t help going during the more expensive period, look for package deals on sites like 365 Tickets which offers theme park ticket + accommodation and travel deals.
Travel by Eurostar from London for cost & convenience
I personally think the cheapest and fastest way to travel to Paris is by plane (40mins flight!) however the hassle of going to the airport, passing through the long queues at security and customs can sometimes be a bit too much especially with children in tow. The experience via Eurostar is much more convenient and can be cost effective if you book far in advance or when they have their promos (£29pp single).
Our train departed from London St. Pancras at 6.01pm and arrived in Paris at 9.35pm local time so about 2.5hrs journey ride which is not bad. The children were a little restless by the end of the train ride but did good enough to stay seated. Children under 3 do not need a ticket as they can sit on your lap however if the train is empty you can be cheeky and place them on a sit next to you if no-one takes the seat.
Eurostar staff are incredibly courteous and staff speak both French and English fluently. You can pay by card or cash (euros or pounds) at the refreshments cafe on board. There’s a toilet on every coach, air conditioning throughout the train and free WIFI access on board.
Eurostar tickets based on 2 adults and 1 child (under 3s go free) = £153
Total spent: £153
Save ££: purchase your tickets when Eurostar are having promotions, you could bag a single ticket as cheap as £29 per person and under 3s are free. It’s usually cheaper to purchase two single tickets than a return ticket when there’s promotions.
Top Tip: Download a few movies or shows for the kids onto a tablet or device beforehand and bring some books, activity packs to keep them entertained for the journey. That way you can minimise any tantrums or tears.
Don’t head into the first cafe/restaurant you see on arrival
We were hungry when we got off and wanted to eat before heading to the hotel so we stopped off at a restaurant opposite the station. Big mistake. I already knew in the back of my mind it would be a bad idea but I couldn’t bring myself to take us to McDonalds but in hindsight, I wish I had.
At the restaurant we ordered, one margherita pizza, one salmon dish, one lamb confit, two glasses of orange juice and a hot chocolate. The bill came to 60 EUROS – I was NOT impressed! I would suggest bringing more snacks with you on the Eurostar or eat before you get on the train at St. Pancras. Alternatively, opt for cheap eats or supermarket ready-foods.
Expensive crappy food = 60 EUR
Total Spent: £54 (approx.)
Pick a hotel close to amenities
We stayed at the Renaissace La Defense in the finance district of Paris. An urbanised area complete with its own shopping centre, restaurants, metro, train and bus station. It’s very easy to get around via public transport but man, it’s a different story via taxi. None of our taxi drivers were familiar with the area as it’s not really visited by locals and one driver even said to us “c’est compliqué” when trying to find the location. All of the hotels in the area are built up a level above street level so when you arrive by car you’ll need to head upstairs onto the upper level to get access to the hotels and shops.
On our arrival night we weren’t aware and walked through what felt like a labyrinth to find our hotel. Lucky our driver spoke English and Daddy P spoke French so communication was good. I’m sure if I was alone, I wouldn’t have been able to find my way around at night. Once we arrived at the hotel, we felt much better. The hotel was stunning; the staircase was beautiful and the reception area was clean and bright. For the price that we paid, we could’ve gotten a hotel room closer to the city ie by the Eiffel Tower. In hindsight, I would definitely compromise on a beautiful hotel for a closer proximity to the city centre.
Renaissance La Defense hotel was close to restaurants, supermarkets and retail stores. The metro station was within walking distance and the area looked really modernised and spacious. We didn’t have enough time to visit all the shops but had a look around the mall. There were a mix of known retail stores H&M, Zara and also a few French brands which was really nice.
Hotel stay for two nights in a family room = £189 Uber ride on arrival night = £30 Total spent: £219
Save ££: Have a look on Booking.com for hotel deals or if you prefer more privacy, check out Airbnb.com for great one or two bedroom apartments you can rent in Paris. Sometimes you’d get a better deal on these than the hotels. You can save more money by shopping at the local supermarkets to make home-cooked meals instead of eating out.
Top Tip: stay central if you want to visit the main landmarks or see more of the city. The further out into the suburbs you go, the more time you will spend travelling and you’ll also spend more on travelling costs buying train tickets.
Get the train to Disneyland but check for scheduled closures
After a good night’s sleep we woke up around 9am to leave the hotel around 11am. We went to buy snacks and food at the local Monoprix before heading to Disneyland Paris. Unfortunately for us, there was no direct RER train to DLP in Paris due to train engineering works which was going on all day from August 10-18. This was something we didn’t know about until we got there so make sure you check the train schedules online a few days before leaving so you can plan your route effectively. Using the Metro and RER trains were very easy and buying a ticket was also very easy. Ticket machines are available at metro station and offer different languages so you don’t have to work it out in French. Our RER ticket cost us €30.00 one way (2 adults, 2 children) which covered our journey for zones 1-3. I’d definitely recommend travelling to Disneyland via train – it takes around 1-1.5hr normally and is the cheapest option compared to taxi, Uber or coach. If you rented/hired or brought your own care to Paris, driving is another option but be aware it’s about 26 euros to park your car at the resort’s car park.
We started our journey at 12.00 and got to Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland’s station) at 2pm. This is because part of our journey (from Auber to Vincennes) required us to exit the metro, walk 10mins to the next station (chateaux de vincennes) to resume our journey. During that walk we stopped off at a McDonalds for lunch. Children’s Happy Meals in Paris are great; the kids got a nugget happy meal each and it came with the toy, 4 nuggets, small chips, apple juice and a strawberry yoghurt drink. Amazing. Parisian Happy Meals are way better value than our UK ones and offer more of a balanced diet.
Train tickets for 2 adults, 2 children = 60EUR (30EUR one way)
2 kids happy meals, large drink and chips at McDonalds = 12EUR Total spent: 72 EUR (£65 approx.)
Save ££: Catch the train for the cheapest route to travel from Paris. Alternative would be to take the car or use a taxi but this can be costly as the resort is very far from the city centre.
Top Tip: Check scheduled train closures days before your arrival so you can plan your route in advance. Leave for DLP early especially if you want to go on lots of rides because queues everywhere were long!
Be prepared for long queues and the ‘fast pass’ ticket isn’t that fast!
The main park was spectacular but man, the crowds! Soooo many people! I wasn’t prepared mentally for how busy it was going to be. I should’ve known better as we arrived in the afternoon – it was a bad move on my part but okay for our first experience.
We ended up going on about 3-4 rides in total but for us, it wasn’t a bad thing. The kids enjoyed their overall experience so much that they weren’t concerned on how many rides they went on. Originally, we wanted to arrive at the park as early as 10am but I am so glad we decided on a later afternoon time. For us, with our younger children, it worked. If you have older children, they will want to queue up for as many rides as possible so do arrive early.
With our entry ticket, we were given ‘fast pass’ access – I think Disneyland will continue to offer this for a while. Simply head over to the rides that are available with the fast pass (you can find out on the resort map which ones are) and print out your advance tickets. Unfortunately, you can’t select specific times but the tickets will allow you to skip the queue when it comes to the time for you to go on the ride. We printed out our Buzz Lightyear laser blast tickets at 2.30pm but was given fast pass for 7.30pm! We didn’t mind but that will give you an idea of the timings that’s given because of the number of people.
Save ££: Bring food, snacks, drinks and water with you to save on food costs. If you have younger children it’s not too bad but if you have big eaters or older children they will get very hungry and want to eat/snack constantly so stock up on these things by heading to a local Lidl, Auchan, Carrefour or Monoprix supermarket before entering the park. You’ll also save time queuing for food at the park’s restaurants.
Top Tip: If you’re not staying at the parks, travel to the park via train – it’s cheap and easy. The station is right outside the entrance and it’s hassle-free. Another tip, if you have young children, bring a stroller! Your feet, legs and sanity will thank you for it later.
I was extremely close to not bringing our stroller but a friend of mine who went a week before said don’t even think about not bringing one. The park is large and little legs will tire fast. Also they’re bound to fall asleep at least once during the day (Little Miss did!). You’ll also save around 30 euros by not hiring one from the resort.
We queued up for a mini boat cruise in Fantasyland which was enjoyable and relaxing once we got on the ride. The queue was about 30-40mins which was pretty long for one ride – some of the other rides had even longer wait times. The longest wait time I noticed was 90mins – my advice would be to check out the rides you want to go on online ahead of the visit. Anticipate long queues and wait times so plan to go on about 4-8 rides if you are there for a day visit. It’s impossible to complete the park in one day no matter what season you go.
After we finished our boat cruise, we went to check out Sleeping Beauty’s castle and the sleeping dragon underneath the castle. The boys went on the Pirate tree house and Phantom Manor ride whilst Little Miss and I went over to the town square to watch the street parade at 5.30pm which was fantastic. If you’re not going to be able to see all the Disney characters or only have a day ticket like we did, I’d highly recommend watching the street parade – it is one of the best things you can do and you can easily get a good spot and you will be able to see all the Disney characters in one sitting. The parade is approx. 30 mins so perfect length for the kids. Donald and Daisy duck, Mickey and Minnie mouse, all the princesses, the Lion King characters, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and friends, Anna and Elsa from Frozen were all characters we spotted on the parade!
Character Meets: Mickey Mouse
This was the only character meet that we queued for. We tried to look for Toy Story’s Jessie and friends in the Western World part of the park but we were too late. At the Princess Pavilion, it was Rapunzel from Tangled that we could see in the afternoon but the queue for her was even longer so Daddy P and I made the decision to go and see Mickey as we thought both of the kids will enjoy it more. We weren’t disappointed.
Even though the wait was 1.5-2hrs long and we even missed our fast pass entry for Buzz Lightyear’s laser blast ride, it was SO WORTH IT! The kids were kept entertained in Mickey’s theatre with short movie clips that were on a loop. I loved the concept they developed for it – like it was a special backstage meet with Mickey. Just before it was out turn to see Mickey, one of the animation team saw Little Man’s tshirt and noticed it was his birthday – they made a quick call and was able to get Mickey Mouse on the phone to him before our meet! Little Man said Mickey wished him Happy Birthday and just seeing his face lit up was an unforgettable moment.
We took our photos with Mickey – you are free to take your own photos using your phone of your Mickey meet but Daddy P and I were too filled with awe from seeing him with the kids we couldn’t move much haha! The photographer took the photos for us and gave us a little card so at the end of the meet we can purchase the photos if we wanted to. As we didn’t take any of our own photos, I bought them but they looked amazing so it was hard not to buy them. You can purchase just the images or with a photo frame. Of course they offer a deal for multi purchases and I bought two photos with frames for 25.99EUR which is around £23 – not bad for two beautiful photos but if you do want to save money, you can just take your own photos at the meet! The staff will even help you take a photo on your phone if you want to get a full family shot, no extra charge. 🙂
Staff at Disneyland were incredibly friendly, smiley and very talented. They are able to switch seamlessly from one language to another; from what I gathered all staff speak French, English, Spanish and German. In that order. And I’m sure they can speak Italian and possibly Mandarin too as there was a lot of Asian visitors too. They cater for pretty much everyone which was amazing to see. Language barrier is really the least of your concerns at this place.
Framed Disney photos at Mickey’s meet: £23 Total spent: £23
The Fireworks: Disney Illuminations
This has to be the real highlight of my Disneyland trip and I am so so glad we didn’t leave before it. Everyone gathers in the centre around 9pm onwards for a good spot and I don’t blame them. However we decided to head back to the Western World and go for our dinner. We dined at The Lucky Nugget Saloon which was affordable and tasty. A meal deal for dinner was 21.99EUR and for that you get a main dish, side, dessert and soft drink. The service was quick and super easy – we queue to order, pay and get seated shortly after. That took around 15mins and our food arrived at our table around 5mins after being seated. We took our time to enjoy our meal which was delicious – I had the rack of ribs and Daddy P and co had the fish with chips. We didn’t opt for dessert. We left the restaurant around 10.30pm and by then the park will filled with people waiting for the fireworks display. We walked all the way to the park entrance as we wanted to be one of the first to leave and had a decent spot watching the illuminations. We didn’t stay for the whole thing which is around 30mins but we watched the majority before running off to catch the train home. If we were staying at the park’s resort we wouldn’t be in a rush and take our time to find a good spot close to the Sleeping Beauty castle which is where they project the illuminations from. All I can say is whatever you do, stay for the show. Don’t miss it because it really does highlight your whole experience.
Top Tip: If you want to make it home before the crowd, leave the park slightly before the end of the illuminations. You can do this by choosing a good viewing spot close to the park entrance so you can make a quick escape.
Dinner at the Lucky Nugget Saloon = 21.99EUR x 4 = 87.96EUR (service not included) Total spent: £85 approx. including service charge
Have a back-up plan of activities/excursions
We decided to have another lie-in as we didn’t get home until 1am the night before from DLP so we woke up 9am and checked out by 11am. We stopped off at McDonalds for ‘brunch’ – I forgot to mention that McDs in Paris offers macarons as a dessert! They are delicious and quite cheap, around 0.95 cents per maracon but I’m sure you can get a pack of 6 or 8 for a discounted rate. It was pouring down with rain on Saturday so our plans to see the Eiffel tower and Montmartre were out of the question. We hadn’t packed any weather-proof items or warm coats with us so we didn’t want to risk getting wet and coming down with a cold on our way home. We bought Metro day travel tickets and spent a day at the Louvre Museum. After here, we made it to the station where we waited until it was our time to go home. There are no free toilet facilities at the Louvre – it cost between 1.10-2.00 euros to use the toilet here so make sure you have some change with you.
Using the toilet at the Louvre Museum = 1,10EUR
Metro day tickets for 3 of us (U3s go free) = 29,80 EUR Total spent: 30,90 EUR (£27 approx.)
We got to Gare du Nord by catching the metro from Louvre to Gare d’lest then changing at the station for the train to Gare du Nord. After spending a few hours wandering around the station, we headed upstairs to check into our Eurostar journey. There is a small children’s corner on the platform for kids to burn off some of their energy. Little Man did some reading, some colouring in and Little Miss joined in every now and then.
The highlights of Disneyland:
A chance to see all of the characters at the parades
No need to pay for additional rides
Fast-pass ticket with every admission ticket
Public transport nearby (train station is opposite the park)
Ample car parking spaces
The downside of Disneyland:
Very long queues and wait times
Expensive and limited food choices
Expensive car parking charges (around 26 euros)
Expensive buggy hire (around 30 euros)
Total spent on our trip to Disneyland Paris: £809
Would I recommend it?
YES! Especially if you’ve never been before. It really is a wonderful experience despite the negatives. Yes, it can cost a fortune but the magic is still there and you’ll see it in your children’s eyes.
Just make sure you take them at an age that they can actually enjoy it (3 years and above) otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it unless you can really afford to spend at least £800+ on a few days. Booking off-season would definitely help (avoid UK and French school holidays) and you should be able to find cheap park prices and better parking capacity.
I hope you enjoyed this blog review.
We are looking forward to going back but whether that’ll be next year or in a few year’s time we’re not sure yet. It was definitely a memorable experience and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. 🙂 You can watch a video of our day trip on YouTube:
9 days until my 30th birthday & our journey to Paris… 10 days until Little Man’s birthday & our day trip to Disneyland Paris!
We are all SUPER EXCITED!
It’ll be our whole family’s first time to Disneyland and we are so excited for it! We’ve started preparing what we’re going to bring and wear including those insta-worthy Mickey Mouse ears which we’ve bought from Ebay for £3 each! It’s so much cheaper online than buying on the day or at the Disney store but if you prefer to splash and go all out then definitely purchase your official Disney ears prior to DL to save yourself some cash.
Disneyland Paris via Eurostar
We’ll be travelling via the Eurostar from London St. Pancras. I managed to bag tickets during a summer sale promo for £29pp per way which was a bargain! The Eurostar will take us from London to Paris in just under two hours which works well for us as we’ve booked an evening journey so will arrive in time for dinner. We’ve decided that we will play it by ear and see how the kids feel on the day before deciding where we will eat. If the kids are super tired, we’ll have an early night instead.
One thing I really love about London is how well connected everything is. Sure our transportation has its good and bad days but no-one can fault how easily accessible it is to travel around the country and abroad from London.
My 30th Birthday Plan
I can’t believe how quickly the years fly by! Being an August baby means I get to see nearly all of my friends turn 30 before I do – not a bad thing – but it makes me feel slightly pressured to do something BIG. We’ll see how that’ll pan out as I don’t have anything planned right now with friends.
However, on the morning of my birthday I’ve managed to book free tickets to SKY GARDEN which is going to be amazing! Insta-worthy photos, here I come! I’ve also just treated myself to a Fenty Beauty bronzer and highlighter kit so let’s pray that does me some justice… now to just plan an outfit fit for the occasion… plus or minus a 30th birthday tiara! Then after my morning birthday breakfast treat, we’ll probably just wander around London with the kids then get back home for a quick afternoon nap before leaving for the Eurostar journey.
We will board our Eurostar to Paris around 6pm and arrive at Gare du Nord Paris. We will be staying at the Renaissance in La Defense – the financial district. As it’s summer, I’m hoping it won’t be too busy around the area but pray the weather will be nice enough for us to explore Paris on the Saturday before we depart as we’ll certainly be spending all day Friday at Disneyland Paris.
20.00 Arrival at Paris Gare du Nord (depart from London St. Pancras)
21.00 Hotel check-in and dinner at hotel or local restaurant
07.00 Breakfast at hotel, then straight out on RER to D’Land
FULL DAYDisneyland Paris + dinner at the resort 22.00 Night illuminations and park closing parade
23.00 Back to hotel for bedtime
08.00 Breakfast at hotel and pack bags for hotel check-out
12.00 Visit to Jardin D’acclimatation
15.00 Late lunch at a local restaurant
16.00 Eiffel Tower visit
18.00 Depart from Paris Gare du Nord (return to London St. Pancras)
I’m going to try and document our Disneyland family vacay as much as I can and will add to my instagram stories so if you’d like to check out our trip, follow me at @mannyngo_yogi
PARIS, the capital of France is only a 2hr train ride via Eurostar from London St. Pancras or a short 45mins flight from London Stansted or Gatwick. However, train tickets and flights can cost you an arm and a leg if you don’t book far enough in advance. But fear ye not, because I’m going to tell you how you can visit Paris on a budget AND do it in a day (Well, sort of – I’ll explain later)… Happy days!
How to travel to Paris cheap
If you really want to travel to Paris the cheapest way possible, it would be by coach. But for that dirt cheap price comes the compromise – time. The journey is approximately 7-9hrs and depending on which coach company you go with, you can either arrive close to the centre of Paris, the airports or the suburbs of Paris.
This is why I previously wrote “sort of” for doing Paris in a day. If you want to be able to explore Paris in a day, you’ll need a night coach journey so you’ll arrive in Paris early in the morning allowing you to have all day to explore the city.
The main coach companies taking you to Paris from London are Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus. Coach tickets will set you back £11-15 one way and if you’re lucky, you might even find a next day return ticket for as little as £18! Now take that into consideration to a £49+ one way Eurostar ticket. However, saying this… IT IS POSSIBLE to travel to Paris from London cheaply on the Eurostar if you book during their promotion sale. These start from just £29pp one way which is amazingly cheap plus, it’s the quickest way to get to Paris.
When my sister and I went on our impromptu day trip to Paris from London, we took a night coach and arrived early morning. We spent all morning and afternoon exploring and sightseeing then caught an evening coach back home. We spent around £100 each for our day trip which included a few Uber rides in between. I bought a lot of dry food to bring back home with me so that added to our expenditure however it is possible to eat cheap, skip the hotel and save your money for the attractions and museums.
How to get around the city
The easiest and cheapest way to get around the city is by metro (underground). It’s fast, frequent and pretty reliable. Just like London travel, you’ll need a ticket to get around – a day pass is the cheapest at 12EUR (about £8) but they also offer 3, 5 and 7 days passes if you’re staying longer than a day or two. The main parts of Paris are within zones 1-3 but if you need to get to the airports (CDG and Orly), Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris, they are outside of the zones so you’ll need a separate ticket. If I’m not wrong, you can buy an extension which can be added onto your zone 1-3 pass.
What to see and do in Paris
Just like London, there are LOTS to do and see in Paris. However with only a day to spare and doing it on a budget won’t be easy so your planning skills need to be on point here. Research beforehand on Google maps all of the main attractions you’re interested in and see where they are located and how close they are to each other. Below are some great touristy places to see. I’ve included all of these locations in the Google Maps, just click on the markers to view them.
For a day trip, visiting 4-5 attractions should be enough to satisfy your wanderlust without burning you out and still leave you with time to relax and have something to eat and drink. Check admission prices online to make sure you stick to your budget. Alternatively, skip entry and make up for it with lots of photos instead.
Arc de Triomphe
The Catacombs of Paris
Palace of Versailles*
*ONLY if you decide to make them your only attraction to visit in Paris.
Tickets to Paris museums are free if you are a child under 18 or a student under 25.
One weekend a month, the museums do offer free entry to everyone but this varies from museum to museum so check out their admissions/tickets page for more details.
Another fantastic way of seeing many attractions in one go is to go on a walking tour.
‘Free’ Paris walking tours
You basically pay as much or as little as you like. Some are completely free and you can just tip instead. My sister and I did a free Montmartre walking tour which was a great way to see the area and learn some cool facts along the way. Ours was a tip-only tour so we tipped our guy €5-10 for his time.
Top tip: make sure you wear comfortable trainers or walking shoes when embarking on a walking tour as they can range from 1-3 hours.
Where to eat in Paris
Just like London, there’s all different cuisines for you to try from in Paris. The Independent online compiled this list of the best cheap eateries in Paris with main dishes coming in less than €10 it’s a win-win situation.
Top tip: AVOID the restaurants opposite the Eurostar Gare du Nord station because not only is it severely over-priced, the food is absolutely terrible! I made the mistake of eating there once and spent over 60EUR for our family of four and the food was terrible! We would’ve been better going to the McDonalds also on the same row of restaurants.
Not sure what to order?
Try some French classics; order an onion soup for your starter or a creme brulee for your dessert. If you’re feeling really brave, why not try their delicacy of snails… let me know how that one goes! Paris is well known for their pastries so head to a café and order something sweet, team it up with a hot drink like a latte = café au lait (“kaffay-aw-lay”), hot chocolate = chocolat chaud (“shoh-koh-lah-shaw”). If you fancy something stronger, ladies would usually order a red wine = vin rouge (“van-roozj”) or a white wine = vin blanc (“van-blohn”) and men typically a beer = bierre (“bee-air”).
If you have some cash to splash, buy a box of delicious Ladurée macarons. The macarons come in many flavours and colours and the box packaging is to die for!
I was craving some home cooking and headed out to a local-looking Vietnamese cafe in Choissy and ordered traditional dishes. The starter was around €4-5 and main was between €9-13. I spoke to the staff in Vietnamese (which was nice) and funnily enough it felt really comfortable like being at home. I think most Vietnamese cafes in this district are family-owned which is nice because there are so many chains and franchises nowadays it’s nice to support small and local businesses.
Where to stay in Paris
If you want to stay in Paris on a budget, the best option (if you don’t mind sharing) is a hostel. Unless you have a lot of cash to splash, most hotels in Paris are budget hotels and 1-2 star. It’s usually not much different from a decent hostel in my opinion. Some hostels like the Generator Paris offers single rooms with private bath/shower rooms at a premium so at least you have the option to choose.
The Generator Paris hostel is a popular choice – voted by The Independent Online and the Budget Traveller as one of the best places to stay in Paris. It offers free WIFI, sharing rooms (dorms) and private rooms, female only rooms, bar, lounge area and more.
I hope that this post has given you some inspiration or ideas on how to construct your day trip to Paris on a budget. There’s so much information online and Paris in a day is usually already on most travel blogger’s list so don’t be afraid to read their experiences and recommendations.
Whenever I tell someone that I’ve been to Ibiza, I am always greeted with a surprised face and “Ibiza? I didn’t know you was a party girl…” The thing is they’re right, I’m not! There’s much more to Ibiza than just parties (even though they are said to be amazing). Ibiza will always be a place for the ravers but the island has more to offer.
Ibiza is a beautiful and magical island that’s great for all kinds of travellers – from solo flyers (yes, I’ve been to Ibiza alone!) to family funsters and soul searchers. Ibiza is demographically part of Spain and belongs to the cluster of Balearic Islands. The other popular Balearic islands are Tenerife, Majorca (Mallorca) and Menorca (Minorca).
My case of wanderlust always brings me back to this place and I’m so glad On The Beach have a low deposit option. I find it hard to save and can’t always book in full because I don’t usually have enough money so the payment plans work for me. You pay an initial booking deposit, usually around £30pp for most holidays and then the remaining balance up to 2 weeks before departure. The further in advance you book, the lower the initial deposit. Paying off my holidays in small, manageable chunks helps me to budget better around my bills, rent and other expenses.
5 reasons why you need to visit Ibiza at least once
I’m sure once you’ve gone, you will want to return one day. There’s something quite magical about Ibiza that I can’t put my finger on yet. I think it’s just the fully relaxed atmosphere, the welcoming locals and the friendly people that also flock here – not for the parties – but for the slower pace of life. If you don’t speak a word of Spanish, you can still get by everywhere as English is the second language here. It’s so close to fly from the UK too, with flights lasting about 2.5-3 hours. That’s quicker than cooking a Christmas dinner or watching Lord of the Rings back to back!
So, what are the other attractions to the island?
1. The constant balmy weather
Ibiza’s climate is balmy and generally warm all year long with moderate rainfall. When I first went to Ibiza back in August 2010 the temperature was around 26-30’C degree celsius. I went back again in September 2017 and 2018 and the temperature varies from 24-28’C degree celsius. In 2018, there was one day we got caught in torrential rain that lasted about 15-20 mins but as soon as it stopped it was warm and humid again.
From the beautiful views and party places in Antonio Bay to the historical old town of Dalt Vila, there’s a lot to see around the little island. Each little town has something unique to offer. Don’t forget to explore around Castell de Eivissa when you’re in the old town, it’s cobbled floor is so pretty but awkward if you have weak ankles so wear decent shoes and not flip flops like me! The steep walk up has a great scenic route down as you pass Dalt Vila. There’s not much to do up at the castle top but the views are spectacular.
On Sundays, you can head over to Benirras beach to experience one of the most beautiful sunsets accompanied by the sensational drumming. It happens every Sunday during the summer and is an event not to be missed. I tried to go there by bus but got mixed-up with the bus times (or perhaps the bus just never came) so I missed it. My advice would be to catch a cab there early or travel to San Miguel a day before as the roads leading to Benirras beach gets very busy by Sunday afternoon. If you’re driving try to get there in the morning, chill out by the beach all day then get ready for the sunset in the evening. Bliss!
3. The sister islands (Formentera and Espalmador)
If the Ibiza mainland is boring you a little, take a trip out to its sister islands. Whether you head out to the pristine white sand beaches of Formentera or stop off at the secluded island of Espalmador (I’ve visited both!) it’s definitely a trip not to miss.
Formentera is a fantastic escape from the mainland. Within 40mins by boat with the main service, Aquabus you’ll reach the pristine shores of Formentera. It looks like somewhere out of a postcard, I kid you not. Plenty of luxury yachts dock at its marina and its beach shores are filled with white sand and turquoise waters. You can easily find places to eat and drink, go surfing or cycling, and explore different parts of the island.
It’s a great place to explore with the whole family. The cosy coves dotted along the coastline are calming and lovely enough to enjoy before the tide comes in. There are frequent Aquabus services to Formentera from all over the Ibiza mainland for about €20 (day return). You can even stay on the island with many B&Bs, luxury apartments, charters and yachts available to rent.
There’s also tiny secluded island on the way to Formentera called Espalmador. It lies between Ibiza and Formentera and is basically a mass of land which has become a secluded getaway for Ibizan goers looking for peace and quiet. There’s not much to do on the island apart from sunbathe – you can go nude, semi-nude, as free as you like! There is also a mud spring somewhere on the island which you can take a dip in. There’s hardly any coverage on the island so apply plenty of sunscreen, if you burn easily I’d say skip Espalmador and just visit Formentera as there’s plenty of secluded bays there plus rocky coves where you can salvage some shade.
If you’re keen on visiting Espalmador, bring a picnic, plenty of suncream as there’s not really shady areas and water bottle – there’s no food/drink places here and the Aquabus only passes here a couple trips per day. Also there’s no toilet on Espalmador so make sure you go before you arrive either on the ferry boat or mainland if you’re not hiring your own charter or have a private yacht.
4. The Hippy Market and other local markets
Even if you’ve never visited Ibiza, you would’ve heard about their famous Hippy Markets which is open every Wednesday throughout the summer. I remember my first time going to the Hippy Market; it was busy, chaotic but super fun! There’s something for everyone, there’s even a little play area for the kids. The last time I visited it was less chaotic but still just as busy.
There was so much to see and if you’re looking for special or unique gifts you will find something here. I picked up a gorgeous amethyst crystal necklace on a leather cord. I’d seen so many similar necklaces before but they were too expensive. I think mine cost me around €15-18 which wasn’t too bad as the quality was great and the amethyst stone looked genuine enough.
Here’s a short list of the markets you can visit on the island:
Check out Ibiza Spotlight for the full list of Ibiza’s markets sorted by days.
5. The fun, active lifestyle
The Ibizan atmosphere is super chilled. I always felt relaxed and the pace of life here seems very easy-going which is fantastic. But despite the relaxing lifestyle, there’s plenty of activities you can do around the island to keep you healthy, fit and active.
If you regularly work out, there’s plenty of gyms around the island for you to keep up your strength.
PLUS! Lots of healthy places to eat out
Ibiza is actually quite a health-conscious destination. There’s loads of cafes that offer delicious and nutritiously healthy food so you don’t have to worry much about stuffing yourself with junk. There’s a healthy café in San Antonio Bay called The Skinny Kitchen. They make a good salad/buddha bowl for a decent price, plus it was the only place I could find that offered matcha lattes. There are loads of nice healthy cafes around the island so don’t be afraid to explore. Check out their food reviews on Tripadvisor.
Santa Eulalia/Es Canar/San Miguel/Portinatx is great for those who want somewhere laid back and family-friendly Look for Es Canar hotels and Portinatx hotels
Eivissa Old Town is for you if you want to be near the marina and prefer old charms, boutique cafes and shops and want to be close to the airport Book hotels in Dalt Vila, Eivissa
Top Tip: If you want to avoid the major party season, visit the island between May – June or September – October instead. The island is well connected by bus so take advantage of this especially if you’ve got more time on your hands to explore the island. X
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We all love a good beach holiday – fortunately living in London means we can easily jump on a train and head down to the coast in less than two hours (most of the time!) When there was just LO, I took him to Westgate-on-Sea with my friend and her daughter (you can read about our trip here) a couple of years back in August. It was so hot I even got sunburnt that day!
Fun in the sun
Bank Holiday weekend was going to be sunny, especially on Saturday so I asked Daddy P if we should all go to the beach for the day. He was a little reluctant – he’s very shy – and was a little anxious about being on the beach with people but I assured him it would be lovely, chilled and NOT busy like Margate. Whilst Margate is great for older kids and teens, I think Westgate is perfect for younger children and babies.
We set off on Saturday morning at 10am to arrive at London Victoria station. It was packed! I think everyone had the idea of going to the beach that day – luckily for us I booked our tickets the night before. There was the longest queue for the ticket machine but a member of staff told us we could just show our ticket reference at the gate and collect the tickets when we got to Westgate. We boarded on the 11:37 train and reached Westgate-on-Sea by 14:05 – the train was late and this was probably because it was so busy. There was an announcement on the train that said First Class was open because it was so busy – lucky for those who managed to get a seat in First Class but we were happy enough to hoteget spacious priority seats on the train when we got on.
Arriving at Westgate-on-Sea station, we picked up a few beach items before heading down to the beach. We got a sun canopy tent for £13.99, Daddy P picked up a fisherman-style hat and I got the kids a couple of buckets and spades. Food and snacks too, of course! When we got down to the beach which was about a 5-10 mins walk from the station, we arrived at St. Mildred’s Bay – it looked beautiful in the sunshine. The only problem was that it was still high tide! I hadn’t checked the tide times – oops!
NOTE TO ALL – CHECK TIDE TIMES BEFORE GOING!
High tide at beach
It was not a big problem for us. Plus, it was a lovely day and the sun was shining so we didn’t mind. It was a little windy but sometimes, a welcomed breeze. Apparently the local cinema (Carlton Cinema) only costs £3.50 per ticket so we could’ve looked for it but we weren’t that fussed.
We decided to head up towards West Bay beach which is where I went with my friend a couple of years ago. We sat on the side of the walkway like the locals, watching other people pass by. After we had finished eating, we decided that it would be nicer to head back down to St. Mildred’s Bay as it seemed less windy there.
On our way walking back, we stopped off at the local cafe for clotted cream ice cream which was so yummy! I went for the caramel one and got Daddy P a boozy rum & raisin one though he picked out the raisins… they were really big raisins and he’s not a fan of fruit in things. He’s a fussy eater.
The tide had gone down a little as it was around 4pm so we found a little spot on the sand and pitched up our sun canopy tent. It’s one of those pop-up ones so easy to set up but because it was windy it was so hard to keep it secure. We ended up folding the stroller and put it at the back of the tent to weigh it down haha! I let the kids roam free on the sand and in the shallow waters. LO was in his element and I really think he wouldn’t have been brave enough to venture out by himself if it was a crowded beach. He took his bucket and went looking for shells and sea snails on the side of the small rock cliffs whilst Baby Girl sat happily in the sunshine with her bucket and spade eating sand… she ate A LOT of sand. She ate so much that when we got home, we were met with a big sand-poo nappy. Nice. Nothing better than an exfoliating poo to wash off.
We stayed on the beach until toughly 7pm. It was starting to get even more quiet and we thought it would be best to head home before the mad rush of people from Margate got on the train. For the whole day we only lost one pair of Baby Girl’s sandals and LO’s sun hat. Not too bad for a full day out to the beach, I thought we’d lose much more than that. 🙂 When we got on the train, it wasn’t too busy. LO and Daddy P managed to get a seat so I stood up with Baby Girl in the stroller. Daddy P would’ve been the one standing but he’s not great with the stroller so I took one for the team.
It was a great day out and I would definitely love to take the kids again, perhaps to stay for a night or two. I really think that Westgate-on-Sea is a great UK beach for families with young kids. It’s less chaotic and packed like Margate but just as lovely. Upon coming to Westgate, we passed Whitstable and Herne Bay, they looked amazing too. I know Botany Bay is not too far and we’ve agreed that might have to be our next beach getaway to review. 🙂
There isn’t much to do around Westgate in terms of attractions or games so if you’re looking for a beach that offers that I’d suggest going to Margate instead. However, if you’re looking for beach destination where your little ones can roam free but still be within your eye line, head down to West Bay beach or St. Mildred’s Bay at Westgate.
Lately I’ve been thinking about booking our little family of four a new holiday – a proper family holiday this time as the last time was more of a mini one than anything as Daddy P didn’t come with us to Fuerteventura. LO, bump and I went around late January and it was lovely. The temp was nice, not too hot, we got to do a few things and enjoyed what was pretty much a chilled out holiday.
As I was six months preggers and so sure I would be going into early labour I didn’t book any activities. I also don’t drive so couldn’t hire a car which is said to be the best way to explore any one of the Canary Islands. However I just wanted to share with you the 5 most important things I think any mum should think about when taking your toddler on their first holiday.
We decided to go away this year at the end of January for a bit of winter sun… we headed out to the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura to be exact. It was only a short holiday (4 nights) but was the best getaway/family holiday for me. It was also LO’s first time abroad and he was really good from the plane journey there to the end of the stay.
I booked our little holiday via onthebeach.co.uk and found the Barcelo Castillo Beach Resort to be the perfect hotel for us. It’s located right on the beach, has a gym and spa in case I wanted some me-time (I never got round to using them!), three restaurants to eat from, located 15 mins away from the airport, and it’s a family-friendly resort where kids stay free! 🙂 Perfect!
All in all, a 4-night stay for 2 adults and 1 child costed around £190 for the hotel and £180 for the flights so under £400 in total which is extremely cheap. The average weather for Fuerteventura in January is 19-20 degrees which was about right. The first 2 days we were there, we were blessed with slightly warmer weather (about 22-23 degrees) but this island is the most windiest of all of the Canary Islands so if you’re planning on going to Fuerteventura, don’t forget a light jumper or jacket for the evenings.
Even though the sea temperature was mild, it was too cold for us to take a dip to swim but it didn’t stop LO from having a good splash! The hotel was very clean and maintained well. Our bungalow was decorated in a traditional orange hue which was lovely but there were more modern bungalows available at the resort for those who prefer something a little more luxurious.
I never got time to relax at the spa or used the gym although my friend who came with LO and I was able to use the gym and she loved it. For €5 per session, it’s definitely affordable but the resort is so big that you can get your daily exercise from walking around the whole place. We also ended up sticking to the main restaurant which offered a buffet-style sitting but the other two restaurants at the resort looked amazing, especially the piano bar/restaurant.
By the end of the holiday, LO didn’t even want to leave! He said he wanted to stay and it just made me think about booking another holiday for us to go on after baby is born. We’ll probably go with daddy P to Butlins next year or maybe even Disneyland instead. 🙂