Five Fabulous Reasons To Go Skiing

I have a confession. I am 38 and have never been skiing. It was never high on my list of my priorities to be honest. (Although I suspect this might be because my parents tried to convince me I wouldn’t like it when I was growing up, due to the expense!) However, Squiggle has asked me several times to go skiing and it has got me thinking… am I missing out? More to the point, I don’t want her to miss out; surely I should provide her with the opportunity to try it out if she desires? So I asked some friends and fellow bloggers why they love skiing and what the benefits are. And it would appear there are several great reasons to go skiing…

5 fabulous reasons to go skiing title with beautiful scenic picture of skiing underneath.

THE VIEWS!!!!

This has to be at the top of the list. It was an almost unanimous response from everyone who was asked what they love most about skiing. And I can understand why. You only have to google the word skiing to see a whole mass of phenomenal scenic photos. Who could resist those glorious picturesque views?

“The views are incredible, the air is so incredibly fresh, the sound of skis on fresh powdery snow is one of a kind and I love how skiing makes you feel so free and exhilarated!” ~ Hello Baby Blog

It’s An All- Inclusive Sport

I am sure we all know why doing any sport is good for us and carries a range of benefits; certainly I have written before about why sports are so important. Skiing however, as a sport has its own unique benefits. As Blissful Domestication points out, it is a sport you can take part in just once a year and still improve on!

It is also good for SEND children (and adults), as Tickets, Passports, Kids explains: “I believe it’s rather sensory… I believe the snow takes the edge off the sounds he hears, plus the helmet makes everything quieter. I believe he hears the world so loudly, that the snow makes it easier for him to hear. Plus, it’s not a team sport.” Indeed, I can see exactly why it might be so beneficial for some autistic people for these reasons.

As I read and speak to people about it more, I do notice that whilst skiing and other snow sports might not seem like obviously the most SEND-friendly sport to take part in by nature, in reality it is quite advanced in its level of awareness and is therefore very accomodating; alot of effort has been made to make adjustments and adapt the sport to meet a wide range of needs and disabilities. (This is a generalisation of course, as with anything, individual’s experiences will vary greatly).

In summary, skiing is an inclusive sport that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Awesome!

Skiier skiing down mountain slope with beautiful scenic snow mountains in background.

The Recreational Side of Skiing

Another popular reason to go skiing is actually not about the activity itself; people often value the recreational aspect of it just as much. Cosy evenings in together, sharing a bottle of wine whilst surrounded by breathtaking views or enjoying a hot chocolate in the open air – there is far more to skiing than just… skiing! It is even a good opportunity to make new friends too!

Travel Opportunities

Having a passion for skiing also then sparks the desire to travel to ski resorts in beautiful new locations that you might otherwise not have a chance to visit. Travelling for a specific purpose, such as skiing, offers a great incentive to get saving for the next trip!

Life is an Adventure

Last but not least, skiing is an adventure! Discovering new places, trying new activities, exploring new locations… it is all part of the wonder and excitement of living life to the full! And there is no better reason to give it a try than that!

A close up picture of a skiier skiing on snow

Things To Consider

Skiing can be expensive but even if you can’t afford to go to a fancy ski resort, there are lots of indoor snow centres around where you can still take part in the activity on real snow. Some people like to try it out or have a few lessons before their first ski trip, so it might be worth checking if there is one near you. Of course, there are still dry ski slopes around too as another alternative. I hear some people say this doesn’t quite compare to skiing on real snow, which I can imagine is very true. But it is another option nonetheless.

In most places there is equipment available to hire. But even if it doesn’t become a serious hobby, you will still need some essentials in order to be dressed for the weather, so of course you will need to invest in the right gear! If you are looking to buy ski clothes and accessories, Simply Hike have a lovely range of ski wear and accessories, including some gorgeous womens ski jackets. Don’t forget those googles too!

A lady (blogger Kiki Blah Blah) standing outside in the snow in her ski outfit.
Kiki Blah Blah

Happy skiing!

Thanks to The Money Whisperer, All About A Mummy, Pink Pear Bear, Kiki Blah Blah and Truly Madly Kids for your helpful insights and contributions to this post.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Top Family Vacation Destinations 2018

Are you looking for inspiration for your next family holiday? Or maybe you feel swamped by the many choices available and are struggling to narrow it down? When travelling with kids especially, picking the right destination really makes all the difference. So I asked some travel experts and fellow bloggers for their top travel destination picks, and tips, for this coming year. Here are some great ideas for your 2018 family vacation…

Top Family Vacation Destinations 2018 image of beautiful clear blue water, blue skies, mountains in background and green evergreens bordering the edge of the photo.

Top Tips For Choosing Your Destination

The one thing that came up again and again is to choose a location that matches your family interests and consider carefully what there is to actually do locally. Family holidays often flow better and are more relaxing when there is a balance of activities available, as well as plenty of room for downtime.

Whilst children don’t generally need entertaining all day, and I am a firm believer that so much can be gained from even very simple (and often free) experiences, it is helpful to put some thought into what options there will be and how you can spend your time there. So focus on researching the sightseeing opportunities and other activities available when choosing your destination, and consider how they match up to your own family’s interests.

Along similar lines, alot of families pick a destination with a wealth of different culture to explore. There is no better way to teach children more about the world than to immerse them in it! For example, A Strong Coffee To Go is heading to Thailand with her boys this year to show them something different to usual.

My Parenting Journey suggests exploring a place you particularly love at different times of year. For example, they have already spent Christmas in the Philippines and discovered their wonderful Christmas traditions. Now they want to explore nature in the summer time and spend time on their beautiful white beaches. Money Saving Journeys had a similar idea too. Having visited Venice at different times of year previously, they are looking forward to going back in summer this time.

Even if you opt for a general beach holiday, think about what you can do when you aren’t lazing around on the beach, such as some gentle sightseeing. Or if you prefer something more active, participate in some watersports. While you are enjoying the therapeutic affects of being outdoors by the ocean, you could even consider doing a quick 2 minute beach clean to help protect it for our future generations too!

Please Leave Nothing But Your Footprints sign by beach

Where To Stay

With sites in France, Spain, Holland and Italy, as well as 6 other European countries, Eurocamp is extremely popular for families. These tend to have great facilities and camping holidays generally are often perfect for children, as they offer plenty of time and space outdoors. And they are a relatively economical choice for families.

Centre Parcs also have several European sites, which also come highly recommended too. Household Money Saving points out that they are far cheaper than their UK sites and also suggests that kids might love travelling by tunnel as a great alternative to flying.

Popular Destinations

Spain is a top choice for families. This is unsurprising given there are cheap, short flights from a range of airports, a range of family-friendly accomodation options, and a huge variety of lovely locations to choose from. Whether you opt for the castles and history of Granada, or somewhere more obvious such as Malaga, Alicante or Barcelona, you are sure to find somewhere ideal for your family. Neighbouring Portugal is also a good alternative, loved by many families. Or The Spanish Islands, in particular Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, are also just as popular.

Greece and the Greek Islands are another preferred option for families. Filled with history and culture, beautiful scenic views and friendly tavernas, it is understandable why these are a strong contender for alot of families.

Other European countries are also a firm favourite with families for similar reasons. One example is Amsterdam, as suggested by Autism Kids On Tour, who has this on the list as one of their 2018 travel destinations. I have written about some of the fab things to do in Amsterdam before.

Last but not least, Copenhagen got a very enthusiastic mention from several families too. Yet another great place for families!

Beautiful Mediterrean buildings by a clear blue sea.

Staycations

When it comes to Staycations, Centre Parcs is a clear favourite for a number of families. Holiday homes are also very popular, either on independent sites or at well-known holiday parks, such as Haven. Of course UK camping (or glamping if that is more your thing!) is also a winner too!

Lamb and Bear also recommends Bluestone Wales. They reviewed it a couple of years ago and can’t wait to go back! She said it’s perfect for families and gives lots of options to keep the kids entertained.

For something abit different, Monkey and Mouse suggest booking a cottage up in Isle of Mull. This beautiful Scottish Island is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. It has stunning scenary in a tranquil setting with a range of attractions. A lovely choice to enjoy some peace and an abundance of outdoor beauty, as are the other islands surrounding it.

A row of colourful beach huts.

Packing Essentials

For the journey, especially if it is a long one, a little busy bag full of interesting items, games and activities that are compact and easy to do in a confined space is really useful. Wrapping them up to make it more exciting can be a handy tip too!

Whilst on the beach you might be mainly in swimwear, it is handy to have something lightweight and simple to throw on just to get there and back, or incase you go for a wander in between soaking up some vitamin D. A stylish kaftan is perfect for this and can help shield your skin from too much sun too. For kids, I recommend investing in SFP swimwear and hats. This helps protect them, especially when they are in out and out of the water.

Remember to take a favourite toy or two, especially if your child/ren would benefit from the familiarity. And anything else needed for routines, bedtime and so on. If any of your children are quite picky about food and you are travelling abroad, taking a small selection of their usual snacks if possible might also be useful.

Last but not least, don’t forget your usual toiletries etc… too of course. And meds if any of the family needs it. Sometimes the obvious things get missed in the excitement!

A picture of a stunning empty beach with clear water and blue skies.

Thanks to the following bloggers for contributing to this post:

The Money Whisperer, Captain Bob Cat, Life With Boys, Me Him The Dog And A Baby, Katy Kicker, Lylia Rose, Mummys Diary, Mummys Knee, Our Fairytale Adventure, Sinead Latham, Five Adventurers, Back With A Bump, Five Little Doves, From Rachael Claire, Battle Mum, Trips With A Tot, Yorkshire Wonders, LesBeMums, Reo Life.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Easy Ways To Save For Your Family Adventures

Family adventures are great, but unlike the ones you read about in books, they cost money. Whether you like to plan for big trips or days out, it’s nice to have a little rainy day fund to help you pay for your adventures. A family has a lot of expenses, making it hard to put money away, but thanks to these clever savings ideas you can help your family save easily for your next adventure…

Easy Ways To Save For Your Family Adventures title. Sunset beach image with family on pier.

Don’t Buy Anything Without Checking For A Voucher First

In the age of internet shopping, it is possible to find discount codes for almost anything – including days out. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick search, but you could save a lot of money on things you were planning to buy anyway.

Vouchers from supermarkets, clothes shops and other places could help you save a few extra pennies to put towards your family adventures. Sites like Groupon are great for family dinners, and it’s worth signing up to VoucherCloud and other discount code websites too. Always do a price search and see if you could save yourself some money.

Sell Your Unwanted Items

Each Christmas or birthday helps you realise just how little space there is in your home, and how much stuff doesn’t get used. Instead of just letting unwanted items clutter up your home, sell them. If you’ve got streaming subscriptions, you can easily save yourself some money by selling off your old DVDs and Blu-Rays, while unwanted clothes and toys are perfect for eBay. If you want an easy way of posting your items, https://www.shiply.com/ is a great service to make shipping your items a breeze. Having a regular clear out not only helps you to make a bit of money but will keep your house in order too.

Keep A Forfeit Jar

Many families have swear jars, but if your family tends to be good on the bad language front, you might want to consider a different kind of forfeit jar instead. You could have one for anytime someone forgets a household rule, or whenever someone leaves a light on in the house. Keep it up and at the very least, you’ll stop some bad habits, while the best you can expect is a nice healthy sum for your savings pot.

Cut Your Bills

It’s becoming more common for people to switch providers for everything, including your utilities and banking. It’s worth ringing other providers for a quote and seeing if your current provider can match it. There are some great ways to haggle with service providers that can at least get you a temporary saving. Put the difference into savings and watch them grow month after month.

Saving money can be a fun and rewarding challenge for all the family, helping you to afford those little extras. Looking for some more great money saving tips? Check out this useful article on how to what to do when you need money fast. Enjoy finding ways of saving money with your family so that you can look forward to creating many more happy memories together.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Best Last Minute Christmas Holiday Destinations

Christmas is edging ever closer, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still time to change your plans! If you fancy doing something a bit more exciting this Christmas, why not book yourself a holiday overseas? There are plenty of last minute deals available, and you are bound to have a Christmas to remember by choosing to take advantage of one of them. So, let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit this Christmas…

Faded Christmas festive background with title 'Best Last Minute Christmas Holiday Destinations'

Tromso

There is only one place to begin, and this is with the most magical place in the world for a Christmas vacation: Tromso. Known as the capital of the Arctic, there is nowhere better to capture the magical festive spirit. Of course, you can see the Northern Lights from Tromso, which is the main attraction, but there is so much to experience in this magical location too. The Polar Museum is a particular highlight. You will find out about the Arctic explorers who have passed through the city. For the ultimate Christmas vacation, there is nowhere better.

Maldives

If your purpose for wanting a Christmas break is because you are in desperate need of some sun (aren’t we all?!), then why not head to the Maldives? The Maldives is drenched in sun at this time of year; there are plenty of resorts that are idyllic and perfect for families. With scrumptious festive packages available, you can embrace the Christmas spirit in a unique environment. Imagine Christmas carols across white sands instead of snow. There are also plenty of themed activities going on too, including festive beachside parties.

A picture of a beautiful empty sandy beach with gorgeous clear blue ocean.

Nuremberg

Nuremberg, in Germany, is a place to behold at Christmas. You will struggle to find somewhere with a better festive spirit. This largely stems from the Christkindlesmarkt, which is known all over the world. This Christmas market sees 180 stalls, so make sure you save a bit of Christmas shopping for when you arrive. You will find everything from gingerbread treats to trinkets and toys.

An image of Christkindlesmarkt
Image from Wikimedia

A bit closer to home

If you don’t want to take a trip abroad, you don’t need to. You can still have a magical Christmas vacation in the UK. There are plenty of stunning places across the country, from Edinburgh to the Cotswolds. No matter where you go, there are bound to be plenty of fun festive places you can visit, many of which are free of charge.

Copenhagen

Finally, we have Denmark’s Copenhagen. This is an affordable and vibrant city, which is small but very welcoming. Pre-Christmas activity is a lot easier to navigate here because people set the pace, rather than cars. The Tivoli Gardens are a highlight, with half a million lights transforming the space.

So there you have it: some of the best places to visit this Christmas if you are planning a last minute trip away. But don’t worry if you can’t book one of these fantastic places this year; there is always next year, and these destinations will be just as fabulous in 2018!

*This is a collaborative post.

The Benefits Of Weekend Trips

It seems that vacations are far more expensive now than they used to be, but the one thing that we have on our side now is the luxurious weekend trip. And while we would all love to go and travel the world for months on end, it is rarely feasible! So from the perspective of someone who can only get away for a couple of days at a time, why is a weekend break such a perfect choice?

Image of a map with a pin in. Title 'The Benefits of a Weekend Trip'

It Feels Like A Longer Vacation

If you spend three or four days in a different place, you are more likely to fill those days with activities, rather than usually when on vacation, spacing out the activities, and relax a bit more. Instead, you can cram in so much, that it feels a lot longer than it is. It may leave little time for sleep, but sometimes a short trip can be just what you need to feel rejuvenated.

You Can Have A Few Vacations A Year

A lot of people take weekend trips because their timetable only allows for a few days at a time. But by going on a few weekends away, you get to see more places every year. This means that you’ll be able to explore different locations and at different times. Plus if you pack in lots of cultural and local experiences while there, you can get a true feeling for somewhere in a quicker space of time.

The Benefits Of Time Away

Sometimes, a weekend away is all you need to reset the balance. Just 48 hours in a new city can give you the opportunity to take a look at your life and reflect on what is really important to you. By spending a bit of time in a new place, you truly get to see a different type of life and sample the delights of another country or culture. The benefits of this is that it can deeply inspire you; who knows, you might even think about moving there! If you do consider relocating, there are services like Monaco Relocation Services just as an example, that can help you to realise your dream. So time away isn’t just great for your state of mind, it may actually inspire you to start a whole new life!

It’s Easier On The Diary

Depending on your high pressured working environment, you might find it difficult to block book two weeks away, especially if it’s during the height of summer when everybody else wants time off too! But if you book a weekend away, it means that time off is easier to get. Also, it makes issues like pet sitters an easier option too.

It’s Easier On The Wallet

The prime benefit of having a weekend break is it will cost a lot less than a major holiday abroad. Of course, there are plenty of weekend packages you can purchase online, meaning that you can take advantage of a last-minute bargain deal, to drop everything for the weekend and get away for a bit.

We all deserve a rest from time to time, and this is why weekend trips are so useful!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

8 Tips for Taking an Eco-Friendly Vacation (Guest Post by Samara at Tiny Fry)

What is Eco-Friendly Tourism?

Trends come and go, but here’s one we hope will stay: eco-friendly travel!

What does this actually mean? Well, the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” are often used interchangeably, although it’s possible to be eco-friendly without being sustainable. However, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be using both terms to mean a form of travel that does not negatively impact the natural environment or culture.

Why Should I Do It?

Choosing an eco-friendly vacation means you’re in for a unique adventure, experiencing a place through an authentic lens. You’ll enjoy places without the slick tourist spiel, and learn what really goes on in a community. What’s more, you’re helping locals. For example, you can show your support by shopping locally and choosing activities that won’t harm the environment.

A picture of someone hiking through the countryside with a camera in hand.

How Should I Do It?
Planning an eco-friendly vacation requires some research and preparation. Here are 8 tips to get you on your way…

1. If You Travel by Air

Obviously, taking a plane isn’t “green” but if it’s your only option, search for direct flights that require less fuel than ones with stopovers. Once you reach your destination, you can walk, ride a bike, or rely on public transportation to get you where you need to go.

2. If You Travel by Car

Choosing an energy-efficient vehicle can reduce emissions by up to 50%. Make sure the car is in good shape and as efficient as possible (for example, clean the air filter, fill the tires). Pack only what you’ll need (lighter cars are more fuel efficient!) and plan your route before you go so there’s less of a chance you’ll get lost and waste both fuel and time.

A photo taken from the inside of a car. Out of the windscreen there is a view of mountains.

3. If You Camp

Camping is probably the “greenest” option and also may be the most cost-efficient. That said, it does require some careful packing. You’ll want to be as self-sufficient as possible and carry the essentials with you: your own water bottle, snacks, toiletries, and utensils (disposable cups and utensils are wasteful). If you’re traveling with kids and plan to hike or bike, assume you need to bring your own gear (bikes, strollers etc…)

A picture of a tent and sunrise scene.

4. If You Prefer a Hotel

Sustainable hotels are popping up in major cities and towns. What to look for: low-energy light bulbs, non-toxic fabrics, non-toxic cleaning supplies, recycling programs, bikes for guests, locally sourced menus and a green certification from a bonafide agency. If possible, green hotels should be built and furnished with reclaimed or renewable resources and they should definitely employ locals. Another tip: ask if the hotel has a volunteer program that allows you to get directly involved in the community (for example, plant trees or work in a garden).

5. If You Hire a Guide

Rather than joining an exclusive tour group, hire a local guide. Certainly, a guide who lives in the area has more invested in the surroundings than a company that’s only interested in making a profit off of your trip. The best guides promote ethical practices, explain how to support the community, respect the natural habitat, plus show off the most authentic and “behind the scene” spots!

6. If You Book an Experience

There’s so much to get excited about when travelling to a new place that it’s easy to overlook stuff. Overall, you never want to be disruptive or disrespectful when playing the role of tourist in any community. What’s more, if you want to get up close and personal with the wildlife, make sure you aren’t in any way harming or disturbing the creatures or their habitats.

A photo of someone taking a photo of a beautiful canyon.

7. If You Buy a Souvenir

Double check that your souvenir of choice is 100% ethical. For example, you don’t want to take home anything that may have come from an endangered species or was made with enforced labour.

8. If You Want to Make an Impression

Be mindful of what you leave behind! Don’t mess with your surroundings and pick up your trash wherever you go. The goal of eco-travel is to make only a positive impact on the area; in other words, leaving behind nothing but some dollars for the local businesses and a tremendous amount of good will!

The Evolution of Travel

Eco travel has been a hot vacation option for some time now and it’s growing in popularity. It’s easy to see why. Traveling responsibly is as good for the tourist as it is for the host.

It offers an authentic, educational, and inspiring look at an unfamiliar territory while supporting and promoting local resources. By booking a sustainable vacation, you’ll be doing your part to ensure that vacation areas will be protected for the next generation of travellers.

A photo of Samara and her family.

Author Bio

Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three), or eating ice cream straight out of the container. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry.

Halfords Big Black Friday Competition 

No doubt most of you already know that Black Friday is now just one week away – 24th November 2017 . It’s a great excuse to grab yourself some bargains! Whilst I firmly believe that something is only a good deal if you actually need it, I do also think that Black Friday sales provide the perfect opportunity to invest in things that can enhance your lifestyle, or to save money on gifts that you intend to buy anyway. It’s also the ideal chance to get your Christmas shopping done, then sit back and relax for the rest of the festive season!

For example, Halfords Black Friday has some bargains on both adult and child bikes, which of course is a fab way to get outdoors and stay healthy. Also, a popular present! Plus, for those who love to travel, there are some handy items such as a roof box and kids trunkies in the sale too. We have had the ladybird trunki for years – it is so useful!

Black and white image saying Black Friday Competition

Black Friday Competition

Halfords also have an amazing Black Friday Competition on at the moment. The closing date is this Wednesday (22nd November) so make sure you head on over before then to enter! All you need to do is complete the short form and answer a very simple question. The top prize is worth a whopping £2,000, plus awesome runners up prizes too, so this is one not to be missed!

Prizes

Top Prize:

  • £2,000 worth of goodies, including a seven night holiday with Eurocamp (worth £1,000) and £1,000 worth of Black Friday deals.

Runners Up Prizes:

  • £800 worth of Black Friday goodies.
  • £300 worth of Black Friday goodies.

Enter here: Halfords Black Friday Competition

Good luck! And happy shopping!!! What’s on your Christmas wish list?

*This is a collaborative post.

Car Safety Checklist: How To Prepare For Long Journeys #CarSafetyChecklist

How often do you check your car? They should really be given a quick once over regularly, every few weeks ideally. This is true of all cars, but especially older models. And it is even more important to do some essential safety checks before a long journey. That is why kwik-fit.com have set up a #CarSafetyChecklist campaign.

A picture of a white landrover with the caption Car Safety Checklist: Things To Check Before Long Journeys #CarSafetyChecklist Kwik Fit campaign image designed by Living Life Our Way.

Since it became part of the practical driving test to be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of vehicle safety a decade ago, most people should feel confident giving their car a basic check themselves. However it can also be helpful to take it in for a service periodically, to proactively avoid any potential issues before they become more costly – or dangerous.

Whilst researching, I came across a handy acronym to remember 6 key areas to check: FLOWER.

Fuel

Don’t let your fuel run too low. Make sure you top up before a long journey, or at the very least when you pass the first petrol station along the start of journey. Too many people make the mistake of trusting a faulty fuel guage or simply underestimating how long it will take to get to the next services!

Lights

Make sure your lights are working. Give them a clean too if needed so they aren’t dimmed by dirt!

Leaks

Ok, so flower does not have two ‘L’s. But I would also like to add that you need to check for leaks too. Condensation from the air con is normal but anything else needs investigating.

Oil

Don’t wait for the red oil warning light to come on – check it regularly!

Water

Check your coolant level and screen wash.

Windscreen Wipers

Again, there might not be a double ‘W’ in flower but I am going to add another one regardless! Check your wipers too, especially in winter/ wetter months.

Warning Lights!

Ok, I am going for a triple W infact. This one should definitely go without saying, but incase it doesn’t; always make sure there are no warning lights on before any journey!

Electrics

Ensure that the radiator’s electric cooling fan starts running when the engine gets hot by running the engine with the car stationary. Also make sure your battery isn’t too old and worn out, especially baring in mind that battery problems are the most common cause of roadside callouts.

Rubber (Tyres)

Last but certainly not least; Check your tyres – pressure, tread and spare!

Essential Items

As well as doing the above safety checks, it is also helpful to have some essentials in your car too, especially for long journeys. Here is a list of handy items to keep in your vehicle…

  • Manual
  • Recovery details
  • Jump cables
  • Tools
  • Warning triangle
  • Water
  • Blanket
  • Phone charger
  • Light/ torch
  • Ice scraper

Do you have any other car safety tips? Let me know in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Kwik Fit.

Dubai: My Ever Increasing Travel Bucketlist 

This is my travel bucketlist of must- do things in Dubai. From beaches to brunches, and from malls to Mosques, this list has something for everyone! Dubai is yet another destination on my bucketlist of travel goals. Read for inspiration and ideas on what to do in Dubai.

I have had Dubai on my bucket list since Squiggle was very young, after a friend moved out there and we talked alot about to going to visit her. We didn’t make it over to see her, but I did do many hours of research whilst we were seriously considering it, and in doing so it somehow found a little place in my heart.

Far more recently, my Sister in Law lived and worked in Dubai for a year or so. During that time, seeing her beautiful pictures and hearing her adventures reaffirmed its place on my travel bucketlist!

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

I don’t really know what it is about Dubai that I have such a soft spot for; with its man-made beaches, so many imports and lack of public transport, it almost feels like a guilty pleasure! However, The Clumsy Colibri offers some great tips about sustainability in Dubai so I will get some inspiration from there, if and when we go! Destination2 also has some brilliant ideas and useful information about Dubai generally too. But anyway, here is a list of must-do things when visiting Dubai, as told by my sister in law…

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

Beaches

Dubai beaches are probably the main attraction. Dubai has year-round sun and many free, clean, white (man made) beaches. In addition, many hotels and bars have their own private strip of beach, which are even nicer. Kite beach is a favourite because it has a great view of the Burj Al Arab and offers activities as well as a chance to relax.

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

Indoor Activities

There are lots of indoor activities to do in Dubai, to cater for the incredible heat. Visit the Mall of the Emirates with its well known large indoor ski resort and snow centre. Or hang out at Dubai Mall, where there is an aquarium, ice rink and VR experiences. And of course you can shop, eat or catch a movie too.

Dubai Mall Fountains

Catch the evening water fountain show with moving music which is sure to give you goosebumps. Be wary you’ll need to get there early for a good spot!

Relax

Many hotels offer day access to their spas for some lovely relaxation time. That’s always worth it!

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

Brunches

Brunches are where it’s at in Dubai. You can choose from party brunches at Atlantis or more sophitisticated affairs at places like Le Meridian.

Abu Dhabi

While in Dubai, it is relatively cheap and easy to take a trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

That sounds like quite the list! Have you been to Dubai? What is top of your list of things to do? I would love to hear more ideas too!

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Cycling Adventures: Exploring St Albans 

Now, I am the first to admit that I am not a regular cyclist. However, I do love being outdoors and I also like a challenge! So when Inntravel set a cycling adventure challenge; to explore our local area by bike, creating a cycle route, then share what we discovered, I was more than happy to take this on!

Inntravel are a holiday company that have been offering cycling holidays in Europe since the late 1980s. They arrange the hire of a high-quality bike and you cycle self-guided from one welcoming hotel to the next, following detailed maps and route notes while your luggage is transported ahead. Inntravel plan all their biking holidays carefully, making sure that each route is tried and tested, preferably using quiet roads and country lanes. They try to ensure the routes are enjoyable and interesting, giving you the chance to take in the beautiful scenery and gorgeous views.

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Our cycle route went from London Colney (Hertfordshire) across St Albans to Verulamium Park, via Highfield Park then onto the Alban Way. This is a fairly short linear route that covers approximately 5.5 miles each way, so only about an hour or so of cycling in total, but with ample opportunity to pause and take in some of the nearby attractions, or stop for food and/ or refreshments.

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Heading from London Colney high street, the route takes us over a fly-over, which cyclists need to dismount for, onto Nightingale Lane then into Highfield park. The park is a lovely place to explore or have a picnic. There is a tree trail and history trail, as well as a maze.

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Highfield Park
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Highfield Park (with maze to the left)

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Leaving the park, the next step of the route takes us down bike lanes until we reach the Hill End Garden of Rest that leads onto Alban Way. Alban Way is a cycle path that has been created from an old railway line that joins Hatfield to St Albans.

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Alban Way cycle path

The Alban Way disjoints briefly at Orient Close where we cycle down a quiet street. There is generally very little traffic though so it is a peaceful ride back onto the Alban Way again.

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Alban Way by Orient Close

Just past here is an opportunity to dismount if you wish to and follow the footpath along a small section of the River Ver Trail to discover the wildlife and explore Sopwell Nunnery. We loved doing this! Alternatively you can stay on the cycle path until you get to Cottonmill Lane.

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At this point there is some road cycling including crossing a fairly busy intersection (there are traffic lights though). On the other side of the road, is Westminster Lodge and the entrance to Verulamium Park using the cycle path that runs from the athletics track, through the park – where we take in the beautiful views of the Abbey Cathedral in the distance, as well as the scenic views and historical attractions across the rest of the park – onto the Roman Verulamium museum at the other end.

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Views of Verulamium Park (from Roman Hypocaust)
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Cycle path near The London Gate

 Verulamium park has a wealth of Roman history to enjoy, including the mosaics/ hypocaust, remains of the Roman wall, theatre and the museum. If history is not your thing, you might enjoy a walk around the lake or visit the Wildlife Trust centre instead.

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Before heading back home along the same route, you can also stop for refreshments at the Inn on the Park, nip into Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (rumoured to be the oldest pub in Britain) at the other end of the lake, head down past the museum to pretty St Michaels Village that has a selection of delightful pubs, or grab a bite at the well-known Waffle House.

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After our local cycling adventure, I really the idea of a cycling holiday. Slow paced and relaxing, yet active, with plenty of time to be outdoors and a chance to enjoy exploring new places; that all sounds ideal to me! Plus I like the fact that with a cycling holiday, you don’t need to stick to circular routes or have to turn around and head back to your original destination because your luggage is forwarded onto your next destination. Also as they are not groups cycles, they can be personalised with your choice of selected routes for the day and travel at your individual pace. It sounds great for any level of cyclist, including very occasional complete amateurs like myself!

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Inntravel.