Sustainable tourism: Are we doing this right? A Guest Post by Midlands Traveller

Everybody likes travelling, right? It’s a fact! The idea of discovering a new country is thrilling. Or sometimes, visit again that destination that brings back memorable memories of past holidays.

But have you stopped to think that every time we pack our stuff and go on holiday somewhere, we also take with us the responsibility of making tourism more sustainable? At least, we all should think about it.

But I have some good news for us! According to a booking.com survey released last year; the green travel trend continues to increase considerably with the majority of the global travellers (87%) saying that they would like to travel sustainably.

However, the survey also points out that nearly four in 10 (39%) people can confirm managing to do so. Is it a big figure? Probably. But we need to make it better!

The thinking globally, acting locally is a reality that can’t be ignored. Popular travel destinations such as Venice has started campaigns and actions to promote responsible tourism. The #EnjoyandrespectVenice is a campaign to bring awareness to the impact that careless tourists can cause in the environment, landscape and natural beauties of cities like Venice.

It’s a serious issue, and unless we change the behaviour now when travelling anywhere, it will be too late to save our planet and natural sources.

Here are some of the tiny and important tips to go green when travelling…

Sustainable tourism: Are we doing this right? A Guest Post by Midlands Traveller

Go further!

It seems silly, but if you’re thinking about jetting off soon, it’s always better to choose a further destination. We all know that aviation industry causes a massive impact on the environment and fewer flights taken, means less damage to the planet.

So, maybe it’s time to save for that dreamt visit to New Zealand, for example, instead of going three times a year to Benidorm, right?

Buy Local

It’s something I already do when travelling and I do recommend it. There is nothing more exciting than trying the local food, buying artisanal and experience the local culture.

Travelling is about indulging yourself in a different culture. It not only helps the local economy but also sustain people that live from this income.

Greener Accommodations

The best memories I have from the hotels and b&bs that I have stayed before are always related to how the green alternatives they offer. I have been to an apartment in London that left me organic food and natural beauty amenities. It was a game changing for me.

So, it doesn’t matter what kind of accommodation you are going for, it’s always important to research what sustainable measures these places can offer you. It can go for a simple garbage recycling collection to solar panels; even sophisticated hotels in Las Vegas are offering “eco-luxury” facilities nowadays. No excuse, huh?

If it’s packed, avoid it!

Most of the destinations we want to live in life have attractions and landscapes that will be crowded. Who doesn’t want to go up at the Eifel Tower once in life or step on one of the famous Italians historical bridges? You can still do it, but it would be better for the environment if you plan your trip carefully and visit your favourite city when it is less crowded. It’s a win-win! You can try, at least.

Walk out & about!

There is no other better way than knowing a place than walking through it. I did it in Dubrovnik, New York and lately, in Porto. Unless you have any special need and need to use transport, please walk along the streets, avenues and narrow lanes of your destination. Not to mention, it’s an excellent exercise as well.

So, think greener when travelling next time. It may be easier than you think to make a difference in the planet.

About the Author

Simone is a journalist with both Brazilian and British citizenship who has been living in Birmingham since 2011. She is vegetarian, with a passion for plant-based food. She also has a keen interest in green living. She writes at Midlands Traveller; a blog about business opportunities, the travel industry and well-being. You can find her on twitter, instagram and facebook too. 

Top Destinations in Malaysia for Foodies

Malaysia is world famous for its island, beaches, and rainforests, and the Southeast Asian country carries Chinese, Indian, Malay and European cultural influences. Kuala Lumpur its capital is home to colonial buildings and busy shopping districts. However, if you are going to Malaysia, you are in for another real treat, and it is the food. So, if you are a foodie, head for Malaysia, book your flight with a reliable tour operator like the Traveloka app/website that offers cheap Firefly online booking. There are leading online travel portals that offer the cheapest options for hotels and flights for travelers. Look for cheapest flights booking online and a great experience.

When it comes to food, Malaysia is a haven for the foodies, as it is a country of diversity that reflects Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian Malay flavours. The flavours here are special as the food is prepared with fresh local ingredients and special cooking techniques.

Here are some of the top destinations in Malaysia that every foodie must visit!

Top Destinations in Malaysia for Foodies

Kuala in Perlis

As Kuala is located near the border with Thailand, therefore some of the food here has the Thai and Sumatran influence. Also, seafood is the main attraction here. Be prepared to taste some of the greatest Ikan Bakar in town.

Sungai Petani in Kedah

When looking for food in Kedah, head for Sungai Petani as it makes for a perfect choice. One has to try the Fish Curry Noodles and with Ice Kacang. Another iconic dish is Laksa Kedah. Favourite restaurants include names like Hussain Nasi Kandar, EUPE Foodcourt, Nasi Lemak Cinta Sayang. MM Nyonya Delight, Hotmas Restaurant and more.

Butterworth in Penang

Butterworth is another popular site for food lovers. Here one can enjoy delectable street food and at affordable prices. Some of the most popular eateries are Kedai Kopi Hwa, Zi Wei Yuan Steamboat, and Ju Heng Tom Yam.

Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan

It is a must to include Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan when it comes to the top destination for food in Malaysia. There are many choices of resultants where one can eat the famed Curry King Bun and a lot more.

Yong Peng in Johor

Most of the residents in Yong Peng are Chinese, and here you will be served authentic Chinese dishes like Hockchiew square bread, Hockchiew Egg Soup, Duck Noodles, and Fishballs.

Teluk Kumbar in Penang

As the main occupation in Telok Kumbar is fishing, needless to say, the humble village is famous for its seafood. Hai Boey Seafood is very popular among the locals and the tourists looking for fresh seafood and good Chinese “Tai Chow” dishes.

Kampar in Perak

Another good spot for foodies is Kampar which is just about an hour drive away from the city of Ipoh. It is a must to try out the smooth and silky rice noodle cooked in clear soup, the Kampar lou shu fun. Local have this for breakfast, and another favorite is Claypot chicken rice.

Tuaran in Sabah

Tuaranis the birthplace of noodle dish created by the Hakka Chinese community. The popular dish is called Tuaran Mee and served with Chun Kien slice, Char siu, and Vegetable.

Kuala Kangsar in Perak

Kuala Kangsar is a magnet for food lovers as it boasts of a large variety of food. The small town offers famous Malay Laksa, and some of the popular restaurants include Laksa Pak Ngah and Hainanese coffee shop.

Temerloh in Pahang

Temerloh boasts of a huge variety of delicious food and is known as the hole of the favorite dish Patin, aka Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak, which is popularly served at most of the restaurants in Malaysia.

Muar in Johor

Muar lures tourists, not just because of its historical attractions but also those palatable delicacies. The small town is most sought after for foods like Mee Bandung and Otak-otak.

Of course, if you are vegetarian like me, you will also be searching for tasty vegetable dishes, which can also be found at some of these places to! Whatever your diet, Malaysia is an excellent place for foodies to explore.

*This is a collaborative post.

Choosing the Right Holiday for your Family

Picking the perfect holiday for your family should be an exciting activity but can quickly become a thankless task. You’ve got multiple people to please, all sorts of activities to organise and no real way of knowing whether everyone will love what you’ve chosen until you arrive. I know the stress of this all too well, so I’ve put together a handy list for you to use next time you need to choose the right holiday for your family. From camping to cruises, you’ll find something to suit everyone!

Choosing the right holiday for your family

Family cruises

Cruises are becoming more and more popular with families, and it’s easy to see why. You can stay on a ship that’s got everything from comfy rooms and luxury spas to huge waterslides and fun kids’ clubs – all while exploring different countries and cities. Many of the newer ships have great family-oriented facilities, as well as on-shore activities that appeal to children of all ages. And because the majority of the organising is done for you, you just need to pick your destinations and ship, and everything else is sorted by your cruise line.

If you’re after child-friendly cruises, be sure to pick a ship, cruise line and itinerary that meets your expectations and includes plenty of fun activities. One of the best things about cruises is the all-inclusive aspect: from evening entertainment to eating on-board, you can enjoy your holiday without worrying about budgets.

Cruise ship

Camping holidays

Camping holidays are great for families on a budget or for those wanting to enjoy nature and outdoor activities. Nipping down to a caravan park or pitching a tent is quick and easy, making it perfect for short weekend breaks or half-term holidays. And because you can stay in the UK, you don’t need to worry about queues or delays at the airport! Most campsites and caravan parks come fitted out with fabulous facilities – think cinemas, spas and waterparks. Plus, it’s a great way to explore the British countryside and coastline, and get some much-needed fresh air. You can acquire huge tents for not much money now, so buying a tent is a good investment if you’re likely to camp a few times a year.

Camping
All-inclusive hotels

You might think that all-inclusive hotels are limited to couples and adults-only holidays, but there are plenty that cater for families, too. You can pick a destination and a resort then relax, knowing that everything you need has already been paid for. From food to activities, you don’t have to worry about hidden charges or budgeting for fun days out.

The majority of all-inclusive hotels have great facilities for children, including private beaches, water-sports lessons, swimming pools and kids’ clubs – meaning you’ve got time to escape to the spa or enjoy a swift cocktail! Before you book, watch out for any extras: sometimes you’ll need to pay surcharges for certain restaurants or equipment hire.

Watersports

Adventure escapes

If you’ve got older children, heading off on an adventure holiday is a great way to bring your family together. From hiking through the jungles of South America to horse-back safaris, you can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience. These holidays tend to be more expensive, but the memories you make are well worth it. There are even charity events you can sign up for: whether it’s raising money doing a long hike or helping to rebuild schools and homes in small villages.

Seaside getaways

Sometimes all you need for a great family holiday is to be by the sea with a bag of fish and chips, the smell of sea-salt in the air, and the waves sweeping across the sand. Spending time at the beach is a perfect way to enjoy some family time, without having to go abroad. For surfing and bodyboarding fun, the coasts of north Devon, Cornwall and south Wales are brilliant, while the southern edge of Devon provides picturesque coastal walks and gorgeous scenery. For a weekend getaway, there’s no better place to be.

Choosing the right holiday for your family is tough – there’s no point denying it! But put the right planning in and try something new, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Whether you take to the waters or hike around glorious terrain, you’ll create memories to treasure forever.

*This is a collaborative post

Planning a Trip to the Philippines

The relatively open door policy adopted by Philippines has made it one of the most easiest of countries to visit with hardly any barriers in place for entering tourists. Residents of over 150 countries, which have diplomatic relations with the country can enter Philippines and stay there for up to thirty days without having a visitor’s visa. The only condition being is that you should have proof of return passage and a passport with at least six months validity.

There are some exceptions to this rule for a few different nationalities which your Embassy or Consulate can verify in your home city. Customs allow you to bring in your personal belongings without paying duty as well as unlimited foreign exchange. However, when leaving the country you are forbidden to carry any currency in excess of USD 10,000 or equivalent. To make the most of your trip you will need to set aside at least two to three weeks for your Philippines holiday. Suggested itinerary,with top attractions, is described below….

Planning a trip to the Philippines

MANILA (two days)

Once you have arrived at the International Airport, the rest of the Philippines can be easily visited by budget airlines(as there are no road links), which fly to most of the popular places of this charming island country. Many travelers like to skip Manila in order to save time, but they are making a huge mistake. This metropolitan city is full of diverse culture, history and entertainment. The city’s museums, broad streets and shopping malls, make Manila a must all types of tourists.

Manila, Philippines

THE CORDILLERA RICE TERRACES (two days)

A nine hour road trip, over treacherous mountain roads, high into the Cordillera mountains, where even the Spanish colonists feared to enter, will bring you to this special UNESCO world heritage site. Walking over tricky hiking trails you will discover the unique terraces of rice fields, carved out of the mountain, dating back to 500 years.

SIARGAO (two days)

Long kept as a secret, Siargao opened its doors to the outside world only in the seventies. This Pacific Ocean coastline town is known to have some of the most challenging surfing spots in the world. Cloud 9, as it is named after, boasts of a reputation of having powerful waves and rocky bottom backsides. Numerous resorts and hotels can be found here, which take visitors to the outlying popular destinations on conducted tours.

PALAWAN (four to six days)

This 260 mile piece of paradise, runs along the archipelago’s western flank and is often referred to as the best island in the world. The capital Puerto Princesa is famous for its local craft beer and a variety of food delicacies. A short distance away from the city is the underground river – one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Here you will come upon an archipelago of over 40 stunning limestone islands, where one can hike up to the edge of the cliffs or simply go island hopping. At the extreme northern end of Palawan lies Coron, with its gorgeous beaches and lagoons and the site of a World War II wreck.

BOHOL (two days)

The once laid back and sleepy island of Bohol has today earned a reputation of leading travel destination due to the presence of the Chocolate Hills. The karst limestone which gave these hills their origin are full of deep gorges and valleys, ideal for rappelling and ziplining. Bohol can be easily accessed from the Tagbilaran airport in Cebu or by ferry from the same place. Once you have found your stay in any of the island’s many resorts, take time out to go to Panglao to catch a glimpse, if you are lucky, of the dancing spinner dolphins in the Bohol sea.

DAVAO (two days)

The city of Davao, acts as the gateway point to the three major island groups, which constitute the majority of the Philippines. This major metropolis, is situated on a relatively unspoilt marine and forest habitat. As it affords easy access to both the mountains and the sea, Davao has become a topmost adventure sport destination today. The added attractions here are some animal conservation centres such as, Philippines Eagle Center and Monfort Bat Sanctuary, which are well worth a visit.

PAMPANGA

The cultural hotbed of Pampanga, lies to the north of Manila and showcases the colonial way of life of the Spaniards who once ruled here. Everything from the unique architecture to the food flavor and culture has a mix of Latin in it. The place tops in culinary eats as on the bucket list of food lovers who want to taste the best of the Kapampangan food.

BORACAY

It is said that most people, on return, have left their heart in the beautiful island of Boracay. The experiences here are so unique that visitors have fallen love with the place. Travelers have compared the island and the beaches with best in the world, and not surprisingly Boracay has always stolen the show.

The now unforgettable sunsets and miles of powdery stretches of white sand have made Boracay legendary. To get away from the hordes of tourists, a visit to Alta Vista de Boracay is highly recommended. From here one can have a commanding 360 degree view of the whole island. Thrill seekers can opt for diving from the cliffs on Magic island, which caters to both first timers and professionals alike.

The Philippines has a whole lot of other attractions, but make sure you don’t lose out on the ones mentioned above. Enjoy what this paradise country has to offer and do all what you have not done before.

Boracay, Philippines


*This is a collaborative post.

How To Prepare For A Holiday

If you haven’t already been on holiday yet this summer, you may well be preparing for a last minute or end of summer escape now, or possibly even an out of season trip instead. Or perhaps you are mega organised and are already starting to think ahead to next year and booking up early for then. Whether you are planning a short road trip staycation or long haul flight to exotic location, or somewhere in between, these tips will help ensure your holiday preparations go smoothly…

How To Prepare For A Holiday. Suitcases in background

Research the Location

Start with researching your location. Obviously you will have likely done this already, prior to booking your holiday, but once the main plans are in place it is useful to research specifics too.

Whilst an itinery might be a step too far for many holidays – although if you are doing a road trip or action packed holiday it might be necessary, or at least certainly useful – having a rough idea of how you may spend your time will help you make the most of your holiday.

Also, researching and finding recommendations for the best restaurants, beaches, and so on will help your holiday to be the best it can be. But don’t forget to also explore while you are there too – you may find your very own secret fave spot!

A beautiful holiday location. Greek style buildings near beach. Ariel photo.

Travel Documents

Make sure your passports are in date. Some countries require them to have at least x number of months left before expiry too, so be careful not to get caught out.

Also check any visa requirements. Make sure you apply for these in plenty of time, incase of any delays.

Insurance

It is important to make sure you have adequate travel insurance, especially if you are travelling abroad. Nobody wants to think about things going wrong, but it is important to make sure you are covered if they do. You can get a Bupa Global – Travel Insurance Quote here for example.

Immunisations

Check your immunisations are up to date and whether there are any additional ones you need for the country you are visiting. Make sure you book them in far enough in advance so you are fit for travel.

If you take prescription medication, make sure you have enough for the duration of your trip. Also bare in mind you might need a Doctor’s note to carry them on the plane too, if you are flying.

Booking Attractions

It is often handy to book tickets for popular tourist attractions in advance. This not only avoids lengthy queues, but can save alot of money too.

Practical Preparations

Call your bank or credit card company in advance to let them know where you will be and for how long, so that your card doesn’t get blocked for suspicious activity. This has happened to us before several times and it is so frustrating!

Change up your foreign currency. Be sure to shop around for the best exchange rate. Remember to be just as careful as if you were carrying cash at home, and don’t have more than you will need on you.

Packing

Most people pack way more than they actually need! Whilst it is good to be prepared, and essentials are a must, it is also much easier to pack light rather than lugging tonnes of cases around. And you don’t want to have to pay for excess luggage either, if your holiday involves a flight – or to find it doesn’t all fit in the car either!

I recommend making a checklist of what to pack, as it can be easy to forget the most obvious – and important – things in the rush and excitement of packing. I suggest you then take that list with you, to help remember to take everything with you when it’s time to head back home.

A row of suitcases and backpacks. Luggage.

My essentials list includes:

• Travel documents – passports, visas, insurance, tickets

• Medications and first aid kit

• Toiletries and cosmetics – I try to keep this minimal and as eco friendly as possible!

• Suncream

• Clothes – capsule wardrobe, underwear, swimwear etc…

• Camera

• Reading material – books and/ or kindle

• Kids essentials – favourite toys, games etc…

• Phone chargers

• Check whether you need to take any of your own bed linen or towels. A beach towel is usually a must even if the accomodation supplies others.

A pile of books, sunglasses on top, on table next to beach

Pets

If you have pets that you are not taking with you, then arrangements need to be made for them. Some people opt for pet boarding. If you prefer your pet to be kept in their familiar surroundings, you could hire a professional pet sitter. Or ask a neighbour or friend to help out.

Last Minute Preparations

Make sure you have booked a cab to take you to the airport, or arranged a lift. If you are driving yourself there, it is often best to organise parking in advance.

Ensure you have considered home security before you go away. If you have someone staying with pets, or just house sitting, this is is ideal. Otherwise ask your neighbours to pop in daily and keep a close on the place while you are gone. Make sure alarms and security cameras are on and working correctly before you leave.

Last but not least…

Relax and enjoy your holiday!

Back of person in large sun hat relaxing in pool

Do you have any tips for preparing for a holiday? Let me know in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Family Adventure Ideas for the Bold Parent

Having kids comes with its fair share of chaos at times! And going on a family holiday, or travelling with kids in tow, is certainly no exception. But there are a lot of things that can play a role in helping you make things more pleasant for the whole family, and the first thing to remember is that you need to consider their needs and pick the perfect vacation choices for them.

It is important that your kids enjoy themselves as much as possible, and that they have a fun and enriching time, which still having plenty of opportunities for everyone to relax too. There are a few things you can do that will help you to take your holidays to the next level, so make sure you think about the best family travel ideas you possibly can. These are a few of the best and most impressive family adventure ideas for the bolder parents out there…

Family Adventure Ideas for the Bold Parent

Check Out London

There are so many excellent places in the world that you need to visit, but London is definitely one of the best. There are so many amazing things to experience and enjoy in the UK capital, and a day out in London with the kids can be one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable family adventures you are likely to have. There are so many things you have to bear in mind if you want to get this right, and you will need to plan your day well. The London Eye is often considered a must- do attraction for families. It is fun for all ages to see the sights of London in this unique way! You can also choose from museums, galleries, parks, tours, restaurants and other exciting attractions to create the perfect adventure for your family based on everyone’s particular interests; with so much to choose from, you will certainly find plenty to suit your specific family! The great news is that there are also a lot of family-friendly things you can do in London that are free of charge these days too, so it doesn’t have to work out expensive.

Tower of London, London Bridge, Thames, London attraction

Go Somewhere Exotic

If the big cities don’t take your fancy, it might be a good idea to check out somewhere a little more exotic. This is the perfect chance for you and your family to jet off across the world if your budget allows and absorb a new culture for a while. Check out G Adventures Costa Rica travel experiences to help you understand how exotic trips that you can take as a family make an enriching experience all round. There is nothing like learning about geography and cultures by being immersed in it first hand, so it is an excellent experience for children and adults alike.

Scenic photo of mountain in background, green fields and forests

The Beach is Your Friend

As a family, you have to think about what you can do that is going to provide hours of enjoyment without clearing out the bank account. One of the best options these days would be to head for the beach. This is something that allows the whole family to enjoy a day of sand, sea, and hopefully sun! It is brilliant for the entire family’s wellbeing to spend time enjoying the fresh air, sea breeze and therapeutic effects of the water. Plus you’re really only going to have to pay for parking (and possibly food). The beach is the ideal family adventure, so is definitely one to consider when making travel plans.

Gorgeous blue sea and sky, tropical island

It is so important to make the right choices when you are trying to do what is best for your kids. There are a lot of travel experiences that can enrich their lives and at the same time, help the entire family get the most from their vacation. This is why you need to think hard about the different family adventures, as careful choices can really make things ideal for the children and boost the experiences of the whole family.

*This is a collaborative post.

How To Keep Kids Happy On Long Car Journeys

It is the summer holidays and England is enjoying a lengthy heatwave, which most likely means fun days out and sunny staycations. However, it also potentially means braving long road trips with the kids too! If you are wondering how to survive the car journey and all stay sane, here are some of my top tips…

How To Keep Kids Happy On Long Car Journeys

Be Prepared

This motto is not just for scouts! Time your journey for evening, if your children sleep well in the car and don’t mind the disruption to their bedtime routine, or opt to travel whenever they are most likely to be chilled in the car. A badly timed journey is so much more stressful than it needs to be!

Comfort

If you are going on an exceptionally long journey, it maybe worth considering the actual car you are using. Comfortable seats, space and even down to basics such as air con, are more than just a luxury if you are planning a long distance road trip!

Assuming it is not going to be practical to invest in a new car specifically for this purpose, you could consider hiring one. This could also be of benefit for safety, reliability and fuel costs. For example, The New BMW 5 Series was voted WhatCar? ‘Overall Car of the Year’ 2017 and reviews well on space and comfort, and has surprising low running costs too. You could even look at secondhand deals on something like this BMW 5 Series, if you travel long journeys by car often. You can find BMW 5 Series For Sale here.

Interior picture of BMW

Have Essentials On Hand

Have snacks, drinks, (reusable) wipes and other essentials easily available on hand. It is much easier to organise this in advance than it is to have to make additional stops just to find essential items, and is especially helpful if you get stuck in traffic and your plan for a scheduled lunch/ snack/ dinner stop goes awry. Of course the driver will still need to take a rest too, but some careful organisation will avoid the inevitable hunger upsets if you do find yourself stuck in long queues!

Queue of traffic in rear view car mirror

Entertainment

Car journeys tend to be somewhat more relaxing if the children are not bored! Taking a couple of favourite toys to play with is a good start. Books are good in theory, but reading can make travel sickness worse so audio books might be a better choice for the car. A tablet with a favourite film, kids TV programmes or fun apps might well keep them occupied for a decent chunk of the journey, so that may help with at least some of the travelling time, but it is handy to have alternatives too. Travel games and card games (Top Trumps etc…) add some variety to a long journey; there are plenty to choose from. You can also resort to classics like ‘eye spy’ if you get stuck!

Boy sitting on top of car, through sun roof.

Emergency Supplies

It is useful to have some emergency supplies ready, that you will hopefully not need, but just incase of the unfortunate scenario that you do. I wholeheartedly recommend having a sick bucket and tissues in the car, even if your child/ren doesn’t usually get car sick. A change of clothes is also useful. If your child has any medications, keep a dose in the car – in the event of a delay at least you don’t have to worry about stuff like that then. Also keep a blanket in the car for any eventuality.

Last but not least, don’t forget paracetamol incase the journey still ends up causing a headache, despite all your best laid plans – but fingers crossed you won’t need it if you follow this advice! Enjoy your roadtrip!!!

What are your top tips for long car journeys? Let me know in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

A Day Out in London With Kids: Guest Post by Emma – Wanderlust & Wet Wipes

I love London. I loved living there when I lived there (even though I was always ready to leave for our next adventure). Now that we live away, I especially love going back there to visit. It really is a city with something for everyone with millions of outdoor and indoor options for every eventuality.

There are museums and parks, soft plays and cafes, buzzing restaurants and historic sights, shopping galore and sniff new buildings…. Not to mention the ever popular riding public transport (true story – we actually did this one afternoon)! You could spend a couple of crazy busy weeks there and still not do everything! If you’ve only got the one day, here’s what I would do for a day out in London with kids…

A Day Out in London With Kids - a guest post by Wanderlust and Wet Wipes title with faded image of London background

Early morning
We’re usually pretty jet lagged when we arrive so the kids wake up crazy early. A cup of tea on the sofa while they watch CBeebies makes me feel right at home! Since we stay in Putney, I usually try to go for a walk or a run along the river. The views are stunning across the water and you can usually watch rowers skimming along as you run.

Breakfast
Back home and we are ready to go pretty early having been up with the birds. Living the Middle East, we always go for big breakfasts with lots of pork products! My current favourite places are Muriel’s Kitchen and Carluccio’s.

Morning
There’s so much to do in London with kids, it’s ridiculous. I’m a huge fan of the museums partly because they are free but mostly because they are such amazing resources for parents. Our favourites are the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum which are conveniently right next to each other and down the road from Muriel’s Kitchen! I really want to try out the Transport Museum next time we are home as I think the kids will be the right ages for it by now.

Lunch
If the weather is nice, I say you can’t beat a pub lunch in a place with a really nice beer garden. Sitting in the sun with a proper pub grub type of meal is one of my ideas of heaven!

Afternoon
In the afternoon heading to the Tower of London is always a winner. You can download their app and complete a digital mission or you can do one of their activity trails. Alternatively head over to the London Eye for spectacular views of the capital. If the weather is nice and you want to make the most of being outside, take advantage of one of the many hundreds of parks (1700 apparently!) and let the kids run off some energy.

Dinner
There are literally so many options if you’re just coming off the Eye. The South Bank is packed with family friendly restaurants like Wagamama, Giraffe and Ping Pong. My kids can be quite fussy eaters so it’s great to have a place where I know there’s somewhere that we can all eat something!

Head home via public transport (to keep the kids happy) for a well earned, good night’s sleep.

Aerial image of London river Thames

About Emma
Emma’s a pushing 40, travel-mad mum to 2 young kids (aged 6 and 4) and a crazy dog. Originally from the UK she’s lived in 10 cities across 5 continents all over the world. She currently lives in Doha, Qatar. Emma started blogging about her family travels in 2017 when she had an epiphany about how to have successful adventurous family holidays.

You can follow Emma at:

Blog: wanderlustandwetwipes.com
Twitter: @wanderwetwipes
Facebook: facebook.com/wanderlustandwetwipes
Instagram: instagram.com/wanderlustandwetwipes
Pinterest: pinterest.co.uk/wanderlustandwetwipes

Essential Trips For All Music Lovers

Everyone says that they like music, but then there are people who LOVE music. For those people, music is life; their existence would be a little emptier without it. But music doesn’t just have to be something that you listen to and from work; you can make it part of your travels! From the history of music to today’s biggest players, there are destinations across the world that have music running through their veins. We take a look at some of these destinations below, which might just inspire your next trip…

Essential Trips For All Music Lovers title record image above

The Home of The Beatles

Where would music be with The Beatles? It’s not worth thinking about. The Fab Four from Liverpool changed the course of music forever. Listen to their records today, and you can still hear their influence in modern culture. To see where it all began, take a trip to Liverpool. There, you’ll be able to see the homes where they were raised, the areas that influenced some of their most popular tracks (specifically, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields), explore the Beatles Museum, and visit the famous Cavern Club, which is where they perfected their sound.

Modern Music Makers

People have the idea that music was better in the past, but is this true? It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Today, you can hear music from any and all backgrounds; music hasn’t gotten worse, there’s just more of it, and it’s more diverse. To hear the latest and best sounds, take a trip to the cities where all the best new music is developed. In places like London, New York, Los Angeles, and Berlin, you’ll be able to see the artists paving the future of music. And trust us, it sounds pretty good.

Through History

If you love music, then you’ll be aware of all the big movers and shakers throughout history. Virtually every big player has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and did you know that there’s a museum dedicated entirely to these musicians in Ohio? Book yourself into the nearby Fairfield Inn & Suites Akron Stow, and pay a visit. There, you’ll find a grand museum divided into seven sections outlining various aspects of music, from one-hit wonders, songs that shaped rock and roll, and special exhibitions devoted to inductees, among others. For music lovers, this museum will function as something of a pilgrimage.

Other Languages

We tend to focus on music that’s in the English language, but if there’s one thing that music has taught us, it’s that music is global. For your next trip, why not think about visiting a place with a rich musical heritage, even if it’s in a different language? Cuba’s music scene is a knock-out, as is the Spanish cities where the Spanish guitar still reigns. Desert Sahara bands and artists, such as Tinariwen, have also been increasingly popular with western audiences in recent years, too. Travel the whole world, and dig deep to hear the sounds they’ve been creating – it’s sure to be good.

Do you have a favourite place to go for the musical connections? Let me know in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.