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.

Tips on Getting Some Sleep if your Flight is Delayed Overnight

If you are waiting for a delayed flight and it is night time, then you may want to get some sleep. However, sleeping in an airport is not at all easy due to the noise, light and discomfort. However, if you do need some sleep in these less than desirable conditions while you are waiting for your flight, there are things that you can do to help. Below are some suggestions which might be of some use…

Tips on Getting Some Sleep if your Flight is Delayed Overnight. Image of inside airport at night

Book into a hotel

The obvious solution would be to book into a hotel. Obviously this would only work if you knew that the flight was definitely not coming in for a certain amount of time. You would also need there to be a free hotel room nearby and one that you could afford. Sometimes an airline may pay for accommodation if the delay is their fault and for a long time, so it is worth asking before you book up a room as they may have specific terms with regards to reimbursing you. However, most of the time people will try to get some sleep in the airport.

Use earplugs or noise cancelling headphones

Airports are really noisy and this could stop you from getting to sleep. The best way to block the noise is to use good earplugs, or you may prefer to use noise cancelling headphones. If you do have some headphones, you can use them to listen to music, or something on your mobile device, and this will enable you to relax and hopefully sleep. It should help to block out any noise distractions.

Use an eyemask or hat

The light can be a problem as well. Even with your eyes shut it can still feel bright through your eyelids and make it hard to nap. It can therefore be good to cover your eyes with an eye mask or, if you do not have one, pull a hood down over them or just cover over with a scarf or something like that.

Make a pillow from jumper, coat or bag

Most of us will sleep with a pillow and therefore having one could make a big difference to whether we are able to fall asleep. Some people travel with them, but if you do not then you can roll up some clothing or see if you can use your bag instead.

Find a comfortable chair or place on the floor

Getting comfy can be tricky and you will need to think about whether you can get comfortable on the chair or whether you want to try lying on the floor. This will very much depend on you and what you find comfortable. It may be possible to lie across several chairs depending on how busy it is and how the chairs are designed.

Man sleeping on chair with earphones in

Make sure your bags are secure

It is worth making sure that your bags are secure. Not only is this a sensible practice, but it could help you to feel more relaxed knowing that they are safe. If you are worried that they might be stolen or interfered with, then it might stop you from being able to relax enough to fall asleep. Some people padlock their luggage, but securing it with your body can be a sensible thing to do as well. This will stop anyone taking it and mean they cannot put anything inside it.

Ask someone to wake you

You may also be worried that you might not wake up in time for your flight. If this is the case, then ask a staff member or someone waiting for the same flight if they could wake you up when you need to get ready for the flight. Of course you could set the alarm on your mobile, which is the easiest option, but with all the other noises – and the ear plugs or headphones on to drown that out – you may not hear it. This way you will be able to go into a deep sleep, knowing that you will wake up at the necessary time rather than having a restless sleep as you keep checking to see whether it is time for the flight or not.

Girl sleeping with headphones on

We all have different sleep routines, but it is difficult to imagine that any of us sleep in conditions like this normally. Therefore it will be hard to apply our sleep routines to this. However, do try to make it as like your normal sleep as you possibly can. Perhaps cover yourself over with something, make a pillow and things like that. If you use meditation to listen to certain music, see whether you can find that on your mobile device to use. It is important to try to relax before you sleep, so think of things that you can do which will help and therefore go to sleep.

*This is a collaborative post.

Exotic Foods From Faraway Places: Favourite Dishes From Around The World

I have social media connections from all over the world. As I scroll down my instagram feed or browse through facebook photos, I see yummy meals from pretty much every country you can think of! It got me thinking about some of my personal favourite exotic dishes from around the world…

Exotic Foods From Faraway Places: Favourite Dishes From Around The World text with a row of plates of food along the bottom of image

Favourites from France

I remember going on a school trip to France in my teenage years. We were encouraged to try classic French cuisine, such as escargot; which I admit, I definitely was not a fan of! However, I adored the patisserie; authentic French pastries are delicious!

I also love French crepes, which is something that fellow blogger Falcondale Life most certainly agrees with. She had a crepe making lesson in the home of a Breton farmer a couple of years ago. She preferred the sweet crepes, but says they were fiendishly difficult to make in the traditional style!

French crepes

Barbados Delights

We visited Barbados back in our early 20s. I don’t remember a huge amount of that holiday anymore, but I do remember going for a tasty beach banquet one night. The coconut rice was particularly good! What I can remember is their dishes generally didn’t look amazing but flavours were incredible.

A Taste of Thailand

I have never visited Thailand but Thai food is one of my favourites! I am especially food of vegetable noodle dishes. If I ever go to Thailand, it would be interesting to see how the real thing compares to the English versions I have sampled! You can travel to Thailand with Destination2 and they also have more yummy recommendations on their site too! Pad thai, anyone?

A well presented selection of Thai food on a table

Other Recommendations

I asked a couple of other bloggers what exotic dishes they recommend, especially vegetarian ones if possible…

Reduced Grub said they absolutely love Turkish Kisir, because it’s super healthy, full of colour and kind on your pocket.

Adventure Travel Family said they loved lentil dhal in Sri Lanka: “As vegans it’s a great high protein source and you can have it spicy for us adults and mild for the kids. It’s also super cheap, perfect for budget travel!”

Delicious noodle dish in a wooden bowl with chopsticks

All this talk of food has made my belly rumble! I wonder if our local Thai is still open right now…

What is your favourite exotic dish? Where in the world is the best food you have ever eaten? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

9 Awesome Reasons Why You Should Travel To Tokyo

In every part of the world, no matter where you are, you always hear a lot of people saying they want to go to Tokyo. Why is that?

It is because you will never run out of things to do and places to see when you travel to Tokyo city in Japan. There are just so many options for you that you can never go wrong with any choice.

Travelling there isn’t difficult either, as there are efficient modes of transportation in Tokyo, plus getting to Japan isn’t so difficult – thanks to Cleartrip! Cleartrip has cheap flights to Narita Airport.

9 Awesome Reasons Why You Should Travel To Tokyo title with an image of Tokyo

Where can you go?

Meiji Shrine
In Japan learning about their culture doesn’t need to be done through reading tons of history books, it can be simply done by going to the places where they worship and pray. It is not just the solemnity of the place which you will enjoy, but the architecture and the overall atmosphere of the area as well.

Tsukiji Market
No better place to food trip than in Tsukiji Market. It will be the kind of market that you won’t want to leave because not only is it clean and organized but the entire market itself isn’t rowdy and super crowded. You get to go around peacefully while having a bite-to-eat here and there. Make sure to save some space in your tummy before you go here.

Ginza
Let your inner shopaholic wild and free in Ginza. Ginza is the known place in Tokyo ALL OVER THE WORLD where you can have your shopping galore with the assurance that everything you buy is worth it. If you’ve been lessening your expenses during your trip, this is the place where you spend what you’ve saved.

A photo of Ginza at night

DisneySea
It may not exactly be found in Tokyo, however it is really close. It is an amusement park that is somewhat like a water park, but it is the only one that exists in the whole world.

Ghibli Museum
Studio Ghibli fans out there, this is the place to make all your dreams come true. If you’ve seen the films produced by this studio, then you will definitely enjoy going to this museum because it is as if they transport you to the world of every film they’ve made.

What else can I do?

Eat Sushi from a Sushi Stand
Sushi from a stand in Japan truly has an unforgettable taste. Japanese people really treat this delicacy with such finesse that in every place that serves sushi, you’d love.

Sushi

Try Out their Desserts
There are Japanese desserts that are very unique to the country. Many of which can be found in Tokyo.

Cross in Shibuya Crossing
As simple as this may be, once you are there you would actually be surprised on how cool it really is.

Get a meal in 7/11
You read that right. A 7/11 in Japan is unlike any other 7/11 in the world. You might actually think you’re dining in a formal restaurant with the flavours of the food their 7/11 has.

There is no need to wait any longer, book your trip in Cleartrip to Tokyo now!

*This is a collaborative post with Karla.

Costa Rica: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Have you ever considered visiting Costa Rica? This Central American eco country is famous for its rainforests and biodiversity, so is an absolute dream for nature lovers. It has been described as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic because it crams 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. And with roughly a quarter of the country made up of protected national parks and areas, which are home to over 840 species of birds, around 2000 plants and hundreds of mammals too, it is an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Costa Rica even aims to be the first country to eliminate all single- use plastics; it takes environmental issues very seriously!

It is also a great place to travel generally. As explained in this article by The Telegraph, it is a cool country to visit for loads of very good reasons. For example, in 2016, it was named the happiest place in the world by the Happy Planet Index; that is pretty awesome to say the least! Who wouldn’t want to visit?!

Title Costa Rica: Nature Lovers Paradise on faded background image of Costa Rica coastline.

Where To Stay

Enjoy a spot of luxury in one of these beautiful Costa Rica rentals. Or you could spend time travelling around different parts to fully appreciate the diversity of this fabulous country. Honest advice suggests that perhaps the capital, San Jose, is not the best place to stay and it is probably a good idea to plan as little time there as possible. However, the rest of Costa Rica sounds absolutely amazing and there are lots of fantastic location choices.

The west (Pacific side) tends to be hotter and is the more touristy side, especially with American visitors, so this might be considered easier with kids. Manuel Antonio National Park, for example, is situated right in the centre of the west coast, and is a great place for seeing an abundance of wildlife.

Costa Rica National Parks map

Source: Go Visit Costa Rica

Places To Visit

As I have said, Costa Rica is all about the stunning scenery along with an incredibly vast range of plants and wildlife. These can best be found at the numerous national parks and nature reserves, and each one has its own unique qualities. I have already mentioned a couple of places briefly, but here is some further information about a selection of the must-see, must-do nature spots…

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Puntarenas Province

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve sounds like a truly spectacular place where you can not only see an amazing array of wildlife, but you can also walk across a hanging bridge to view the forest canopy from magnificent heights. You can even zip wire over the forest!

Monteverde Cloud Forest hanging bridge above the forest canopy.

Monteverde, Costa Rica by Haakon S. Krohn (Source: Wikimedia)

There are other cool things to do at Monteverde as well; such as eat in a quirky treehouse restaurant, exciting horse riding treks or visit Don Juan’s Coffee Farm. Costa Rica Experts detail this tour on their website: “This tour gives you a closer look of the production of Don Juan’s coffee. After learning the drying and roasting process of the beans, explore other food staples of Costa Rica. Embark on a culinary journey. Discover the history of cocoa pods and make your own chocolate using traditional Costa Rican recipes. Yes, you will get to try your creations! This sweet experience continues to the “El Trapiche” (a mill made of wooden rollers), which is used as a tool to extract sugarcane juice and make tasty sweets and much more. This visit wouldn’t be complete without the chance to buy an authentic cup of Costa Rican coffee at the souvenir shop.”

Tortuguero National Park

This is home to nesting sea turtles, and respect for their needs is to be priority if visiting this park. For this reason, the area is out of bounds after 6pm unless you are with an official tour guide. During these night tours, you will see most likely see adult turtles coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. However, if you are lucky, you might even spot a newly hatched turtle heading toward the water!

As well as turtles, there are plenty of birds, fish, monkeys and other wildlife to see at this National Park. A good way to do this is by taking a boat ride along the canal. Or you can hire a canoe and paddle down.

La Fortuna, Alajuela

This is perhaps one of the best known tourist spots, because it is situated at the centre of several wonders. Top of that is Arenal Volcano, an active volcano that regularly erupts. There are also hot springs to bathe in, heated naturally by the thermal activity from Arenal. Then there is the most stunning waterfall too. Plus there are day and night tours at nearby Ecocentro Danaus, a private ecology reserve, for wildlife watching. With such breath-taking scenery and experiences, it is hardly surprising that it is a popular choice. For this reason though, I am told it can get very busy! Check out quieter times to visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds.

La Fortuna waterfall, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park has a wealth of wildlife to discover. You can explore independently or get a tour guide. As A Strong Coffee To Go explains, even just sitting on the beach you will see animals such as sloths, monkeys and iguanas without going to any effort. But if you are keen to spot more hidden creatures, as well as gain greater insight and knowledge, then you might find a tour guide beneficial. They carry telescopes and know where and what to look for, which gives a somewhat huge advantage over an inexperienced traveller with their naked eye. Of course, you don’t need a telescope, or an expert, simply to bask in the beautiful surroundings though!

One of the beautiful birds that can be spotted in Costa Rica rainforests.

Obviously these are just a small handful of the wonderful places to visit in Costa Rica. But wherever you choose, and whether you cram in as much as you can or take things at a more leisurely pace, it is bound to be an unforgettable experience! It truly does sound like a nature lover’s paradise.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Home Or Away? Why Both Scotland And Portugal Are On My Travel Bucketlist!

I have already written about various destinations on my travel bucketlist and for this post I have two more! These are by no means new to my list, but I haven’t blogged about them specifically until now. However, I have picked these because they will most likely be the main contenders for our next trip!

Home Or Away? Why Both Scotland And Portugal Are On My Travel Bucketlist! Image of Scotland and Portugal

Scotland is on my bucketlist because I think it has absolutely beautiful countryside and is special to me because we went there as a final trip with my mum when she was terminally ill. Portugal is largely due to Squiggle showing an interest in it because she has a Portuguese friend, but also I haven’t been myself either and would love to go. So which should we go for next; home or away?!

Scotland

Technically not a staycation yet close enough to feel like it, Scotland is somewhere I am keen to explore with Squiggle because of the abundance of outdoor space with its stunning countryside scenery and a wealth of nature and wildlife to spot. Travel to Scotland from England is relatively quick and easy too, with various modes an option depending on your preferences and priorities. I have travelled by both plane and rail previously, but would drive with Squiggle so we have the freedom and flexibility. It is roughly a 6 – 7 hour roadtrip to reach the Scottish borders from London so a stopover might well be required too!

Beautiful Scottish countryside. Image from clickstay.
Credit: Clickstay

Aside from a brief trip to Glasgow once for a conference, the only time I have visited Scotland is for the memorable holiday mentioned above. There were around a dozen members of family and friends, so we treated ourselves (with massive help from a wonderful charity) to a huge amazing chateau to stay in, much like some of the ones on Clickstay. It is so fun and unique staying somewhere so magnificent in the middle of the countryside. Of course there are slightly more modest options to stay too though!

Massive chateau in Scotland. Image by Clickstay.
Credit: Clickstay

Portugal

As mentioned already, I haven’t been to Portugal despite it being one of the closer countries to visit abroad from here in England. I kind of feel, for me at least (and when I was younger), that Portugal always seemed understated whenever holiday destinations were discussed – almost as if it were a lesser known cousin to places like France, Spain or Germany. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it had successfully avoided becoming a tourist trap (which is a good thing!) and I just hadn’t opened my eyes to less obvious options. I don’t know. But yet I gather it is a great travel choice!

Portugal coastline.
Credit: Clickstay

Portugal has some gorgeous rugged beaches that I have seen compared to the Californian coastlines, whilst also benefitting from plenty of green space too. With a warm climate for much of the year, and some parts even winter is mild, it is ideal for soaking up some vitamin D whilst enjoying plenty of time outdoors. It also has some interesting history, and it is a great learning experience to explore new countries and immerse yourself in different cultures. I am sure Squiggle would love to pick up some of the language along the way too, as she mentioned this before!

Villa in Portugal
Credit: Clickstay

I would most likely stay in a beautiful villa in Portugal, because I think it is nice to have that homely feel and tonnes of space to ourselves. Squiggle finds it abit overwhelming otherwise to be honest. One with a private pool would be preferable, as that would be a wonderful luxury that we would definitely make the most of!

So where will we end up next – Scotland or Portugal? Or somewhere else entirely? I will keep you posted! Where are you going on your travels?

*This is a collaborative post.

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 27: Place I would Most Like To Visit

Ooh, now this one is easy; I have written about places I would like to visit already, in the About Us section. Check it out to find out my answer!

#Blogtober16