Wanderlust Kids #8

Last month I had a record number of people linking up to Wanderlust Kids and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single one of the posts. I got some great ideas for destinations to visit with BattleKid in the future and also some excellent hints and tips.

September’s Featured Wanderlust Kids Post

The post that got me really excited while reading it last month was by Jenny of Travelynn Family, who shared their 16-day itinerary of their visit to Sri Lanka with their boys. I’ve always wanted to visit Sri Lanka and BattleDad and I almost did for our honeymoon, but we chose Cuba instead. That said it is still on my wanderlust bucket list. From beaches and elephant sanctuaries to the capital Colombo, they covered a lot in this detailed tour itinerary. I have this post pinned to one of my travel boards on Pinterest for future reference!

September’s Special Mention Wanderlust Kids Post

Another post which I thought deserved a special mention was from Annette at Four Acorns. In her post, she gave us comprehensive details of all the places her family enjoyed wild swimming in France during the summer. From incredible beaches to swimming under a derelict Roman bridge, she had some stunning pictures in her post. What a way to spend the summer!

September’s Other Great Posts

Wandermust Family shared their post about favourite city breaks in both the Middle east and North Africa with babies from the bloggers who have been.

Andrea from Topsy Turvy Tribe told us about learning lessons from travelling with toddlers including some great tips for travelling with them such as always carry cash, something BattleDad rarely does.

Elizabeth from Dutch Dutch Goose shared her post about their trip to visit Mount Pilatus in Switzerland. It reminded me of a similar trip we did to Mount Rigi pre-BattleKid.

Paul at Family Makes told us all about their visit to Hadrian’s Wall. I never knew you could actually walk on the walls and their children got to meet a Roman soldier too.

Helena of The Queen of Collage shared her post about their visit to Gisacum in Normandy to see a Gallo-Roman archaeological site.

Annabel at Smudge Postcard showed how enjoyable slow travel on a narrow boat on the Basingstoke Canal could be for celebrating a birthday.

Nat at Awaybies shared her post about visiting Kidzania with her 8-year-old. This kid play area at Westfield Shopping centre looks amazing and kids will love it!

Katie of Mum of 2.5 shared her post about their lovely family holiday to Spain to visit the grandparents.

Zen Baby Travel shared their post about an amazing hotel which they went to for their first family holiday as a foursome. It looks incredible.

Tara of After The Rain Comes Sunshine shared her post about their visit to Felbrigg Hall, which is a stunning National Trust property. From her pictures I can certainly see why she fell in love with it.

Johlene from Johlene Orton linked up her post telling us why you should visit Sioux City if you are ever on Gran Canaria island. I think BattleKid would love it after our recent trip to Yellowstone in which we met real cowboys and cowgirls.

Laura from Side Street Style shared with us her post about their action-packed weekend at the Just So Festival. They stayed in vintage tents and had an all-round amazing time. I urge you to watch her video of their weekend, the pillow fight looks like so much fun!

Claire from The Ladybirds Adventures share her post about their September family adventures. They’ve even started autumn by collecting conkers, pine cones and acorns.

Melissa at The Family Voyage shared her comprehensive post about car seat options if travelling with babies or young children.

Niamh from Treasure Tales shared her post about a family break in Wexford, Ireland. I can’t believe I read someone mentioning a baby bowl. If you’re not from Ireland, you won’t get the reference. It’s something I always missed when eating out with BattleKid in the UK!

And finally, Lisa of Baby Loves Travel shared her post about their experience pf the Camper Calling Festival. I must admit I’d never heard of it before reading Lisa’s post, but it looks and sounds great.

I really cannot thank you all enough for linking up so many wonderful travel posts last month. I enjoyed reading every single one of them and am getting excited to see what is linked up this month.

And for this month, I am joining in with my post all about our recent mid-week stay at Bluestone. We have stayed at Bluestone before but for weekend breaks. This was our first time to enjoy it mid-week.

My ‘Wanderlust Kids’ linky will open from the 1st of each month for you to link up a post, old or new, which involves travelling with kids. It can be a day out, a family holiday, a travel review, somewhere new your children have discovered or a post with hints and tips about travelling with kids. As long as it features kids and is travel based it can be linked up. The following month I will write a synopsis of the posts linked up by everyone, and I’ll be featuring my favourite one, linking back to everyone’s blog.

So, if you’d like to join in, just grab the badge below, add it to your post and link up your post via the link up button below. Please make sure you visit a few other posts that have linked up and leave a comment. 

Don’t forget that throughout the month you can use the #WanderlustKids on your Instagram photos which involve travelling with kids. These photos can be abroad, home or days out, so long as they feature your children and have a travel theme attached to it. Each fortnight I will pick my favourites to showcase. I cannot believe how well this little community is growing and appreciate everyone who has adopted the #wanderlustkids on Instagram.

And last but not least, I’ve created a Wanderlust Kids group on Facebook. The idea behind it was that not everyone who travels with their kids will have a blog. So, by creating the group we can share our posts and travel tips with non-bloggers, and maybe even help each other out by sharing advice or ideas about travelling with your kids. I don’t know if the group will go anywhere but I’d love it if you could join up, and add anyone you think might benefit from the group. Feel free to share your travel blog posts there too!

I look forward to reading your posts, maybe gaining some inspiration.

WanderlustKids

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Wanderlust Kids #7

I must apologise to everyone for the fact there was no #Wanderlustkids linky last month. I had hoped to get one sorted as soon as we got back from America but we then had to get BattleKid settled into kindergarten. So, as you can imagine, life got in the way. But we’re back this month and I am dying to hear all about your trips, hints and tips and anything related to travelling with kids.

I have to thank everyone who linked up in August. We had hints an tips, days out and holidays abroad. I’ve loved reading all your posts. I am going to continue as I started in August with a synopsis of everyone’s posts as usual but with the featured post as well. Introduced last time, this post gets special mention as the one I most enjoyed reading. 

August’s featured Wanderlust Kids post

This month’s featured post was a difficult one and two were in the running but in the end, I loved Nat from Awaybies review, and hints and tips post, about Disneyland Paris. As you’ll know we are going for the first time as a family in December and I gleamed some more hints and tips from Nat’s post. She wrote about where to stay, when to go in relation to your children’s ages and time of year, shopping and what rides are good. What I didn’t find out in all my own research was how good the Moteurs action show is. This Cars-themed show is going to be a must with BattleKid and our friends little boy! And I also got another great hint from Nat; bring on-the-go entertainment for queuing times with the kids. Now, I bought some Disney toys and colouring books in America for BattleKid. I was going to give them to him on the plane over but I think I’ll hold these for the queues! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland Paris I urge you to read Nat’s post as there is nothing like getting tips from those who have been!

August’s Other Great Posts

Rupreet of Rupeat shared her post about their amazing end to their Kenyan holiday at the Msambweni Beach House. The food, which always features in Rupreet’s posts looked and sounds amazing.

Jenny of TraveLynn Family shared some amazing hints and tips about road tripping with your baby. I love her idea of a cool box packed with snacks as it makes for a ready-made picnic if you see somewhere along the way you want to stop at.

Amy from Mama Mighalls told us about a great family day out for £25 for four people at the Kingsbury Water Park and the Broomey Croft Children’s Farm next door. Located in Warwickshire, they both sound great, although I know BattleKid would have to be torn away from the mini tractors in the farm.

Niamh from Treasure Tales linked up her post about visiting Rathbeggan Lakes in Co. Meath, Ireland. There is lots to do there for adults and kids alike and BattleKid would love the soft play and fairy garden. Just beware of the hidden costs as Niamh has pointed out, such as a charge for using a BBQ and the extras cost of rides!

Lucille from Bebe Voyage wrote and shared a wonderful post about 12 kid-friendly historical sites in Europe and hints and tips for visiting them. Rome and Pompeii are firmly on our to-do list, but I’d also love to visit the Cutty Sark. And we recently went dragon hunting at the Tower of London.

Lydia from Holidaze and Hellidaze shared a lovely post about Fagan Park in Australia. I love the sound of the Garden of Many Nations.

Laura of Musings of a Tired Mummy shared her post about their family day out in Staines. I have to say I’d have a hard time getting BattleDad out of Games Workshop.

Lisa from Baby Loves Travel shared her post about visiting Deen City Farm in London. I never knew there were city farms in London but I think they are a wonderful way to let city kids experience the countryside without having to travel for hours to get there.

Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes linked up her post about visiting Lake Como with her mum and kids. She shared places to visit and stay, places to eat, things to do and even boats rides. This destination is firmly on the to-do lsit now that I know there is lots to do there with kids.

And last but by no means least, Zen Baby Travel shared their post about visiting the River and Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames. They had a lovely treat as Peter Rabbit and friends were visiting the museum at the same time.

I really enjoyed reading the different posts everyone linked up and cannot wait to see what will be linked up this month.

This month I am linking up a post which came into it’s own during our recent holiday. We have wanted to visit Yellowstone for a long time and finally got the chance at the end of August as some of you will know. Here’s our planning post along with our Yellowstone Bucket List. You’ll have to come back to see if we managed it all when I finally get around to writing up our recent travels. 

My ‘Wanderlust Kids’ linky will open from the 1st of each month for you to link up a post, old or new, which involves travelling with kids. It can be a day out, a family holiday, somewhere new your children have discovered or a post with hints and tips about travelling with kids. As long as it features kids and is travel based it can be linked up. The following month I will write a synopsis of the posts linked up (and/or featuring a favourite one, depending on the numbers), linking back to the owner’s blog.

So, if you’d like to join in, just grab the badge below, add it to your post and link up your post via the link up button below. Please make sure you visit a few other posts that have linked up and leave a comment.

Don’t forget that throughout the month you can use the #WanderlustKids on your Instagram photos which involve travelling with kids. These photos can be abroad, home or days out, so long as they feature your children and have a travel theme attached to it. Each fortnight I will pick my favourites to showcase. I cannot believe how well this little community is growing and appreciate everyone who has adopted the #wanderlustkids on Instagram.

I look forward to reading your posts, maybe gaining some inspiration.

WanderlustKids

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Portland to Yellowstone and Back Again – A Two-week Itinerary

Many of you who read the blog and follow us on Instagram will know we have just returned from an epic two-week USA road trip in which we went from Portland to Yellowstone and back again. It was 11 months in the planning, from Portland to Yellowstone, and came around rather quickly after we moved to Portugal. Before we knew it, we were getting ready to go.

I have so much to write up about our trip. From amazingly beautiful Yellowstone, to smoky Montana, to hip and trendy Portland, we packed in a lot over our two weeks. I’ve had some people ask me about our itinerary so I thought I should get cracking with it. So, in the first of a few (ok, maybe many) posts about our wonderful trip, here is what our itinerary for our two-week trip looks like from Portland to Yellowstone and back again, with 36 hours in London.

portland to yellowstone

Portugal to London – Thursday, 1000 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes

When we booked our flights to Portland from Heathrow last October, we were still well and truly living in Wales. Delta Airways had just opened their new (and the only) direct route from Heathrow to Portland, in association with Virgin Atlantic. This made a huge difference to how our trip was going to work out. When we had previously looked into the trip, we would have had at least one, if not two stop-overs. With a toddler in tow, this would not have been ideal. But a direct flight most definitely was.

That said, once we moved to Portugal, we needed to book flights to and from the UK to connect with our Portland flight. The only airline flying to Heathrow from Faro around the weekend of our trip was British Airways. We flew to Heathrow on the Thursday evening (there were no other flights before our Portland one), two days before our flight to Portland. This flight was just under two and a half hours. Following this, we had 36 hours in London and we had a great day in London. More on that to come.

portland to yellowstone - kid on luggage in airport
Starting our epic trip

London to Portland – Saturday, 4897 miles, 10 hours

Our flight from Heathrow to Portland with Delta Airways left London at 12.30pm and was scheduled to be 10 hours 55 minutes, arriving at 3.15pm local time. We actually arrived ahead of schedule at 2.30pm. This is the longest flight we have done with our son to date and it was us adults who were getting bored long before he was.

Portland, Oregon to Richland, Washington – Saturday, 227 miles, 3 hours

Our first destination on our road trip was going to be Yellowstone but to drive there in one trip would have involved between 762 and 829 miles, and a minimum of 12 to 13 hours driving, without stops, depending on the route we decided to take. You can either go over the top of the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest or around the bottom of the Sawtooth National Forest. We had a look on Google Maps and saw nice roads around the Nez Perce route, so opted for that.

But with our son in tow, we decided to break up the driving by stopping at a town called Richland, in Washington state, for an overnight stay before driving the rest of the way to Island Park close to Yellowstone. So, after picking up our Hertz car for the two-weeks, hubby drove us to Richland via I-84 and the very beautiful Columbia Gorge Creek.

Richland, Washington to Island Park, Idaho – Sunday, 607 miles, 12 hours

From Richland we made our way to our AirBnB accommodation in Island Park, Idaho, located 30 minutes from the West Yellowstone entrance. We had looked into staying within Yellowstone itself but this proved to be outside our budget.

Leaving our hotel at 6am, our route took us along some stunning scenery past Coeur D’Alene, along I-90, until we turned off onto US-287. From there we met up with I-20, just south of West Yellowstone and it was a short hop to Island Park where our log cabin was located. This was a long haul and we stopped four times along the way, twice to fill up with gas (as the Americans would say), once to stretch our legs, and once in Missoula for lunch. It took us a total of 12 hours to drive the 607 miles. Our drive from Santander to Tavira, when we moved to Portugal, was good practice for this trip.

Yellowstone – Sunday evening to Friday morning

We spent 5 nights in our AirBnB wood cabin and toured Yellowstone National Park over four days. Although we didn’t get to see absolutely everything, we came away from our visit thoroughly content with what we did see. Our son did not complain once during the trip, as you have a lot of driving around the park to do. We got to see some stunning natural wonders along with quite a few of the animal inhabitants of Yellowstone. I cannot recommend Yellowstone National Park enough.

my sunday photo - gibbon falls in yellowstone national park
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Island Park, Idaho to Lolo, Montana – Friday, 280 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes

Leaving our AirBnB accommodation in Island Park at 9.30am, we took I-20 to US-287. We stopped once to fill up and use the toilet and, taking I-90, we arrived at Missoula, Montana, the main town beside Lolo at 2pm. Since we arrived early and before our check-in time for our next AirBnb, we stopped for lunch at a great Five Guys in Missoula.

This drive back was not as clear as the drive towards Island Park. We later discovered that a lot of Montana’s forests were on fire and the smoke we drove through was pretty awful, reducing visibility quite a bit.

Lolo and Missoula, Montana – Friday evening to Monday morning

We spent 3 nights in Lolo, the next town over from Missoula. Our plans were to visit Lolo National Forest while we were there but unfortunately those plans went by the wayside as there were wild fires across Lolo National Forest, along with many of the other forests in Montana. So, instead, we discovered some other delights close to Lolo like the National Bison Range, the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, and Missoula town itself.

portland to yellowstone - smoky skies in Montana
The incredible smoky skies in Montana

Lolo, Montana to Richland, Washington – Monday, 350 miles, 6 hours

As we made our way back towards Portland, we had another overnight stay in Richland planned. Leaving our AirBnB accommodation in Lolo by 9.30am, we travelled back along I-90, through 350 miles of smoke haze, which had various degrees of visbility, until we arrived in Richland at 4pm, local time. We had crossed a time zone when we left Montana.

We filled up just once on this trip and stopped once for lunch in a town called Spokane. I drove the first 230 miles, while hubby did the last 120 miles. We passed Coeur D’Alene again but could barely see this beautiful lake due to the smoke haze.

Richland, Washington to Portland, Oregon – Tuesday, 227 miles, 5 hours 30 minutes

We left our hotel in Richland at 9.30am but didn’t arrive at our accommodation in Portland until 3pm. The reason for this was the forest around Multnomah Falls and along the Columbia Gorge Creek had gone up in flames on the Sunday, and as a result, I-84 was closed. This meant we were diverted around Mount Hood, adding a couple of hours onto our journey.

Our intent was to visit Multnomah Falls on our way to Portland as I really wanted to photograph it, but that never happened. We filled up once on this trip and stopped for lunch off Highway 35 for lunch. Our final long leg of driving had come to an end.

Portland, Oregon – Tuesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon

We spent four nights in Portland and thoroughly enjoyed our break from driving. We visited a few places where our son could relax and enjoy himself like Oregon Zoo and the Children’s Museum. It was nice to have a chance to relax after an epic 11 days, 3000 miles and 60+ hours in the car. We did a little shopping, ate good food and got ourselves ready for our return trip to Portugal via London.

portland to yellowstone - trendy Portland building right out of Grimm
Hip and trendy Portland

Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow – Saturday, 4914 miles, 8 hours 42 minutes

As always, on the return trip from America, we had a good tailwind, so our original flight time of 9 hours 55 minutes was a lot quicker and we got to Heathrow ahead of schedule. I managed a few hours’ sleep, along with our son, but hubby never manages more than a few minutes on planes. It was a pretty uneventful flight.

London to Portugal – Sunday, 1000 miles, 2 hours 15 minutes

We had a few hours to kill in Heathrow between flights, so once we got rid of our bags we had lunch and did a little shopping before our flight to Faro was called. Unfortunately, we were delayed by almost 2 hours as they couldn’t get a passenger with a broken leg off the aircraft. Not what we wanted at the end of our holiday, all we wanted was to get home to our beds.

portland to yellowstone

So, there you have it, our full itinerary for our recent USA road trip from Portugal to London, to Portland to Yellowstone, and back again. We covered a lot of miles, both in the car and by plane, and we’d do it all again. That said, if we were to do it all again, the only thing we would change would be the time of year we go.

Due to wild fires in many of the forests in the Pacific North West, we didn’t get to visit Lolo National Park or Multnomah Falls. We also drove through 600 miles of smoke haze from Montana all the way to Portland and had it until our very last day in Portland itself. We’d perhaps choose to go earlier in the summer before it gets hot, and dry, enough for wild fires. Other than that, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Have you done an epic road trip similar to this? I’d love to hear all about it!

Cath x

portland to yellowstone portland to yellowstone

39/52 My Sunday Photo: 24/09/2017

On our last evening in Yellowstone National Park, we went to the Wild West Cookout, which was brilliant. On the way back to our accommodation outside Yellowstone, we took a drive along the River Drive on the way towards the West Yellowstone gate. It was getting late and the sun had set but the scenery and colours along the river drive were amazing. It was the most fitting end to our trip to the most amazing place we’ve had the privilege of visiting.
my sunday photo - amazing sunset colours along the River Drive in Yellowstone National Park my sunday photo - amazing sunset colours along the River Drive in Yellowstone National Park - panoramic view
To see what everyone else is linking up this weekend to My Sunday Photo, please click on the badge below. Why not join in yourself!
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Planning Tips For Your First Family Cruise – Guest post ft Olivia W Jones

Planning a first family cruise can often be both nerve wracking and thrilling. From booking to disembarking, there are many aspects to keep in mind, since any of them could make or break the whole vacation. On a brighter note, a wide array of activities, amenities and food can potentially satisfy anyone, no matter whether it is a newborn baby or a seasoned grandpa. Those who want to stay on top of these aspects quickly find out that cruises are the ultimate family vacations. Here is how to take the stress and frustration out of the process and navigate the minefield of decisions.family cruise blog

Across the seven seas

Some basic rules of travelling always apply, although many specifics are different. For instance, packing techniques help just like with any other vacation, but when cruising, it is also highly advisable to pack a tote bag with all the essentials you need ‒ namely because it takes a few hours for your luggage to be delivered to the cabins. Also, getting off a ship is not like checking out of a hotel. There is again a process of waiting involved. Speaking of which, cruise lengths vary from a couple of days to two weeks.

family cruise - Suitcase open on the floor with holiday essentials almost packed!
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Decide how many days makes sense for you and your family, depending on your preferences and free time. Another thing to take into account is the selection of the arrival and departure ports. The basic dilemma comes down to either visiting just one destination or hitting many with one fair. Some of the most popular bucket list destinations are the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South Africa, Northern Europe, North America, etc. In any event, pick a destination the whole family is on board with.

The bottom line

Next, it is time to look around for the best deal out there. Choosing the right cruise line is the cornerstone of a successful cruise. The lines differ in terms of quality of service, size of the ship, and offered amenities. It is not uncommon to stumble upon shabby offers that are complete duds. You want to steer away from shore excursions that are basically glorified bus rides. Also, keep your eyes open for discounts, special offers, and deal alerts from reputable agencies.

Family Cruise - ships in port

Do your homework and utilize websites like Onboard.com that allow you to research and book cruises as well as read reviews on them. For families, it is important to note that some cruise lines stand out from the rest because of what they offer to young kids. Carnival cruises, for example, have a great line-up of kid programs, activities, and features that’ll keep the little ones entertained and engaged.

Once the cruise is booked, you need to figure out the itinerary. As for the time on board, there should be a variety of possible activities, including pool, cinema, skydiving, roller skating, bumper cars, golf, etc. Ports offer excursions such as snorkeling, kayaking, city tours, shopping, and horseback riding. Some cruises are marketed and tailored to be all-inclusive. Even then, however, you cannot expect not to have extra expenditures on board, such as pay-extra eateries, gift shops, beverages, various activities, etc.

From stem to stern

Some people overlook the fact that the location and the type of the room on the ship do play an important role. Staterooms are a budget option for those who do not plan on spending much time inside. If you are willing to pay a bit more, though, you can opt for balcony rooms, suites, and deluxe packages. Cabins on the low decks are a nice solution for people who are prone to seasickness.

Family Cruise - Boy on balcony of cruise ship

The good news is that with the marvels of modern technology, you should be able to find high-quality pictures of the rooms or even go on virtual tours and watch live video feeds. Just remember to book the room well ahead of time and reserve the tickets before boarding. The most popular tours sell rather quickly and you do not want to miss the opportunity.

Finally, landlovers should not fret once on deck. Cruising is something that quickly grows on you, even if it feels scary at first. Rely on the crew to help you and provide you with all the necessary information. Make sure to let the kids rest after all the fun and games. Do not forget that you can (and should) stay in touch with your kids in case you want to do some activities separately. True, the cell phones won’t work, but Walkie Talkies will do the trick just fine.

Smooth sailing

When planned and done right, a cruise is the perfect vacation for the whole family. To make the magic happen, you have to know where and when you want to go and what you want to get from the vacation. All ships are not created equally and your choices matter a great deal. So, first-time cruisers, brace yourself. Do not skip the research if you want to have the time of your life and explore new horizons with winds in your sails.

Family Cruise - Waves made by a ship in the sea
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
sydney oliviaOlivia is psychologist, traveller and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs, Teo and Mia. She is passionate about writing and always inspiring her readers to be clever in their lives. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Olivia is a regular contributor to High Style Life.
You can also follow on both Twitter and Facebook.
*no remuneration has been received or given in return for hosting this guest post.
** unless stated, the pictures have been provided by the writer for use in this post.
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