Today’s guest post on the blog comes from Veronica who blogs at My Parenting Journey. Today she shares with us her top tips for dealing with the challenges of travelling with a toddler. Continue reading “How to Deal with the Challenges of Travelling with a Toddler”
I have the pleasure of hosting a post by Melissa who blogs at Thrifty Family Travels. Today Melissa is sharing with us some of the best activities to do on a trip to Australia with kids. Continue reading “Australia With Kids – Guest Post ft Thrifty Family Travels”
One thing I have been looking forward to since BattleKid came along is taking him to discover Ireland, the country of his heritage. BattleKid was born in Wales but holds an Irish passport. And despite having been to Ireland several times to visit family, we’ve never really shown him much of Ireland. But that’s about to change, and I’m going to share with you how I’ve planned a magical trip to Ireland with him over Easter.
Much of my plan has been to discover parts of Ireland even I haven’t been to. Do you find that, no matter how long you live in a certain country or area, there are parts of it you have never visited because you take for granted that it’s always there to visit? That’s us! We never really travelled around Ireland and visited all the places it has to offer before we left in 2003. Heck, I haven’t even visited The Guinness Brewery, despite living in Dublin for 17 years.
It took BattleDad getting a motorbike for us visit and discover parts of the West of Ireland. And then we finally visited the Cliffs of Moher during our bike honeymoon to Ireland.
There is so much of my home country I haven’t visited, but I am making it my mission to try and visit all the great parts of Ireland with BattleKid. Now, we won’t cover everywhere as, although Ireland is a small island, there is just so much to see and do that it can’t all be covered in a week or 10 days. So, this will be the first of many trips home to Ireland to act like tourists and discover more of the beauty of Ireland.
So, what’s first on the agenda? Well, we’re going to concentrate on the southern half of Ireland, taking in Tipperary, Cork and Limerick, and possibly a little bit of Clare. Why have I chosen these areas you might ask? Because they house some of the best castles to visit in Ireland, all of which I’ve never visited apart from one, and even that was a fleeting visit.
I have nine castles on my list for this trip, and I do hope we manage to visit them all. But if not, it’s always a good excuse to come back. So, how have I planned our magical trip to Ireland over Easter, and what does our Ireland road trip itinerary look like? Let me share those details with you now.
Planning our magical trip to Ireland
How to get to Ireland?
As we are now living in Portugal, getting back to Ireland involves a plane journey. And we had two options, Aer Lingus or Ryanair, who both fly from Faro to Dublin. Now, after some strikes involving Ryanair happened last year, there was no way I was going to take a chance and book Ryanair simply to have myself €60. So, I booked return flights with Aer Lingus.
And it seems my choice was the correct one, with more strikes involving Ryanair threatened for this Easter. I’ve booked two bags and pre-booked our seats. I always do this to reduce any possible stress when flying with children, something I discussed in a recent post about flying with babies and toddlers.
If you are travelling to Ireland from another destination, I’d recommend checking your flight options with Skyscanner. Not only will you get an idea of flight times and prices, but it should give you an idea of which airlines fly direct from your departure airport to either Dublin, Cork or Shannon, and which will involve a stop-over.
Your arrival airport will be your choice, depending on whether you want to visit Dublin or not. Many visitors fly to Dublin and start their exploring elsewhere before returning to discover Dublin itself, as we are doing.
For those of you based in Europe, you also have the option of driving to Ireland and using a ferry from either Spain, France or the United Kingdom. We’ve often travelled from Wales to Ireland using either Stena Line or Irish Ferries. This will mean you have your own car for getting around in, something you won’t have worry about in the next point.
How to get around Ireland once you are there?
I am hiring a car from Dublin Airport as I will be driving straight to Tipperary to start our castle visits the next day. We will be covering a lot of Tipperary, Cork and Limerick. And we might pop into County Clare as well. Once we’ve finished in the southern half of the country, we are returning to Dublin to act as tourists in my home town and to also visit family. For this reason, a car is essential.
As you for own visit, firstly, you need to decide if you are concentrating on city exploring, or if you plan to explore the countryside like we are. For city exploring, all major cities have good public transport links within the city. They also have good public transport links between cities. So, if you plan to make the most of Dublin, Galway or Cork, public transport will probably work out cheaper for you.
However, if you plan to move from area to area, and explore towns and sites outside of the major cities, then a car is a must. There are a whole host of car hire companies to choose from within Ireland, and may operate from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. At the moment, I cannot recommend one as I haven’t booked a car (at the time of writing this post). I can report back after our trip.
Where to stay in Ireland?
At the time of booking our trip, BattleDad was going to be accompanying us. So, as a family, we always chose AirBnB accommodations. These are the best choice for us as we can usually get two bedrooms, have a kitchen for cooking in and an area to relax after a busy day exploring. We’ve been using AirBnB for a few years now and have only once not stayed in the one we’ve booked (see Day 11 of our USA Holiday Diaries to find out why).
Hotels do not work out well for us and we try to avoid them if we can. Firstly, we find them restricting once our son is in bed and asleep, and secondly, I have nowhere to escape if my husband starts snoring. We also don’t choose B&B’s as we like to save some money by cooking for ourselves in the evenings. And this is often not an option if staying in either a hotel or a B&B.
I have booked two separate AirBnB’s in Tipperary and Cork. BattleKid and I are staying in Tipperary for four nights. The AirBnB I have booked is conveniently located halfway between the castles in Tipperary and those in Limerick/Clare that we plan to visit. We then move onto Cork for two nights where my sister and niece will be joining us now that BattleDad isn’t coming with us, due to work commitments. Then we will be staying with family in Dublin for three nights before we return to Portugal.
For your own trip, your choice of accommodation will very much depend on how many of you are in your party, your budget and also whether you plan to have one based or are moving around. There is an abundance of hotels to choose from, self-catering family cottages, B&B’s, AirBnB’s and even hostels in Ireland. Other things to consider before booking your accommodation include on-site parking for your car or hire car, availability of public transport if you don’t have a car, cooking facilities if you want to save some money, how easy it is to get to and from the airport and even laundry facilities if going for more than a week.
**Get £31 travel credit when you sign up to AirBnB using this link and make your first booking.
Where to eat in Ireland?
We will be having breakfast in our AirBnB and most days, during our time in Tipperary, we will pack a picnic or packed-lunch in case we don’t find anywhere to eat. This will leave us free to explore the castles on our agenda at our own pace and won’t find ourselves with hungry bellies. As for dinners, I plan to cook most evenings in Tipperary. Once my sister joins us in Cork, we will probably venture out to a pub to enjoy some of the lovely Irish dishes I’ve been missing, and of course I will be having at least one fish and chips dinner when we visit family, something I am so looking forward to.
With my sister and niece, we will probably be having lunch out with them, either in a restaurant or more likely a pub, where I’m sure I’ll find at least a Baby Bowl on the menu for BattleKid to enjoy. My mouth is salivating just thinking of some of the dishes I might find on a pub lunch menu!
As for your own trip to Ireland, you will find a huge choice of restaurants, cafes and pubs to choose from in all the major cities if you want to eat out. Each smaller town will have several pubs serving food to choose from and there are also lots of supermarkets and smaller shops to buy groceries and supplies in. For the bigger supermarkets you have the budget options of Lidl and Aldi, next up would be Tesco or Dunnes Stores, and the higher end of the scale would be Marks and Spencer. I’ll use whichever I find closest to the first AirBnB.
What to pack for Ireland?
Having spent nearly half my life in Ireland, I know how unpredictable the weather can be, especially in late March and early April. And given Ireland has just had its biggest snowfall for 36 years, I won’t be taking any chances. So, I’ll be packing warm clothes and waterproofs for both myself and BattleKid. There are a pair of wellington boots for us both in my parent’s house in Dublin which I’ll be picking up on our way to Tipperary.
So, what should you pack? Well, whether you are going in the summer or another time of year, I suggest making sure you have warm clothes with you as well as a good waterproof jacket or coat at the very least. Within the cities there are plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to take cover in if you get caught in the rain. And you can always buy an umbrella too. However, if you plan to visit historical sites and the countryside, you’ll need good waterproof walking shoes or boots and that all-important raincoat. You don’t necessarily need wellies but as we are planning on exploring the grounds of castles, I want them with us just in case.
I certainly don’t plan to let the rain dampen our plans, if you’ll pardon the pun. The only thing it might do is make our day in Dublin as a tourist a little different as we probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the open top bus. But with the right clothes and a little planning when packing for our trip, we should be prepared for all weather. Apart from a foot of snow, but I’m hoping that won’t happen during our trip!
What to do in Ireland?
The question should really be “how long is a piece of string”. Ireland is full of so many options, it is hard to choose. You could simply enjoy the beauty of Ireland by driving the Wild Atlantic Way, which I think is our next port of call in summer 2019, or the Ring of Kerry which BattleDad and I have done. You might prefer to explore what the cities have to offer including Dublin, Galway and Cork. Your family might want to visit heritage sites, of which there are hundreds to choose from. There is so much choice and there is bound to be something everyone will enjoy.
As for our trip, we are concentrating on castles and animals mostly, with some Dublin tourist attractions as well. The plan is to take BattleKid dragon hunting in several castles in the southern half of the country. We will dragon hunt with my sister and niece in Blarney Castle in Cork as well as visit Fota Wildlife Park. In Dublin we’ll continue seeking out animals at Dublin Zoo and the Airfield Farm, before BattleKid and I will spend a day in Dublin doing all things touristy via the help of a Dublin Pass*. And finally, of course, the obligatory shopping before we fly back home.
A 10-day Magical Trip to Ireland Itinerary
Monday – Arrive Dublin Airport. Drive to Tipperary AirBnB
Tuesday – Visit one or more of Cahir Castle, Lismore Castle and/or the Rock of Cashel
Wednesday – Visit King John’s Castle and/or Adare Castle
Thursday – Visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. If time allows we might visit the Cliffs of Moher
Friday – Vacate AirBnB and drive to Cork to visit Blackrock Castle. Pick up my sister and niece and check in to the Cork AirBnB
Saturday – Fota Wildlife Park*
Sunday – Visit Blarney Castle* to kiss the Blarney stone before driving to Dublin
Monday – Visit Dublin Zoo and the Airfield Farm
Tuesday – Spend the day in Dublin as a tourist with the Dublin Pass*
Wednesday – Shopping before flying back to Portugal
Although our time in each destination is set, and our trips to both Fota Wildlife Park* and Blarney Castle* are already arranged, the rest of the itinerary is flexible, depending on how BattleKid and I feel. We do need to fit in some time to see family in Dublin as well, so our Dublin Zoo/Airfield visits might be short, or we’ll do one or the other.
By all means you don’t have to follow my itinerary at all. I’ve included it as a guide to show you want we plan to get up to during our 10 days in Ireland. That said you could always do a shorter road trip in Ireland over a week and still see many of the beautiful sights Ireland has to offer. Or if you only have a long weekend in Ireland why not do a coast-to-coast trip taking in Dublin and Galway.
So, there you have it, how I’ve planned what I hope will be a magical trip to Ireland for BattleKid and me. We’re going to hunt some dragons, see some animals, enjoy Dublin from a kid’s perspective and have a long overdue catch up with family. And I have to say a big thank you to Blarney Castle, Fota Wildlife Park and the Dublin Pass for the opportunity to collaborate with them on our forthcoming trip. I cannot wait to report back to you, my readers, about our trip and each aspect of our time in Ireland.
Have you ever visited Ireland or is it on your bucket list?
*We are working with Blarney Castle, Fota Wildlife Park and Dublin Pass during our time in Ireland.
**To remain fully transparent, please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link – this doesn’t cost you anything extra. Thank you.
As some of you will know, we spent a day in London prior to our USA Road Trip. We acted like tourists and visited the London Eye, did a spot of dragon hunting in the Tower of London and we also went to Sea Life. It was a day dedicated to BattleKid as we knew he was facing some long days of flying and driving ahead. In this post I tell you all about our visit and give you some tips about visiting Sea Life, London with kids to ensure you have an awesome visit.
Sea Life was our second attraction of the day, after our trip on the London Eye. It is conveniently located right beside the London Eye, meaning you can easily combine the two. As with our tickets for the London Eye, I booked Flexi Anytime Priority tickets. Given that it was the end of the summer holidays, I thought it was best to book these tickets as it meant we could arrive at anytime on our chosen day and by-pass any queues. As it was there wasn’t a huge queue when we arrived, but this isn’t always guaranteed.
Sea Life was opened in 1997 as the London Aquarium and is located on the ground floor of County Hall in Southbank. It plays host to one million visitors a year. Within Sea Life there are around 500 species of fish and various marine areas including a Shark Walk, Ray Lagoon, Nemo’s Coral and Penguin Point. There are various feeding times during which staff give family-friendly talks. Sea Life is also heavily involved in conservation and has programmes including ray breeding, coral propagation and a big fish campaign.
When we arrived, we had to pick up a Ranger Pack for BattleKid which I had ordered when I booked our tickets online, and then we were in. I had been apprehensive about what visiting Sea Life with a toddler would be like, whether it would be any good. And we weren’t disappointed. Sea Life London is huge!
We started out by walking over the shark tank, and to be honest, it gave me the heebie jeebies. I’m not a huge fan of sharks but walking over them on glass was a bit disconcerting. Things like “the glass is going to crack and break” were running through my mind. BattleKid, however, found it fascinating. From the Shark Walk, we entered the Atlantic Coasts area, we saw sand eels and an octopus.
We soon found ourselves at the Ray Lagoon and saw rays and sharks of various sizes before moving onto Rockpools. In Rockpools we saw anemones, starfish and crabs too. In this area there are open tanks, allowing you to get your hands wet, although we stopped BattleKid from doing so.
From Rockpools we passed under the Ocean tunnel, giving us another chance to see more shark and ray swimming over our heads. It was a cool tunnel and reminded me of the one in the Blue Planet Aquarium. We also saw some Green Sea Turtles in this area. They were so beautiful, so majestic. They were one of my personal highlights of our visit to the aquarium in London.
The tunnel led us to the Pacific Wreck area where I discovered the skeleton of a whale inside one tank (see our vlog video for a glimpse of this). And then came the main attraction for kids of all ages, Nemo’s Coral Reef. There was a tank huge of both white and orange, and white and black, clown fish (Nemo to you and I), and a certain little boy did not want to leave this tank I can tell you. It was hugely popular with kids and was the busiest place in the aquarium during our visit. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time there!
We visited the Seahorse Kingdom and saw a few different varieties. BattleKid wasn’t that interested in them and we swiftly moved on to the creatures of the Rainforests of the World. Here we saw fish, including piranha with vicious looking teeth and catfish, as well as a crocodile. From the Rainforests area, you pass by the Thames Walk where you can learn about the creatures of this great river, as well as the efforts it takes to clean the river and its banks.
Then it was time to meet the penguins. You pass through an ice tunnel to reach their enclosure and it’s a bit chilly in there. The penguin enclosure is not the biggest I’ve seen but it more than caught the attention of BattleKid. He loves seeing the penguins swimming past him at the window. They are one of his favourite creatures thanks to the Oliver Jeffers book, Lost and Found.
By this stage someone was starting to get hungry, so we quickly passed through the Conservation Cover before entering a new area for Sea Life in London, Ocean Invaders. In this area there were tanks of jellyfish of various shapes and sizes, and jellyfish projected onto the floor, which BattleKid loved jumping on. It was a really impressive display and one BattleKid enjoyed a lot.
While all the areas and tanks of Sea Life London Aquarium are impressive, none are more so than the main and biggest tank around which the London aquarium in centred. It forms most of the Pacific Ocean display and spans the three floors of the aquarium. You pass this tank on several occasions during your visit and it is by far my favourite part of the aquarium at Sea Life. It houses fish, ray, sharks and turtles and plays host to some Easter Island Head statues. It is the most impressive aquarium tank I’ve ever seen. Each time we came upon it during our visit I was awed by it.
After visiting the gift shop for a magnet for our fridge (we collect them everywhere we go), and buying a little treat for BattleKid, it was time to say goodbye to Sea Life Aquarium in London and move on to our next stop on our 36 hours in London.
Tips for visiting Sea Life in London with Kids
- Sea Life London is open 7 days a week from 10am to 7pm, with last entry at 6pm.
- It will take you a few hours to get around so plan your visit accordingly.
- Sea Life London ticket prices are as follows*: Standard adult tickets cost £26 and children are £21 (ages 3 to 15), under 3’s are free. There are savings to be made online if you book in advance, and Sea Life tickets can be combined with certain other London attractions. We booked Anytime Priority tickets at a cost of £25 per adult and £17.55 per child. These allowed us to arrive at anytime on our chosen date and enter with no queuing.
- Sea Life is also part of the Merlin Annual Pass, making it easy to visit regularly if you are pass holders. If we were still in the UK I’d seriously consider getting Merlin Passes.
- A Sea Life Ranger Pack is available for £4 from the ticket office and includes an activity trail, magnifying glass, dress-up accessories, trading cards and a lanyard for tickets. This will make the visit a truly interesting one for kids a bit older than BattleKid (three and a half at the time of visiting).
- There are toilets available on every floor, along with baby changing facilities.
- Sea Life is fully wheelchair accessible with lifts going to all floors.
- Note that there is no café or restaurant in the aquarium and you are not allowed to bring food in with you. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby for refreshments though.
- There is no parking at the Sea Life London Aquarium. For details on how to get to the London Aquarium, nearest parking to Sea Life and the nearest tube station to Sea Life London Aquarium, visit the information section of their website.
- There is an area for official Sea Life photos, although I am afraid I cannot remember how much we paid for our 3 photos.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sea Life in London. Although it was the end of the summer holidays it wasn’t too busy. We kept bumping into the same group of mums with their buggies, but apart from that it wasn’t crowded. We also liked the fact the aquarium was right beside the London Eye, meaning we could easily combine the two. And there are additional attractions nearby for kids of various ages too.
Sea Life in London is definitely worth a visit with kids and wasn’t as busy as I expected at the end of the summer holidays. If you are planning to go during the peak of the summer holidays, I’d suggest getting there early or booking the Fast Track tickets. Be prepared to take your time and go at your children’s pace. And expect a lengthy stop when you come across Nemo. By keeping these points in mind you are bound to have smiling children, although they might be reluctant to leave.
If you are visiting London with kids and are looking for an interesting and enjoyable place to visit with them, then we highly recommend a visit to Sea Life. They won’t be disappointed.
*Prices correct at the time of writing this post. We were not asked to write this review of Sea Life London
Where have these two months gone? Seriously, 2018 is just shooting past. I can’t believe we’re starting March already! And I’m excited for this month, as BattleKid and I are headed to Ireland for a 10-day road trip. We’re going to visit quite a few castles, see some animals and also catch up with family, some of whom we haven’t seen in a year. A huge thank you to all my regular linkees who linked up last month and also to some first-timers. You are all welcome and I loved reading all your posts.
We had posts with hints and tips, family travel and days out in the UK, further afield and a bit more far flung too. So, here are February’s featured and special mentioned posts.
February’s Featured Wanderlust Kids Post
It was really hard for me to decide on just one post for my featured post but it has to be Annette from Four Acorns‘ post about visiting Coral Beach in Connemara. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Ireland, Connemara is a wildly rugged and beautiful area located in the West of Ireland, in County Galway. It is many, many years since I’ve visited Galway and Connemara and this post set off a longing in me to revisit the West of Ireland.
This beach looks stunning, and the perfect place for little ones to get lost among the rockpools, hunting for crabs and other such creatures. Annette’s pictures are amazing and her descriptions are what really hit home with me. We won’t make it to Galway this year, but I have a feeling a trip to the West of Ireland might be on the cards for next year. Please go and read her post about Visiting Coral Beach in Connemara.
February’s Special Mention Wanderlust Kids Post
Because I really couldn’t choose between two, they both get a mention. Firstly, Sinead, from Shinners and the Brood share her post in which she shares her tips for booking a European Campsite Holiday was brilliant. She covers everything from getting there to choosing the right campsite, to deciding on your must-haves and must-nots, her post was very informative and will go a long way to helping anyone prepare to book a camping holiday in Europe.
Secondly, Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes shared another of her posts from her series about their trip to Jordan. This time she wrote about their visit to Petra, a place I long to visit. It looks especially stunning at night and it was great to read it can be enjoyed by little ones as well as adults. She even gives us suggestions about where to stay if you are planning to stay near Petra for your visit.
February’s Other Great Posts
Annabel from Smudged Postcard shared some ideas for your family summer holidays including places in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece that are a bit less touristy but still worth visiting.
Lisa of Baby Loves Travel shared her post about Their holiday plans for this year in which they will try to have 12 trips, an average of one per month. I don’t think we’ll manage that many this year.
Riz from Rizology wrote about her visit to Bluestone with three other mums. They all brought their babies and thoroughly enjoyed their visit. To date, I’ve never read a bad review of Bluestone.
Liberty who blogs at Liberty on the Lighter Side shared tips to make travelling with your kids easier. I agree wholeheartedly that travelling with your kids opens your eyes and helps you see things in a way you tend to lose as an adult.
Michelle from The Willow Tree shared her post which has some great hints and tips for visiting Disneyland Paris.
Jenny from Travelynn Family linked up a post about short walks for young kids in the Peak District. All too often I find we don’t go on walks because we’re worried about little legs, but Jenny’s post is packed with ideas for walks in the Peak District, many of which cover a distance less than 2km.
Every month I love seeing what posts people are linking up and I love reading them all. They always give me serious Wanderlust no matter what the subject or where on the world they are about. I must say a big thank you again to everyone joining in with Wanderlust Kids.
This month I’m linking up my post about our first dragon hunting adventure here in Portugal. One thing I was worried about when we left the UK was whether we could continue our dragon hunting adventures. Little did I know that Portugal has many, many castles just waiting to be explored.
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. Alternatively, if you’d prefer not to add the badge, simply link back to this post.
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. And if you’re wondering about what types of posts have been linked up before, check them out under my Wanderlust Kids Section.