Posted in London, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Show – ExCel London

 

We descended on the Excel centre in London last week to visit our first ever travel show. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was hoping to get some inspiration for places to travel to in the future and hopefully get some information about countries that we are already planning a holiday to this year.

We were blown away by how massive the Excel Centre is and the travel show only took up a small space within it. We thought the room that held the Travel Show was really large but soon found out that most of it was actually taken up by the Bike Show so the Travel Exhibition wasn’t as big as expected and didn’t take too long to walk around.

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There was a talk about cruises on but we had already missed the beginning so didn’t stick around to listen, we also came across chef Lesley Waters cooking up a storm and talking about her own travel experiences. As well as looking at destinations there was a few hands on activities such as getting a massage, playing some crazy golf and trying out the seating with Singapore airlines, including the very plush booths which are like tiny hotel rooms.

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Unfortunately we didn’t come across any representatives for Holland or Dominican Republic as we are planning on visiting both places this year and would have liked some information but we enjoyed perusing between countries and came away with the desire to go travelling around Africa and Canada by rail as they both looked amazing from the photos!

We were not expecting to see holidays for sale but there were two really good offers to stay in Scotland and Malta for £99 per person, these looked like amazing opportunities but with a large family we like to research where we are going beforehand and have a good read of small print and these unfortunately had to be booked on the spot.

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The travel show is really useful if you are free to jet off  at the drop of a hat and need inspiration or want to speak to certain tourists boards, some were a bit more approachable and friendly than others. We left the Travel Show with lots of brochures to look through and ideas of places to travel to in the future!

Where are you planning to go this year?

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

10 benefits to staying at a villa

We have been on many family holidays and are always torn between booking a villa or a hotel. With the miserable weather outside and my current dreaming of sunnier climes, I thought I would put together a list of advantages to staying at a villa.

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Exploring the James Villa holidays website, I came across lots of Villas in the Gran Canaria region. Gran Canaria offers beaches with an expanse of white sand and is architecturally rich with numerous cultural scenes. With the annual temperatures rarely going below 18 degrees across the Canary Islands it is a great place to visit all year round.

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So if the pictures are not convincing enough, here are a few reasons to stay at a villa…

  • Spaceit is no fun, particularly if you have a large family, being squashed together in a couple of rooms and racing to get a chair by the pool is not a problem when you don’t have to share it with other holiday makers.

 

  • ComfortA villa is a real home away from home with all the amenities you would find in your own house, unfortunately this includes the washing up but most have a dishwasher to help you along with that.

 

  • Self cateringthis may be a negative for some but I love exploring the local supermarket when I go away and seeing the price difference compared to home is so amusing (I’m easily pleased) plus I want to eat when I’m hungry not when the hotel announces that it’s lunchtime. Eating out is great a few times but the cost soon adds up when you have a lot of mouths to feed so being able to cook is a great alternative.

 

  • BBQNothing gives you the feeling of being on holiday like a BBQ and most villas have a built in one accompanied by an outdoor dining space.

 

  • PrivacyNo need to feel self conscious in your bikini by the pool when you are the only one there! Also nobody likes to be interrupted from their afternoon nap by somebody paying a visit to change the sheets!

 

  • Energy savingIt’s a short walk to the pool when it’s outside your back door and you don’t have to drag wet towels across holiday complexes when you’ve finished drying yourself off. You can also chose how close you want to be to the town centre or beach at your convenience.

 

  • SecurityI always worry about leaving my possessions poolside when I go for a swim but no need to hide your phone or other valuables inside your shoes while staying at a villa.

 

  • RelaxingYou want to let your hair down on holiday and let the kids be themselves (which often means making noise) but you don’t want to worry about disturbing the room next door or in turn, having to listen to annoying neighbours through the walls. You don’t have to at a villa.

 

  • FreedomA holiday is the perfect time to forget about your daily routine so why follow one on holiday? If you want to go for a moonlight swim and eat your breakfast at lunchtime then why not?

 

  • EconomicalYou are charged one rate rather than per person which can work out a lot cheaper for larger families and does not include a lot of the hidden costs that hotels have.

 

Well I think I have managed to convince myself that a villa is a great choice of holiday home, now I just have to find the flip flops!

Have you stayed in a villa before? What would you add to the list?

*Written in collaboration with James Villa holidays, all thoughts and opinions are my own

 

 

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Chania – Crete

It is that time of year where we are starting to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin and the summer holidays don’t seem so far away. Some people may have a holiday already booked and others are researching where to go so I thought I would share our family trip to Crete last year.

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Crete is one of those holiday destinations that everybody travels to at some point in their lives and who can blame them? Glorious weather, scenic mountain views and beautiful beaches it does seem to have it all.

Over the summer we travelled to Chania (pronounced Hania) on the western side of the island for a week, staying at the Sirios village resort.

The first thing I noticed on our trip from the airport was the very dry landscape, but this is understandable with the long, hot summers and mild winters. Another thing was the amount of buildings that seemed to be abandoned. There were houses that had either gone into ruin and left or had started to be built and then left unfinished. This seemed such a shame but the financial crisis in Greece over recent years has probably been a factor.

The Sirios hotel was a large complex with three pools, an outdoor bar and a play park for children. The large dining area had a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner but hot food was also available at other times throughout the day so nobody was ever hungry! There was a large selection of food (and a never ending supply of drinks) to suit all tastes and I’m sure I came back home a couple of pounds heavier!

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The hotel had everything we needed for a relaxing week away, great food, and clean pools but whats the fun in that? We wanted to get out and explore what Crete had to offer.

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We travelled with  Thompson and we had a travel rep that gave us a presentation about all the excursions available through them. We found being in a group of six that the cost of these would be way too much for our budget. The cheapest trip out was a boat ride in the harbour for €28 each. We took a short stroll from the hotel, caught a bus for €1.50 into town and found the harbour ourselves, taking a boat ride for €10 an adult and €5 a child making it at least half the price and we were able to explore the town without any time constrictions.

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I loved exploring the old town with amazing looking buildings and people riding around in a horse and cart. The shopping area was really busy but that led onto the harbour area which was more tranquil and I could have sat watching the world go by for hours, unfortunately I was with a bunch of teenagers who find that sort of thing boring (They’ll appreciate it one day)

One place that the kids didn’t mind visiting was the local beach. It was about a ten minute walk from the hotel and I don’t think t was the main beach of the area because it wasn’t very full but we liked it that way!

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The views on the beach were so beautiful, we had to go down there a few nights just to see the sun setting. With my children getting older and doing their own thing it is not very often that we all spend time together so it was great to find such a lovely city that we could spend some quality family time together. I cant wait for our next adventure!

Have you been to Crete? Where is your next holiday destination?