The many advantages of travelling by ferry to FranceI don’t know about you, but now that the last traces of summer are gone, and the new academic year is in full swing, my little family are already on countdown until our next holiday.

Before having children, my husband and I did a fair amount of travelling, and would think nothing of jet setting off for a long weekend abroad. I once travelled to Australia to be a surprise bridesmaid for one of my besties, and was there and back within a week. The trip was amazing, but the jet lag was no joke!

Once you’re a parent, holidays can come with the additional stress of worrying over the travel. Flights themselves are notoriously stressful, and if you are going further afield than a few hours, the kid’s jet lag could seriously hinder your holiday fun.

Have you considered travelling by ferry?

As a self proclaimed eco-warrior, I love the idea of travelling by ferry, and by all accounts it sounds super easy to head over to Western France this way. Approximately seventeen million British people visit France every year – it’s proximity to the UK making it an ideal holiday destination. One method of family travel that has really gained popularity over the years is the ferry.

The cross-channel ferry from England to France using a ferry company such as Brittany Ferries boasts a variety of advantages for travelling families.

Pack as much as you want. You’ll never get caught short by the airport 100ml liquid rule again. You won’t have to carefully pick and choose clothes or toys either, and especially with small children, you really can never have too many extra clothes on hand. If you go over your allowance, airline luggage fees can quickly add up. Travelling by ferry saves you the hassle of trying to condense everything into an airline acceptable amount.

Avoid all the waiting around in long queues. Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to sooth a crying baby whilst standing in a boarding or check-in queue. Or when your older children are tugging at you asking to go to the toilet, or saying that they’re hungry when you’re almost at the front. With a ferry, the entire family gets to cut out these lengthy wait times.

Relaxing way to travel. Perhaps the most glorious advantage of ferry travel is that you’re able to sit back, eat a good meal from one of the restaurants on board, and gaze out across the sea. If you’re travelling overnight, you also get an en-suite cabin to catch up on your sleep. This alone is a major selling point for me, we all know how little Zzzzz’s I get most nights! 

You have your own car once you arrive. If you’re a driver, there is no need to hire a car once you’re there. You’ll have your own car from the get go, which will save you a lot of hassle. No more trying to figure out how to drive a foreign car, or how to get hold of appropriate child seats. You can even put the family bikes on the back of your car so you don’t need to hire those either.

Only downside is the time factor. The obvious drawback is that travelling by ferry takes longer, but if you’ve got little ones in tow, the open and relaxed atmosphere should make the voyage a worthy trade-off.

Take a look at this fab infographic which compares a family of four travelling by ferry from the UK to France versus flying. It’s definitely given me some food for thought! 


Travelling by Ferry to France vs Plane

Image source: Brittany Ferries – Ferry VS Plane to France

**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

The Bus Journey that Changed my LifeIt’s a bold statement to make isn’t it, saying that a small, seemingly innocuous decision changed my entire life, but deciding to take a bus in 2004 very much did.

After six months of travelling, I headed back to Thailand to spend a week with one of my best friends who had come out to celebrate her thirtieth birthday. She brought her new man with her, and along with a pair of honeymooners that I had met on the boat back from Malaysia we all indulged in a week of excessive eating and drinking.

It was great in many respects, but I felt deflated when we parted ways, and was more than ready for a new adventure. The two day trip to Bangkok afterwards was supposed to be for chilling, but didn’t end up being as uneventful as I had planned.

I met up with some different friends from London, who were on their way to the Southern islands. It got rather debauched, and we had a drunken all-nighter. High on sex, Thai whiskey and goodness knows what else, fun was once again being taken to the extreme.

Early the next morning I was faced with an emotional dilemma: stay with them and go to the Southern Thai islands, or stick to my plan and catch my bus to Cambodia. Plan A was certainly a lot riskier than Plan B would have been, but something propelled me to take that bus.

Life changing decisions

So I bid them farewell, headed to the Khao San Road and lined up for my bus. Whilst in the queue I got chatting to a small group of people who seemed to know each other. It turned out they didn’t, but in the handful of minutes it took us to exchange pleasantries and walk to the back seat a bond was formed, and our little posse stuck to one another like glue for several weeks and had a whale of a time. I’m still in touch with three of these five people, twelve years later.

I heard such mixed stories about people travelling Cambodia around the same time and having horrible experiences. It reinforces what I’ve always believed, which is life is all about the people we meet along the way. After spending a fabulous month in Cambodia, I made plans to head out of the country and go to Laos. Life rarely goes to plan in my experience, and on what was supposed to be my last night there I met my husband, and the rest as they say is history (click here to read the full story).

I have often wondered how differently things would have panned out had I gone to the southern Thai islands instead. I know one thing for sure though, if I had my time again, I would definitely still catch that bus.

Do you have a distinct ‘sliding doors’ moment, where life changed forever? I’d love to hear from you if you do 🙂

Open letter to blue lagoon blog postDear all, 

We have just returned from your amazing Blue Lagoon Village in Kos, and wanted to pen a little thank you before life gets in the way and our break starts to fade to a distant memory (which happens far too quickly).   

From the moment we arrived we were impressed. We had a smooth check in at 9:40pm, and managed to grab some food before the main restaurant closed at 10pm – we had barely sat down before a waiter brought us drinks. This pretty much set the standard, and we were never disappointed, not once. The service was absolutely impeccable at every restaurant and bar, and just when we thought it couldn’t get better it did. 

The children were mesmerised by the entertainment staff from day one, and thoroughly enjoyed their time at Bamse and @611 kids clubs. The two hour sessions were perfect for Polly (6) and Clara (4), and they looked forward to it every afternoon. By the end of the holiday Freddy (2) was desperate to join his sisters. The evening show was the highlight of their day, and by the end of our stay all three children knew the dance moves by heart. We thought that Ellie, Lina and Emily did a marvellous job, and were all in awe of their energy on stage. 

The cleanliness of the resort struck us immediately, and we were continually impressed with how many ‘behind the scenes’ staff were working to keep it this way.  We are unashamed food snobs, and thought that the food was amazing. There was always plenty of choice and it was easy to eat healthily at meal times.    

We’ve shied away from all inclusive holidays in the past, but are converts. It’s safe to say that we’re already planning our next family adventure. 

Thanks again for a wonderful holiday, we’ll cherish the memories for a long time. 

Andy, Reneé, Polly, Clara and Freddy  xx

Holiday Destinations I Would Love to Visit During the Festive SeasonEvery single year my husband and I used to have the same conversation.

“Shall we go away for Christmas?”

Every single year we would come full circle to the same answer.

“Nope. It’s too expensive!”

Nowadays with three little cherubs thrown into the mix there is much more to consider than just the cost.

Of course that doesn’t stop me lusting after a festive break, so when Expedia asked me to share my dream holiday destinations during this season, I knew it would be an easy post to write.

late-afternoon-alaska-1523279ALASKA

The night my hubby and I met in Cambodia, there were a few others present, all amazing people who we’re still in touch with. One of them, our dear friend Bryn, is from Alaska. I have been obsessed with the idea of visiting ever since that trip, but sadly have never made it out there. Bryn and her gorgeous little family came to visit London last year, so we got to see her again and meet her crew. It was fabulous to spend time together, but visiting them in their environment is also very much on our radar at some point in the future.

Although it feels like a long way to go to see the Northern Lights, and we could see them in Europe, I think seeing them in Alaska would be utterly mind blowing! Then of course there’s the small fact that some of the worlds most stunning national parks are in Alaska. The road trip fodder would be awesome. The downside of course would be that it is absolutely freezing at this time of year. Minus fifteen anyone?!

PRAGUE

I visited this magical City back in the early naughties when my ex-flatmate was working out there. The Christmas market sounds incredible, and I think the pre-Christmas excitement would be immense. Ice skating; delicious food; fireworks; svařák (mulled wine); carols; and breath taking architecture everywhere you look.

Christmas itself would have to be spent inside one of the many luxury spa hotels, feasting on glorious food and truly relaxing. I have a feeling that I’ve missed the boat on this though, because as all parents will attest, once you have children the notion of relaxing at Christmas becomes as feasible as watching pigs fly across the room! Maybe when the kids have all left home? 

Serendipity beach

THAILAND  

As I’ve mentioned just a few times before, Thailand has a very special place in my heart. It was the first country I travelled, and I would absolutely love to go back with the whole family. Christmas is a great time to visit because it’s not too hot.

We would fly into Bangkok, which is always a tantalising assault on the senses. After spending a couple of days getting over the jet lag and acclimatising, we’d head down south to the island of Koh Samed for some proper R&R. It’s just a three hour taxi and boat journey or very short flight from the capital, and seeing as we’d have three small children in tow, this is absolutely essential. Some great Australian friends of ours are currently living in Bangkok, and it really would be a dream come true to visit them while they’re out there.

I’d better get saving then 😉 

Where would you visit if you had the chance?

**Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post, see here for my full disclosure policy**

my love affair with thailandMy love affair with Thailand began in February 2002. It was my first travelling expedition further afield than Europe and for longer than a week. I spent two months lazing around the southern islands – sunbathing by day and partying the night away. That trip opened my eyes to the wider world, and ignited a desire to go exploring it.

I went back to Thailand for a ten holiday in Bangkok and Koh Chang in the summer of 2003, and came home feeling like I had left a part of my soul on the aptly named Lonely Beach. New Year’s Day 2004 was spent on an aeroplane heading out there again. I’d been made redundant from work by that point, and rather than do something sensible (like buy a flat) I’d decided to have an adventure with my payout.   

Eden 2004After a month in Thailand, I headed over to Cambodia, and a few weeks later met my husband in beach bar called Eden. As the start of relationships go, it was pretty fairytale like. We lived and breathed each other for six incredible weeks, after which we parted company. He was Australia bound, I was going home to the UK after being away for seven months.

It was quickly apparent that we couldn’t bear to be apart, and less than two weeks after arriving home, I was on a plane heading down under. We stayed in Aus for a while, went back to Cambodia for a bit, came home for a few months, then went back to Cambodia where we lived for a year. Each time we travelled, we passed through Bangkok, and it became a second home to us.

sunsetting on snookyWe usually stayed around the backpackers haven of Khao San Road – which was chock full of the sort of grimy guest houses that Alex Garland depicted in his cult novel The Beach. Always a perfect mixture of grubby and gorgeous; tantalising mischief just waiting to be had. There are many ‘if these walls could talk’ stories from those days, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to share them.

After all, what goes on tour, stays on tour!