For years now we have talked about going to America on a holiday to see the friends and family we have there! Nathan has family in Utah, and we both have friends there too, and then there is the major thing of me having lived in Arizona for almost a year and a half back in 06/07!! All are are, and have been, major factors in us wanting to visit those 2 states!

Living in Arizona was fantastic! I was there as a Missionary for the LDS church, and whilst life was a little different to normal every day life, the adventure was still huge and the people I lived with and met absolutely marvellous. After the first Summer I became a lover of the heat (except when riding my bike), and I have since looked forward to the day I could return with Nathan and our family to see more of the touristy things, and generally show them around a place that means so much to me.

Up until now we have never really felt justified in spending the money to go as we knew it would be on the higher end of our budget for a holiday. Nathan was a student for 4 years and then I have always seemed to be pregnant, and with another on the way it always just felt like the money would be best used elsewhere (not to mention who wants to do all that travelling whilst pregnant?!). Last year we obviously knew we were moving house, and so our finances were wrapped up in that major adventure, and whilst it was still a goal we had, it was just in the background as something we would do soonish. It got to the point, as we talked about our plans once there, that we decided that if we could we would definitely go this year!

Cheap flights

And so this year came, and with it lots of flight price watching on skyscanner! We talked everyday about it becoming a reality as they fluctuated up and down, and then on the last day of January we took the bull by the horns and booked it! It felt so spontaneous, but then wasn’t at all! We got a fab deal being that all 5 of us are flying (return) for £1,476 – an absolute bargain!!!

We are flying with Air New zealand from Heathrow to LA, and I have never known it to be so cheap. We seriously thought it would easily be £2,000 if not more! And so we are off – for 2 whole weeks to America and we are super excited for what awaits.

A mega road trip 

We plan on having a Mega road trip – the ultimate adventure thus far for us all!

Last year we did a lot of driving in Italy, and whilst we know that this is far longer, the fact that there are so many new and amazing sights to take in, and people to look forward to seeing, it somehow makes it a bearable and exciting prospect!

Our journey will start in LA with a day or so of seeing the sights and Hollywood. From there we will drive to Arizona and stay with friends for a few days in Mesa, where we will see lots of special people and places. In Mesa I will show them some of the places I lived, climb a mountain and see the dessert, and then the annual Easter Pageant too which is brilliant!

From Mesa we will drive north to the Grand Canyon for a few hours, and then continuing north through some of the other canyons, we will stop for a night in St George (Southern Utah) and chill there for a bit. The next day we will drive up to the Provo/Salt Lake areas of Utah where will spend a week with family and friends, and show the kids some major sites from our churches history. I expect we will just have fun, maybe head into the odd mountain but mainly just enjoy being with friends in America.

Finally we will head back via Las Vegas for a fun day on the strip and a night in a hotel – see the sights, all before reaching LA and flying home to England!

Our biggest outgoing will of course be travel, with the odd hotel in LA, St George and Vegas, which I have found some great deals on too. As we will be on the road a lot and have a bucket list purely with like 20 eateries on, and so we expect quite a bit will be spent on food that is no good for us but delicious all the same. Most of our days will be spent doing free things and seeing places of natural beauty, and as we are mostly staying with friends and family it will be home from home and a huge saver!

The whole thing sounds both ridiculous with 3 kids and yet absolutely amazing too. The kids are excited for all the root beer and giant portions, Sunshine, Pancake stacks and seeing giant cacti in the dessert. We are excited for a holiday and to be able to see so many incredible people and places.

I can’t wait to share in the beautiful Arizona sunsets with Nathan, and experience life on the road in America with my faves! Watch out peeps – we’re all coming to America and can’t blooming wait!

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Majoca – the largest of the Baleric Islands is a great location for a budget family holiday, with the added bonus of only a short 2.5 hr flight. I visited a few years ago when I was single with my now sister in law, and before you think it was an 18 – 30’s kinda trip, It wasn’t!

We stayed just outside of Palma in a quiet resort near the beach and it was far from the partying Magaluf type of trip one would expect for a pair of girls in our early 20’s. Rather it was an opportunity to get away from the day to day life and just chill. And Majorca for this ticked all the boxes. It was sunny, warm, cheap and chilled, and we loved wandering to the local shop for essentials.

When I look back on this spontaneous little holiday, I think what a great destination it would make for a little break as a family now. Here are a few reasons I have come up with as to why I’d take my kids back to Majorca, and why you might find it a great option too this year.

Why I’d return with the kids

1.Great beaches

If you are looking for a beach holiday then Majorca is great for this. It has some of the best beaches and a wonderful scenic coastline. I loved having evening walks on the beach and dipping my toes in the Med, as well as sat on the walls of the harbour in Palma looking out to see. It is such a beautiful spot and found that there is something rather exotic and calming about knowing you are on an Island!

2.Great weather

Obviously out of season it isn’t that warm, but with mid 20’s in the Summer months you can catch some much needed rays without it being too hot for the kiddos!

3.Short flights

I don’t know about you, but when travelling with kids, where possible we try for shorter! The great thing about Majorca is that it is just over a 2.5 hour flight, and with kids that’s great. 2.5 hours to lovely beaches and sunshine and a nice Mediterranean holiday – Blissful!

4.Cheap

You can get flights for around 50 – 70 pounds each at the moment in June/July time from Sky scanner and there are many holiday sites that offer reasonable accommodation to fit your families needs. If you prefer to book it as a package Holiday for security and peace of mind, with added extras or just the basics then you can find out more here. They have some great offers and ideas of things to do too!

With both things being affordable for families you can get a great little holiday this Summer not too far and with lovely weather and beaches.

5.Lots of history and cool things to see

Palma is a fantastic city boasting many historic sites; including a castle, caves and most famously its beautiful Santa Maria Cathedral, which is a Gothic landmark quite close to the coast built in the 13th century. It also has shops, and little markets as well as an aquarium.

I loved seeing Palma and its marina, I loved staying in the quiet little spot that we did by a beautiful beach, and would love time with the family there to explore it more and see the sites togther! It is both and interesting and beautiful little Island with something for everyone!

I loved my little trip to Majorca in 2008 and would gladly return with the kids and Nath for a sunny chilled beach holiday with lots of things to see and do together. If you are looking for a budget and family friendly holiday, why not check out Majorca this Summer!

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On the Monday of our recent holiday to Tuscany, we decided to venture a little further afield and do Rome for the day. We felt it was a must see when we were already only a few hours north, so for the sake of a couple of hours by train, and £140 return for us all, we decided to incorporate the capital city and famous sites of Rome into our travels and it was a great family adventure and day out. Italy has high speed rail so from Pisa it is only about 2.5 hours each way and with that I guess we saw it as like going from Leeds to London which would be manageable with 3 kids! 

We woke at about 5.30am to be able to get the 7am train from Pisa station, which in hindsight was a bit mad. We wanted to make the most of our day trip and so we were aiming to be in Rome for about 10am and return about 8pm, getting back to Pisa 10ish! Seriously it was nuts getting out of the door that early with 3 sleepy head kids, finding our way to the station and suitable parking, but we did it and it was worth it for a day in Rome. 

Our first train from Pisa to Rome unfortunately was cancelled which initially was rather stressful too, but with some broken English and chats, they were obviously happy to reassign us to the next one. In the end it only put us back about 40 mins from our original arrival time, as the second one was more direct and faster so it was great and not even a problem.

We found the trains in Italy to be a little cooler than those here in the UK. They’re just bigger and more impressive I think! We found them to be really comfortable and each carriage has plenty of storage and toilet facilities. They are clean and the seats are set out in 4s with tables and electrical points at each table.

The morning train was packed and the kids were more awake and giddy, but it was fine. The evening one however was even better – it was empty, we had bought colouring books from Tiger and I read most of the way back, it was a great journey! 

Rome

Once in Rome we just made our way around each of the sites starting at the Colosseum. It was a very hot day and a very busy city, and we decided to just walk everywhere instead of using the metro or buses. I think we had high expectations of the kids, but they were so good and the thousands of fountains made the whole experience way more fun and exiting for them, and therefore way more enjoyable and bearable for us!

We saw so many things from there that were beautiful and made sure to call by the Trevi fountain, and of course the Vatican! Like Florence things cost money and ques are everywhere so we decided to just meander and look. The Vatican is free if you can stand to que, or you can pay about 40 euros and go inside to see the Sistine chapel and museum. I really did want to go in, and I was excited to go in too… I had dreamed of going in for years, but in the end the heat, ques and kids combo meant that I backed out and we sat and admired it all from outside whilst they went with their preferred choice of activity – colouring on the steps! It was great to do this still and just soak everything in and we had a lovely time. 

Rome was everything I expected and more. It is a beautiful city and I loved the incredible history and tales oozing from its streets. I think its a great place to take kids, as aside from a lot of walking and sight seeing that the whine about, there are fountains everywhere to drink from (or play in) and there are many impressive things that capture their attention. The stories you can tell them really educate and bring it all to life and its one of those places you can just wander for hours with no real purpose, but be greeted with beauty and famous places at every turn.

The train was easy, and aside from the morning, it was reliable and fast! If you are in Pisa for a few days its definitely a trip worth taking to save money on a separate visit at a later date – though a few days there would also be well spent too! Thank you Rome for having us, it was most hearty and we can’t wait to return kid free for the romantic side!!!!

Tips for Training it to Rome with Kids

Don’t promise them a paddle in the Trevi fountain the night before. You can’t even touch the wall let alone paddle and it will result in meltdowns!

Take a picnic and a crate of water – Kids are always hungry and especially thirsty with the heat and it saves lots of time and unnecessary stress. I took some pizzas in a tub and with all of the drinking fountains you can continually refill the bottles.

Don’t expect to be able to go in the Vatican if you save it til the end.

Don’t plan on a tasty Italian meal for dinner down a quaint little street because all they want is the blumming McDonalds next door!

Buy colouring books or something to keep them occupied on the train – I should have remembered from the flight!

Go at their pace and appreciate it as an opportunity to notice the little things you might otherwise miss.

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The main goal of our recent holiday in Tuscany was to relax, get some sunshine and visit the beach. We had lush sunshine and it was over 30 degrees everyday, but aside from a couple of beach trips, the trip was far from the easy relaxing trip we anticipated. It was jam packed with adventures, whining kids, late nights, pasta, and despite the madness, we still had a brilliant adventure in a wonderful part of the world.

Flying to Pisa and our Air B&B

We flew to Pisa airport in the evening of the Wednesday from Leeds/Bradford, and arrived around 11pm, so it was a late one but the kids coped well fuelled by excitement and the bag of Haribo they talked me into at the petrol station on the way! We stayed overnight in a guest house just down the road from the airport, and then picked up our rental car the next morning. We had booked an Air bnb in a village called Buti, which is just a little drive outside of Pisa, nestled in beautiful mountains and olive groves. It far exceeded our expectations and was simply stunning!

The house was part of a large farm house, nestled up the side of a mountain and surrounded by groves of olive trees dirt tracks and animals! We had our own balcony, modern interior and the neighbours were cute old Italian locals!

As it was a farm, the kids had freedom to see the animals, and especially enjoyed the new pups which the visited daily (once letting out the mum – don’t ask!!!). Up the track, was a tiny 13th century church, and at every turn was beauty and amazing views across the valley.  We has pomegranate trees, citrus, figs, bamboo, and at nighttime only heard the crickets and farm animals – it was most idyllic and one of the bonuses of going through Air bnb when you travel.

The Beach and Genoa

On our 3rd day we were finally settled in and ready for some sand and sea. By recommendation we drove a little ways up from Pisa to a gorgeous part of Italy known as “Chinque Terre”. We went to both Lavento and Vernazza and found it to be a beautiful coastline with quaint little streets and colour everywhere, and the smell of muscles, baked breads and garlic! 

We did a lot of driving up steep windy mountain roads and the whole experience was surreal and breathtakingly beautiful!

As we were only an hour way from Genoa, and it being a place Nathan really wanted to go to, we deiced to drive a little further north in the afternoon and spend a couple of hours there. Of course my kids were the rowdy ones, wading through the fountains when we got there, but I am glad we went because it was a really lovely city. The fountains were spectacular (and very inviting), and it was great to see history at every turn and amazing architecture … Christopher Columbus house was small but cool to stand on the forecourt of, and just to be in a place he lived, pondering upon his life and legacy! 

This day ended with the kids swimming in the sea at 10pm – perfection!

Florence and Lake Bilancino

The next day we drove to Florence, which I had high expectations for. I dont know why but its one of those cities people talk a lot about. It was a great city and had beautiful architecture yes, but wasn’t my fave. There was lots to see if you were willing to pay (which we didn’t see the point of with our rowdy crew), but being only 45 minutes from our house, it was certainly worth an afternoon to just wander and see the city as a whole. The kids found a carousel and we just took it easy admiring the buildings and cathedral. 

On the way home we took a different route and called by Lake Bilancino. It was beautiful, clear, turquoise and warm, and a lovely evening spent paddling and chilling together. I think next time it would be fun to spend a day there and do some water sports or just have a picnic, but we found to be a lovely spot enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. 

Pisa

Finally we saw Pisa and it was brilliant … we saw it Sunday afternoon following church and was totally worth the wait. Everything about it was charming and exciting and I had a lot of fun there. We did all of the cliche tower pics and it was a place that really impressed the kids too. Site seeing can sometimes be a challenge with kids, especially when its more old stuff in the blazing sunshine, but Pisa really grasped their attention and they loved it. We went into the cathedral, which was free and then walked around the little streets… it was a great 4 or 5 hours!

Pisa also has some great beaches and a park too that are very family friendly and we spent some time at these too later in our stay. The park in Pisa in on an archaeological site and has pretty little gardens as well as a play area that is well equipped. We spent a few hours here before flying home, and it was a nice relaxing morning and fun for the kids too.

The beach we went to near Pisa was on our last day and was quite busy but a great spot all the same. We found a little patch of sand amongst the other visitors to nestle down in for a couple of hours to chill, dig and swim. It had man made walls to make it into a large outdoor pool which at the deepest point was only up to Ethan’s neck! Pisa has a lot of currents so this ensured it was safe and the depth made it easier and more fun for families. It was a lovely beach and lovely afternoon soaking up far too much sun!

Tuscany is the perfect destination for a family trip, but also a place I would love to go just Nath and I. It has a great balance of beach, history and nature and is in great proximity to visit a whole host of famous and breathtaking sites. We paid just over £600 for our flights and accommodation, and I would definitely recommend hiring a car to make the most of your visit and turn it into the ultimate adventure.

I loved our week in Tuscany – the food, our little farm house, the adventures, the sun. But mostly the company and the memories made there. It was the ultimate adventure and a great Summer holiday! 

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