Summer’s over (already!), which means most of us (myself included) are probably already thinking about the next family holiday – Bring on October half term, I say!

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to plan your next family adventure in the UK whilst keeping to a budget:

Think About Where to Go and How Long For

Before you start Googling ‘half-term breaks’ and find yourself lost in an indigestible amount of information and pulled into pricey “offers”, just sit back and think of the areas you’d like to go. Perhaps this will be somewhere you’ve never been to before but have heard good things about. Maybe its a place you have had on your “bucket list”, or maybe it is somewhere you’ve been to and want to explore in more depth or return to as an old family favourite spot – either way think about a specific place and stay focused! If the kids are old enough, you could even have a family vote so everyone feels involved in the decision.

Then, once you’ve settled on a place and how long you’re going to go for, start researching places that tick the boxes.

Research Your Costs

In order to start saving for you next trip, it is important to research further than just how much the accommodation will cost you. Consider what attractions you might visit whilst there, where you might eat at night, or if it will be self catered? Also account for how much it will cost you to get to and from the location in fuel or on public tansport (Family and friends rail cards are a great investment to save money on rail fares!).

Having this budget in mind won’t just help you save, but it will prevent things from getting out of hand (as we all know they often can on family holidays!).

Consider Taking the Grandparents

While holidaying with your parents might not necessarily be at the top of your list of things to do (especially if they are elderly), family trips make for lots of quality time that you’ll all treasure, and this is reason enough for us to be taking Nath’s mum with us on our next trip. 

If they aren’t as active as ours are, and are struggling with mobility, you will need to do some extra planning to make sure the accommodation and activities will cater to them too. And you might even want to consider a road scooter to help them get around with ease, and without feeling like they’re a burden to you. Places like Mobility Solutions are ideal for this.

Book Your Accommodation

Now you know who’s coming with you, it’s time to get your accommodation booked. We always like the flexibility of Air BnB, however, hotels are great for short breaks too and ones where you don’t have to do too much. But if there’s a large group of you going, you may find self-catered cottages or homes offer you the flexibility you need.

Again, if your kids are older, see what everyone would prefer so no ones left moaning that they ‘didn’t want to stay here.’

Plan Your Activities

Finally, to make sure you’re packing as much as possible into the trip, and the right attire into your cases, start planning the activities you’re going to do.

Staying in the UK means the weather is not alway predictable and so it’s a good idea to leave some flexibility with what you’re doing on what day so you can account for those inevitable changes in the weather. Plus, leaving some room in your itinerary will allow for last-minute changes as well as new things you may discover when you get to the location.

Also looking up voucher offers ahead of time for theme parks and touristy places, will be small steps in saving you loads on days out!

Planning family breaks can be stressful but I absolutely love the excitement of it all and bagging some deals too! Allow yourself enough time and stick to a budget so that you can create the ideal UK family holiday and one that’s completely budgeted for.

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A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed a lovely 5 days away in the Dumfries & Galloway area of Scotland with Nathan’s family! It was over the August Bank holiday weekend, and whilst we were greeted with cooler/wetter conditions than we have grown accustomed to this Summer, it was nevertheless the ideal way to wrap up the Summer holidays. There were 18 adults and 11 kids (so of course we needed some where big to host us all) and we were fortunate enough to be able to stay self catered at The Dunsky Estate – it was a little spooky at times, but adventurous and very beautiful/Luxurious.

The Dunskey Estate 

Est in 1782 and overlooking the sea, the Dunskey Estate was full of history and grandeur, and was a beautiful spot for us to congregate. We had woodland walks, got lost in the maze and had lovely little ventures down to almost deserted little bays!

Each room was beautifully decorated and comfortable and the kids mostly bunked up with their Aunts, which left most of the married couples in semi peace with the toddlers (except for 2 nights when both Ethan and Megs wanted to sleep on our floor – cheers guys!)! The room we had was lovely. It had a 4 poster bed, ensuite and lovely furniture and design – I especially loved the modern and antique mix!

We chilled out in a large drawing room with open fire, large bookcases and overlooking the sea, and ate/played games in a lovely grand dining room – ideal for the 29 of us each meal time! It really was a lovely place to stay (even if it did feel spooky at night time)!

Family Time 

Prior to our trip, we looked up lots of places to visit and things to do, however once there it naturally just flowed into being time to chill as a family and hang out! We didn’t do very much at all apart from conquering the maze, getting caught in hail storm, a beach day with an inflatable unicorn, and chips at the seaside! We had a lovely visit and an Ice cream in Portpatrick all together too, which was very close to where we were staying. Its so tiny and quaint, and such gorgeous little place! Then on Bank holiday Monday we had way too much fun at the local swimming baths in Stranraer and Nathan and I took a short detour on the way back from that for a quick visit to Killantringan lighthouse – it was cold but gorgeous!

We then spent each of our evenings playing games, eating chocolate, and singing, laughing and dancing together! It was so lovely to see everyone, and hang out. It was great to relax as a family with no pressure to do anything major but provide opportunity for the kids to run around and laugh and play with their cousins!

The Mull of Galloway 

On the way home, whilst most of the family headed straight back to Yorkshire (or the south), we decided to take a 20 mile detour and visit the Mull of Galloway. This is the peninsula on the map that is the southernmost part of Scotland, and it overlooks both Northern Island and The Isle of Man! It was a lovely drive out to it, and the views were gorgeous. It was great little adventure (albeit very blustery)!

When visiting the mull of galloway, there are little walks, an RSPB spot and an exhibition centre. You can eat in the cafe and climb up the lighthouse (both of which we didn’t have time for on this occasion when faced with a 5.5 hr drive home)!

I loved our adventures in Scotland – its always nice to be with everyone! I especially loved all of the beautiful lighthouses we saw and the panoramic views across to Ireland. I loved the cute little bays, beautiful clear seas and beaches, and little teeny harbour towns. We were even privileged to see a piper busking on Bank holiday Monday, and that for me was so exciting!

The Galloway area of Scotland is really lovely and we barely scraped the surface! Such a peaceful and beautiful place for family time and a little break!

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Italy is a fantastic destination when it comes to family holidays, with a great mix of sightseeing and relaxation on offer. The whole family can take advantage of Italy’s beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and more. A great region to consider for your next family trip (that we have fallen in love with) is Tuscany. With some impressive cities to visit including Florence and Siena, there’s plenty of breath-taking sites to admire and it’s the perfect place to switch off.

To make the most of your time there here are our tips on how you can plan the Ideal getaway!

Purchase tours and tickets in advance

If you want to make the most of your time, purchasing your tickets in advance can be a great way to skip the queues and plan your time more efficiently. If you are travelling with younger children, eliminating the need to queue for tickets can be a great way to avoid frustrations or meltdowns. Also, having times allocated for visiting attractions allows you to plan your day to maximise your time enjoying the most that Italy has to offer.

Look out for any offers or family tickets, which obviously could save you some money – especially when purchasing online.

Find the ideal Tuscan hideaway

Renting out a villa is a great way to make your time away from home a little more comfortable. You can really make the place feel like a home away from home and it allows you to create a central base for you to go out and explore from. Picking somewhere with a pool or outside space is great if you have kids to entertain, especially if you plan on having a few relaxing days in between sightseeing. If you’re after somewhere special to stay, Abercrombie & Kent have a range of luxury Italian villas that make for the most exemplary escape!

Make the most of train travel

Taking the train is a great way to get a round Italy; they’re well connected and reasonably priced and we used them last year when travelling from Pisa to Rome, so make the most of them to get around and explore more of what’s in your area and those surrounding it. If you’re staying in the countryside and don’t fancy driving into the cities, then opting for train travel is a nice alternative and lets you explore more without having to worry about parking. You can also pre-book your tickets online, so you don’t have to worry about getting them on the day.

Head off the beaten track

When it comes to exploring the Tuscan countryside, some of the smaller more authentic Italian towns allow you to experience something new. You’ll find some of the best food places when you head outside of the typical tourist traps and towards the local side streets. There are also a lot of historical attractions such as cathedrals, so if your family is into history then you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied. The bigger cities, such as Florence and Siena, are packed full of interesting historical sites including iconic bridges and squares. For the adults, there plenty of world-renowned wines on offer, so be sure to make the most of these!

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Growing up our family did a lot of camping. My Dad was an ex-scout and scout leader and loved the outdoors, and consequently shared this passion with his whole family. You could say it is in my blood, as according to family stories I have been camping since I was a baby! From my own memories I remember camping and walking in the Yorkshire dales, around the southern coast, Wales and the Lake District (lots in the Lakes). We went on many an adventure most school holidays, and whilst at times I whined as I became older, as a younger child I only remember how much fun it was. I loved exploring the mountains, the dales, swimming in rivers and cooking on little stoves. It was peaceful, beautiful and exciting, and a wonderful time with my sisters and family.

I have since becoming a mother of older children, contemplated time and time again over how much fun it would be for us all to go camping and create equally adventurous memories with them. Whilst I personally (and Nathan too) would always opt for a hotel or Airbnb over camping any day, there was something inviting and exciting about the prospect of getting into camping as a family and embracing the outdoors more than we already do. I thought that being in the outdoors together and camping in a tent would be enriching and the ultimate adventure – Camping is fun isn’t it? But I also thought it is such a cheap way to travel and so would enable us to see and do more in the world too. And so this last Friday we went for it – Our first family camp to the Peak District!

The Peak District 

The Peak District is such a stunning part of the UK. Located in central England it is home to a lot of wildlife, little English towns with famous produce (Hello bakewell and its tarts!) and has such lovely breathtaking scenery. It is a great spot for cycling and walking and also offers a lot of history too. It has been on my radar for a while because I wanted to visit either Buxton or Bakewell, as well as fulfill a bucket list goal of Chatsworth House with my very own Mr Darcy!

And so we decided on the Peak District and made Bakewell and Chatsworth our little weekend thing! We planned on one night camping and then a day at Chatsworth and home again on Saturday. We chose to keep it super basic as being first timers we didn’t want it to become a stressful thing and as it was also rather last minute, we were somewhat clueless. We booked one night at a little farm between Buxton and Bakewell which cost us £17! It had everything you needed – A simple field surrounded by animals and dry stone walls, and a tap, toilets and shower which were really handy too! The weather was dry (thankfully) and it was, aside from hyper kids, a really positive experience!

We arrived about 7pm and the tent was surprisingly easy to assemble and get up (I soon got back into it and took charge!). By 7.45pm the tent was up, the car unloaded and the beds all made up. As I say, we only went basic and so literally had the tent, sleeping bags/bedding, clean clothes and some snacks for brekkie the next day with us – It was just right!

After setting up camp it was lovely to be able to take a stroll down the lane in the evening sun and explore a little corner of the countryside. The kids loved seeing the sheep, goats and cows, and I loved the scenery, dry stone walls and feeling relaxed and free. I am constantly reminded in these moments how peaceful I feel when in the outdoors and how good for my mind and emotions nature is.

The kids took a while to settle that night due to crazy levels of excitement! But other than that we all slept really well and taking an airbed for Nath and I was an absolute dream! Camping in the Summer is enjoyable as it wasn’t even that cold, and it was beautiful to wake up to blue skies and the morning sun.

On Saturday morning I awoke about 6.30am which is unheard of for me at home! Blurry eyed I stumbled to the tent door and opened it back, then laid back down. It was so beautiful to just lay there and stare out onto the hills, sheep and a fresh Summers day. I had the words of “Be Still, My soul” running through my mind and I realised in the ordinary family moment just how much peace and joy I had – it was really great!

The kids soon arose with eagerness to get out and explore and we found that breaking camp was just as simple as building it. By 9.15am we had already packed up and left, and were in Bakewell (about 10 minutes away). We wandered its cute little streets, popped into a couple of charity shops and sampled some good old Bakewell tarts and then headed over to Chatsworth house for a day. There we had lots of fun soaking up it’s beauty and history. The whole little trip was exactly how I had imagined (minus a few nutty kids here and there) and it was all so lovely and quintessentially English!

Camping for the first time worked well for us and gets 2 thumbs up from us all (except Mr Smith that still needs converting!) and I am already planning our next one! This time we want to build up to 2 nights and try and cook outdoors!

I can’t help thinking about all of the incredible places we can go as a family around the UK and Europe on a budget if we can master the ropes of camping! How many more mornings we can greet the sun and be at one with nature. How many mountains we can show and take the kids up, and how many moments can be spent snuggled in a tent together and building family bonds away from everyday life!

This trip was so enriching for my soul, so fun for our family, and a wonderful little adventure filled with beauty! Roll on the next camping adventure we can’t wait for another!

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