Friday, August 16, 2013

It's our European Vacation! Places to See & Travel Tips!

We’ve been back to reality now for a few weeks since our awesome family vacation to England and mini-vacation to Paris. It was amazing and something I’m thankful for. Everything about the trip was just perfect. No troubles, the kids got along and we saw pretty everything we intended on seeing! I thought I would give you some insight on a few of the places we visited and tips along the way. This is going to be a multi-part series, just so I don't overwhelm you with all the details and too many pictures.
European Vacation--places to see and travel tips

First things first. This is not a vacation that one can plan last minute and be successful. We planned this for well over and year and we saved up for it for that long too! We knew we wanted to do it the right way and we wanted our children along as well. We stayed two weeks. This was perfect for us to see everything we wanted to see, but still too short of a visit. I did a lot of research beforehand and had the luxury of family members in England to help coordinate some of the activities. (although its totally doable by yourself)

Day 1
sunrise on an airplane
Sunrise on the airplane

We arrived at the London Heathrow airport at 6 in the morning. We were hoping that the kids would sleep on the plane (it was an overnight flight), but they didn't. None of us got any good amount of quality sleep. 
England Tips and Places to See

But, we knew it was important to keep going as long as we could, trying to stay on the new time schedule (London is 6 hours ahead of our normal time). Once we arrived at our relatives house (major cost saver!!), we quickly unloaded the car, had a snack and left. We didn't stay there long because we didn't want to fall asleep. We visited a local outlet mall and then a local Steam Engine Museum.

Swindon Steam Engine Musuem

I think we had a dinner that night, but can't really remember--I believe I was sleep walking at that point!! We were all in bed by 9pm and slept in until 10 am the next morning!
Whew--up for 32 hours! (kids did amazing, might I add!)

Day 2
After catching up on sleep, we headed to Bath, England. One word. Beautiful. Well, there are many more words to describe this place...historic, amazing, crowded, lovely, is worth fitting into your schedule.
We walked around the streets for a bit before our Afternoon Tea reservation at the Pump Room. There are plenty of souvenir shops, local shops, street performers and tourists!

street performers at Bath England

The Pump Room Afternoon Tea was wonderful. Such a beautiful dining room and located right next to the Roman Baths. Having an English Tea was on my daughters wish list. Although, I'm not sure if this is what she was expecting. We all enjoyed it very much. The little finger sandwhiches, scones with cream and jam (my favorite) and petit fours. I tried Hot Chai Tea for the first time. So good. Hailey tried their Iced Tea which was infused with lots of fruity flavors.
Typical English Afternoon Tea

After tea, we toured the Roman Baths. I was amazed. I had no clue that the Romans were such a huge part of the English history (sorry, not really a history buff). This place was quite amazing. So much of what they built thousands of years ago, still stands and still operates. It's quite breath-taking.
Bath EnglandRoman Baths, Bath England

You take an audio-guided tour through all the bath houses and learn many different facts about not only the bath houses, but way of life back then. I truly enjoyed this visit and recommend it to anyone visiting that area.

Day 3

We had a nice and relaxing day on Day 3. We visited Bourton On The Water and Bibury Trout Farm. Both Bourton and Bibury are very quaint villages. We visited the Model Village in Bourton on the Water which is a one-ninth scale replica in local stone of Bourton on the Water village. We did a little shopping and had lunch before we headed over to the Trout Farm.
Bibury Trout Farm
Old English Cottage, Bibury England
The Trout Farm was a lot of fun. The kids enjoyed feeding the (very hungry) trout. They splashed around trying to get the food. Carson was lucky enough to hand feed a duck. I caught that on video, too!!

Travel Tips, Part One
  1. When traveling overseas, book an overnight flight (if possible)
  2. If traveling with kids overseas, try to break up the flight with a lay over. We laid over in Boston and it was a great way to get out of the stuffy plane, walk around, stretch and get a snack. I think this was important for our little travelers (ages 11 and 7)
  3. If you plan on using electronics while traveling (or on the plane), get a back-up external charging system of some kind. It will save headaches and heartaches if you can easily recharge a dead iPad or gaming device!
  4. Once you arrive to your destination, keep going on their time change. Plan activities to keep you busy until its time to go to bed.
  5. Plan, plan and plan. Make a list of places you want to visit.
  6. Take pictures, lots of pictures.
  7. If you travel overseas and you need to drive a car (like we did), we recommend upgrading to a automatic. Most rental car companies provide manual transmission at a discount, but if you are not familiar with driving on the other side of the road OR other side of the car, we highly recommend upgrading to the automatic. Less stressful.
  8. Speaking of driving, LOOK RIGHT, then LEFT, then RIGHT again...
  9. Be flexible. This is especially important when traveling with kids.
  10. Pack snacks, wet wipes and hand sanitizer! Enough said.
I will be putting together a few more posts with tips and itinerary suggestions! I hope you come back to visit!

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