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A Handy Cheatsheet for Keeping the Kids Entertained on a Long Journey

If you’ve ever had to undertake a long journey with young children in tow then you’re probably already all-too-familiar with how challenging this can be. If you’re traveling by car, this can be difficult enough. But if you’re using public transport, the experience can prove to be even more of a challenge. People aren’t always quite as patient with children as perhaps they should be. So, if yours are crying because they’re bored or tired, you may end up being faced with a barrage of filthy looks and unsympathetic faces.

So, to help ensure that your next trip with the children doesn’t end up being the journey from hell, we strongly advise that you take a few minutes to read this post.

Have Plenty to Keep them Entertained

Thanks to the amazing advancements in modern technology, keeping the kids entertained on a long journey isn’t half as hard as it used to be. In the not-so-distant past, parents were forced to lug coloring books, crayons, jigsaws and Lego onto planes, trains and automobiles. Nowadays, moms and dads can thankfully travel a little lighter. Cell phones and tablets have all manner of games and applications to keep the little ones occupied.

Just make sure you set some parental locks on the device beforehand to prevent spending a fortune on accidental in-app purchases. Just as important is to make sure that your phone or tablet has got plenty of battery life. The last thing you want is to run out of juice, and then have to deal with a bored and restless child for the remainder of the journey. For this reason, it’s also always best to have a back-up plan in place. So, chuck a couple of activity books and Zebra pen refills into a bag to give you that extra peace of mind.

Have a Good Old Fashioned Sing-Song

This is one probably best kept for family-only road trips, where you’re traveling by car. Kids love anything interactive, and there are countless traditional car songs that require you to interact as a family, as well as sing. ‘Wheels on the bus’ is a rather obvious choice, but the song endures for a reason – both kids and adults love it! For older kids, singing a favorite family pop song works just as well.

Car Games

Traditional car games such as the ‘license plate game’ are another great way of stopping boredom from setting in when you’re traveling for long periods at a time. You can also use it as an opportunity to test your kid’s geography skills. Even if your child is yet to go to school, there’s nothing wrong with starting them young! Ask them questions about the environment around them. Also, make sure they at least have a vague understanding of where it is they’re going. Encouraging them to be interested in, and ask questions about, the world around them will place them in good stead for their future education.

Now you’re armed with plenty of ideas and inspiration. So, just follow our advice and you’ll never have to contend with bored children on a long journey again!

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London for Shopaholics

Apart for the various branded shops that London offers, there are a few markets that are a must see in this city. This is where you can find real individuality with all the antiques, handmade and organic items and a great spread of quirky fashion.

For a well-connected shopping experience, consider choosing hotels near Eurostar London, like Comfort Inn Kings Cross St Pancras London near Kings Cross station in Central London, which offers clean and comfortable accommodation at budget rates.

Top 5 Markets in London

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Here is a list of some of the best markets in London that could offer you a truly fulfilling shopping experience.

  1. Berwick Street Market: From fruits to fabrics, this market has it all. It dates back to 1778 and continues to be a rich trading spot. Positioned in the heart of Soho, it is a very busy market that doubles up as a great eating spot. Berwick Street is surrounded by wholesalers and cafes, so there is more to it than just the shopping experience.

 

  1. Camden Market: This is a line of many fun and funky shops wrapped in one wholesome unit. The market offers a wide array of clothes, antiques, crafts, jewellery and furnishings. To sum it up, just about anything can be found here. If you do not like the crowded alleys, this is the market for you.  While you are in the area, you could plan some time to see the British Museum, Regents Park, the British Library and the London Zoo. Camden Market is also located very close to cheap and budget hotels in Central London, which can prove to a good option for easy transport.

 

  1. Portobello Road Antiques and Flea Market: This Notting Hill market is a colourful and dynamic stretch of London that is full to bursting with the latest trends. When we say sales, this place has some epic sales for everything from books to lace and even exotic cooking ingredients. Thousands of people swarm at the stalls and if you really have the patience, you might get a fantastic bargain. It is best to go in the morning, since the crowd starts by mid evening.

 

  1. Spitalfields Market: Located in the heart of the city, this is where you will find excellent quality products that offer outstanding value for money. The market is closed on Saturdays and Mondays, however Sundays sees the market at its busiest, with over 200 stalls in action. More than 50 designers showcase their work at the Fashion Market every Friday. And with the huge range of eateries, it attracts the city’s young crowd for a wholesome treat.

 

  1. Camden Passage: This “hidden” market hosts an array of whimsical antique shops. Traders here are specialists and can give you so much more information that anything on the internet. Endeavour for a good bargain, since prices can be high. It is less than 2 miles from St Pancras Station, and on a cold wintry day, it can prove to be a great walk.

These are places that are the epitome of British culture that still shows some signs of the Georgian and Victorian eras. So, as you look for places around your hotel near Eurostar London, be sure to check out these famous markets.

Child Friendly Holiday Destinations In Europe

GreeceToday’s fast-paced life can make it difficult for you to spend some time with your children. That’s why it is essential for you to bring your kids along, as take a much-needed holiday. But, where on the face of the earth can you spend a fun and rewarding vacation with your family? Well, fortunately, Europe has a ton of child friendly destinations that can give you and your family a blast for your next holiday.

From the nostalgic islands of Greece to the stylish cities of Italy, Europe has a dazzling collection of destinations for tourists who are traveling with kids. If you are planning to travel with your family on your next holiday, here’s a list of some of Europe’s best and most sought-after child friendly destinations, as highlighted by Baby Friendly Boltholes.

Greece

Very few destinations in the world can rival the majestic beauty of the land of Hellas. Furthermore, there aren’t a lot of destinations that have witnessed legends and historic figures as much as this Mediterranean haven.  Known as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, this beloved utopia is truly a blissful hub that will amuse you and your kids in a variety of ways.

Apart from its ancient ruins and historic landmarks, you and the rest of your family can enjoy a plethora of other family-oriented attractions in Greece as well. With miles stunning aquamarine coastline, kids can spend a day enjoying the lovely white sands and sapphire waters on a pristine Greek beach. Plus, it has a load of energetic theme parks, such as Crete’s Cretaquarium, Marine Park in Zante, and Allou Fun Park,

Algarve

With its scenic whitewashed towns, brash resorts and pretty beaches, it is no wonder Portugal’s Algarve reputation is often praised as the ultimate family holiday destination in Europe. While this destination has a frenetic party atmosphere, it surprisingly appeals to family-oriented tourists, thanks to its long sandy islands, scalloped beaches, natural bays, wide golden sands and awe-inspiring cliffs. Besides its natural beauty and amazing scenery, this Portuguese destination is also speckled with child-friendly attractions, such as tennis clubs, the Hot Wheels Raceway, Centros de Ciencias Vivas, Aqualand, Zoomarine, and a whole lot more.

Italy

Italy is arguably the most family-oriented holiday destination in all of Europe. Here, you will find an endless selection of child-friendly restaurants, beautiful villas, beach clubs and shopping centers. What’s more, this beautiful country has hundreds of attractions that kids will love, such as the ancient Colosseum, Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, Bioparco (a zoo in Rome), Explora Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, lakes, mountains and caves. Of course, the country has culinary delights that would please your children’s palate, including pastas, pizzas and gelato, which is considered the best ice-cream in the world.

Traveling with your children is truly one of the best ways to spend your well-deserved holiday. As a parent, going on a holiday with your little ones is a blissful and rewarding experience that you will cherish for years to come. More importantly, a family holiday vacation gives you a chance to spend quality time with your loved ones. Ciao!

 

5 Fun Places to Eat Out near Victoria Station

Victoria Station is the main terminus station for the city of London. It is a very important place in Central London. Staying at a hotel near this place is a great idea. It enables you to explore some major London attraction quickly. Moreover, there are many fun places to dine out near the station.

You will find several accommodation options near Victoria Station. Top hotels near Victoria Station, like St. George’s Inn Victoria offer s all modern facilities at bargain rates.

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Top 5 Places for a Pleasant Dinner near Victoria Station

Café Rouge: This restaurant serves Brasserie and French cuisine. The cost for two people to eat out would cost around 40 pounds. The restaurant is located at the, the Victoria Place Shopping Centre near Buckingham Palace and is close to Central London hotels near Victoria Coach Station. It has an array of fabulous mouth-watering dishes such as steaks and Croquettesand Pot au Chocolat for desert. Drinks start from 4 pounds and wireless internet is available here.

Tozi: If you are staying at a hotel near Victoria station this restaurant located is a fine place to dine-in after a tiring but fun outing visiting places like The London Eye, Belgrave or Westminster Abbey. A dinner here would cost a couple approximately35 pounds. It has some wonderful Italian dishes such as Frittis, pastas, Porchetta and some wonderful Italian salads. Drinks are also available and is wonderful for a romantic dinner.

Frankie & Benny’s: If you are travelling via the Gatwick Express from the Gatwick airport and coming down to stay at a hotel near Victoria Station, you ought to try this fun and pleasant restaurant in Victoria Place Shopping Centre. The restaurant serves American and Italian food. The budget for two people here is approximately 30 pounds. Some of the dishes worth trying include The Big Frankie’s Platter, Lasagne AlForno and Oven Baked Pesto Salmon.

The Vincent Rooms: this restaurant is located in Westminster Abbey and is close to some fine places such as the London aquarium and the Royal Albert Hall. This restaurant serve wines and have a fine selection of European and contemporary dishes. The quant but pleasant restaurant serves a host full of palatable dishes such as Vegetable and main plates with exotic tastes. You have got to try a mug of soup and sarnie if you are up for a feel good food.

Wetherspoons: If you are travelling and reach the Victoria Station, you cannot miss this restaurant in the Unit 5 Victoria Station concourse. The restaurant serves British cuisine and is perfect for a dinner with friends. It would cost you around 40 pounds for a meal for two and a pint of beer costs around 4 pounds, which makes it reasonably affordable. The menu has some fine dishes that you ought to try, which include toasties, Panini and wraps. They also serve some fine curries if you are thinking exotic and spicy. The restaurant specializes in Fish and Chips.

The abovementioned places offer value for money dining options in and around Victoria. If you are planning to visit London anytime soon, be sure to visit these places with your friends and family.

St. George’s Inn Victoria, 25 Belgrave Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1RB, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7828 2061 | Fax: +44 (0) 20 7828 3605 Google+

To Emigrate or Not to Emigrate? That is the Question…

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Courtesy of Wikipedia

Everybody fantasises about emigrating at some point, or another during their lifetime. When you come home to rainy old Britain after a dream holiday in the sun, it can be difficult to re-adjust. So, it’s of no surprise that so many of us think about quitting our jobs, packing everything up and starting again, somewhere new. However, as with so many things, quite often the fantasy is much better than the actual reality.

Land development is heating up in the Baldivis at the moment, and this location is proving to be an increasingly popular choice among British expats. So, if you’re also considering packing everything up ‘in search of pastures new’, be sure to follow our advice. It’s the only way to ensure that your dream of a life in the sun doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

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Don’t Allow Your Heart to Rule Your Head

When viewing potential land and property purchases, it can be all too easy to get a little carried away. Remember, us Brits aren’t accustomed to long periods of blazing sunshine. We have to be careful to not let the sunshine go to our heads. The decision to spend such a large amount of money shouldn’t be taken lightly. So, if you know you’re prone to making rash decisions, wait until you’re back home before committing to anything. You don’t want to end up with an empty bank account and a serious case of buyer’s remorse, just because you were stuck in ‘holiday mode’.

Weigh Up the Pros and Cons

Make a list and start to weigh up the pros and cons of pushing ahead with your decision to emigrate. How much financial risk is involved? Can you bear to leave behind family and friends? Do you speak the native language? Will you be able to find employment? Only when you’ve considered everything will you be in a position to make an informed decision.

Be Realistic

Remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you’re emigrating in the hope that you can run away from your problems, we’re here to tell you that sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Emigrating can be a very stressful experience in itself. Holidaying in a place for a period of two weeks doesn’t equate to living there. Getting used to a new climate and trying to ingratiate yourself into a foreign culture isn’t always easy. So, whilst moving to a different country might offer a more relaxed lifestyle, there are still practicalities to consider.

Always Get a Survey

It’s essential that you understand exactly what you’re buying into before you proceed. A survey will inform you of your rights and obligations if you were to go through with the purchase. A survey will tell you if there are any planning permissions in place and equally if there are any restrictions. It will also inform you of any risks posed by the local environment, such as flooding or pollution.

So, just follow our advice, and you could find yourself living your dream life in the sun, in less time than it takes to get a suntan!

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Why You Should Consider Moving Abroad

It’s never easy to consider leaving your home country. Some people can’t even consider leaving their local area. Here’s an incredible stat – 40% of Americans don’t ever leave their hometowns. It seems we are home birds, attached to the places where we started our lives. We should all be more adventurous. Leaving home is a great experience. We all enjoy discovering new cultures and places. We shouldn’t just do these things on our holidays. If you’ve got a desire to leave, seize it. Here are some reasons why moving abroad could be the best decision you ever take.

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(Image link – Google Images)

Moving abroad can give you the freedom to build and design your own home. Housebuilding is often less expensive abroad. It costs an absolute fortune in the UK. That’s why few people build their own homes here. Abroad, it’s a different story. Over 40% of Australians build their own homes. The figure for the UK is less than 10%. In Australia, low maintenance land lots are available too. Why should you struggle to build an expensive house in the British countryside? You could be doing the same thing on the beach in glorious sunshine!

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(Image link – Google Images)

Another reason to move abroad is money. The cost of living in the UK is high, and rising all the time. Many of us can’t get on the property ladder. Instead, we’re ripped off by dodgy landlords. That’s not the case abroad. As I’ve said, you can build your own home in Australia with little fuss. In Europe, there are stricter rent controls, so there’s less chance of losing money. The simple fact is that it’s getting harder to make a good life for yourself in the UK. Many of us would be better off cutting our losses and taking our chances overseas.

Enough of the practical concerns. Let’s look at the fun stuff. Exploring a new country is always a great adventure. It’s also fun for the whole family. Moving abroad could help to bring your family together. You’ll discover a new country together – inspiring. You could all learn new languages and make new friends. The chance to broaden your horizons isn’t one that you should turn down. You’ll get to do things that just aren’t available in the UK. Let’s say you move to Australia. You can spend your weekends at the beach. You can learn to surf. You can watch Neighbours without feeling weird! Imagine the possibilities!

Let’s not forget the main reason people move abroad – the weather. Why should you put up with horrible wind and rain for most of the year? That’s what we get here in Blighty. There’s a whole world of gorgeous sunshine out there. Go and get your slice of it!

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(Image link – Google Images)

Moving abroad is no picnic. There are lots of issues and concerns that you should address before you make a decision. The opportunities of such a move are vast, too. Life in the UK is difficult, and there’s no sign that it will get better. Moving abroad could be your ticket to a wonderful new life. Think about it. It could be the best decision you ever make.

 

Summer Day Out Ideas for the Kids

With the long school, summer holidays fast approaching; many mums will be facing a dilemma for the next six weeks. It is an awfully long time to keep the kid’s entertained, but it can be done. While taking them out every day may not be viable, planning a trip out at least once a week will ensure that they are kept entertained and that your sanity remains intact! If you are struggling for awesome days out ideas, then you need not look any further. This guide will ensure that your little ones are kept thoroughly amused during the summer months:

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Picnics in the Park

Taking the kids to the park can be seen as a little humdrum, but you can turn a boring day out into the adventure of a lifetime. Having a picnic in the park is lots of fun. Simply pack your favourite foods, grab your picnic blankets and dine alfresco. While we cannot promise that the weather will be glorious this summer, you can do this day out off the cuff, so you are not waiting around for the sun to come out. Your kids will love snacking outdoors, in between bouts of fun.

Nature Walks

Embarking on a nature walk is a great way to inspire your kids with the plethora of wildlife around them. You can create your own maps and get the kids involved in the creating of the maps, as well as giving them a guide of objects to look out for. Think about what your local nature reserve is home to and then see what the kids can find on their adventure. If your local park is home to squirrels, then ensure that squirrels are one of the key animals to look out for. Incorporate it into their guides. Your children will love this kind of walk, what is more, it gives you the perfect opportunity to teach them all about the wildlife in their area. It is both fun and educational.

Theme Parks

Theme parks are perfect for your mini-thrill seekers. If your kids love the idea of going wild on a theme park, then the summer holidays are the perfect time to take them. They will love going on the rides, getting wet on the log flume and running around like crazy. You can be on hand to ensure that they have someone to hold their coats and to supervise the proceedings. If you are more of a hands on parent, then you can go on the rides with them! Purchase photographs from the day, so that they can treasure the memories of their fun day out for a lifetime.

On the Beach

Kids love nothing more than building sand castles and playing in the sea. With that in mind, a day trip to the local seaside is sure to keep them entertained. You can cut the costs of a big day out by taking a packed lunch and buying buckets and spades beforehand. Simply pack up the car and away you go. Your kids are sure to fall asleep on the journey home after such a busy, fun filled day!

 

Five Ways to Make Family Road Trips Fun

Five Ways to Make Family Road Trips Fun

With spring quickly on its way out and summer fast approaching, vacation season is just around the corner. As much as families love their vacation destination, the road getting there, especially if by a car, is long and boring.

Here are five ways to make the long, boring hours fly by with fun:

1. Movie Marathon

Whether the drive is a couple of hours or a couple of days, having a portable DVD player, laptop, or car with a built-in TV with streaming capabilities compatible with Direct TV Internet or companies of the like can quickly change an uneventful trip into something exciting. Bring a handful of choices or subscribe to Netflix or other streaming companies to have an endless supply of movies and TV shows to watch.

Some cars have built-in streaming capabilities that phones and tablets can hook up to, which is helpful if your family has teenagers. Often teen siblings don’t agree on what to watch, thus each one can watch a movie of their own choice on their phone or tablet.

If you have young children who are particularly interested in watching the same movie over and over again, invest in headphones your children can wear. They get to enjoy the movie, and you get to enjoy the silence.

2. Apps

Load up your phone, tablet, and kindle with games, books, and other entertaining apps. Look for apps with trivia quizzes that the whole family can participate in like naming movies or different songs heard from song clips. Or, to keep it more educational, look for trivia quizzes about geography, history, or literature. And, be sure to download a bunch of books. If the movies get old you can always read children’s books out loud.

3. Special Snacks

Road trips and vacation are usually the time most people splurge food wise. Make it a tradition to bring fun snacks that are otherwise not allowed on a regular basis like cookies, candy, donuts, or soda. In each town, stop at different local hotspots for milkshakes or great comfort food. Download apps like Roadfood, Food Network, or TV Food Maps. These apps can determine your location and provide you information on what food joints are near you. These food stops will give the kids something to look forward to, and will hopefully alleviate some of the “are we there yet?” questions.

4. Games

Sometimes good old’ fashioned fun is the best way to go when on a road trip. Games like the ABC game, license plate game, “I Spy,” and slug bug game are always a crowd pleaser. Six degrees of celebrity separation or the celebrity name game can be a lot of fun, especially if you have older kids. But, there are plenty of road trip game books that offer hundreds of activities if the classics start to get boring.

5. Music

A road trip just isn’t a road trip without tunes to cruise to. Make sure to load up your iPod before you leave.

Image Source: http://www.chefmom.sheknows.com

If You’re Planning On Teaching Your Kids to Drive, Here’s What You Should Teach Them

When you’re a teenager, one of the things that you start to look forward to is the freedom to drive your own car whenever you want, and wherever you want to go. It’s also something of a status symbol for many youngsters, as it’s “cool” to have your own car rather than having to take the public transport everywhere (or blag a lift off your mum and dad whenever you want to go into town)!

But what many teenagers don’t realise is how dangerous driving can be. According to statistics from Brake, the road safety charity, a shocking one in five new drivers are likely to crash their car within the first six months of driving, and it probably comes as no surprise that young men are far more likely to be involved in a crash than women.

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Quite often, teenage drivers will end up being taught how to drive by their parents, and many of those youngsters will go on to pass their driving tests. If you have teenagers and they want to learn how to drive, here is what you need to know in order to do a good job!

Have you got what it takes?

The first thing you need to do is ask yourself whether you are cut out to be a driving instructor to your children. There are certain qualities and legal requirements that you will need to possess before you can even consider becoming a driving instructor to your kids:

  • Personal qualities – as a driving instructor you have to be patient, have the ability to stay calm under pressure and be able to guide your child through any dangerous situations;
  • Driving licence – in the UK, you will need to have held a full driving licence for at least 3 years;
  • Car – obviously a car is required for this particular task, and it needs to be road legal (i.e. having valid MOT and tax). Both you and your kids need to be insured to drive the car.

One crucial thing that you must not do is pass on any bad driving habits to your kids; pretty much everyone will have picked up bad driving habits at some point in their lives. Some parents opt for taking an advanced driving course first to help them be better drivers, so that they can pass on those positive driving skills to their offspring.

Preparing for the big day

When you’re both ready for the first driving lesson, it is important to teach your kids the basics of your car (or their car, if they have their own car to learn in). This means going through the controls of the car, and familiarising them with the different components of a car so that they can check they all function correctly.

Once you are both ready to begin, make sure the stereo is turned off, and both of you have seatbelts on. Get them to adjust their mirrors and seat to ensure optimum visibility and comfort, and then you can begin the lesson.

In a hurry to pass?

Some parents feel it is better to get approved driving instructors to teach their children how to drive, so if they are in a hurry to learn how to drive, it might be more beneficial to book some intense driving courses for them once they have mastered the basics of driving in your car.

This gives them the confidence to progress as they will have had previous driving experience (with you at their side) and it will obviously be cheaper too.

Too Expensive To Travel Abroad With the Kids? Check Out These Cheaper But More Fun Holiday Ideas

It’s no secret that travelling abroad for family holidays is a somewhat costly affair these days.

The cost of flights to overseas destinations has increased in recent years, and there has been much news coverage in the media in recent months about how travel agents and airline firms are seemingly charging up to double the price of flights and accommodation during school holiday times.

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For many parents feeling the economic pinch, travelling abroad with the kids is fast becoming an impossible dream. So if you are facing this dilemma, here are some alternative holiday ideas that you could consider for the summer holidays this year which will be just as fun and interesting for both you and your children!

Go on a rail adventure

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You might think this is somewhat unusual, but I can guarantee you that both you and your kids will have such an awesome time going on a rail adventure! There are plenty of heritage railways that you can check out such as the Severn Valley Railway in the West Midlands, and it’s a great way to go and explore some picturesque towns along the route whilst taking in some breathtaking scenery!

Some heritage railway operators even have workshops where the kids can get involved with refurbishing trains and equipment, while others even allow children to do some driving too!

CenterParcs

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One of the most-popular places to spend time with your children during the school holidays is in a ‘holiday village’ such as CenterParcs. These locations feature self-contained accommodation and have all sorts of facilities on offer, such as swimming pools, indoor and outdoor activities, water sports and more, all within a scenic woodland area.

And for the parents, there are a number of facilities for them too such as spa treatments, saunas, as well as a selection of restaurants and leisure facilities aimed at adults.

Camping

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One of the cheapest ways of spending some quality family time together is by going camping in the great outdoors! Believe it or not, Britain has a vast number of scenic campsites dotted around, so all you have to do is decide where you’d like to go camping and pitch up your tent!

Every parent should take their children camping at least once in their lives, as it means that the kids will be able to enjoy and appreciate nature and the great outdoors, and you can even teach them some essential skills which they will hopefully pass on to their children when they are older.

Caravanning

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Of course, camping isn’t for everyone, so the next best thing to pitching up a tent is staying in a caravan! You can usually stay in a caravan in the same places where you would go camping, and you can either hire a caravan, or buy your own and drive it to the campsite with you.

Caravans sometimes get bad press, but to be honest they are actually pretty luxurious. According to Butler Technik, they have all of the modern conveniences that you would expect to find in a hotel room, except that you are paying a fraction of the cost!