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Fairy Travels

Top Tips When Travelling by Car With Children

With the rising costs of airfares and package holidays, and the increasing time it takes to get through security at the airports, more and more families are deciding to travel by car for their holidays.  Families are electing to take more road trips, both within the UK and Ireland, and wider afield in Europe. To make your journey easier here are some top tips to remember while travelling by car with children.

Most of us with young children are returning to the days we grew up in, where our holidays consisted of our parents packing up the car with us, bags and other essentials, and setting off to travel within our home country. My parents couldn’t afford holidays abroad, so we often travelled to other counties of Ireland for our summer holiday. I fondly remember a hot week in June spent in Salthill in Galway when I was 15. I also remember the windy beaches of Tralee in County Kerry when I was around 12. There were also regular camping trips to Brittas Bay or Courtown, two seaside towns on the east coast of Ireland. And getting there was a road trip.

As a family we’ve been travelling by car with our son since he was four months old. The first long trip was to Ireland via the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare. And since our epic two-week USA road trip in 2017, we’ve become huge fans of travelling by car with our son. You can move from place to place and see much more of a country than just holidaying in one spot for a week or two. This is a huge advantage to road trips that we’ve come to love.

But, how can you beat the age-old question “Are we there yet?”, uttered by little people in the back. Well, here are some top tips to help your car holiday go a lot easier with the kids in tow.

Top tips when travelling by car with children  

1 Decide what time of the day suits your kids for travelling.

You need to decide if your kids do better in the early morning or evening hours for travelling? You know your kids better than anyone, so this is really your choice. Some people elect to travel at night when the kids are bound to be asleep. However, you need to ensure who ever is driving isn’t too tired behind the wheel. Others, like us, prefer to travel during the day, taking in the scenery and sharing the driving between the two of us. Whichever is best for your kids, plan your travel to match. For us, leaving early in the morning is best and our son will nap in the car is he gets tired. I’d also prefer us to sleep in a bed and get a proper night’s sleep than try and catch the zzz’s in the car.

2 Don’t leave home without the snacks and drinks.

Make sure to pack some snacks and drinks for everyone in the car. Yes, you might be able to stop along the way, but snacks can calm hangry children and they can also fill a gap if there is a way to go before your next stopping opportunity. Drinks are also essentials, particularly if you are driving during the summer on a hot day.

Stock the car with water or juices and bring snacks consisting of fruit, cereal bars, biscuits, crackers, crisps and even some homemade sandwiches. Keep them handy so you can pass them over without having to stop the car to fish them out of the boot.

3 Bring some entertainment.

Bring some colouring books and crayons or pencils, sticker books, travels games and even electronic devices like Gameboys and tablets. And let the kids use them if necessary. You could even bring personal DVD players and use a mounting brace to mount them to the back of the front seat headrests. Just remember individual headphones if you’ve got more than one child so that you don’t end up with a volume war.

Pic Credit: Passports and Adventures

 I’d also recommend ensuring you have some music that the kids like in the car. We’ve created a playlist on our Spotify account for our son with his favourite songs and we add to it from time to time. This can be a sure-fire way of keeping him entertained for a while in the car.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to this type of entertainment. Playing I-Spy or other games can be fun. We even created a game in America called “Spot the Mack truck” shouting out “Mack” every time we saw a truck that looked like Mack from Disney’s Cars. And a pair of toy binoculars provided hours of entertainment for our son in Yellowstone National Park.

4 Pack an overnight bag and keep it handy.

If you have an overnight stop somewhere, or are only staying a few nights in one location, why not pack a 3-day bag with 3 days’ worth of clothes for everyone in it, rather than packing one individual suitcase for each person. Use colour coordinated packing cubes for each member of the family so every knows where their clothes are.

This is much easier than hauling 3 or more suitcases into a hotel or AirBnB every night or two. You can do this for a road trip that consists of several short stops along the way. It will mean you take one suitcase of clothes in every three days. Keep your family toiletries in one large clear bag so it can be brought in with your one bag.

We did this during our road trip in Central Portugal at the end of the summer. We were stopping at three different locations for either two or three nights each and I packed one 3-day bag for our first stop, rotated clothes for the second stop and then we brought everything into our last location’s accommodation as the car was parked in a shared carpark and away from our accommodation. It made it much easier when it came to empty the car with a boisterous four-year-old in tow.

 

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Fairy Travels

Family friendly places to visit in Penang

beach scene

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Are you thinking of holidaying in Penang with family? Well, you are indeed just on the right track! After all, this Malaysian island is just perfect for families, and one can indeed look forward to a memorable holiday with their children. Start planning the trip and take advantage of Hard Rock Hotel Penang online booking for the most comfortable and affordable accommodations.

Penang boasts of several family-friendly tourist attractions, and there is something for everyone here. You can spend precious moments with your family as you enjoy exploring those museums, swimming pools, parks, and temples. The tropical state of Malaysia has loads of beach-side resort towns. You can book the best hotels in Penang for your family for a memorable stay and experience. Enjoy world-class facilities in the leading accommodation in Penang.

Here are some of the most popular sites and locations for families holidaying in Penang.

  • This indoor playground of Adventure Zone– The fabulous Adventure Zone at the Golden Sands Resort is a big hit among families with children.  Enjoy those fabulous and fast drop slides with your kids. There is even a specialized play area for the toddlers. Just explore the attractions, and you can even play hide and seek here.

  • Train to Penang Hill– If you are looking for a cool and calm escape from the hot city and its crowds, just make your way to the 18th-century style station. Hop on the train to Penang Hill that will take you the hill, and you can already feel the fresher breeze. Enjoy those fantastic views of Penang Bridge and Georgetown.

  • Penang Butterfly Farm in Entopia- You must visit this lovely spot near Batu Ferringhi where the butterfly farm displays hundreds and thousands of butterflies. There are other animals such as lizards, fish, and turtles.  Part form those, the informative displays will keep the whole family busy.

  • Canopy Walkway in National Park. You children are sure going to love this place. Explore the lush scenery of this vast rainforest. The highlight is the 150-meter-long Canopy Walkway that will take about half an hour to complete. You can climb different exotic trees to get a birds-eye-view.  

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  • A cyclo-rickshaw ride for short trips- It is indeed an enjoyable experience to rise on those bicycle powered cabs which are also known as “beca” locally. Those rickshaws remind one of the Chinese influence on the island and are purely meant for the tourists. You can take short trips to local attractions.

  • The interesting Snake Temple– Built in 1850 by a Buddhist priest, the temple gets its name because it is a safe haven for poisonous snakes. You will come across green tree snakes and Wagler’s pit vipers. However, these snakes are harmless and are a friendly breed. Still, be wary and keep an eye on the children while exploring the area. Other highlights of the temple include the Buddhist sculptures and carvings
  • The Penang Eco Park– If you want to admire Penang’s natural beauty, then you are sure to find it here at Penang Eco Park. It is indeed a tremendous outdoor attraction for the whole family who can come here and spend quality time. They can go for long hikes through Forest Park or simply let the kids play in the playground.

  • Fun at Penang Interactive Museum – Another spot which the whole family will like is the Penang Interactive Museum that displays three-dimensional artworks. You not only feel a part of the history and culture of Penang, but it is great fun to click photos of those trick arts and murals. Learn about the island’s traditional way of life through the section of miniature figures.
Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

Amsterdam calling in 2019

Amsterdam at night

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Back in 2015 we touched down in Amsterdam to hear the very sad new my wonderful granda had passed away. I was distraught. We departed on the next flight back to Dublin. For a long time I had a mental block about Amsterdam, about going back there. The association was tough.  However a press release popped in my inbox this week and made me think. You know something perhaps a return visit is just what I need, a closure of sorts.

I see that KLM has reached an agreement between themselves and Dublin headquartered Stobart Air which will see Stobart provide an E195 jet on an ACMI contract (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) for the purpose of operating up to eight flights per day from Amsterdam, including Dublin to Amsterdam. I was intrigued to read that Stobart employ over 500 people.  You might not realise that Stobart are the airline that operates the Dublin-Donegal and Dublin-Kerry Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes, on behalf of the Irish Government, under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. 

I use the Donegal – Dublin route very frequently and its incredibly convenient, for work reason we are split between Dublin and Donegal and this makes it a lot easier. Another huge plus is the view from Carrickfinn runway on departure. The runway literally disappears before your eyes! If I recall correctly it was voted the Worlds most scenic runway in 2018. That is quite the accolade.

Back to Amsterdam! I did so much research before my trip and had it all planned out, Heineken Factory, canal boat cruise, copious coffees along the canals. My youngest was only young at the time we went in 2015 so Nana very kindly offered to take him while we took my oldest, who was 3 at the time. Being the ultimate hoarder I no doubt still have all my notes.

Perhaps 2019 will be the year we pay another visit to this intriguing city. Time will tell.

 

Fairy Travels

Lapland on budget – a how to guide

santa claus village

Accommodation at Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Last year we ticked one item off our bucket list when we visited Iceland. Little did I think a mere two months later we would have managed to tick another one off the list – an ultimate dream come true….Lapland. It cost us a fraction of the price that tour operators were quoting for our two night stay therefore I though id set out just how we did it including costs.

 

Feel free to comment below or DM/ email and im more than happy to answer any questions or queries:

Flights

We weren’t overly keen on the over night train, I know some people love it but my thinking was tired kids = nightmare! Therefore we knew without booking with a tour operator we were limited to connecting nights flights so off we went researching.

  • We flew Dublin to London Gatwick, Cost €9.99 per person each way with Ryanair
  • London Gatwick to Rovaniemi £35.99 each way with Easy Jet

They above were the cheapest I could find anywhere and I did buckets of research in terms of timing I booked in August for December 2018. You also need to factor in the cost of an overnight stay in the airport as the Easy Jet flight is 6.20!! A very early flight!! We booked the Hilton Hampton airport hotel via booking.com for £90 b&b for the four of us. Nothing overly exciting but did the job and its literally next to the Easy Jet check in desks.

santa claus village resturant

Lunch time at Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy blog

santa claus village

Santa Claus Village at 4pm Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

There is also the option of flying with Norwegian or Finnair from a few of the UK airports. The alternative is to go via Helsinki from Dublin, think its around an hours turnaround in Helsinki so tight but doable im informed. Of course the overnight train is an option if you fly from Dublin. Sign up to their newsletter for and discounts.

Accommodation (3 Nights)

There are a wealth of option to suit lots of budgets and requirements in Rovaniemi. We stayed at Santa Claus Village which yes is pricey but it was so handy to be so close to the airport and all activities were on site from Snowmobiling, huskies and of course the big man himself. We crossed over and under the arctic circle and Santa Claus Village is a 30 min or so walk to Santa Park. (Full reviews on both to follow).

The town of Rovaniemi is really nice and hosts the worlds most northerly McDonalds im told (and 2 Irish bars)!! I know a lot of people like to stay closer to the town for a variety of eating options and to be close to supermarkets etc. As above booking.com and Airbnb are good places to start. Food is pricey so do bear that in mind that you might like the option of self catering to be able to save money and cook at home.

Activities

Santa Park

Santa Park Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

The best piece of advice I can give here is to do your research. My kids are young so seeing Santa was top of the list but that list could be endless, there is just so much to do.  What we did was we decided early what activities we would like and booked and paid for some of those in advance.  Also highly recommended is the Rovaniemi Culture Pass which covers the top 3 attractions in Rovaniemi at €20 for adults and kids under 7 free this works out at really good value.

One thing I must do is commend the staff at Visit Rovaniemi, they are incredibly helpful at assisting with all queries in relation to upcoming visits. I literally spoke to them most weeks in the lead up to our trip and I can say hand on heart it would not have been  half as good without their expert advice and guidance. It can be a bit of a minefield with so much on offer and the sense of wanting to see all that’s on offer in this magical place so do contact them for assistance.

I do have a full review to follow of each of this but I will say some highlights were:

  • We saw Santa at Santas Office in Santa Claus Village, just amazing, we went early no queue as the tour buses hadn’t started to arrive yet
  • We did the husky ride at Husky Park located in Santa Park, you get to spend some time at the husky farm before going on the ride which my kids just loved.  The puppies…..so so cute. You can tell the staff genuinely love what they do and have a special bond with the animals
  • Santa Park is about 2km from Santa Village, its a really lovely walk via a forest trail. Id probably say this was the kids highlight. They loved the entire experience start to finish. We only did Santa in one place to stave off the questions so the activities here were really thoroughly enjoyed – elf show, angry birds play space, gingerbread decorating, ice-bar

All in all we estimate the total cost for the 4 of us for 4 nights flights bed and breakfast was around €1,000 activities extra bus that’s very much a matter of personal preference. The food is pricey but do factor that into your budget but I would urge you to try some of the local cuisine. Our favourite was probably the dinner at the Nova Skyland yes pricey but yes so worth it.  My kids are snacky eaters so I had lots of their favourites with me when the (hangry) hunger took over!

Mamma Fairy Insider Tips

  • Take snacks!!
  • Bepathan, my kids are fair skinned so I knew the cold would bother them, we used this on their faces and lips and no issues at all, definitely recommend
  • Good ski gear/ cold gear – kids wore good quality thermals and outerwear from Reima boots from Sports Direct and adults Regatta and Sports Direct boots, nobody got wet and nobody moaned about the cold….. winner!
    entrance to santa park

    Santa Park Entrance Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

    Chat to Visit Rovaniemi they are excellent, I did it via email and definitely made our trip what it was.

  • Whatever clothing you need only take half, we took way too much.
  • Plan and plan some more, know what you want to do before you go and either pay in instalments or in advance makes planning easier.
  • You only have very short day time hours so plan accordingly
  • This year there was much stress about the snow levels so my advice  – book into December. Nothing is guaranteed but it does increase your chances
  • Sign up for all airlines newsletters so you know when flights are released. I understand both Easy Jet and Norwegian will be releasing theirs in April this year.
  • The Airbnb and Booking.com links above will give you a small discount so you are welcome to use them as every little really does help.
  • Savour every minute, honestly its magical.
  • For some top tips on surviving  the winter holidays see this great post from Mother Distracted

Hopefully this is helpful for anybody planning their trip of a life time. Although in saying that im eagerly awaiting flight releases for this year so we can go back and enjoy all that the Official home of Santa Claus has to offer.

 

Note: The above post contains afflinks
Fairy Travels

First up on our 2019 wish list – Alvor Portugal

Generally we like to try new places, countries, cities etc when we travel however that said the only place where we have routinely returned year on year is Alvor Portugal.  We didn’t make it for 2018 for family reasons and as we closed out 2018 and rang in 2019 one thing we did agree on was that we missed our annual family trip to Alvor. You see its not just the immediate family, we go as a party of our extended family. For our first trip we were a party ranging in ages from 6 months to plus 60 years and hand on heart every single person enjoyed.

beach

The beach at Prainha Credit: Clickstay

For us and the age range of our party Alvor has it all, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, seriously good food and wine and a lovely chilled out vibe. Given our party size we always opt for a villa preferably with a pool and bonus points if its a covered/ sectioned off one as my crazy crew have little fear around water. Don’t get me wrong that’s not a bad thing id just rather that they were aware of the dangers of water and that I didn’t need 300 pairs of eyes for the daredevils! Thankfully holiday rental companies such as Clickstay offer a number of accommodation options from 2 beds upwards.

With young kids having the ability to cook for them and just have some extra space for chilling is pretty invaluable, again with a large crowd rooms for a breather are very useful too!

I would have said im not a creature of habit but maybe am I after all! Our resort of choice from our first trip is Prainha Village for a couple of reasons:

  • Location – location just outside of the main town area means it quiet and peaceful and a stunning secluded beach is just minutes from the properties
  • Size of property – we choose the 4 bed option and its perfect for our needs. See for example see this Clickstay villa in Alvor
  • Pools – there is an incredible salt water pool in this complex. The setting over looking the sea is breath taking

    view of rocks on beach

    View from Canico Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

  • Canico bar – this deserves a special mention, quite honestly the highlight of our trip whether having coffee while the kids place on the beach or sipping champagne as the sun goes down on the ocean. There is a magic here that’s impossible to convey.
  • Miss Pasta – my kids just love this place. The staff are just brilliant and go out of their way to make all ages fell welcome and valued. This is something I find very important in any resort.
pool view

Atlantic Salt Water Pool Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

While there are many fantastic properties on offer with sites like Clickstay in many different destinations throughout the world, every year I leave a piece of my heart at Prainha Village. The great thing is given the size of our party its very budget friendly that’s both the accommodation and the eating and drinking!

Honestly you will not regret a visit to a place like Prainha, we have been very fortunate to have travelled to many countries around the world, however Alvor is currently the only place we have gone more than once and that is a true testament to the calibre of the place you are going to.

So Prainha we will see you later in 2019 and young and old members of The Mamma Fairy house cannot wait.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control, pic’s and memories are my own too!

 

 

 

 

Fairy Travels

Planning The Perfect US Getaway: A Guide

new york skyline

Pic credit: Pixabay

If you’ve long dreamed of heading out on a US getaway, then maybe it’s time you stopped thinking about it and actually did it! When you do decide to do it, to ensure that you experience everything, make sure to plan your vacation down the to a T.  To see what should figure into your US getaway plans, read on.

Choose a wide range of places to visit

When it comes to planning the perfect US getaway, you really are spoilt for choice. What with there being so many states and cities for you to choose from, it’s a near impossible task to whittle your journey down to one American destination. This means that, if you have the luxury of being able to travel for a considerable amount of time, you really should experience as much as the US has to offer by heading to as many different places within the country as you can.

To save yourself from missing out on anything in America, you should seek to experience it all! From partying in Miami to camping in Big Sur, your goal should be to do it all, whether it’s all in one go or not.

Be strategic when it comes to your itinerary

You don’t want to miss a thing on your US getaway, which means that you have to put some real thought into your itinerary before you head out on your adventure. This means deciding what you’re going to see on each day that you spend in the US, and putting plans into place that will see you remain in top condition to ensure that you lose none of your vacation to illness.

In regards to the latter, depending on where you choose to head to, there are going to be different environmental challenges for you to take into account. In Miami, for instance, the party, quite literally, never stops. There’s always something happening in the 305, no matter what day of the week you decide to paint the town red. From Monday night beats to Sunday Fundays on the beach, there’s always something going on. This means that, if you like to get a bit wild from time to time, then this should be the place for you — this also means that you could put yourself in real danger of a hangover upon a visit here. Fear not, however, because, with the help of IV hydration Miami, you need not suffer after your night of Florida fun. The infusion of vitamins and fluids that Reset IV will send to you wherever you are staying will see you beat that migraine and get you up partying again before you know it — to ensure none of your Miami getaway is lost to a hangover, then, you should make sure to get into contact with this company prior to touching down in the city.

Don’t forget the natural beauty that country has to offer

When planning a US getaway, it can be easy to get caught up in the glitz, the glamour, and the partying. By favouring places like Los Angeles and Vegas over Yosemite and Big Sur, however, you will truly miss out on the beauty of this country.   When you decide to head to National Park in the US, make sure to pack your walking boots and make sure to set suitable camping arraignments in place prior to arrival. This will save you having to sleep rough in your car for the night while you wait for a camping space to become available.

To get the most out of your next trip to America, make sure to incorporate the above advice into your getaway-planning process.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

Ensuing your car is winter ready

fixing a car

Pic Credit: Pixabay

We often joke in our house, wondering how many miles we do a year. We love to travel and we spend quite a bit of time in the car.  Therefore ensuring the health of our car is as important as our own health, after all the cargo is precious!!

One thing I will commend the Dada Fairy on is that he is very thorough and cautious about checking the car, you can never be too careful. I am by no means an expert and always talk to a professional, never taking any risks when it comes to the road worthiness of your vehicle, if its NCT or MOT get your certification for example in London from Iversons.

Some tips we have gleaned over the years of travel in all types of weather conditions and often all terrains:

  • Protect your paintwork, harsh weather conditions like ice, snow, grit and dirt can impact the paintwork so it is important to use a wax coating or similar to  form a protective layer
  • Inspect your car before setting off, always check tyres (brakes), and windscreen, and wipers before setting off and not forgetting ensuring all lights are working correctly.
  • Anti freeze, in harsh conditions antifreeze is an important component in protecting engines 
  • Fuel, in winter we would never travel with the bare minimum always ensure you have plenty in case of emergencies etc
  • Emergency kit, ensure your car is well stocked in case of unforeseen breakdown, safety kit should include a good first aid kit as well as hi-viz, triangle, cones, flash light and its not harm to stick in some energy bars. Just in case. Its important to be prepared.

I can’t stress how important it is to have your car serviced regularly. At this time of year makings sure your vehicle is able for the inevitable harsher conditions is so  important.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control.
Fairy Travels

Skiing with kids some tips and advice

I know lots of people think we are insane to take young kids skiing but with the right precautions we haven’t had any issues going on family ski trips. Actually dare I say it we gravitate towards winter holidays rather than sun holiday. We were in Canada last year and are off to Finland, more precisely Lapland in 3 weeks and counting. Having done this a number of times both pre and post kids I have set out some tips and advice below:

  • Preparation is key! Shop around for good quality durable ski wear it is worth spending money on this as they will really be put through their paces and will last a couple of seasons or be handed down between the kids too! While it doesn’t get particularly cold around these parts there have been days where the thermals have come in useful for the kids! One thing I am very strict on is kids ski helmet. A lot of research goes in to selecting top quality ones for us all. 
  • No helmet no ski rule: This one is strictly enforced so everybody knows not so much as a foot allowed on the slopes until the helmets are on.
  • Good socks:  You will thank me later, good socks are essential.
  • Layers: Layers and lots of them is what works for us as you will be in and out places and can adjust them as necessary.
  • Insurance: Call you insurance provider to see if you need an upgrade for winter activities many often do.
  • Skincare: Temperatures can get very low so make sure you moisturise, especially the delicate skin of younger kids. We favour the Eucerin Dry Skin Range and used it on our recent trip to Iceland.
  • Choose wisely: Resorts can vary so much so do your research to ensure it is kid friendly including providing cots, high chairs etc if needs be. Some resorts offer some child minding and clubs.
  • Manage Expectations: Pre kids you might have been able for hours on the slopes and lets faces it as much as they might enjoy skiing they will need more breaks and down time during the day. There is nothing worse than tired and grumpy kids on the slopes. 
  • Tech: Phones aren’t keen on the cold so keep them in inside pockets

Hopefully the above will be some help in getting you set up for your first or repeat ski trip.  Check back at the end of the month for trip reports on our upcoming Finland trip.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control

 

Fairy Travels

How to Plan an Unforgettable Family Road Trip

phone used as sat nav

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Road trips are romantic, fun-filled and exciting ways to travel and expose your children to new and interesting parts of the world – whether you stay in your country or you choose to cross some borders. They also require a certain level of planning in order to go off without a hitch, and its the purpose of this article to help you extract the best experience from your family road trip. From the vehicle itself to what you should pack and where you should go, weve got you covered when it comes to road trip planning.

The Car

The most essential component of your road trip is, of course, the car you choose to drive in. Some families already have the perfect vehicle at their disposal, while others prefer their traditional family car to stay home. If youre in the latter camp, youll be able to search for used cars to buy on finance online, securing yourself a great deal on the deal family wagon to take to the roads. Before you set off, do a comprehensive check of your vehicle, and make sure the oil and water is filled up for the kilometers youll soon be eating up.

Documents and Policies

Depending on the level of ambition your road trip has assumed, youll need to secure a number of policies and documents before you set off. Youll, of course, want insurance that covers your trip, and the breakdown cover thatll provide peace-of-mind should the unthinkable happen. If youre crossing borders, youll almost certainly need some paperwork in order to do so; search online for what you’ll need to avoid any last-minute frantic searches or any long waits at border crossings. Travel insurance is also recommended if you are going further afield on your road trip.

Itinerary

camera

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If youre road tripping with your family, youll know that you shouldnt attempt any monster 10-hour drives for risk of causing bedlam in the back seats. Instead, take it slow and schedule regular stops in order for you all to stretch your legs, have some food and drink, and see the places that youre driving through. Make sure that youve booked ahead the hotels youre planning on staying in, and dont overstretch yourselves – road trips shouldnt be stressful, they should be liberating. Your children will quickly rebel if they feel the trip is no fun.

What to Pack

Aside from the essentials, your packing should largely take into account what youll be able to bring to entertain your kids. You might choose to download films onto an iPad, or to buy some CDs or audiobooks thatll be entertaining for all the family. Bring plenty of snacks and drinks so that the family is refreshed and well-fed throughout, and bring all the equipment you expect you might need for the places your visiting – be that beach stuff, warm winter clothing, or even a tent and stove for families who love to adventure in the great outdoors.

 

Family road trips are some of the most memorable holiday options available; make yours a success by fully considering the tips above.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

Golden Circle DIY drive with Lagoon Car Rental

We arrived in beautiful Iceland after a short 2 hour WOW air flight from Dublin on a Friday afternoon, grabbed our bags and quickly headed towards the meeting point to meet the rep from the car rental company.  Having carried out a lot of research we choose Lagoon Car Rental for our trip. Lagoon are a family owned business with offices at both  Keflavik airport and Reykjavik.  Some of the key factors which influenced our decision to go with Lagoon were firstly; their cars are all less than two years old, there was a huge selection of options and additional extras.  While getting value for money is important one thing I will never scrimp on is car safety.  That is even more important in a country where we are driving on a different side than we are accustomed allied to the fact the weather conditions in Iceland have the potential to be unpredictable.

The Car

lagoon car rental desk

Pic Credit: Mamma Fairy Blog

We met the Lagoon Car Rentals in the arrivals hall of Keflavik airport and took the short trip in their mini bus to their desk just outside of the airport grounds.  We were lucky it was nice and quiet at the time being later in the afternoon so the entire process was quick and seamless and we were sitting in out Kia Sorrento in a very short space of time.  The kids loved the hot chocolate in the waiting area! We went for a 4*4 automatic and added on the 2 car seats and gps.   The vehicle itself was immaculate inside. We took our time going through the condition before signing off to take it away. This is something I would strongly urge anybody to do. I took a lot of pictures too in case of any disputes, of which thankfully there were none! And with that we hit the road for our hotel in Reykjavik.

We spent the first night relaxing at the hotel and get to bed early so that we could depart early for our Golden Circle tour. I had read loads and done a lot of research so I had it more or less planned out so that we could make the most of it.  We were truly blessed with the weather. While it was cold it was bright and crisp without a drop or rain or snow in sight! There is a saying in Iceland that if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes.  Iceland is prone to huge variations in the weather conditions even within the one day so my advice is to have the car well equipped.

We had changes of clothes, food, rain gear and walking gear.  Just in case! But that is the luxury of having a car you can just dump all in the boot!.

Golden Circle Stop 1- Thingvellir

car at thingvellier park

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We departed Reykjavik bright and early. The sky was so clear and so blue, we were so excited. Stop one was Thingvellier National Park which is a UNESCO listed site which once housed the Icelandic Parliament. The kids were particularly excited to see the rift in the landscape cased by the separation of the 2 tectonic plates. Its quite remarkable to think where you are standing and what is going on in the ground beneath you!

We parked up and walked one of the trails, which is a little uneven so do bring good walking shoes. It wouldn’t be buggy or wheelchair friendly the particular section we choose so do plan your route in advance.   The entire landscape here is breath taking. I actually don’t thing any photos could even do it justice.  No matter which way you look its simply stunning. One thing I did notice was how crisp and fresh the air felt.

You could spend hours here, looking at the old stone ruins and walking the trails but we were on a tight enough time scale so departed after maybe 2 hours and a hot cup of coffee!

Mamma F Top Tip– Parking needs to be paid for in the visitors centre as apparently they read the registration on the way out. Loads of toilets and coffee shop there so well worth a quick stop.

After a quick coffee and rest of the legs we headed back to the car to get to our next stop – Fontana Thermal Spa.

Golden Circle Stop 2 – Fontana Thermal Spa

Fontana SPA

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Fontana is ideally located about half way along our Golden Circle route.   It serves as the ideal spot for some lunch and a total relax in their geothermal baths.  We opted for the buffet lunch upon arrival and it was so good. The food was tasty, fresh and plentiful with something for everybody. However I cannot forget the bread. In fact im drooling right now thinking of it.  It was incredible. It is baked underground for 24 hours in the hot black sand.   It is no exaggeration to say it was quite possibly the tastiest bread I have ever eaten. (Quite the accolade for a bread loving Irish family!)

Lunch eaten and we headed to the changing room to get ready for our dip in the geo thermal pools. One thing to bear in mind is that you must shower before you go to the pools and not doing so is viewed as being very disrespectful by the locals.  The changing rooms have lockers and plenty space to get organised.  The layout and setting of the pools is really lovely. There are a number of pools each with different temperatures. Onsite there are also sauna and steam room and for the brave amongst us you can take a dip in the ice cold lake. Its apparently very good for the body and heart to alternate the temperature but im quite happy to take somebody else’s word for this!!

 

fontana geothermal spa

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We met a lovely couple here who were doing a similar trip to us but in the reverse direction and advised us of a lovely farm with home made ice cream just before our next stop. He mentioned salted caramel ice cream and I was sold! We dried off and hit the road again for Geysir via the ice cream stop!)

Mamma F Top Tip – have lunch at Fontana and follow up with home made ice cream at Efstidalur II, you will not be disappointed. So so so tasty and the setting is lovely looking out over the farm.

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