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There are a few things in life that you can guarantee but when visiting Wales we find three things to be always be true. You will have stunning views just about everywhere you go. Secondly it will rain. Thirdly you will have an amazing time even if you just go for the day.

We don’t have a favourite part of Wales. It changes every time we visit. But we are fast discovering that areas surrounding Snowdonia National Park are well worth the visit. Our latest trip was to Harlech. Situated on the coast this place offers a beautiful beach, a castle with stunning views and a great base to explore.

For New Year’s Eve 2020 we wanted to celebrate somewhere new. We choose Krakow, Poland as our destination. We chose Krakow for two reasons: 1. There was a 50% chance of snow and 2. It is cost effective from the UK. In fact we paid £150 per person for return flights and accommodation for 4 nights was £400.

It is also turned out that Krakow was super child friendly!

Waking up on Sunday morning to glorious sunshine was not what we expected on a November morning in Wales. Thankfully it was what we got.

Having had a busy Saturday we planned to take things easy on the Sunday. The only problem with easy Sundays is that sometimes you end up being busier than if you had planned things. This Sunday followed that description.

With too many places we wanted to see we narrowed down the list based on three things: proximity (we didn’t want to go too far), uniqueness (we wanted something we couldn’t find elsewhere) and child friendliness. We also ruled out a few places for not being dog friendly – Portmeirion being one.

However after researching and planning we decided to throw caution to the wind and get in the car and drive. It wasn’t a great plan. We did see stunning scenery as we drove through Snowdonia National Park, especially the trees were in glorious Autumn colours. We also came across some lovely quaint villages with gorgeous houses that looked straight out of a painting. What we also found was quite a few of our potential stops were closed on Sundays.

We decided to book in a final getaway of the year to Snowdonia National Park, a chance to escape as a family and have some down time away from our regular chaos.

Leaving at Annabelle’s 7pm bedtime we drove 3 hours north west to the village of Tanygrisiau an area within Blaenau Ffestiniog and famous for it’s slate mining. We had booked a 3 night stay in an airbnb cottage that was dog and child friendly and as we discovered in the morning – a stunning view!

The weather forecast had predicted rain for the weekend so on waking up and seeing grey skies we weren’t surprised. We quickly got dressed in wellies and coats to head to breakfast at a recommended cafe less than 10 minutes walk away. Annabelle loved the puddles and was excited to be out in the rain, we were excited when we turn the corner and saw a hill covered in waterfalls – it was stunning! Our weekend of exploring was just getting started….

There are so many reasons we love living where we do. Birmingham has so much to offer but one of it’s greatest attributes is its location within England….or in fact the UK. We are the furthest from any seaside but that’s okay as we are so close to so many beautiful places to visit. That includes Wales!

Our best friend was over from Australia and before she headed home we wanted one last hurrah so a mini-break seemed the best idea.

At the start of November we headed so an unpronounceable Welsh village (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant) just over 2 hours from our home and on the edge of Snowdonia. The majority of the journey was on A roads so we made quick progress, the last part was proper country road. Single track with low visibility and limited passing spaces so we had be ready to reverse at any point. Nothing makes it feel like an adventure like those roads.

Anyone who knows us or has followed our blog for a bit will know we like to travel. It’s almost an unspoken rule that we will go on holiday or some kind of break at least twice a year. It’s what we spend our money on and what we save towards.

I actually started this post 2 years ago but it has sat in draft. However after our recent travel experience I thought it was worth resurrecting this and dropping down a few things we have learnt along the way that may work for you.

 

1) If there are 2 of you travelling book the aisle and window seats – someone is less likely to book the middle unless it is a full flight. If that’s the case offer them the window or aisle – whatever you least prefer.

Upside: You get the row to yourselves

Downside: The tense moment before they say ‘all passengers boarded’

2) Avoiding the jet-lag. It is unfortunately an inevitability that if you travel across time zones that you will suffer. How much and how badly are all down to how quickly you can get your sleep patterns back on track. When we flew to Sydney we booked to arrive in the evening, we stayed awake for the last half of our last flight so we would arrive tired and it worked. After polite conversations with our hosts we hit the sack. Within 3 days we were sleeping as normally as you can in excessive heat 🙂

drinking plenty of wtaer helps too.

Upside: Long haul flights usually have in-seat entertainment so you get to watch lots of free films

Downside: You will be tired and irritable for the last part

3) Try booking direct – be it flights, trains, hotels it is always worth a quick sense check with the company direct. With a recent hotel booking my Mum saved 20% by calling and agreeing to pay cash on arrival. Of course price comparison sites are helpful and should never be underestimated especially if you are looking at a flight and hotel deal.

Upside: You have covered your bases / price compared and got your best deal

Downside: It takes a bit more time / hassle

4) If you are going long-haul look at where the stop overs are and see if you want to make it into a mini break. We have done this a few times now and it’s work great. Highlights included: Egypt in a day , Singapore for 12 hours and the numerous USA points we have pit-stopped at including Seattle, New York oh and Toronto, Canada for a weekend.

Upside: You get to see a new place

Downside: It delays you getting to your destination

5) Whether you are going, home or abroad find the Instagram accounts or check out the hashtags for the location. It can highlight places the guidebooks miss out. For example the La Pedrera in Barcelona hadn’t made it on to my to-do list in 4 trips to Barcelona but after seeing pictures on Instagram it was a must do.

For our trip to Vegas in May we have been following the Neon museum and getting photos ideas and our trip to Santorini included seeking out the beautiful photo points we had spotted.

Upside: So many reasons but the main one is that it is a preview tour and planning tool all in one

Downside: If anything you add to your list is closed or under construction it can be a sad moment

6) Take a water bottle when flying somewhere. I know that sounds strange but seriously. While airports don’t let you take full water bottles into the airport once you have cleared security there will be water fountains available in most airports. That way you have water for your journey but haven’t spent a fortune.

Upside: cost saving / re-hydration

Downside: i’m not sure there is one

7) Never skip on the travel insurance. No matter where you are heading make sure your travel insurance is up to date. Check if you get it free with your bank account and if you don’t compare costs online. It never works out that expensive but it is worth it.

When Laura got bitten by a dog in Thailand (the post is here) we were some 68,000 bhat in the hole. Not an amount you can afford to lose – trust us.

Upside: Saves you A LOT of money if you have any type of accident

Downside: The small print – check it

8) Prepare, fail to prepare or prepare to fail. Not just a travel trip but it seem appropriate to mention. No matter the length of trip or time it takes to get there it’s always worth putting in a bit of time to figure out 1) how you will get from the airport / station / car rental place to your location 2) how long that journey will take and 3) what information you’ll need.

We have a couple of examples where we left these things up to chance and one story involved a desperate search for a toilet after we ended up think the journey would be 15 minutes and ended up over an hour.

Upside: You get your holiday off to a great start

Downside: You have to find time to prepare

9) Don’t over look a stay-cation. We love the UK. It’s beautiful and unlike the USA or Australia you can drive from one end of it to the other in a day. A long day but a day. Despite it’s size though there are so many amazing places to discover. The older I get the more I appreciate living on this wonderful island. A train ride from Birmingham to Glasgow on Tuesday reminded me once again how diverse the landscape is. In a 4 hour journey I saw the cityscape of Birmingham dissolve into miles of untouched countryside with cute cottages. The gushing rivers that cut through the land give way to the towering snow capped hills. The puffing steel chimneys of the North appeared out of no-where and the Peak district stretched away as far as the eye could see.  Our road trip to the Isle of Skye was a highlight of last year and gave us the opportunity to enjoy the North in all it’s glory.

Upside: maximum holiday time

Downside: it’s not always cheaper than going abroad

10) Never be afraid to reach out to locals. Much like the Instagram tip this is about reading blogs / social media and asking questions.Because of this we had a great ‘local’ tour of New York courtesy of Steph and Corrine (fellow bloggers), visited Stuttgart and stayed with Hanna a lovely German girl we’d previously hosted in Birmingham, had accommodation allowing us to visit Toronto (and see Niagara Falls) thanks to Tori and Emily and we got LA hiking tips from a fellow Instagrammer. I mean talk about opening our world up.

On a local level we now know just how much Sheffield has to offer thanks to Sam and Sara who we met on Twitter, we have visited Portsmouth, Windsor and a ton of other places – hell we even found our home because of trips we made to meet bloggers.

And that doesn’t even start to cover the local eateries, walks and attractions that are now must do’s.

Upside: Amazing, unique opportunities

Downside: Make sure you ‘know’ the person you are corresponding with

I’m sure there are of 100’s of tips but if you have any you think I should add just leave  a comment.

Santorini is beautiful, so if you are lucky enough to be heading there on holiday, you won’t be disappointed. Our week on the island was more than enough time to get around to all the main towns and fit in a few days of sunbathing and soaking in the relaxing atmosphere.

It doesn’t matter where you stay or what time of year you explore Santorini, it is jam packed with things to do and places to see. This is a short guide to the key towns / villages we came across to help make you mind up on where to stay….or help plan your up and coming trip.