Our 2016 travel highlights

With our Christmas decorations stored up in the attic and our wilted tree waiting outside to be picked up, I’m eager to move on and start making plans for 2017!   I’ll be honest, I always find January a pretty miserable month.  I do however love this quieter time of year for looking back on our 2016 travel highlights and starting to fill our new wall calendar with lots of fun adventures for the next 12 months.

2016 was a memorable and busy year for us, full of many firsts… Our first family cruise, first water sports holiday and first time using child care whilst on holiday.  (Why we have never used kids clubs whilst on holiday before baffles me!)

Our boys will be six and three this spring and we are finding that we are able to enjoy a wider range of holidays and attractions.  If you are looking for family holiday and day out inspiration for your young family you may find some of our travel reviews from 2016 useful.  Happy holiday planning!


Our 2016 travel highlights – Adventures abroad

In May we travelled with Mark Warner Holidays to Lakitira Resort in Greece.  This was our first ever family package holiday.  We normally arrange everything independently and particularly enjoy road trips which allow us to stay in a few different places in one trip.  I was therefore a little apprehensive that we would become restless staying in one resort for ten days.

With two pools and a range of both land based and water based sports included in the cost of our holiday we didn’t have time to feel restless and enjoyed one of our best ever family holidays.

For the first time since having kids Richard and I returned home feeling recharged and recuperated, due to both boys being in kids clubs for a few hours every afternoon.  We also enjoyed our date nights, whilst Harry our youngest slept in the night nursery and Charlie enjoyed movie nights at evening kids club with his new buddies.

I raved about our holiday with Mark Warner and shared our top tips, including saving money when booking a Mark Warner Holiday, in the articles below –

Family holiday at Mark Warner Lakitira Beach Resort, Greece

Childcare at Mark Warner Lakitira Beach Resort, Greece

Top tips for a Mark Warner summer holiday!

In October we enjoyed our first family cruise.  To be honest I’m not sure how it happened.  One minute I was planning a fortnight camping trip around Cornwall and next I had booked a 11 night Canaries and Mediterranean cruise, for the four of us plus Richards parents!

booking shore excursions verses sightseeing independently

Here are a few of our highlights I shared on Instagram…

 

Cruising is not as expensive as many people think.  By the time you factor in the cost of your accommodation, three meals a day, entertainment during the day (sports tournaments, port lectures etc), evening entertainment (West End style shows, cabaret acts, family game shows, etc) and complimentary kids clubs, cruising for families can offer great value for money.

Cruises cater really well for families too with buffets open around the clock, (great for picky toddlers who like to graze 24/7 or teenagers with huge appetites), age specific kids clubs with evening nursery for youngsters/fun evening clubs for older kids and family friendly shore excursions.  We can thoroughly recommend keeping an eye out for cruise special offers, including onboard credit and kids cruise for free.

 

I have a few more posts to publish featuring our cruise however, if cruising with your kids is something you are considering for 2017 you will find these posts very useful!

Tips for cruising with kids by experienced cruisers

A visit onboard P&O Cruises Britannia

What to pack for a cruise by an experienced cruiser!

Essential packing list for cruising with kids

One of the highlights of our cruise was our call into Madeira.  We took a cable car ride up the hillside and travelled down in a toboggan basket!  Our tips for enjoying a day on the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira can be found here – How to make the most of a cruise ship call into Madeira

Our second port of call during our Canaries and Med cruise with @pandocruises was into #Madeira. I have always been a huge fan of this stunning island and I was keen to let my boys experience the famous toboggan ride! I had actually forgotten how quickly the wicker baskets travel down the two mile road being stopped only by the rubber-soled boots of the toboggan drivers! I spent the whole ten minute experience screaming, my youngest went really quiet and held on tight to me and his fav teddy, whilst my husband and eldest son laughed all the way down the hill! It was great fun and you have to give it a go if you are ever in Madeira! I have photos of us mid way down but I look like a mad women so they are not being shared on here 😂 #inspiringtravelpics #tobogganing #funchal #shoreexcursion #cruise #ftb100 #familytravelmoment

A post shared by Travel Loving Family (@travellovinfam) on

 

In Tenerife we visited the world’s number one best attraction – Siam Park, the Water Kingdom which my two water babies absolutely loved and have pestered to return to ever since!  If you are planning a trip to Tenerife this year we can definitely recommend spending at least a day, (ideally two!) here – A splashtastic day at Siam Park, The Water Kingdom, Tenerife

 

Click here to read more of our adventures abroad


Our 2016 travel highlights – UK adventures

Closer to home we enjoyed many adventures in Gloucestershire, including a fun weekend staying in a family friendly cottage in the Forest of Dean.  It was a full on weekend which involved reviewing four of the most popular family attractions in the area – Tried & tested family attractions in the Forest of Dean!

 

Our visit to the nearby Cotswold Lavender was also a memorable occasion and one I would definitely recommend for this summer.  You need to be on the ball though as the attraction is only open to the public for a couple of months from June.  More details can be found here.  

 

One of our travel resolutions for 2016 was to attend a festival as a family.  We used to love festivals before having kids and wanted to share the experience with our boys.  The highlights of our summer were attending the family friendly Wychwood Festival, Geronimo Festival and our weekend camping at Livestock Festival.

All three festivals had kid zones with circus skills, fair ground rides, arts, crafts and live shows which our boys thoroughly enjoyed.  Richard and I were happy to watch live music acts, soak up the festival atmosphere and drink cider in the sunshine!

Livestock Festival for families

Wychwood_Festival_in_photos_and_top_tips

 

Charlie and Harry are huge Thomas the Tank Engine and CBeebies fans and so we were understandably delighted when invited to visit CBeebies Land at Alton Towers and Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Theme Park.  If you are considering visiting either of these attractions this year you may find our reviews and top tips useful…

Birthday celebrations at Alton Towers

Family fun at Thomas Land

Review of Drayton Manor Hotel

It would be impossible for me to include all the attractions and events we visited/attended in 2016 as it was a busy year and you would get bored with me waffling on!  However, two events that are definitely worth me mentioning are the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Both of these events take place annually in the summer and are great for kids, particularly for little wannabe pilots!  RIAT offer great discounts if you book in advance, (kids are always free) and the entrance for the Bristol event is free for all ages. (I do however recommend that you book your car parking spot in advance as it is a very popular event).

 

Normally both boys are tucked up in bed by 7pm but we decided to stay for the Bristol Air Fiesta night glow which was absolutely fantastic!  If you decide to attend the show this summer I recommend you stick around and check it out for yourself…

 

For more inspiration of places to entertain your children in the UK, check out our UK adventures.


Our 2016 travel highlights – Short breaks

We try to get away for several short breaks a year and normally like to discover somewhere new.  However for the first time ever, we returned to an area we have visited before – Snowdonia, as we love the area so much!

In June we enjoyed a traditional seaside break with Away Resorts, at their caravan resort in Barmouth.  Our boys adored exploring the beaches and looking for crabs and we spent a few hours playing in the good old-fashioned 2p slot machines!

Review_Barmouth_Bay_Holiday_Park

If this sounds like the perfect holiday for your family check out our review and top tips – Reviewed; A family break at Barmouth Bay Holiday Park


Our blogging highlights of 2016

The first article was published on Travel Loving Family in July 2015.  In the last 18 months my family and I have enjoyed some incredible opportunities and worked with some well-known travel brands as highlighted here, on our work with us page.

Our blog has grown significantly over the past 18 months.  We now have 7,000+ followers and have featured on many websites, magazines and even been on air with our local radio station – BBC Radio Gloucestershire.  (If anyone was listening to our interview you will know that Harry managed to smear banana all over the studio whilst I was busy chatting away… I’m not sure we’ll be invited back again!)

 

My favourite blogging opportunity of 2016 was discovering what Costa Barcelona has to offer for families with the Costa Barcelona tourist board and BritMums.  Along with my fellow family travel bloggers – BritMums cofounders – Jennifer from Jenography and Susanna from A Modern Mother, Cathy from Mummy Travels and Maria from One Tiny Leap  I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the best food, water sports, culture, attractions and beaches during our busy four days in the region.

 

If year round mild temperatures, world-class beaches, water sports and a short flight from the UK sound appealing for your next family holiday check out my articles below featuring Costa Barcelona.

Destination guide – Costa Barcelona with kids

15 family friendly attractions within a short drive of Barcelona

Instagram postcards from Costa Barcelona

In 2016 I attended two conferences to improve my blogging skills – Traverse in Cardiff and BritMums Live in London. If you are a blogger reading this and wondering whether it is worth investing the money to attend a blog conference I would say go for it!  What have you got to lose?  Not only did I learn a great deal from the workshops at both conferences, including how to use instagram (see below!), I also met some of the inspiring travel bloggers I have followed online in person.

 

I published an article featuring my 13 lessons learnt from attending Traverse 16 which may help you make up your mind about attending your first blogger conference.  I also blogged about my Sunday Experience – White water rafting in Cardiff.  One of the many features of the Traverse conference are the Sunday Experiences organised by the host city to give bloggers the chance to truly experience what the city has to offer.

My last, but certainly not least, blogging highlight of 2016 was being selected as a ‘world leading travel blogger’ by the World Travel Market in November.  The bloggers networking event has opened up many opportunities for my family and I, which we are all incredibly excited about for 2017!

 

So that’s it, our rather lengthy summary of our travel and blogging highlights of 2016.  I hope our reviews and recommendations give you some travel ideas of your own for 2017!

Fellow bloggers if you have written a review of your travels and achievements in 2016 please do include your link in the comments below. I would love to read it!

To everyone who reads this blog, a HUGE thanks for your support it means a great deal to us.  We wish you a happy and healthy New Year full of adventures!

Monday Escapes 50

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9 thoughts on “Our 2016 travel highlights

  1. Pingback: #GetGone Linky for January | Trips100

  2. Laura

    Wow so many fantastic travel highlights from 2016!! I also just realised I went to the same conferences as you – so good aren’t they! I love Wychwood festive – perfect for families! We are hoping to do a family cruise this year, looks like so much fun

    Laura x

    1. Lisa Post author

      I loved all three of the blogger conferences/trade shows I attended Nano for different reasons. Traverse is great for making travel industry contacts and exploring the host city. The workshops were very much geared towards travel bloggers – creating travel videos, how to work with travel PR agencies etc. I have already booked to attend again this year when it is held in London in April. BritMums is great for developing generic blogging skills i.e. building up social media channels, SEO and great for meeting bloggers of all types, not just travel bloggers. I’m not sure whether I can attend BritMums yet this June but if I am free I will definitely attend.

      The WTM which is the worlds largest travel trade show is fantastic for meeting industry contacts. It is full on and incredibly busy. For all three I would suggest having business cards printed (and for WTM a media pack too) in preparation for networking. Take lots of notes, ask lots of questions and prepare to be overwhelmed but inspired;) I found that I learnt as much from talking to other bloggers as I did from attending the workshops led by pro’s, mainly because I was able to ask specific questions to issues I didn’t understand when speaking to other bloggers. Let me know if you decide to attend a conference in 2017. Have a fabulous New Year x

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