*Sponsored post in association with American Express®
I think there is something about a new year which makes you want to plan. Whether that’s plans to improve things in your home, set yourselves some goals or to book a holiday, there really is something about the start of the year that makes you want to start thinking about the year ahead. I love to get out my blank diaries and notebooks and start to think about what I would like to achieve in the upcoming year. And I always get really twitchy in January/February as I want to try and book some places to go to.
As a family probably our biggest passion is travelling. We are always planning where we would love to go next if money was no object and I love to have a think (or a dream) at the start of the year when I think about possible plans we would like do and where we would like to book, both the realistic and the not so realistic dreams too. This time last year we worked on a campaign with American Express where we got Maddie to take photos on our New Year ski holiday, it was great fun. This year we are back working with them again, which I am really excited about.
American Express Cards are a great way of making your holidays more rewarding. They are packed with ways to get more from your spending. For example you could collect frequent flyer miles to help you get on your next getaway sooner (I am obsessed with collecting frequent flyer miles and have already earned enough to get one standard flight free (for just one of us but every little helps!). You can also use them to get discounts at top restaurants and hotels both in the UK and abroad, and there are also Membership Rewards® points that can be used to treat yourself to virtually anything like treatments to get yourself ready or treats whilst you are away.
I thought I would take a little trip down memory lane and suggest my top five favourite family destinations you should travel to in 2018…
Without a doubt the number one family destination I recommend is Orlando (check out all our Orlando posts here). There is just something about Orlando, it will capture the heart of even the most unsure cynic, with its mix of magic and good old hospitality and charm. There is something (not something actually thousands) of things to do for anyone of any age, whether you are a theme park fan, a fan of the more relaxed atmosphere, or just want to lie in the sunshine by the pool. Its our favourite place in the world and I have yet to hear a single person say a bad thing about it.
We ourselves are HUGE Disney fans, but you don’t have to do the world famous Disney World. You could stick to Universal (home of some amazing Harry Potter experiences), Sea World, do some amazing shopping, head down International Drive or visit one of the hundreds of other amazing attractions Orlando has for the whole family. From the moment you step off the plane at MCO airport, I can guarantee you will never want to leave.
Top Tip- Plan your trip well in advance. There is so much to see and do in Orlando that you will really want to research as much as you can. But don’t overdo it, especially if you have young children. Take some time in between the crazy theme park days to have a day relaxing by the pool or doing something a little more chilled. It’s full on but it’s the best fun you’ll ever have.
I first went to Dubai nearly 12 years ago now and we went back for the first time as a family last year. It has changed so unbelievably much and is growing at a rapid rate. Plus there are SO many things to do for families. We couldn’t believe how child friendly it was and how kind everyone out there is to children. We have never been to a place where people have taken the time to chat to our children and pay them attention and kindness. With pretty much guaranteed sunshine and a whole host of fun family things to do, Dubai is definitely somewhere that families should consider.
Our children loved going up the Burj Khalifa (currently the world’s tallest building), swimming in the warm sea, going to do a day at Atlantis Water Park, and heading on a sunset desert safari. It is one of our favourite family holidays we have been on.
Top Tip- Think about when you are going to travel. Dubai gets really hot in the summer months (we went in May and it was regularly reaching temperatures of 40 degrees). That said everywhere is air conditioned and the pools get cold water pumped into them to keep them cool. Also don’t discount going during the holy month of Ramadan, we went then and found it didn’t affect us too much (plus it was a great educational opportunity for our children) and there were some amazing deals to be had.
It had been a dream of mine to do a California road trip ever since I was small, but I resigned it to one of those bucket list trips thinking that it just wouldn’t be feasible with young children. Turns out I was completely wrong. Last year we decided to do just go for it and embarked on a 2 and a half week trip. It was probably one of the most family friendly trips we did, we started off in San Francisco and headed down the coast, stopping at places like Santa Cruz, Monterey and Los Angeles, before finishing up in San Diego. It really was the trip of a lifetime and it’s one we will never ever forget.
We had a lot of people saying we were brave to tackle such a trip with young children but I think the fact that they were so young made them so adaptable to all the travelling and changes. The long distances we covered in our hire car were the perfect antidote to the busy sightseeing we were doing, as we all had naps (bar Jon who was driving!) and recharged our batteries. It was one big, crazy, perfect journey, where we spent half the time not knowing what day it was, with all of us piled into one hotel bed, but it was the longest period of quality family time we have had and I can honestly say if you are contemplating it you should just do it- it was incredible.
Top Tip- Research, research, research before you go. Grab a big map and plan where you would like to see on route, then book hotels accordingly. Try and stay for at least a couple of nights in the main cities but also don’t worry about stopping off just one night along the way- this gives you just enough time to have a break and enjoy the smaller beautiful places California has to offer.
Camping in France
Although travelling is my biggest passion now, when I was growing up I didn’t actually travel much at all and had only really been out the country once or twice by the time I had hit my teens. However one place we did go was to a mobile home in the South of France for a week and I must have only been about eight or nine, but I remember so many aspects of that holiday so vividly. It’s one of those holidays thats just perfect for quality family time- lots of time together, being outdoors constantly, making friends and just having a carefree and relaxed holiday.
We went to a campsite called La Brasilia near Perpignon in the South of France and it was just such a laid back holiday. We spent most of the time at the campsite pool, but we did venture out to some of the beautiful towns in the area and we went open swimming in an amazing lake. For the most part though we just relaxed and spent time together, there were lots of snacky lunches and games sat on our mobile home terrace.
Top tip- Either drive or if you fly then hire a car if you can. There are so many beautiful places to visit in that area, plus as it’s self catering you are probably going to want to visit the big hypermarkets at some point. The public transport is usually pretty good, but nothing beats getting to explore at your own leisure.
The English Seaside
As much as I love going abroad sometimes it’s just as amazing to explore nearer to home. We have had some lovely weekend breaks, week long stays and day trips to different parts of the English coast. We have some beautiful places to visit right on our doorstep that often you don’t need to jump on a plane. Just some places we have loved are Wells-next-the-sea, North Yorkshire coast, Southwold and Brighton. I used to spend most of our holidays in England and I have the best memories. All children really need are a bit of sand, a bit of water, and their family around them and they will have the best time.
Top Tip- Don’t always feel like you have to go in the summer. We actually prefer the beach in the colder months, it’s less busy and still lots of fun, plus you can get a much better deal if you go out of season.
Whether you are taking in the views of Dubai or exploring the English coastline, American Express Cards are packed with ways to get more from your spending; from offers at top restaurants and hotels both in the UK and abroad, to Membership Rewards® that can be used to treat yourself to virtually anything, such as beauty treatments to get you ready for your trip, or to enjoy whilst you are away.
For more information about the American Express Rewards programme, visit [insert url].
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