Monday, 16 April 2018

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Holiday

I don’t always sleep very well on holiday.  I guess its because my routine is a bit up in the air.  I am probably used to my own mattress I have at home too.  Anything different doesn’t seem quite as comfy!  We are all creatures of habit after all.  There is nothing worse than tossing and turning for hours, watching the clock and wondering if you will ever go to sleep...

Here are a few tips to help you achieve a good night's sleep when away on holiday:

Buy a Mattress Topper


I was looking at the deals on Groupon and thought I might buy a mattress topper.  They don’t work out very expensive and are portable enough to take away on our holidays in the UK.  Then I can transform any mattress into a much cosier one.  They aren’t particularly pricey either, with the Groupon deals you can get a decent one for about £20.  It seems a wise investment if it improves my sleep.

Pack other sleep essentials


An eye mask is a good idea if the bedroom is brighter than your usual room.  Earplugs are a handy piece of kit if you are staying somewhere noisy.  Hotels have a lot of people walking up and down the corridors late into the night, getting a decent night’s sleep isn’t always possible.  Using your ear plugs will block out a lot of that and hopefully you will drift off into a peaceful slumber.  If you have a favourite pillow even bring that along.  It might mean you get a better quality of sleep.

Try and go to bed at your usual time


We should have done this with the boys on our latest holiday, as we let them stay up late and they were particularly cranky!  Sticking to your normal cycle of sleep hopes you nod off even when your away from home.

Avoid the wrong foods



I tend to eat more sugary treats when I am on holiday and that plays havoc with my sleep patterns.  The extra sugar seems to act as a stimulant and even when the lights are out I can’t shut down.  Try having a class of milk as that contains amino acid called tryptophan which boosts the hormone that encourages sleep.

Learn relaxation techniques



Holidays can be quite stressful so find ways to calm yourself before bed.  Listen to music, try a spray of soothing linen spray (lavender for calming properties or vanilla).  Try running a warm bath to get your body ready for sleep. 

Ask for a quieter room


When checking in think about the location of your room.  The end of a corridor will be quieter than in the beginning when all the guests have to pass your room!  Consider putting in a request for a quieter room so you don't get disturbed as much.

Fingers crossed these tips will help you sort out your sleep problem and you can enjoy your holidays with renewed energy!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Getting the Most Out of FastPass+ At Disney


With our holiday to Florida booked I am making sure I am doing plenty of research before jetting off.  I have already planned which FastPass+ attractions I hope to book each day.  Assuming I can get them of course!  Although it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  As we aren’t staying onsite we only have 30 days in advance to book whereas those staying in Disney hotels enjoy a 60-day window (lucky things!).  Certain attractions can be hard to get, so get yourself organised.


For Magic Kingdom Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (that one was tough to get!) and the three Mountain rides are all good choices.  We are planning on visiting Magic Kingdom at least twice so luckily had a fair bit of flexibility and managed to get what we wanted!  I still need to try and get a couple more Seven Dwarfs Mine Train tickets for my parents so will keep checking back daily as they do release tickets at various points.  The Magic Kingdom isn’t tiered at present so you aren’t restricted in your ride choices.

Be Ready


If you are in the UK, make sure your logged on to the app and ready to go at 12 noon.  Before hand have a practise run and see how it all works.  It can be a bit overwhelming the first time you use it as you know how important it is to get the attractions that normally have the biggest queues.  Hopefully at 12 its quiet and peaceful wherever you are, so you can dedicate a few minutes to getting it sorted.  It’s a bit of a pain having to do the same thing each day, but if you want to get the most out of our visit, you won’t mind too much.  I would rather some planning now than standing in a queue for 90 minutes when I get there… My boys in long queues are hard work as they squabble!

Use the Modify Function


I made the mistake of cancelling a FastPass+ attraction when I only wanted to remove my parents from it.  I didn’t realise you could just use MODIFY to do this.  So, when I went to rebook it with the right guests it had already been snapped up.

Try and book early in the day


Once you join the queue for your third attraction you can book another.  Assuming there is availability!  If your last FastPass+ is very late in the day its unlikely you will be able to squeeze in anymore.  I managed to get one day that my FastPass+ attractions finish nice and early and I am very hopeful on the day I can book another one through the app.  Although I know some people prefer to arrive at rope drop (when the park opens) and save their FastPass+ slots for when the park is busier. 

Look at the Park Maps


If you are planning on booking the FastPass+ times close together check first that your attractions aren’t spread too widely.  The parks are vast, and you don’t want to miss one of your slots because you have a long walk to the other side of the park.

Use your allocation wisely



Epcot its a tiered system so aim for Soarin' or Frozen then the next busiest rides.  In Animal Kingdom you can only pick one Avatar ride.  Flight of the Passage is very tricky to get hold of at 30 days but you should be able to get the Na’vi River Journey okay.  Arrive at rope drop and try and get the other one done straight away.  Then rides like Kilimanjaro Safaris® Expedition and Expedition Everest Attraction are worth grabbing if you can.  Hollywood Studios is a bit up in the air at the moment until Toy Story Land is completed, but I plan on getting tickets for the Tower of Terror and hopefully they have reopened FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania now.

Put the App on your Phone


If you have booked FastPass+ using your computer make sure you have the app for when you are in the park.  Why bother searching for FastPass+ kiosks when its so much more convenient doing it all yourself!

I know one couple who just turned up in Orlando having not booked any FastPass+ attractions at all!  They learnt on the day what it was all about.  The thought of being unprepared brings me out in a cold sweat.  This is a holiday of a lifetime, it certainly costs enough so we might only be doing it once I want to squeeze as much fun out of it as I can.  Avoiding the longest queues being my main priority!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Experiences Every Traveller Should Have at Least Once




If you want to fully embrace your travels and make the most of your time spent abroad, you need to do more, explore more and be more. If you stick to sipping cocktails on the beach, swimming in the sea and maybe checking out a couple of the cultural highlights, then you won’t be getting the full travel experience that makes going away to far and distant lands so exciting and fulfilling.

With that in mind, here are some experiences I think every traveller should have at least once in their lives:

Sleeping Under the Sky


One experience you’ll never forget is the experience of forgoing the hotels and your creature comforts and sleeping under the stars with nothing more than a sleeping bag to keep you warm. As you look up at the beautiful night sky, you’ll feel an amazing sense of peace and connection with your surroundings. So, even if you don’t plan to camp for any length of time, book one less night at the hotel, and assuming it is safe to do so at your destination, sleep in nature.

Cruising


Many people think that cruises aren’t for them - they’re for old people or people who don’t really like to explore the places they visit; people who are just there for the sunshine and the breakfast buffet, but that really isn’t the case. Today, there are more cruises offering more different and unique experiences than ever before. They also offer a unique way to explore places and see things that you wouldn’t see on the average holiday.

You don’t even have to spend all of your trip onboard because not only does pretty much every cruise stop at various ports so you can explore, but it is possible to book a port hotel at allcruisehotels.com. By doing this, you can spend a few days before or after the cruise exploring the surroundings.

Stay with a Host Family


You might think that this is something only students and backpackers do, but even if you’re grown up with your own family it is still possible to stay with a native family instead of staying at a hotel, thanks to the likes of airbnb.com, and you probably should - at least once in your life. Why? Because when you stay with a local family, you get to learn much more about the cultures and customs of the place, not to mention the great food you often get treated to! It’s a unique way to really truly explore a foreign culture.

Something Extreme


Whether it’s jumping out of a plane from 18,000 feet, swimming with the local sharks or volcano surfing, if you go your whole life travelling without trying out some of the more ‘extreme’ activities on offer, you will be missing out. They really make you glad to feel alive.

Getting Up Close with the Wildlife


Whether it’s whale watching in Alaska or looking after orphaned elephants in Thailand, spending some time with the native wildlife of the places you visit can be extremely rewarding.

What are your must-do travel experiences and how many of these experiences have you already had?