Paraphernalia

June family travel essentials

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Six months down, we’ve fitted in a dozen trips and days out already this year. Which is probably a good thing as it feels like 2018 is speeding past unstoppably. Ah, but first, summer!

A girl in sunhat lies on a vintage style suitcase, flowers blooming in the background - my family travel essentials for the month

After the longest coldest winter in the history of forever, we seem to be getting the longest hottest spell for ages too. I’m getting so used to the sun that I’ve convinced myself it’ll be sticking around until September. Well, let’s hope so, as we’re looking set to stay in the UK for the next few months unless something changes…

So as the fans whirr and the air con becomes essential, here’s what we’re planning, as well as some essential family travel reading and my summer family travel essentials – this month’s round-up of products purchased and sent for review, plus a few special offers.

Summer family travel essentials

Every year, it gets to midsummer… and I realise it’s time to replace my trusty FitFlops. I’ve had them going back more years than I care to remember, and practically live in them once it’s warm enough. I love the Lulu Shimmersuede versions as they have a bit of sparkle that makes them smarter for evening, but not so much it looks odd in the day – perfect for multitasking.

But this year, my eye was caught by the Strata Whipstitch gladiator sandals, with the pale pink working as a fun neutral and the same day/night practicality. Full price, they’re not cheap, so I was dithering… when suddenly I spotted FitFlop had a half price sale and I got one of those usually annoying adverts in Facebook for another 25% off. Bought. I have barely taken them off since. They also come in brown and black plus other styles from the range at John Lewis and House of Fraser.

My other two top picks for the month were both sent for review, including my daughter’s new favourite game, Ocean Bingo. Based around different sea creatures, there’s a mini booklet with more details about some of the weird and wonderful animals living under the waves – bioluminescent octopus, anyone? – 12 game cards, plus tiles to mark it off the main board and your own individual one.

The game is for up to six, and you can play a quick version with the winner only needing to get a single line of five – otherwise we found we were pulling the final tiles out of the bag before we completed a board. It’s a big too big to take on a plane, unfortunately, but it’s so beautifully illustrated and well made that I’m certain we’ll be playing it for years. And it’s one I’d make room in the boot for on a UK break; it really was a huge hit, to the extent that my five-year-old would set up the board before I woke up and start games with her stuffed animals as I wasn’t available…

Another inspirational one for kids who love travelling is the Great Explorers: Daring Adventures from James Cook to Gertrude Bell. What persuades people to head off around the world, often in the face of hardships and danger – if you’ve ever wanted to explore just to see what you’ll find, let alone to advance human knowledge, you’ll love the tales in this book.

Along with better known names, such as Marco Polo, Columbus and Captain Cook, there are stories of men who charted continents, such as Lewis and Clark, ventured beyond maps, including Dr Livingstone, and braved the perils of the sea, as Magellan and Francis Drake did. Even better, as far as I’m concerned, there are tales of women too – Gertrude Bell and the less well-known Sibylla Merian, plus mention of other female explorers.

There are also accounts of Chinese and Arabic explorers whose voyages aren’t commonly taught in schools as Columbus is, but who deserve to be. I settled down to discover more about Ibn Battuta and his 24-year voyage after my daughter’s attention waned: aged five, this is something I suspect she’ll enjoy more in years to come, or dip in and out of.

Best of the rest

  • There is never a bad time to have some spare activities stashed away for entertainment – after lots of fun on the beach at Broadstairs, building sandcastles and jumping waves, I was very glad to have this activity pack from Coast and Country Cottages in my bag to entertain Minnie as we waited for lunch. Stickers, puzzles, colouring, easy crafts all kept her happily occupied. You can download it for free, or keep an eye out for it in Devon, but keeps five-year-olds happy anywhere in the world!
  • Does anyone look forward to buying swimwear? I certainly don’t, which is why I had put it off until one swimming cossie was all but worn through (not good). At which point, I happily happened upon a discount code for Figleaves to snap up this rather lovely Colourblock shaping halter swimsuit (also available from Next and Amazon) and Tailor Halter Tummy Control Swimsuit, with a whopping 60% off. And I could try them on at home…Two Figleaves swimsuits and silver mouse kids shoes from Boden - my pick of travel inspired products and summer family travel essentials for June
  • It might be far too hot to think of wearing anything other than sandals, but who can resist a pair of silver canvas shoes with mouse ears? Not me… and not Minnie. But I did buy two sizes too big on the assumption that her feel will have grown by the time the weather changes. On sale at Boden
  • Plus one treat for me in the form of this Hush wrap bracelet – the grey version I bought is currently out of stock but there’s a navy option too. I’m tempted to go back and get that after wearing it so much.

Summer family travel: essential plans and reading

After a hectic May, we’ve stayed closer to home during June – given the phenomenal weather, where better to be? I’ve managed to fit in some beach though, including a day by the sea in Broadstairs – along with half of Kent! I can’t blame everyone for making a beeline for the bay too, given how hot it has been.

View of the busy beach at Broadstairs in Kent on a sunny day

We all spread out politely with enough room to build sandcastles and plenty of space in the sea to jump over waves or have a paddle. Then lunch, including some amazing seafood, at Posillipos and ice cream at Morelli’s before we braved the traffic back.

I also squeezed in a mini break to Menorca for work, child-free. Often these trips involve packed itineraries from dawn to dropping into bed but this managed to factor in time to enjoy the lovely hotel, adults-only Barcelo Hamilton, and its rooftop bar, plus some chilled out exploring to Mahon and Fornells as well as a boat trip. Bliss! You can see the live video I recorded for Facebook and more to come.

View of boats n the little harbour at Calas Fonts in Menorca, near our hotel Barcelo Hamilton

I’ve been taking the opportunity to give the blog a bit of a spring clean, after a few technical issues, and so that – hopefully – some of my older posts will be easier to find. If there’s something you’ve always wished I would do, or any feedback on the blog, do let me know and I can add it to my list, along with SEO and fixing some broken links and photos. Ah yes, it’s all glamour!

But I have caught up on some of that Langkawi content I’ve been promising – a review of our gorgeous hotel, The Danna Langkawi, as well as 13 things to do in Langkawi with kids, a more in-depth look at the two fabulous boat tours we took in Langkawi and the hilariously fun Art in Paradise 3D museum.

This month also saw us hopping aboard a cruise ship, Celebrity Silhouette in Southampton, to check out Anturus Explorer Academy, their science-based kids club offering. I ate a locust. OK, part of a locust… And Minnie helped design the good ship ‘Colossal Leopard’ before launching it in a jacuzzi. After two little tastes of life aboard this year, I am determined that 2019 should hold a proper cruise for us.

For now, I’m frantically trying to sort out the summer (last-minute, me?) after one plan sadly fell through. I think we’ll be sticking close to the UK with some mini breaks around the country, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for any last-minute deals and offers to snap up for the long six-week break. Let me know if you see anything! On the plus side, it looks like we have two exciting getaways lined up for later in the year…

Bucket, spade and sand toys on a UK beach with families silhouetted against the waves in the background

If you’re after inspiration yourself, my most-read posts of the month have a few ideas – how about Peppa Pig World? And more than a few readers have been contemplating Cape Verde and a road trip in California.

Or fire up YouTube where Cape Verde has also been a hit, with my video review of Melia Dunas hotel, along with Verandah Resort & Spa in Antigua and Lagas Aegean Village resort on Kos. Whether you’re travelling near or far this year, hopefully you’ll find something to tempt you.

Summer family travel: essential deals

And wherever you do go, Lonely Planet almost certainly has a guidebook for it – not to mention 30% off at the moment – plus up to £100 off at Opodo, to get you there. And providing your holiday wardrobe is New Look, with up to 60% off.

 

Disclosure: contains affiliate links – any purchases you might make are unaffected but I may get a few pennies in return. Some products have been sent for review but all opinions, including the necessity of mouse shoes, are my own.

Main image courtesy Pixabay. Product images courtesy of the retailer. All other images copyright MummyTravels.

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