This is the biggest trip we have been on with the kids. In 2016 we had 4 weeks in Canada and USA. It will also be the longest trip we have taken since our honeymoon 9 years ago.
We have been planning this trip for about 9 months now which is much longer than usual but necessary due to the amount of time we will be away and the savings and leave we will have to organise.
The first thing I have learned is that 9 months without a holiday is too long for us. Because this is a long trip we have been saving both money and leave for work but in retrospect, we should have had a short break earlier in the year.
We have been wanting to return to the UK for a while now as it is where my husband and I met but we haven’t been back for 15 years.
Being in Australia, getting to the UK is 24hr on a plane. Travelling with 2 kids under 8 we didn’t want to do that in one go as we had done on previous trips. We knew we wanted to stop over each way.
Linking in with this was airline choice, some are much more kid-friendly than others.
There are so many places we would love to stop over, but the direction and fares needed to be factored in. As much as we would have loved to go to Reunion Island, but it really is the wrong way around the world.
We also thought that about Japan. Although there were cheap flights to Japan there was nothing from Japan to Europe. So that limited us to the middle east or the rest of Asia. We ideally wanted to stop in a different destination on the way there and back. We also wanted to arrive in London and depart from Ireland to avoid backtracking.
We looked at many different combinations but the only one that met all our criteria was Emirates stopping Dubai on the way over and Singapore on the way home. We knew Emirates is kid-friendly having flown them to New Zealand a few years ago. We would have liked to find another “new” destination, but we knew Singapore would be an “easy” introduction to Asia for our girls and there are many new things since we were last there 15years ago.
We also had to work out the time frame available. We had to see what leave we both had available and even get permission from the girl’s school as they were going to be out of school for more than 2 weeks. We finally managed to push our time frame to 5 ½ weeks.
Next came the more fun part of deciding on our itinerary. Stay tuned to the next post for more details of how we decided what to keep in and what to remove. Even though the UK and Ireland are small geographically there is so much to see that trying to maximise our time without packing full every day has been quite a challenge.
We have changed the style of travel we do since having kids. Travelling with children has meant slowing things down and planning and booking more than we would have in the past. More hotels and less public transport. Hopefully, as they get older we may be able to go back to more local travel but at this age, we still want to make things a bit “simpler” for all of us.
For this trip, we are booking all the accommodation before we go. The downside of this is that it gives us less flexibility if we love somewhere but it takes the worry about trying to find accommodation in popular locations.
We are also hiring cars on this trip to give us the ability to go to more remote places that may not have as regular public transport. We are using trains to get between bigger locations such as London to Birmingham and Belfast to Dublin. We also have some Ferry trips booked between the islands.
Booking as much as we can before we go also gives us the opportunity to pay for a lot of things before we go which meant sometimes getting a discount and makes it much easier to stick to our budget.
The reason we started planning so early was also to give us an idea of the budget we would need for this trip as we are hoping to save and pay for as much of this trip before we go rather than after. See future blog post on how we budget for travel.
Until next time, Happy travels.