Our itinerary has had about 8 revisions including completely changing the direction of our trip. Trying to fit in destinations and locations that appeal to the whole family in the limited time we have has been difficult.
In part one we talked about how the airfares have determined our stopover locations. The next job was to decide how long we would be stopping for and work out how long we would have on land in the UK.
We knew we wanted to show the girls where we met in Birmingham. Also, Outlander has reminded me of my love of Scotland. A love shared by my girls from watching the Disney movie- Brave featuring Merida of Dun Broch. I have been to Scotland twice already but neither my husband or girls have been.
Pete wanted to revisit Ireland and thought flying out of Dublin would allow us to do different stopovers in each direction. In a past life, he was a travel agent, very useful for planning the logistics of travel.
There is so much to see in the UK it is impossible to see it all. We considered a day trip to Paris as the girls loved the idea of it, but we really want to make sure that we are giving us time to enjoy this trip rather than race around like a Contiki Europe trip. With only 4 nights in London, we decided that we really need to focus our time there.
As there is so much to see in the UK we decided only to have a couple of nights each way for stopovers. With allowing flying time and transfers this has given us 33 days on the ground.
I decided to focus our trip to Scotland and when I devised an itinerary and found some interesting sights I managed to get Pete and the girls to agree. I wanted to take in as many Outlander sites as possible, the family-friendly ones at least. I really love castles and I am hoping my girls will too. As I had been before I was hoping to visit some more unusual places. Ones I hadn’t been before and ones that were less likely to be overrun with tourists.
When we decided to focus on Scotland, Pete an avid runner found a half marathon he wanted to compete in. This was great as it helped him to be more excited about Scotland, the downside was as it is on a set date we have had to arrange the itinerary to make sure we are at Glencoe on the right day and allow enough time before and after so he can maximise his performance.
One of the main reasons for this trip is to show the girls where we met. It is 15 years since we left Birmingham so it will be interesting to see how different it is now. Birmingham is also the next host city for the Commonwealth Games in 2022. I am sure there will be even more happening because of that. We know there is a Lego discovery centre that has just opened that we are all very excited to see.
We are very aware of not rushing from place to place. We want to allow time just to “be” in each location. As interesting as the museums and sights are it is the little things I remember about travel. Like the guide in Russia apparently flagging down random motorists to get cars to put all the members of our tour into to get us to the restaurant for dinner, walking around the corner in Evora, Portugal to hear a choir singing on the steps of a church and playing star wars drinking games in Lagos. I want us to have time to stop and take in the differences from home.
We have been looking for more unusual things. In Dubai, there is Yoga by the Aquarium I have been looking at. In London the day we arrive there is Quidditch practice in one of the parks that we will try to see. Pete has found a shoe factory that is only open the day we are leaving Birmingham so we have booked a place on that open day. But we have also been trying to keep time for playgrounds and spending longer in places like strolling around Covent Garden or Oxford street.
We are only spending 10days in England so only stopping in a few places so we can focus more on Scotland. I wanted to go out to the islands. I was hoping to get to Orkney but the time needed and the cost of getting the ferry there and then back to Aberdeen was too much for the amount of time we would be able to stay there. Orkney and Shetland islands will have to be another trip.
Planning this trip we have used a combination of traditional guidebooks, facebook groups and advice from other travel bloggers. Also, Pinterest has great ideas on almost any travel destination you can think of. Have you checked out our Pinterest page it has links to our past blog posts but also other inspiring boards about our future travel ideas and tips. Loving photography, Instagram also has lots of great ideas for travel and different locations to search out. Searching based on the tourist pages of various locations such as Visit Britain, visit Scotland, Visit Ireland and even hashtag like #scottishcastles, #visitscotland, #hiddenscotland, #visitdubai, #visitlondon and individual tourist attractions will inspire you even more.
I have spent a lot of time on a Scottish travel facebook group and Google maps to make sure our itinerary is achievable without needing long drives to reach our accommodation in time. Although we are used to travelling long distances living in Australia we don’t want to be driving all the time and not be able to stop and take photos and look at things of interest we find on the way.
Something that is different for this trip is that we are using Airbnb for the first time. Lots of my friends have used it and recommended it but we have been mostly using traditional booking sites such as Booking.com and direct with hotel websites. What actually convinced me to give it a go was the fact that I noticed that Qantas is actually giving frequent flyer points if your book your Airbnb through the Qantas website.
We also have tried to include some unique options that we would only be able to experience in the UK such as our “baby castle” Niedpath castle- Barn’s tower a castle for 4 and the Crofter’s cottage on Lewis, Gearannan. Interspersed with apartments to give us the option to save money on cooking and washing clothes and chain hotels to keep costs low.
I will write more about the sights we see in each location and our final itinerary after we have been there. If anyone has been to any of the places on our list we would welcome suggestions of places or tours that we may not have thought of. Also feel free to comment or email with any questions you might have about our trip or places we are going.
Until next time
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