Tin Box Traveller 2019 family travel highlights
I love putting together a round up of our family travel highlights each year. It’s a great reminder of all the brilliant experiences and, I hope, will be a lovely thing for the kids to look back on in years to come.
This year I’ve revealed our favourite family trips on Instagram. But it would feel weird not to share them on the blog too.
Our family travel highlights of 2019
2019 has been another eventful year for us. There have been solo trips for me, breaks where it has been just us girls, and some wonderful family holidays, with Tin Box Dog too.
Please note that some of these holidays were press trips, which mean we were guests of a holiday company, or we were paid for our time producing content. This hasn’t affected their inclusion in this post as we genuinely loved all these experiences.
In 2019 we went to new places, said hello to some old favourites, stayed in our first youth hostel, revisited one of our favourite ways to travel, got a camper van, and returned to our favourite European countries. We’re also ending it on a massive high.
So without further delay, here are our travel highlights of the year. I hope you find some inspiration for 2020 and beyond.
Dartmoor in January
This wintery pic takes us back to January when we sought out snow in Dartmoor National Park in Devon. The kids were in heaven.
We packed a picnic and plenty of hot tea for our little expedition an hour from our home in Dartmouth and were treated to the most extraordinary views. Baby is already asking whether it will snow again this winter. With the way the weather is going, who knows!
A brief note on keeping safe while visiting Dartmoor, or anywhere else remote, in the winter: if snow is forecast or has fallen, don’t attempt to drive on roads without winter tyres – you will get stuck!
Read about more things to do on Dartmoor with kids.
Cornwall in February
Cornwall was where we spent February half term. I always love visiting out of the main holiday season. Everywhere, including places like St Michael’s Mount, is quieter. And a lot of the beaches still allow dogs, much to Tin Box Dog’s delight.
During this visit to the Mount the tide was out and we walked across the into the mouth of the harbour.
Read about where we stayed during this press trip at The Valley near Truro.
April in Crete
We had some deliciously warm days during our Easter break when we were invited to stay at Kiani Beach Resort. There were a few chillier moments too, just to remind us it was still Spring. Check out my packing list for Europe in Spring that covers all bases.
The girls adored this family-friendly, all inclusive resort, which is right on the beach in Kalyves and an excellent base for exploring Western Crete.
If you are considering a stay at Kiani Beach Resort in April/May 2020 they are offering 20% off all room bookings. Both Kiani Beach Resort and its sister hotel Kalyves Beach Hotel are undergoing a €5m renovation programme for the 2020 season. All rooms on the seaside of Kiani Beach Resort are being remodeled, as well as the pools and communal areas of Kalyves Beach Hotel.
Lake Maggiore in May
Every now and again a mumma has to get a bit of ‘me time’! I consider myself super lucky to do this a few times a year – thank you blogging life! Here’s a snap from my press trip to Lake Maggiore Italy with Bookings For You and a group of my favourite blogging pals.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities blogging has given me to see and experience some amazing places. And even more so for the friends I’ve made along the way.
The weather in Lake Maggiore in May wasn’t as good as it should have been but we still had so much fun visiting the stunning Santa Caterina del Sasso in the pouring rain and staying at the luxury apartments at Golfo Gabella in Maccagno on the lake.
Bath in May
Bath is a gorgeous UNESCO city brimming with culture, history, open spaces and heritage attractions geared towards families. This is where I took a solo trip with the girls in May half term.
And, despite its popularity, it is somewhere you can visit on a budget. We travelled to Bath with National Express and stayed at Bath YHA.
Check out our itinerary for 36 hours in bath.
Puy du Fou in June
This has to have been one of my most extraordinary experiences of the year. This historic theme park is off the scale when it comes to theatre, staging and special effects.
In the show Les Chevaliers de la Table Ronde (based on the story of King Arthur), it’s not a sword that emerges from the lake, but a horse complete with rider, while Arthur and his comrades sit around a table that wasn’t there minutes before. Read more about the shows at Puy du Fou.
The accommodation is amazing too!
Read my tips for families visiting Puy du Fou in 2020.
South Wales in July
We started our summer holiday with a week caravanning in Carmarthenshire, South Wales.
We were torn over what to do with our six days in here but managed to fit in a day at the brilliant Pembury Country Park were we rode this toboggan. We also climbed a mountain, went paddle boarding, entered three caves, and conquered a castle.
Read all about all the things to do with kids in South Wales that we fitted into a week.
A caravan adventure with Bailey
Here’s another nod to our week in Wales in the summer, which was a sponsored trip with the caravan manufacturers Bailey of Bristol.
I don’t think a day passed when I didn’t say or think ‘I miss this’. We had a caravan for four years before we sold it because we couldn’t use it as much as we wanted to. This summer we borrowed and reviewed a Bailey Phoenix 650, and loved it.
Our days were spent exploring in South Wales, returning to the caravan for amazing views from our campsite in Llanelli, sparking up the barbecue and enjoying a glass of wine stretched out on the sofa while the girls were snuggled up in their bunk beds. Bliss!!
Read our full Bailey Phoenix 650 review.
August in Italy
One of the truly wonderful things about travel blogging is that we get to work with some fantastic companies that really get family holidays, like Al Fresco Holidays.
The next stop in our highlights from 2019 is Italy and specifically Tuscany where we stayed at the Norcenni Girasole holiday village. It’s one of 72 European holiday parks hand-picked by Al Fresco Holidays to host their mobile homes.
Norcenni Girasole is an incredible place with numerous activities, like a high ropes course, places to eat and swimming pools. There’s even a spa and Florence is less than an hour away. Read about our family-friendly tour of the Uffizi and tips for visiting Florence with kids.
The kids loved it. And I think they will take us to task when we don’t return to this site in 2020!
August in North Devon
From blazing sunshine in Italy, my 2019 highlights continue to one heck of a summer storm in the UK.
We chose the worst weekend of August for our very first proper camping trip with the girls. We had decided to buy a new tent rather than pay for a B&B for a family get-together in North Devon. And, typically, the weather was foul with 50mph winds battering the south west coast.
We laugh about it now, but there was very little sleep on that first night. We survived though and loved our HiGear Vango Eclipse tent even more for weathering the storm. Expect to see more of it in 2020!
Read about things to do in North Devon with kids.
CarFest South in August
Something I’m super happy we got a chance to do this year was a day at CarFest South at Laverstoke Farm in Hampshire. This was thanks to an invite from Peugeot who also asked us to review the Peugeot 508.
CarFest has to be the UK’s most supercharged family-friendly festival with the full spectrum of fun for hardcore petrol heads through to the youngest of festival fans.
The kids loved the fairground, circus, maze and entertainment in Kids Kingdom, while Mr Tin Box and I enjoyed the music and car shows. And phew, what a scorcher of an August Bank Holiday weekend!
Read my full review of CarFest South 2019.
November in Bournemouth
What is it about kids and ice creams? You can be freezing your bits off – which is why I suggested a cuddle in this picture – and they’ll still opt for a frozen treat over something more warming. Well, I suppose we were at the seaside!
This 2019 travel highlight is from our recent trip to Bournemouth in Dorset for the Christmas Tree Wonderland. This sparkling display of 100 trees and illuminations continues until 2 January 2020.
Read about where we stayed right on the beach in Bournemouth.
December – to be continued!
As I hit publish on this post there are days left before our final adventure of 2019 and our first of 2020!
I’m going to take a punt and say our 15 night Caribbean cruise on P&O Azura is going to be a travel highlight of the year.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice the picture above is not Azura. It is in fact the Royal Princess which I visited on a Princess Cruises press day in Southampton last year.
That was the last time I was on a cruise ship and I couldn’t be more excited about setting sail for my longest cruise yet on Azura. It feels like it’s been a long time coming.
If you have any questions about cruising, cruises with P&O or Caribbean ports then let me know. This isn’t a work trip, but old habits die hard – I know I’ll be taking plenty of pictures and notes.
Check out our winter sun cruise here.
Family travel in 2020
So those were our highlights from 2019. What does 2020 have in store? We have a few short trips planned early in the new year in Devon and Cornwall, plus a weekend in London.
And that’s it so far. Our planning hats will be coming with us to the Caribbean as I’m keen to get some camper van adventures in the diary and explore some new places with the girls. Watch this space!
Thank you so much for reading and happy travels in 2020!