Places I’d Like to Visit in 2018

After an incredible year of trips in 2017, this year seems to be lacking a little. Apart from going to San Francisco and Aulani in April, I have no other plans for the year; no Disney parks, no international races, nothing.

I can’t complain. Last year was truly incredible, but the purse strings need to be tightened as Matthew and I will have a lot coming up over the course of this year, and we will have an amazing time in April, but my wanderlusting little brain needs some sort of stimulation, so instead of broadening our horizons, for the rest of the year we’ll be staying within the borders of the UK and hopefully doing a few little weekends away and staycations instead.

I’m almost ashamed of how little of the UK I’ve really visited, and there are so many places that I’ve always said I’d like to go to, so here’s a few of the destinations I’d like to tick of the list this year.

Brighton

I don’t know if I ever went to Brighton as a kid, but I’ve really wanted to in the last few years. I guess the fact that I already live in a seaside town meant the beach wasn’t so much of a draw as it can be for many, but to me its always just looked so pretty and Instagrammable and I think it would be a really cute weekend break.

Bath

Ok, so I have been to Bath before, and I actually went just before Christmas with work, but as that was just a few hours in the city centre, it left me wanting more!

The Eden Project

This is another one I’ve done before, but Matthew has never been and I’ve always loved it, plus there are so many cute Cornish places we could also visit to make a few days out of it.

The Lake District

I am from pretty much as south as south gets, so the north isn’t somewhere I’ve really explored so much, well that is until I met a boy from Manchester! As we’ll be going up that way in the next few months to help Matthew’s mum move house, he suggested we take a little trip up to the Lake District which is somewhere I’ve always fancied.

Cambridge

To be honest, I don’t know what draws me to it exactly but I’ve just always liked the sound of Cambridge, so I’d quite like it if we can make a little trip this year.

This might not seem like much of a list, but this year is full of uncertainty for us and as crazy as it sounds, we don’t really know what will be happening six months down the line, so stay tuned!

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Things My Travel Disasters Have Taught Me

I always say I’ve had the travel bug from a young age. I was very lucky as a child that my parents took my sister and me to so many different places and I have experienced so much of the world already, and that need to see it all has never gone away.

Now in all my years of travelling, you wouldn’t expect that everything’s always gone 100% smoothly, and you’d be right, it hasn’t. There have been plenty of slight holiday malfunctions and mishaps over the years, but as a child a lot of these didn’t seem like problems – probably because my parents always did a pretty good job of covering them up – but in more recent years, my travel nightmares have led to a lot of discovery.

Even if you’re travelling hand luggage only, make sure its a suitable bag

This is a fun story from a year ago now. I went on solo trip to Disneyland Paris and after a wonderful weekend away I got to the airport to discover my flight home had been cancelled. The airline were nice enough to get my on another flight, but this was at a different airport which I had to get a coach to, and then after walking the entire length of the airport to the gate for the second flight, that one was also cancelled. Long story short, I spent the majority of my day walking back and forth through a huge airport, and the bag I had chosen for my weekend’s worth of stuff? A shopping bag, kinda like a bag-for-life/Ikea blue bag style thing with a little grab handle, so I couldn’t put it on my back or over my shoulder, and my hand hurt so much by the time I got home – 9 hours later than I should have.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from airport staff

On a flight to Japan, my sister and I had a VERY tight transfer time in Dubai, and by very tight I mean too tight. Thanks to a delay in our first flight, we wouldn’t have had enough time to make it to our next gate, so we did the somewhat sensible, someone stressed-fuelled thing to do and ran through the airport shouting for someone to help us. Well, we ended up on one of those little golf-cart things that the airport staff use and got shuttled right to where we needed to be, just in the nick of time!

Just because trains are reliable, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check the timetable

This is another Japan story. Japanese trains are the most reliable in the world; they so rarely run late that you actually need a note from the train company to take to work with you to prove it was actually late. Well we never experienced a single late train, but we did assume that all trains ran super regularly, when in fact the train to the airport only ran once an hour on the day we needed to take it, and we got there 5 minutes after a train had just left. Another mad run through the airport..

Set yourself a reminder alarm on any train journey

So I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m super stressed out my body likes to shut down and make me sleep whenever the opportunity arises. Well this occurred once after I stressed about my Eurostar home from Paris being late once, and as soon as I got on the train, I fell asleep. Luckily, I kept my phone in my hand the whole time, and a friend of mine who was sat in a different part of the train had text me to ask if I was ready to run of the train at our connecting station, which woke me up, but had I not I would have missed it altogether and rode that train all the way to Brussels. Oops.

Always check the pockets of bags you haven’t used in a while

This is one of my favourite stories going back to when I was in secondary school. I was in cadets, and had used the same rucksack to take away on a cadet camp early in the summer that I used as hand luggage for a family holiday. It goes through the scanner and gets pulled for inspection, where the security guard asks if I would have anything sharp or metal to which I proclaimed that I just remembered that there were some safety pins I’d forgotten about that I would have had in there from camp. Well it turns out I also had forgotten about the pen knife that I took to camp, which the guard then pulled from my bag. Yep..

Well I certainly hope you’ve been entertained by my little cautionary tales, if you haven’t learned anything from them yourself! Have you ever had any major travel faux pas?

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We’re Going to Aulani!

Someone pinch me, because I can’t believe this is really happening.

Credit: disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com

Disney’s Hawaiian resort has been on my ultimate bucket list for I don’t even know how long, and being able to visit this absolute paradise was a big selling point when Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, so much so we were determined to make it our first DVC trip.

We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to familiarise ourselves with the DVC booking system, and checking day in, day out for availability in the weeks we were hoping to make the trip, but it was all starting to look a little impossible. We’d either have to change rooms every other day, or end up having to buy extra points on top of borrowing points from our next year, and suddenly our lovely relaxing holiday was turning into a stressful booking experience.. Until last night, when for some bizarre reason, Matthew was awake at 2am and decided to check the DVC website, and by some miracle a whole week was suddenly open and he booked it on the spot!

So we’re going to be in paradise at the end of April, and as well as doing a week in Aulani, we’re gonna spend a few days in San Francisco, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. I’m absolutely squealing just thinking about this trip and better still its less than 130 days away!

I’m so ready for another adventure!

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Owning the Magic

So Matthew and I kinda did a crazy thing when we were in Florida..

I’ve been to a Disney Vacation Club presentation before; Dad and I went to one on our trip back in 2016 for the sole reason that we were sucked into talking to a rep, who offered us a $50 gift card and some free fastpasses to give up an hour of our time, and we figured why not?

Well Matthew and I did the same thing. There was a $100 gift card offered this time, and I knew the presentation was quite interesting and not pressured, so when Matthew showed some interest in wanting to go, and we knew we had a day that was relatively unplanned, we let the nice rep at the booth in Epcot talk us into it.

To cut a long story short, we were sold. We crunched a gazillion numbers, double and triple checked all of the information that was given to us, and at the end of it all it seemed like the right decision for us. It was way more affordable than we had originally thought, and we know that with the trips we’d like to make over the next few years, we’d end up saving a LOT of money. We didn’t rush into anything – in fact, we actually walked away from the first meeting and booked to go back another time so we had a few days to properly mull everything over, and that was definitely the right thing for us to do. Everything made sense and now..

WE’RE DISNEY VACATION CLUB MEMBERS!

So we now own something silly like 0.2% of Unit 65 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, yay! Poly will be our home resort, meaning we can book stays 11 month in advance, and stays elsewhere 7 months in advance, but as well as Walt Disney World we have big plans for our membership points, including Disneyland California and my absolute dream of going to Aulani, Disney’s Hawaiian resort!

I’m excited for all the adventures that this will bring for us, as well as the fact that technically this is the first property that Matthew and I own together!

Stay tuned for more!

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US Pre-Clearance at Dublin Airport

When Matthew and I were booking our flights to Orlando, our primary concern was getting a good price, and to save some money we were prepared to do a connecting flight.

While I would usually fly from Gatwick, southerner that I am, for this trip we could also consider Manchester airport as a setting off point, and we settled on the AerLingus flight from Manchester, that flew via Dublin. Not only did this save us a bit of cash, but would you believe this also saves a lot of time?

Sure, there’s the time it takes to do the stopover, but did you know that when flying to the US from Dublin, you actually go through an Immigration pre-clearance? It went a little something like this..

Upon arriving in Dublin, we followed all the usual signs to transfers, and followed the signs for US Pre-Clearance. Down some steps and round a corner, and you might think you’ve just appeared in a US airport, as you come to a room filled with the same immigration desks and machines as you’d encounter at your final destination.

As we had our Estas, we could go straight to a machine and get the printed receipt, then take our passports to a desk to get stamped, and we were through into the terminal. This probably took no more than 30 mins – and it was quite a peak time at 9.30am!

So what happened when we arrived in Orlando? Well we just walked off the plane and went to baggage claim – job done!

We probably saved about £100 each by doing this stopover, and given that we arrived in Orlando quite late, it was so nice not having to queue for anything, so I would definitely recommend this option, and better still, Manchester should be getting pre-clearance in about 2019!

Another Disney Trip Bucket List

In two weeks time, I will be on my way to Manchester in preparation to fly out to Orlando!! Yes, I know I’ve been to WDW once already this year, but I’ve worked my butt off to pay for this trip and its my first proper holiday with Matthew and our first Disney trip together and I could not be more excited.

What I love about Disney is that even having been before, on every trip there is always something new, or something I’ve never done before, and even just the usual magic that gets me so excited every time, and this trip is no exception. There are a bunch of new things I’ll be experiencing on this trip, as well as some firm favourites, and here are just a few that I’m buzzed for:

  • Pandora – on my last two trips to WDW, I’ve observed the cranes and developments of the newest addition to Animal Kingdom, and on this trip I’ll finally get to see the beautiful creation that is Pandora. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind of it not living up to my expectations!
  • Food and Wine Festival – this will be my first time going to F&W at Epcot and I’m so hyped to eat ALL THE FOOD.
  • Bon Voyage breakfast – speaking of food, I’ve been internally squealing about the newest character breakfast since it was announced, and I can’t wait to be finally doing it!
  • Taking cute photobooth photos in DinoLand – Sarah and I found the photobooth in Animal Kingdom back in Feb, but I’m planning on being the ultimate cheese couple and dragging Matthew in there so we can have old school photobooth print-out photos
  • Toothpaste wall photos – being the Disney basic girl I am, I am of course buzzed for wall photos, but would you believe I’ve yet to take photos at the toothpaste wall?! Of course I’ll also be doing the other walls too (hello bubblegum wall) but this is one I’m particularly excited for.
  • Mickey’s Not So Scary – I am going to trick or treat til I drop! This will be my first ever Halloween party and while I’m not the biggest Halloween fan normally, I can’t wait to see all the exclusive shows and parades, plus all the amazing characters!
  • Blizzard Beach – my last two WDW trips have been during the early months of the year, so I haven’t been to the waterparks since 2014. I rarely spend a whole day in a waterpark anyway, but I’m excited to be going back.
  • New outfits – you don’t have to know me that well to know I LOVE planning Disney outfits. For this trip I’ve got all new looks and I am LIVING for some of them!
  • A new Disney gym – we’re staying at Coronado Springs for this trip, and the resort has its own gym! If I’m staying at a resort with a gym I always go for a nosey and a workout, call me crazy!

I’ll be in WDW from October 30th-November 14th, and if anyone is around give me a shout!

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Things I Would Do Differently on my Next Disney Cruise

Yep, I’ve hardly been back from my first Disney Cruise and I’m already thinking about the next. No, I’ve not got one booked, but I’ve got some plans and ideas, which led me to think about some of the things I learned on this trip, and what I would do differently next time.

Properly research ports and excursion options

I opted for the ‘take each day as it comes’ approach on this cruise, which lead to a nice chilled trip and lots of hanging out on the ship, but I think next time I would want to spend more time going ashore and visiting some of the amazing locations that Disney Cruise’s visit.

Spend more money

Due to having other trips coming up this year, I had to keep to a fairly tight budget in terms of onboard spending. Next time, I’d like to do a few more of the paid experiences on the boat such as dining at Palo, treatments at the spa and have a few cheeky cocktails by the pool!

Wake up earlier

Disney beds are always the comfiest beds, and on the cruise ships that’s no exception, so it was all too easy to sleep in every morning, and while cruising is all about relaxing and not having to always get up early, I sometimes feel like a lie in is a morning wasted, and I want to experience more of the morning activities!

Show more appreciation to the servers

I cannot commend all of the cast members on the ship highly enough, they absolutely raised the bar for me, but the servers were really incredible. You have the same server and assistant server every night, and this means they really get to know you, and you get to know them too. They are all so lovely and hard-working, and while at the end of the trip you get to show your appreciation with tips, next cruise I think it would be really nice to also pack small little gifts for the servers who make the whole experience so special.

Do more activities

Cheesy as it sounds, I kinda regret not going to a game of bingo, and I wish I’d been to some of the interesting talks that they had going on. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast just hanging out on deck and meeting all the characters but I’m all about getting the full experience so next time I think I’ll be trying out more different ways to spend the time.

Have you ever been on a Disney Cruise?

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