Looking to fill the summer break when you have children can be a headache. Especially when you want something fun, inexpensive, outdoors, and crowd avoiding.
Staycations have become the new vacations for many of us, and many of us in the UK we are finessing how to have the best staycation, whether you live in the city, town or by the sea.
Open Top Buses
Who doesn’t love an open top bus? The perfect way to explore anywhere in comfort. Most routes offer a ticket which means you can use the bus all day, which makes it great value for money.
I take one on every city visit I’ve been on. They’re the perfect way to get a real sense of a place, and learn about its history at the same time.
London, Bristol, Bath, Oxford are some of the most fabulous tours I’ve enjoyed, but you find the buses in most cities and towns. There are different types of tour, most are child friendly. They generally operate on ‘hop on or hop off,’ so you can stay on the bus for the whole route, or get off to explore along the way.
One of the London bus services (tootbus) are currently running a special jubilee tour but most London bus tours will take you to see the queen!
I live in North Devon and we have a coastal open top bus, it’s a great way to follow the coast line. Also, breathing in the sea air is quite invigorating – especially with our North Devon breeze.
There are lots of choice of open air bus tours, and plenty of different tours to choose from, but here are some below which operate in most cities, towns as well as some coastal routes.
stagecoastbus.com – North Devon
englishriverea.co.uk – Torquay
firstbus.co.uk – Cornwall
Most bus services have very good hygiene policies in place, which gives you extra reassurance. Take a sunhat, plenty of sunscreen, water, and if you’re in the UK, perhaps a rain coat, just in case.
Open air boats are also great, a fun way to explore the local area whether on the river or the sea.
You not only get to feel the sea (or river) air on your face, but it’s another healthy way to learn about where you are. Most cities in the UK offer river tours, there’s quite a selection to choose from. For example in London, you can cruise down the Thames, take a speedboat or enjoy a dinner cruise.
It’s another way to see the city or town. Most boat trips come with informative guides. There is normally an option for children – most kids love being on the water, so it’s a great family activity.
In coastal locations, there are also many sea boat trips available. From fishing, to coastline cruises, and discovering local wildlife, there’s a lot of choice. The UK coastline is breathtaking. And, I think everywhere looks more beautiful from the water, for some reason.
My son is a huge fan of boats and so we plan our summer vacation taking boat trips around our home of North Devon. He loves the Rib rides – speedy – whereas I prefer leisure cruises which take a more sedate pace.
In Bristol there is a pirate ship – most young children’s (and adults) dream. The Matthew is a magnificent boat which takes you out on the harbour and beyond… not sure you’ll find treasure but you will have an amazing time!
You might not immediately think of England when you think of a lovely beach trip, but we do have some gorgeous beaches. I believe that nothing beats a UK seaside day out. There are lots of fabulous beaches to explore, and although we can’t guarantee the weather, you will enjoy fresh air, sand castles and very good fish and chips where ever you are in the UK.
If you have a beach within driving distance, then pack up for a whole day out. Children will be entertained by the sand and the sea, and of course an ice cream. Most British beaches have good facilities, but you can always check this out before you go.
There is an art to a day out on the beach, one which has taken many years to master. I pack a beach bag with the logical things; sun cream, spare clothes, towels. I make sure there are beach toys, such as buckets, spades and water toys. A book, if I’m feeling optimistic about getting a bit of time to read, a picnic blanket, chairs and a cool box with food and drink for the day is also essential. We have one of those little trolleys, to help us transport from the car to the beach, and if we can I hire a windbreaker or a beach hut.
If you do get a beach hut – most do day hires – it’s somewhere for you to store your valuables. Many come with kettles, chairs or deckchairs, and some games, which all help to make your beach day a little more comfortable. I would highly recommend if you can get one.
My tips for those with children is to choose a life guarded beach, know the rules of the sea – often there are flags marking the safest place to swim – the sea can be unpredictable and you have to be safety aware.
Before I go, I normally check that my chosen beach isn’t too crowded – most have webcams you can find online, so you never have to go anywhere you feel too hemmed in.
And although you always come back with sand everywhere, it’s one of the healthiest days out, traditional, and brilliant for children. I grew up with beach days and it’s lovely that my son is doing the same!