Get Out With The Kids Sun, 07 Jul 2019 15:12:51 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Get Out With The Kids 32 32 The Big Camping Mat Comparison: Thermarest v Vango v Outwell Wed, 10 Jul 2019 18:31:00 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: The Big Camping Mat Comparison: Thermarest v Vango v Outwell

Which is the best Self-Inflating Mat? Which is the most comfortable camping mat? We compare our Thermarest, Vango, and Outwell SIMs to find out.

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: The Big Camping Mat Comparison: Thermarest v Vango v Outwell

We’ve been lucky to review three big and comfortable Self Inflating Mats for camping:

  1. The Thermarest MondoKing 3D
  2. The Vango Shangri La Grande
  3. The Outwell Dreamboat

A question that is often asked is “Which is the best?” or “Which is the most comfortable?”

Which is the most comfortable Self-Inflating Mat?

I’ll start with this question, even though it is very subjective.

Now all three mats that we have a different thickness, and so it’s not a fair comparison between them.

We have the 10cm MondoKing 3D, the 15 cm Shangri La Grande from Vango, and the 7.5 cm Dreamboat from Outwell.

You can get different thickness of these mats, but I can only base it on what we have.

So out of the three we have, the Vango Shangri La Grande is the most comfortable. This is not surpising at 15 cm thickness, and when inflated, it is like a mattress at home.

However, the second most comfortable – and really there isn’t much in it – is the Outwell Dreamboat at just 7.5 cm. Yes, Outwell does a thicker Dreamboat than 7.5 cm, but it’s a generally similar comfort level to the Vango Shangri La Grande, which is twice the thickness.

The Outwell Dreamboat is also the widest of all the self-inflating mats, which we found really good – but you obviously need the space in your tent for it.

Testing the Mats

Testing the three large self-inflating mats

Which is the best Self-Inflating Mat?

So, does that mean Vango’s Shangri La Grande is the best self-inflating mat? Well, not necessarily.

It depends on what you are looking for, so I’ve broken this question down for you.

Which self-inflating mat inflates itself the best?

In this test, it’s the Vango Shangri La Grande that wins the round.

I can leave this SIM on its own for a while, and it inflates enough that I’ve never had to put in more air. Yes, you can if you want it firmer, but it pretty much inflates itself.

Second is the Outwell Dreamboat, though I always find I need to add some air to get it fully inflated.

For the Thermarest MondoKing 3D, I always have to add quite a bit of air compared to the other two.

Which self-inflating mat is easiest to deflate?

This is a close tie between the Outwell Dreamboat and Vango Shangri-La.

Both of these camping mats have valves that prevent the re-inflation when you are rolling them up, making it very easy to them packed away into their bags.

If I had to pick between them, it would be the Outwell Dreamboat as the best, but that’s probably just because it is half the thickness and so easier to roll up.

Unfortunately, the Thermarest MondoKing 3D uses the older ‘traditional’ style SIM valves.

Which is the easiest mat to transport?

The Outwell Dreamboat wins this quite easily. It packs down really small and light.

The Thermarest MondoKing 3D is second.

Unfortunately, this is where the Vango Shangri-La Grande 15 lets itself down, as it is huge when packed away.

The three self-inflating mats packed up

Which self-inflating mat is the warmest?

This is a tough one to answer, as we’ve not tested them in extreme conditions. However, we have used all but the new Outwell in the winter,  though we have used our older Outwell Dreamboat double in the winter.

They all insulate well and provide a much warmer night than sleeping on an air bed.

If you are going to camp in extreme cold, the Thermarest has the highest R-Value, at 11.4.

The Outwell Dreamboat also has an R-Value, but has an interesting design, in that one side of the mat is designed to keep you warm in winter, and the other side is designed to help cool you down in summer.

The Vango self-inflating mat doesn’t have a published R-Value, but it is very thick, and we never found a problem with it not insulating in the winter.


Unfortunately, I can’t point you as to which self-inflating mat is the best, as it depends on what you need, can afford, and have room to transport to the campsite.

Out of the ones we have, the Outwell Dreamboat is the most all-round winner, as it insulates well, is very comfortable, and packs away well. However, your needs may be different, plus it’s not a perfect test since all the mats I have are different sizes.

Below is a comparison table of some of the differences.

MondoKing 3D vs Shangri La Grande vs Outwell Dreamboat

  • Overview
  • Description
  • Brand/Store
  • Availability
  • User Rating
  • Review
  • Attributes
  • R-Value
  • Number of Valves
  • Re-Inflation Prevention
  • Depth
  • Pack Size
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Big Summer Prizedraw: A Coleman MacKenzie 6 Family Tent PLUS Camping & Caravanning Club Membership Sun, 30 Jun 2019 18:00:00 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Big Summer Prizedraw: A Coleman MacKenzie 6 Family Tent PLUS Camping & Caravanning Club Membership

Enter our Big Summer #Prizedraw for a chance to win a Coleman MacKenzie 6 Family tent plus a year's membership to the Camping and Caravanning Club. (UK Residents Only)

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Big Summer Prizedraw: A Coleman MacKenzie 6 Family Tent PLUS Camping & Caravanning Club Membership

Welcome to our Big Summer Prizedraw!

Coleman has kindly donated a Coleman MacKenzie 6 BlackOut tent, which we recently reviewed, plus 1 year’s Camping and Caravanning Club Membership, to celebrate the fact that you get a year’s Camping and Caravanning Club Membership when you buy this tent or some of the others in the range from selected retailers.

Enter the form below for a chance to win this fantastic prize!

Before you Start: Bonus Entries

There are some secret codes to get some bonus entries to this prize draw. Log-in to reveal a code for additional prize draw entries.  If you don’t have a login, then click here to register.


Prize Draw Competition Entry

Please note that this prize draw is open to UK residents only, as the prize will only be posted to UK addresses.

Enter the Prize Draw Here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can Tweet the competition each day to earn more entires.

Coleman has been awarded “Best Family Tents” in Camping and Caravanning Club’s customer satisfaction awards, its 93% satisfaction rating was some way ahead of the 89% of the second placed brand.

Club Owner Satisfaction Survey

What Coleman Say about the MacKenzie 6 Tent

New for 2019 Coleman Mackenzie 6 BlackOut tent is a spacious, easy to pitch family cabin tent with great head-height and generous sleeping proportions bringing comfort to all campers, even those over 6ft tall!

Featuring comfortable XXL BlackOut bedrooms, one of which converts into 2 rooms with a removable divider to offer ultimate sleeping flexibility. Your best chance at a campsite lie-in, the BlackOut Bedrooms block out 99.9% of light whilst also keeping the bedroom warmer at night and cooler during the day. Long enough to sleep campers over 6ft, and with full head height throughout, the Mackenzie really is the perfect tent for taller campers.

Its spacious interior provides enough living space for a family table and chairs if the weather takes a turn for the worse. A home away from home, the Mackenzie has two doors, a clothes rail and storage area to keep clothes and gear organised, and features a three layer window system combining mesh/PVC/curtain for plenty of ventilation and to keep bugs at bay. This allows you to manage the level of airflow through the tent and reduce the risk of condensation, maintaining a comfortable interior temperature. With an impressive 4500mm hydrostatic head on the flysheet as well as a rain porch and rain skirts the Mackenzie 6 is geared up to withstand the unpredictable English weather. The waterproof PE groundsheet, sturdy steel pole structure and additional UV Guard SPF50 coating ensure protection come rain or shine. Extra security is provided by the zipper stoppers on the tent doors which ensure that zips are always within reach in the event of an emergency, even for children and all tent fabrics are fire retardant.

Sleeps 6

Pack Size: 80 x 40 x 40cm

Dimensions: 600 x 315cm

Height: 217cm

Weight 35.5kg

RRP: £550.00

See our Review of this Tent

Read our review of this fantastic family tent!

Coleman MacKenzie 6 Tent

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Photos
  • Videos
A six-person family tent with two double bedrooms, all of which are blacked out for a good night's sleep. Note: 1-year Camping and Caravanning Club ...
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 0
Add to compare
Weight 35.5 kg
Dimensions 600 × 320 × 217 cm

Frame Type

Hydrostatic Head



Recommended Tent Use


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5 Tips for Camping with Teenagers Sun, 23 Jun 2019 18:40:00 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: 5 Tips for Camping with Teenagers

Camping with kids is pretty simple. They find insect hunting, tents, and ghost stories with mom and dad oh-so-exciting! But, camping with teens can sometimes be more difficult. These 5 tips will make camping with teenagers much easier and more enjoyable.

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If you have a teenager in your family, mentioning the word camping probably won’t get the same reaction as to when they were younger. However, all is not lost. Scott has five tips that will help with that camping trip, even if you do have teens.

Camping with kids is pretty simple. They find insect hunting, tents, and ghost stories with mum and dad oh-so-exciting! But, camping with teenagers can sometimes be more difficult. In fact, many parents find that even planning a family camping trip with teens is downright excruciating, so how is it ever possible to enjoy an outdoor camping adventure if you cannot plan the event without drama and headache?

Teenagers are often more interested in their friends, social media, celebrities and show less interest in spending time trapped in a tent with their family, without access to their electronics and social life.

Luckily, it’s not hard to persuade your teen to put on a happy face when preparing for a camping adventure or to ensure a great time once you arrive.

You’ll need to spend some time thinking like your teen to make this a reality, although the five tips below provide much-needed insight that will certainly ease your hassles. Use this information to help plan a phenomenal family camping trip when you have teens who might be a little less enthusiastic about camping.

1- Plan Age Appropriate Activities

Teens aren’t quite as fascinated with the same type of outdoor activities as younger children, so if your agenda includes activities designed for a younger crowd, you’ve already lost their interests from the start. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to avoid such a hassle by planning properly ahead of trip departure.

Appease them by including plenty of teen-appropriate and adult activities on the agenda for the camping trip. Bonfires, geocaching, roasting marshmallows, and stargazing are camping related activities most teens still enjoy. Other popular teen activities that work wonderfully during a camping trip include board games, hiking, cycling, and kayaking.

Teenagers on sit-on-top kayak

Included other activities that will engage teenagers.

2- Don’t Forget the Photo Opportunities

Perhaps Wi-Fi and mobile reception aren’t great at many campsites, which is devastating news to many teens who can’t go an hour without checking in on their favourite social media platforms or sending that all-important text to a friend. But, that doesn’t mean that your teen is out of luck when camping.

Taking pics is a second-favourite hobby for many teens, and a camping trip offers tons of great photo ops that your teen will love. Inspire your teen to pack their bags by filling them in on the many artefacts and landmarks that make great photo ops to share to the envy of their friends.

Glowing Campfire

Get them to see camping through a new lens: they will be able to share some great photos with their friends

3- Don’t Force Participation in Every Activity

Some activities that you want to enjoy during the camping trip won’t exactly be your teen’s cup of tea or their idea of fun. Forcing participation will only cause a big fight and ruin the fun for everyone. Why force them to participate in an activity they absolutely hate? It’s okay to give them a pass when certain activities simply don’t appeal to them.

Put yourself in your teen’s shoes, and you quickly understand how horrendous it’d be to be forced to have fun doing something that you hate. Forcing your teen to participate will only make the camping trip sour for everyone and may even drag over when you return home.

4- Bring a Friend

Teens are much happier when a friend is beside them for everything, so why not invite along someone that will put your teen at ease and help them enjoy this outdoor adventure with the family a little bit more? You’ll just need an extra tent to invite a friend along for the camping adventure. When teens bring their friend along for the camping trip, they don’t feel so far away from their very important social scene.

Although we as parents may not quite grasp the importance of being social, it is very much an important aspect of teen’ lives that we simply must adapt. Plus, all of those photos opportunities we talked about earlier seem so much more exciting when a friend is pictured in the shot with them.

Two teenagers camping

Let them bring a friend

5- Let Your Teen Help Plan the Trip

Let teens help plan the camping trip and even make some of the decisions regarding the campsite, meals, or some of the activities you’ll enjoy during the outdoor adventure. Teens are stuck between feeling all grown up, wanting to make decisions, and still being kids, but they always love the chance to partake in adult activities.

This is an adult activity that your teen can get involved with without any serious repercussions but instead, a plethora of benefits. You always have the final say in the matter, but compromising always works better for everyone – especially whenever teens are involved.

Camping with teenagers may seem like a scary thought to parents who can’t remember the last time they saw their teen’s face without the glow of a phone screen going across it, but with the tips listed here, this trip is much easier to achieve. Camping with teenagers can be a lot of fun, and there’s plenty of opportunities to make special memories if you’ve played your cards right and properly planned a camping adventure with teens!

5 Tips for Camping with Teenagers

5 Tips for Camping with Teenagers

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Outwell Lantern Prize Draw Sun, 09 Jun 2019 06:59:14 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Outwell Lantern Prize Draw

Enter our prize draw for a chance to win an Outwell Morion Lantern. UK entrants only. Prize draw ends 23rd June 2019

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Outwell Lantern Prize Draw

We have five of these handy little Outwell Morion Lanterns to give away!

Enter the competition prize draw entry below for a chance to win one of these lanterns.

Before you Start: Bonus Entries

There are some secret codes to get some bonus entries to this prize draw. Log-in to reveal a code for additional prize draw entries.  If you don’t have a login, then click here to register.


Prize Draw Competition Entry

Please note that this prize draw is open to UK residents only, as the prize will only be posted to UK addresses.

Enter the Prize Draw Here

About the Outwell Morion Lantern

We’ve been using one of these lanterns for a number of years. They are a handy bit of kit that doesn’t take up much space, and the nightlight mode has been great for young kids.

Outwell Morion Collapsed

This lantern folds up small for easier transport. You can also use it collapsed as a night-light, with the button emitting a blue glow.

Outwell Morion up close

Here the lantern is fully opened to reveal the light.

Click here to read our full review.

  • Product
  • Specification
  • Photos
The Outwell Morion is a great little lantern, and particularly useful for those of us with kids.
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 1
Add to compare
Weight 0.13 kg
Dimensions 7 × 5 × 12 cm



4 x AA (not included)

Battery Duration

10 hours

Many thanks to our friends over at Outwell for donating these prizes.

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How to rent a motorhome (or RV) for your family and travel the US Sat, 08 Jun 2019 06:24:22 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: How to rent a motorhome (or RV) for your family and travel the US

Ever thought about hiring an RV and taking the family on a tour of the US? Here are some tips on how to do it and where to go.

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: How to rent a motorhome (or RV) for your family and travel the US

We’ve toured some of the USA by doing a fly-drive holiday, and seeing some of the places to visit, wondered what it would be like to do a similar tour, but with a motorhome (or ‘RV’ as they are known as in the states). So we asked US RV expert Shelley for some tips.

For many families in the UK, the thought of travelling around the US in an RV sounds like a dream adventure. It’s no surprise as to why – every single state in America offers something different, with national parks and attractions, stunning views, beaches and other experiences that you can only find in the USA.

The question, then, is how is it possible to rent an RV and travel around America? Where do you start?  Not to worry, for all those living in the UK, this doesn’t have to remain a distant dream. There are easy and straightforward ways that you can rent an RV and have the trip of a lifetime.

Use a renting service

For some travellers, the hassle of buying and maintaining an RV is not part of their dream holiday. In these cases, it makes more sense to use a renting service (like Outdoorsy), so you can choose when and where you want to pick up and drop off the RV. As well, roadside assistance and insurance packages are often included, giving you peace of mind on the road. When you use an RV rental service, like Outdoorsy, you can worry less about safety and responsibility, and direct all your focus into having a trip of a lifetime.

They also offer a range of different types of vehicles – depending on the size of your family, this is really important. One of the underrated benefits of renting an RV is you often get insider information and amazing sight-seeing tips that only the locals know.

Picking the right RV

When all your family is in an RV, the absolute necessity is space, especially when you’re travelling around the U.S This will be a lengthy trip, and everybody will need some kind of personal space.

We highly recommend Class A, Class B and Class C RVs for a long journey like this. However, if you plan to only travel for a couple of weeks, and see various iconic spots along the way, a camper van could suffice.

Class A RV

This is the Class A RV, the largest RV you can hire. This RV offers living accommodation combined with a vehicle engine and is a common way to tour the US from coast to coast.

Class B RV

This is a Class B RV.

Class C RV

This is a Class C RV

For a family, we would stay away from renting trailers and truck campers. However, you know your family best – and they might just work out for you.

Driving and Other Details

If you are over the age of 21, you can rent and drive an RV in the US, as long as you have a UK driving license. This even includes the larger American A class RVs that are perfect for family recreation. Obviously, make sure that you get clued up on American road rules, including driving on the opposite side of the road. It might be a slight culture shock, but you’ll get used to it.

There are many maps, apps and road trip routes to choose from coastal adventures to historical landmarks or an American amusement park tour; there is something for every family. It is also a great opportunity to incorporate map activities and family navigation challenges.

Remember the extra costs

Renting an RV might seem like the best way to see America, but don’t let the additional costs sneak up on you. From fuel costs to camping costs, there are many was you can spend but also many ways you can save. Making your way around America in an RV can save you money on flights and hotels, and the budget can be personalised as needed. Where places like national parks and attractions entrance fees can add up there are always family rates and national parks, have a program that allows all grade 4 students (and their families) free access to all park. The Every Kid in a Park Pass can be a great place for families to start planning their trip.

Being able to cook meals on the road also often helps the entire road trip to be much more cost-effective. One of the best things to do is stop at a large grocery store before you leave. That way you can have all your favourite food and will not resort to expensive restaurants.

Remember, you can save money by being mindful of fuel, packing light, cooking on board, and taking the shortest routes possible. Being mindful with where you spend your money won’t make the trip any less enjoyable, we promise.

RV at beach with Tampa Bay Skyway Bridge

Take a trip to Florida like this RV, parked at the beach overlooking Tampa Bay, with the Skyway Bridge in the background

Ideal Destinations

Now comes the hard part; deciding where to go. There are so many National Parks, incredible coastlines and everything in between. Choosing where to go is a personal decision, and your best bet is planning around things your family already loves. Some of the most popular RV trips that people come from around the world to experience include:

  • Embracing nature at the Grand Canyon
  • Seeking thrills on an amusement park road trip
  • Relaxing in a tropical paradise, wintering in Florida

For a family seeking the great outdoors, the Grand Canyon is a great place to start your adventure. From there, depending on your time frame, you can hop from National Park to Park, taking advantage of their exciting and affordable children’s activities. Or you can head west, explore California and take the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to the rainforest.

RV motorhome entering monument valley, utah

You might recognise Monument Valley in Utah from films and TV. Why not visit it yourself?

Those families looking for entertainment and attractions would do well to stay on the east coast. On that side of the country, you have everything from museums and historical sites, to theme parks and quaint fishing villages.

A fun idea for the spontaneous family is to have every member pick one place they want to visit in the US. Then, connect the dots and start your road trip.

Check the weather

The US is so vast, and so extreme weather changes can be expected. You’re from the UK, though, so you’ll be used to it all.

Just like a standard week in Britain, you can expect sun, rain, snow and everything in between. So, pack accordingly, and try to organise your trip at the best times. Seeing the US in such a unique, and special way is priceless.

The takeaway? RVs are the best way to tour around the US. You’ll interact with the most interesting of people, see the beautiful country in a fascinating new light, and engage in fantastic activities.

It beats hiding away in a hotel, doesn’t it?

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National Camping and Caravanning Week 2019 Mon, 27 May 2019 06:10:45 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: National Camping and Caravanning Week 2019

Today is the start of the National Camping and Caravanning Week for 2019, which runs from 27th May until 2nd June. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Camping and Caravanning’s Club launch event on the River Thames in London, which also celebrated 100 years of the modern caravan. This was quite a […]

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: National Camping and Caravanning Week 2019

Today is the start of the National Camping and Caravanning Week for 2019, which runs from 27th May until 2nd June.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Camping and Caravanning’s Club launch event on the River Thames in London, which also celebrated 100 years of the modern caravan.

The Shard in London

Beautiful weather in London. Here, the sunlight bounces off the top of the Shard.

This was quite a location, complete with a caravan floating on the Thames in front of Tower Bridge.

Caravan on the Thames

What a place for a campsite!

View of Tower Bridge

This was the view from the caravan’s bedroom window.

Tent on the Thames

Although it was the caravan’s birthday, the tent was there too.

Get Outside in London

It’s just like camping: drinking wine out of a camping cup! 😉

Caravan Cake

What a birthday cake!

Cutting the Cake

Julia Bradbury cutting the caravan’s birthday cake.

Campsite on the Thames

The sun setting over Tower Bridge. What a great place for a campsite!

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Exploring the Isle of Wight Wed, 08 May 2019 18:31:03 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Exploring the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has a lot of different activities for the family to do. We visited the island to give some of them a try.

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Exploring the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, is somewhere we always wanted to visit. It’s not exactly on our doorstep, and so it has been one of these places we’ve just not got around to yet.

However, when Visit the Isle of Wight organisation got in touch about seeing what the island had to offer active families, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Watch our video below!

Getting to the Isle of Wight

There are car ferries that run from Southampton, Portsmouth, and Lymington. If you aren’t taking the car, then there quicker ways to get to the island, such as high-speed catamaran or even a hovercraft.

We took the Red Funnel ferry from Southampton to Cowes.

Our ferry approaching the Isle of Wight

Approaching Cowes on the Isle of Wight

First Stop: Cycling the Red Squirrel Trail

An advantage of being separated from the mainland is that native species, such as the Red Squirrel, have survived.

There’s a cycling route that you can take with your family called the Red Squirrel Trail, that will guide you through the countrysides, through villages, along former railway lines, and down to the seaside.

The Red Squirrel Trail is mainly a traffic-free route, though parts are on the road.

The full route could take you a few days, travelling from the south to the north of the island and back. However, there is a shorter family-friendly loop, which is the one we took.

The Red Squirrel Trail Map

The full route goes all the ways to Cowes and back.

If you aren’t bringing your bikes with you, you can hire bikes on the island. We picked up some bikes from Route Fifty 7 cycles, based out of the Lower Hyde Holiday Park, which is right on the trail.

Unfortunately, the only red squirrel we saw during our stay, was road kill 🙁

Staying on the Island

When it comes to staying on the island, there are lots of choices, from holiday parks, campsites, B&Bs, self-catering cottages, and hotels.

We were lucky to be put up in an excellent cottage by Classic Cottages, in the small seaside town of Seaview.

Our cottage at Seaview

The main bedroom also has a sea view.

The place certainly lived up to its name, with views of the sea from our cottage.

The roads on the island remind me of Cornwall, with lots of small narrow lanes. Just when you think the Satnav is guiding you down a back lane, you soon find it is the main route from a to b!

Because of that, I’m glad we didn’t bring our caravan. We didn’t see anyone towing a caravan while we were there, though we did see a few motorhomes come over on the ferry.

There are campsites and holiday parks for caravan and motorhome pitches. The ones we saw you could get to on the larger roads, so if you are bringing one of those to the island, please plan your route carefully.

The Needles

You might have heard of The Needles, even if you didn’t know they were on the Isle of Wight. Even if you haven’t heard of them, you will probably recognise a picture of them.

The Needles

The Needles from the Viewpoint on the Headland walk.

The Needles is an outcrop of rock with a lighthouse guiding ships away from them. In the past, there was a tall needle-shaped tower of rock, which gave them the name, but unfortunately, it collapsed hundreds of years ago.

The famous landmark is located in Alum Bay on the western side of the Isle of Wight.

You park at the Needles landmark attraction, and during most of the year, there is a parking fee. Please note that during peak season, you might queue to get in. We visited on a sunny bank holiday and had to queue a long time. The carpark was full, only letting in a car when one left.

At the Needles, there are plenty of activities to entertain the kids. One of the main attractions though is the chair lift down to the beach. These take you over the edge of the cliff!

Chairlift at the Needles

Riding the chairlift down to the beach

If you don’t like the sound of that, there are steps you can walk 🙂

To get up close to The Needles, take a boat trip with the Needles Pleasure Cruises. These run a slower boat with commentary or a faster speed boat. We went on the speed boat 😀

The needles lighthouse

Zipping past the lighthouse and the needles.

When back on dry land, you can take the path up to the headland and view the Needles from above. There is also a National Trust ‘Old Battery’ to visit, which looks out over the Needles, plus an old rocket testing site! Our very own Cape Canaveral right on the Isle of Wight.


As keen walkers, we noticed just how many well-signposted footpaths the island has. It is crisscrossed with places to walk, much more than on the mainland.

A route sign post

Part of the off-road section of the Red Squirrel Trail

The Isle of Wight holds a walking festival each year. We can understand why.


We don’t have the surf that some countries do, but there are a few places to surf in the UK. I didn’t realise the Isle of Wight was a surfing spot, but sure enough, there was plenty of surf and plenty of surfers when we took a surfing lesson with iSurf on the south side of the island.

We had done bodyboarding many times before, as well as stand-up paddleboards. However, we’ve never got around to proper surfing.

This activity was so much fun, even if we did spend more time in the water than on the boards!

Tom standing on his board

The kids did much better than their parents!

iSurf fitted us out with good wetsuits, and so the cold English Channel wasn’t a problem. They also gave us instruction and were on hand to help in the water, and gave special attention to helping the kids.

Our kids did much better than us adults, and by the end of the two-hour session, they had managed to stand on the board and surf some of the waves. The closest I got was kneeling on the board, which I learnt was cheating!

The minimum age for doing this activity is eight years old. It’s well worth doing if you get a chance.


We visited the Natural History Museum in London earlier this year and saw several fossils from the Isle of Wight. The island is famous for its dinosaur fossils, with numerous discoveries that led to the way in developing the science of palaeontology.

Of course, the island has a dedicated museum to its fossil heritage, called Dinosaur Isle, which is at Sandown.

We visited the museum and went on one of their guided field-walks to spot fossils on the local beach.

A dinosaur footprint we saw on the Isle of Wight

Another dinosaur footprint. You can see where the claws would have been!

This was amazing. Right on the beach we found footprints of dinosaurs, as well as fossilised crocodile poo, fishes, trees, worms, and shells that lived alongside them.

The guided walk doesn’t cost much and is worth doing, as you need the expert to point things out. Somethings that look like fossiles are just plain old rock, and things you think aren’t anything, turn out to be something special.

Monkeying Around

Another place we visited while on the island was Monkey Haven. This is a primate rescue centre that takes on monkeys rescued from the illegal pet trade or other zoos, and can’t be rehabilitated in the wild.


A monkey chillin’ at Monkey Haven

Monkey Haven is not a big place, but the dedication the keepers have is evident. We really liked the signs that talked about each individual primiate, their likes and dislikes, and the keeper talks were extremely good. They were very good at encouraging the kids to ask questions.


The Isle of Wight gets the thumbs up from us. We had a great long weekend on the island, and can’t wait to go back. The island has beautiful scenary, is clean, and very relaxed. The hustle-and-bustle of the mainland is left far behind.
It’s one of the few places we’d even consider moving to, and not many places would pull us away from our beautiful Shropshire hills!

Here’s a map of the places we visited. Click here for more places to visit on the Isle of Wight.

Dinosaur Isle, Culver Parade, Sandown, Isle of Wight
Seaview, Isle of Wight
Monkey Haven, 5 Acres Farm, Staplers Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, Isle of Wight
3 The Anchorage, Isle of Wight
Various Locations, Isle of Wight
Alum Bay New Rd, Alum Bay, Totland Bay, Isle of Wight
Alum Bay New Road, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
Lower Hyde Holiday Park, Landguard Rd, Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Find more places on the Isle of Wight

Disclaimer: We would like to thank Visit Isle of Wight for covering and arranging the ferry crossing, accommodation, cycling, surfing, Dinosaur Isle, and the Needles. Note: all other travel costs are our own; all opinions are our own.

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Sailing Holidays with Children: Your Questions Answered Mon, 06 May 2019 18:53:27 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Sailing Holidays with Children: Your Questions Answered

Ever considered taking the family sailing on warm blue seas and anchoring in a remote island bay? Then check out this article on how to book such a family sailing holiday.

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: Sailing Holidays with Children: Your Questions Answered

We’ve been lucky to enjoy a few sailing holidays, including ones where we sailed ourselves, but that was in the beautiful Caledonian Canel in Scotland. What if you wanted your family to experience sailing in the warm waters of the Mediterranean? We asked sailing holiday expert James for some tips on how to go about it.

If, like me, you struggle to keep still in a resort holiday, and are always on the lookout for adventure, then a sailing holiday might be just what your family need. Sailing a yacht is a great way to see some planet’s most spectacular locations, and keep the whole family active, engaged and having fun. And hiring a professional skipper means you can get as involved as you like, or simply kick back and relax if that’s more your style.

Yacht in a bay in Greece

Can you picture yourself and the kids here in Greece?

Travelling by boat is an incredible way to see the world – as you take your ‘floating villa’ with you wherever you go, you have a real freedom to explore a different destination every day. Personally, I love snorkelling in clear waters, eating fresh seafood on the waterfront, and catching the sunset at anchor off a deserted beach you can only reach by boat.

Two people snorkelling in the Adriatic Sea

Snorkelling off the back of the boat in the Adriatic Sea

Here are some questions that you may want answered before setting sail:

Where can I go on a sailing holiday?

On a yacht, the world is your oyster (well, the wet bits are!).

Yachting holidays usually concentrate on locations with good summer weather, combined with beauty, culture, and good food. In Europe, this means Mediterranean countries like Croatia, Greece, Italy and Turkey.

If you want to go further afield, the Caribbean is great for kids, with its pirate lore, bright beaches and tropical fish.

Where you go depends a bit on when you’re looking to sail; Turkey, being further south and east, stays warmer longer than the rest of the Med, for example.

Sailing with a baby

Sailing with a baby in the British Virgin Islands.

Don’t I need some sort of licence?

In short, no, but you will need to hire a professional sailor to help you.

Sailing holidays can be broadly divided into 3 categories;

  1. bareboat (you and your family hire the ‘bare’ boat),
  2. skippered (with a professional sailor),
  3. or crewed (with a professional sailor and a chef).

To go on a bareboat holiday, you will need to have some experience and a sailing licence, usually an RYA Day Skipper certificate. There are lots of sailing schools both in the UK and overseas in Greece and Croatia where you can take the courses.

Crewed yacht charter

Living it up aboard a crewed yacht.

What makes a skippered yachting holiday great is that your level of skill and experience doesn’t matter. If you’re keen to get stuck in and learn, you can pick up some new sailing skills. If you’d rather just relax and keep an eye on the little captains, then you can. And if you want a truly five-star experience, you can go for a crewed yacht, with meals freshly prepared for you on the yacht.

How much does a sailing holiday cost?

Sailing around a sun-kissed Mediterranean coastline, stopping to snorkel in crystal waters, conjures up glamorous images of movie stars and an air of exclusivity.

But really, skippered yacht holidays are similar in cost to a luxury package holiday, and a whole lot more fun. And yachts are charged at a flat rate, with no per person price, so larger families don’t have to fork out more.

on the deck of a yacht

You could split the cost with a larger or extended family and friends, as you don’t pay per person.

Is it safe for the kids? Is there a minimum age?

In a word – yes, sailing is safe for kids! There is no reason why a child cannot join a sailing holiday. Obviously, parents tend to take precautions, and it is always worth teaching your child how to swim before the trip. But there’s no minimum age when it comes to yachting – there are even cots that you can bring on board, and many stories of young infants having great fun on boats in complete safety.

Little boy in safe life jackets

Always wear a life jacket.

There are some simple and easy to remember rules (always wear a lifejacket when outside, don’t leave the boat without permission), that can keep everyone safe, happy and relaxed.


How do we keep the kids happy on a yacht?

Family jumping off yacht

“1, 2, 3, jump!”

Sailing is superb fun for children, with new swim stops to explore every day and getting involved in the running of the boat. But keeping active children occupied for a whole week or two can be a struggle. Thankfully, you can hire paddleboards and kayaks to take on the yacht, and all skippers will happily mix up the route, stopping off wherever you’d like to enjoy the local towns and beaches.

water toys

There are lots of things to do in the sea!

What about the facilities on board?

Every yacht has bathroom facilities, including a toilet and shower, and the larger ones often have en-suites for each cabin (bedroom). Most modern yachts have electric toilets, which makes things nice and simple.

How do I book a sailing holiday?

You can either contact a yacht charter company directly, which is a little limiting, or book through an independent agent, who will act as a personal shopper to find you the best deal. These agents are completely impartial and don’t charge you a fee, but instead work off commission from the provider, so they are usually able to source the best deals.

Sailboats in a beautiful bay, Paxos island, Greece

Next stop this beautiful bay at Paxos Island in Greece?


Next steps? Click here to start building your ideal family sailing holiday, or visit to find out more.

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7 Tips to Start Your Kids Bodyboarding Wed, 01 May 2019 18:40:01 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: 7 Tips to Start Your Kids Bodyboarding

Bodyboarding is a great way to get your kids active in the sea and you don't need big waves to do it either. Here are 7 tips to get started.

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: 7 Tips to Start Your Kids Bodyboarding

We love bodyboarding. You don’t need big waves, you can do it in shallow water, and the kids pick it up really quickly.
So we asked bodyboarding expert Camille for some tips to help us parents introduce our kids to this fun activity.

Next to surfing, bodyboarding is one of the most popular sea sports around. The beauty of bodyboarding is it is an inexpensive sport, and you can be old, young, big, or small. Anyone can bodyboard as long as they have patience and are willing to get out in the waves.

Summer to late Autumn is the best time to bodyboard in the UK, and there are plenty of great beginner spots to start your bodyboarding journey. To help your children get started, we’ve come up with our seven beginner bodyboarding tips!


Be Comfortable in the Sea

There’s no point in trying to add insult to injury. If your little one isn’t comfortable in the sea, they’re probably not going to have a good time bodyboarding.

It’ll be scary and take them forever to learn.

Instead, we recommend taking some time getting them acquainted to the waves first. Whether that means getting them some lessons or swimming around with them a bit before you whip the bodyboard out, they need to feel confident so that they can have fun!


Get The Right Bodyboard

You don’t need to buy a pro bodyboard when starting out.

You can pick up a decent bodyboard for £7 pounds at your local sports shop.

The most important thing is tto get the right size. If you get a board that is too big, your child could have a hard time carrying it around and manoeuvring in the water. If it’s too small, they might have trouble finding their balance or paddling around with it. If you’re unsure about sizing, check out Fin Bin’s bodyboard sizes article.

You also might want to consider getting a board with a leash too, as you don’t want it to get swept out to sea after a wipeout.


Pick the Right Beach

While there are many great beaches in the UK, the important thing is to pick the best one for beginners. One of our favourite beginner beaches in the UK is Watergate Bay. There are two miles of coastline and tons of low tide spots to bodyboard with ease.

There are plenty of surf camps that post up down here too, as the waves are perfect for teaching.

Another excellent beginner spot is Saltburn in Cleveland. The waves are much busier here, though you can find beginner-friendly waves right next to the pier.

[Gav: We also like Sandymouth in Cornwall, and just discovered surf at Compton Bay in the Isle of Wight, but there’s no lifeguard at that beach]


Get a Wetsuit

There’s no question that the waters are near freezing in the UK, depending on the time of year. It’s pretty much always necessary to be wearing a wetsuit when out in the water.

Not only is wearing a wetsuit great for protection from hypothermia, but it can also inspire a bit of confidence in your little one. If all they can think about while they are bodyboarding is how cold they are, they won’t be able to focus on technique.

Check out this wetsuit guide to find out more about wetsuit types, thicknesses, materials, etc.


Gav and Tom ready to hit the waves in Cornwall


Stay in Shallow Water

Before your little one gets comfortable being out on the waves with his or her bodyboard, you’ll want to make sure that they are staying near the shallow part of the shores.

Besides it being safer to have access to them in case anything were to go wrong, it’s much easier to practice in the whitewater than out in the larger waves.

On another note, be sure to watch out for rip currents and rocks!

Kids bodyboarding

You don’t need deep water nor big waves. Kids can start having fun in shallower water with small waves.


Learn the Basics of Paddling Out and Catching a Wave

Here are a few essential tips for paddling out and catching waves:

  • Paddle straight into the whitewater. Paddling parallel to the waves gives pummeling waves more surface area to throw you back to shore. Cut through the waves like a knife, and you’ll be golden.
  • Know how to read a wave. Not every ripple of water that you see is good for bodyboarding. Help your little ones by helping them to understand which waves can be ridden and which cannot.
  • Stay centred and ride to shore. Your chest must be raised, and your body must be centred on the board to take full advantage of wave riding.

Have Fun!

Don’t force anything on your child! Some kids don’t find their appreciation for the sea right away, and that’s okay. It’s essential that you have fun and let them learn at their own speed for natural flow and progression. Bodyboarding isn’t cool if you’re not having fun!

Child bodyboarding

Have fun!


Bodyboarding is one of the best ways to spend time in the water! We hope that our little bodyboarding guide for kids was helpful in your little one’s learning process. Have fun and stay warm out there.


Us bodyboarding in the surf at Sandymouth in Cornwall.

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4 of the Best Family Campsites in Switzerland Sun, 28 Apr 2019 18:38:35 +0000 Problems viewing? To read at the website click: 4 of the Best Family Campsites in Switzerland

Ever fancied taking the kids camping in the stunning scenery of Switzerland? Well, here are 4 of the best family campsites there.

Problems viewing? To read at the website click: 4 of the Best Family Campsites in Switzerland

Mark’s on a mission to visit 75 countries. In this post, he rounds up four of the best campsites to take the family in Switzerland.


Camping Morteratsch

Camping Morteratsch is a campsite that is suitable for camping both in the summers and winters. It is situated 1860m above the sea level and can turn out to be the best camping/hiking holiday with your family.

Camping Morteratsch in Switzerland

Camping Morteratsch – Imaging pitching up between the trees with this view!

You can set up your tent near either of the two lakes near the campsite, or under the trees. Some of the best places to visit nearby are the Morteratsch and the Swiss National Park. Even in summers, the temperatures tend to drop at the night time, so make sure to carry enough insulation.

Camping next to stream in Swiss Alps

What a beautiful spot to camp, right next to this Alpine stream.

Things to do at the campsite


The Morteratsch Campsite has two lakes that you can swim in. A swim in the lake with your kids can be quite refreshing but make sure to check the temperature of the lake before jumping in, lest you not get frozen.

The lakes either side of the campsite.

A choice of two lakes for a spot of wild swimming, though depending on the season!

Go-karting and Biking rentals

Some go-karts and bikes are available for rent at the campsite, for taking your kids for an early morning ride or a ride in the evening just as the sun sets.

Swiss National Day

The Swiss National Day has got to be the most preferred time for camping at Morteratsch, since there is a parade that happens on the day, along with fireworks at night that can be a delight to the kids.

Things to do near the campsite

Morteratsch Glacier

The Morteratsch Glacier can be reached from the campground in a 15-minute walk, or can be reached by cars as well. It is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids the importance of global warming and how it affects earth real time. Through the way, you will find boards about the recession of the glacier with time, and what can be done by us, to prevent it from happening.

Morteratsch Glacier has got a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor.

Swiss National Park

The Swiss National Park is a quite interesting place to look out for the famous Swiss flower, Edelweiss. The Swiss National Park can be reached by car and is around an hour’s drive from the campsite. There are guided tours, in which they take you hiking to reach the park.

Brewing coffee while looking at the Swiss Alps

A perfect view when making a brew!


  1. Kitchens
  2. Grocery Shop
  3. Restaurant
  4. Sanitation facilities


Manor Farm Campsite

Manor Farm Campsite is located on the edge of the gorgeous Thun Lake and has a beautiful Alpine setting to the front, the Bernese Oberland mountains. It’s a perfect choice for touring the spectacular Swiss Alps. [Gav: Manor Farm Campsite has five stars at EuroCamp]

The beautiful Thun Lake

Manor Farm is an ideal campsite to go out with your families and explore the countryside of Switzerland. Access to a private beach, lakeside setting, a plethora of fun activities and sports in and around the camping pitches. Closeby mountain walks are some of the things that make this a popular camping destination.

Camping at Manor Farm in Switzerland

Some of the prominent places to visit nearby are the nearby spa town of Interlaken, Jungfraujoch (the highest railway station in Europe) to get some breathtaking views of the Aletsch and Eiger glaciers.

Things to do at the Campsite


The Lake Thun has a private lake beach that is accessible from the campsite, is the most preferred choice for swimming in the Manor Farm Campsite.


The Manor Farm Campsite has provision for sports like Table Tennis, Football and water sports like Windsurfing and Rowing boats. It also has a golf course inside it.

It has three camping playgrounds, with swings and slides making quite a fun area for the children.

Things to do near the Campsite

Apart from all the activities that are available inside the campsite, there are a plethora of fun activities and sports that are available very near to the playground.

The water sports include Canoeing, Pedalos and Dinghy sailing whereas the activities include Golf, Horse Riding,  Cycling, Boat trips and River Rafting.


  1. A bar
  2. Internet access
  3. Grocery Shop
  4. Restaurants – Dining / Takeaway
  5. Games / TV room
  6. Laundry facilities
  7. Sanitation facilities


Santa Monica Raron Campsite

The Santa Monica Raron Campsite is at the heart of the Valais region in Switzerland, surrounded by the beautiful Alps, almost on all of its sides, and with the River Rhone running close by through the valley.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica campsite, Switzerland

The camping site also has first-class facilities that make it stand out as an excellent camping destination for families and children. The campsite has it all, from cafes to swimming pools, to secluded spots under the trees.

Camping at the Santa Monica campsite

Camping at the Santa Monica campsite

There are so many hiking destinations in Valais, that can be explored by bikes or by trekking.

There are also cable cars available for the less-fit to get up to the hills.

Things to do at the Campsite


The campsite has two solar heated swimming pools, one for adults and one for toddlers. It also has a sunbathing area and a paddling pool.


There is both a playground and a playroom at the campsite. It also has a reading room, a boccia area, and a ping-pong table. Very near to the grounds, there is a park-like area on the banks of a small river, with benches that you could visit for leisure and peace.


The campsite has bikes for rent depending upon the activity you prefer. Some of them are mountain bikes, city bikes, bicycles for children and e-bikes.

Things to do near the Campsite


Santa Monica is a convenient base for hikes such as the Aletsch Glacier, the Saas Valley, the Lötschental valley, and the Zermatt.

Sports & Activities

At around some distance from the campsite, you can find tennis courts, a golf club and horse riding activities.


  1. A bar
  2. Internet access
  3. Grocery Stores
  4. Restaurants – Dining / Takeaway
  5. Swimming Pool
  6. Laundry facilities
  7. Sanitation facilities
  8. Recreation activities for kids & adults


Des Glaciers at La Fouly

La Fouly, a small village in the Val Ferret region, is famous for its peaceful campsites, situated in the beautiful alpine region of Switzerland.

It’s peaceful and is a perfect destination for family camping. The Camping des Glaciers campsite is at an altitude of 1600 metres and supports a wide variety of sports and fun activities to make sure you have a wonderful time in the woods, away from the busy cities. In the winter, the place is open to skiing as well.

Camping at Des Glaciers campsite

Near to La Fouly, there is Verbier, which is also a mountain resort, that has a lot of activities for kids.

If you are visiting Des Glaciers in the winter, the temperatures can drop very low, so you might carry some sleeping bags to be on the safer side. Here are some of the sleeping bags that we have used for camping, that we have found to be the best. [Gav: Check out our Sleeping Bag Reviews here, and also remember to read our guide to sleeping bag temperature ratings.]

Things to do at the Campsite

TreeTop Trail

The campsite has four extensive treetop trails with zip lines that are classified according to age groups. It’s quite thrilling and is one of the most popular activities in Des Glaciers.

Bike riding

There are mountain bikes/scooters/bicycles available for rent at the campsite. If you wish to do mountain biking, you have an option to take the bike up with the help of a lift company, and then ride your way down the mountains.


Fishing is also possible at the mountain lakes or the rivers near the campsite, the best of them being Les Toules Dam, Champex, and Les Vaux.

Things to do near the Campsite


Some of the beautiful hikes of the region are Grand Combin, Grande Lui, Trient area and the Dolent, that can be trekked up.

Marmot Spotting

Marmot Spotting is added fun when you choose the marmot nature trail that is designed especially for children, near to the neighbouring Champex-Lac.


The place also supports adventure sports like paragliding, and other activities like Rock Climbing at La Fouly.


  1. Restaurants, a 5 minute walk away
  2. A supermarket, a 5 minute walk away.
  3. Sanitation facilities

Discover Switzerland

Tents, Caravans, Motorhomes
Glamping, Static Caravans, Lodges, Cottages
Jungfrau Campsite
Tents, Caravans, Motorhomes
Static Caravans
Camping Bella Tola, Waldstrasse 133
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Glamping, Static Caravans, Lodges
Route de Tsamodet 36 - CH-1944 La Fouly
Tents, Caravans, Motorhomes
Static Caravans, Lodges
Camping Santa Monica Kantonsstrasse 56 CH-3942 Raron/VS
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