Wednesday, 23 March 2016

When's your February half-term in 2017?

I appreciate that we're not even halfway through 2016 yet, but the flight prices for next year are already out and there are some 'fun in the sun' bargains to be found for February half-term 2017.

Next winter sees anomalies with school term dates, with more and more schools setting their own holiday dates.  It's worth checking if your school is one of the financially-friendly ones who's breaking up for the last week of the month.

A quick search will show you that flights to Spain that week are in the region of £40 return, Portugal is coming in at under £50 and Italy is averaging around the £60 mark.

Those of you who prefer a crisp and cold city break can get even better deals with return flights to Budapest beginning at £41 or Gdansk at £35!

NOW is the time to start planning.  With self-catering accommodation being plentiful, there's no reason why you should spend any more than £500 for a week's family break, away from the dull winter skies of Blighty.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Holidaying during term time!

As we all know, holiday companies like to make their money and an easy way for them to rack up the profit is to increase prices as soon as the school holidays start.
Yes, you could ignore the school dates and take the children out of school a day or two earlier than you should but, potentially, you could incur fines from your local education authority.

A smart way of not being stung financially (and keeping on the right side of the headteacher) is to use the website  This website lists European school holidays country by country, allowing you to see where you might bag a bargain.

If schools are still stuck in education mode in the country in which you're holidaying, you'll be able to find accommodation at half the price and you'll enjoy less crowded attractions.

A few anomalies which can save you money are found in the coolest of destinations.  This year, Denmark becomes cheap for us UK travellers in mid-August, Croatia don't share our Easter dates and Hungary doesn't have a February break. 

It's worth a bit of research to ensure that your Euro goes further this year.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Fantastic Plastic - A Legoland bargain for May half-term!

LEGOLAND: a children's playground; a cornucopia of little plastic bricks; a perfect half-term break.

With flights to Denmark from the UK being as cheap as £27 return this May half-term, why go to Legoland Windsor when you could visit the very birthplace of the phenomenon?  The real deal.

As Denmark's leading tourist attraction, Legoland is literally  a hop, skip and a jump away from Billund airport and, as the Ryanair flight lands, you taxi right alongside the fence dividing the runway from this amazing primary-coloured fantasia.  The kids (and the parents) will be unable to contain their excitement as they soar over the rollercoasters and see the world of Lego open up beneath them.  By the time the family land, the delirium of the whole family will reach fever pitch and, believe me, it's difficult to contain bouncy Lego enthusiasts!

Legoland is everything and more.  A superior relative of its English cousin, Legoland Billund offers all the thrills of Windsor but it seems more authentic and wholesome.  To be surrounded by so many international Lego enthusiasts and to know that the factory where it all started is just over the road adds another dimension to the trip.  When Ole Kirk Christiansen began making wooden toys in 1932, I very much doubt he expected the global success which followed.  The brand name of  Lego is derived from the Danish phrase 'leg godt' which translates as 'play well' and, on our family trip to Billund, this is exactly what we did! 

A sure-fire hit with kids from any country, the lure of Legoland Billund is even better when you find out that, in May half-term, the Danish students are stuck in school, meaning that Legoland becomes deserted.  The day we visited saw us and only a smattering of German families with the same idea!  There were no queues for any rides and the shop was empty.  We could walk onto rides without the tedium of queuing for hours.

Legoland gutschein
And as for minimising costs, I have the perfect plan for money-savvy parents.  Just as we, in the UK, have the 2-for-1 vouchers for venues/days out on cereal boxes in the UK, the Danish and Germans have similar offers and a quick ebay search produces such deals for only a euro.  For our trip, I sourced a fistful of vouchers which meant that our kids went free into Legoland, with lots of vouchers left over to dish out to other families at the payment booths.  If you search for 'Legoland gutschein', you'll be sure to find a host of sellers who can save you money on the entrance fee.

As for accommodation, it's up to you how much you want to pay.  The Legoland Hotel is adjacent to the theme park and, as you can imagine, it's generally overpriced for what it is.  However, there are good deals at the hotel for UK families if you're lucky enough to visit out of season.  However, just as enjoyable is to find a local hotel in the local environs.  There isn't a lot to do in the town itself but hotels and self-catering places are easily-found on Trip Advisor or Airbnb, offering you an authentic Danish experience. 

A few days in Denmark and, I promise you, you'll want to move there permanently.  The fresh air, the sense of space, the big skies and the warm people make this a country you'll want to return to again and again.

So, a jaunt across the North Sea offers the whole family a wonderful Danish delight. Billund is a holiday plan waiting to be built - brick by brick!
Lego Mount Rushmore