Friday, 30 November 2012

Getting Family to club together for Christmas Gifts

Christmas can be a difficult time for families.  The cost of toys and gifts are increasing and often so are the expectations of children.  I do not remember having huge piles of gifts at Christmas and we are trying to decommercialise Christmas currently.

One of the ways we do this is by setting expectations of the boys realistically.  There Christmas lists only include four items and we also tell them that we and other family members provide Father Christmas with the money to purchase their gifts.

One of the ways that we keep the costs of Christmas under control is that we get family members to contribute to "big ticket" items at Christmas.

This year the boys have asked Father Christmas for new bikes.  So my in laws are contributing to the cost of them.


In previous years we have all clubbed together to buy the boys outdoor play equipment, which has been a great investment as they used it for years.

I would love to know how you keep the cost of Christmas under control


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Get Well Soup

You know the feeling.  You have the sniffles, a headache and a sore throat and all you want is to settle in to a big warm chair with a blanket and a cuddle.

When I feel like this then nothing other than Heinz Tomato Soup and a cheese toastie will do.  There is something about the combination that takes me right back to my childhood and it looks like my tastes are rubbing off on Mini too.

This week has been wet, very wet and he came in from school on Monday and needed a soup in a cup and toastie as it is known.



So it was with interest that I read a press release from Heinz this week about their ‘Get Well’ Soup campaign. The initiative aims to provide entertainment to children who will spend time in hospitals and hospices this Christmas, with the help of national children’s charity, Starlight.


For a limited time, you can purchase, gift or share a can of ‘Get Well’ Soup via the Facebook page www.facebook.com/HeinzSoupUK; Heinz will then donate time towards providing entertainment to children’s hospitals up and down the nation, with the help of specialist children’s charity, Starlight.

I love the thought of a personalised can of Heinz Soup and know a friend who really need this right now, so have ordered one for her and can not wait till she receives it.  The cost is £1.99 and you can get either tomato or cream of chicken and you know what I think it is comparable to buying a card and paying for a stamp.  Plus they get to keep the can for ever and use it as a flower pot or pen pot!


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Borax Snowflake Crystal decorations

This is something we have made for the last three years at Christmas, initially we use a borax substitute, but the crystals are not as spectacular, so this year I ordered some bora from ebay.


Materials

Pipe cleaners
Borax or Borax substitute
Boiling Water
Blue food colouring
Jug or jar



You need to do is shape some decorations out of the pipe cleaners.  We make did snowflakes, hearts and christmas trees.

Then mix approximately 8 tablespoons of Borax with a pint of boiling water.  You want the borax to be past saturation point, so that it doesn't all dissolve   


We tied string to our pipe cleaner designs and then popped them on a pencil and balanced them over the jug  and submerged them overnight.




The next morning remove and allow to dry and then you will have sparking, crystallised decorations.



Now for the Science bit:
Borax is an example of crystal - "a solid with flat sides and a symmetrical shape because its molecules are arranged in a unique, repeating pattern."
Every crystal has a repeating pattern based on it's unique shape. They may be big or little, but they all have the same "shape". Salt, sugar, and Epsom salts are all examples of crystals. Salt crystals are always cube-shaped while snow crystals form a six-sided structure.  



How do the Borax crystals grow?

Hot water holds more borax crystals than cold water. That's because heated water molecules move farther apart, making room for more of the borax crystals to dissolve. 

When no more of the solution can be dissolved, you have reached saturation. As this solution cools, the water molecules move closer together again. Now there's less room for the solution to hold onto as much of the dissolved borax. Crystals begin to form and build on one another as the water lets go of the excess and evaporates.

This also applies to snowflakes - As water cools the molecules move closer together. Since all water molecules are shaped the same (H2O) they align in a six sided crystal.


Tots100 Experience Days Competition

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Next Christmas Family Outfit

Christmas Eve

Next Christmas Family Outfit

For us Christmas means two outfits,  The first the Christmas Eve Elves bring and always includes new Pjarmas for Christmas morn.  You have to be in your new PJ's for all the photo's and this is something that I grew up with and implemented for the boys,


Then you need the outfits for the day itself, which have to be smart enough for christmas Dinner at the outlaws, but also practical enough for a visit to the farm.  Believe it or not one Christmas Day saw us all herding the cattle back from the marketplace when some one had left a gate open on their Christmas Day walk.

Christmas is always going to be a challenging time for me and my family as my Mum died on Christmas Day 2010, but by making the most of every day, I know that we can get though this time with a smile on our faces and a tear in my eye.

I am entering this is Northern Mum's Next Christmas Outfit Competition

Monday, 26 November 2012

Hints and tips to get your children to sleep over Christmas


“Oh, I wish it could be Christmas every daaaay!” So sing Slade, every year in all the shops from mid November until New Years Eve. Love it or hate it, Christmas is coming and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. And really, what kind of scrooge would want to? Especially if there are children around, it really is THE season for kids and their excitement during the build up to the big day really is contagious!

By Christmas Eve, most children’s excitement peaks and they can be emotional, having temper tantrums and arguments with their siblings one moment then laughing and screeching and dashing around the next.

It’s time to calm them down otherwise; Father Christmas may just pass them by!


It is all well and good to hope that threats of no presents will get these over-excited little cherubs to behave and go to sleep, but unfortunately, it won’t work.

When children are as excited as this, they are actually experiencing a form of stress. A good form of stress, even as adults we feel it, that butterfly in the tummy feeling before an important meeting, or a date with someone we are attracted to.

The same feeling we get the night before we go on holiday or before a party that we are really looking forward to. It is perfectly natural to feel ‘eustress’ when something exciting is just around the corner.

Being pro-active in reducing this feeling in your child will help everybody have at least a few hours sleep before the big day. During Christmas Eve day try and fit in a long walk or an hour playing in the park if the weather isn’t wet, plenty of fresh air will help tire them out for later.

A good hour before bedtime, turn the television off. Reduce all stimulation and devote that hour to helping the children wind down.

Start with a warm milky drink and, as it is Christmas, perhaps play some soothing Christmas carols on the radio or on a cd.

A warm bubbly bath should help their little bodies relax, especially if they have had plenty of exercise that day. Look out for bath products that can be used for children that contain lavender, a natural way to help promote sleepiness.

All cuddle together on the couch for a Christmas story. Nothing too exciting, in fact, giving them a story that makes them think about the true meaning of Christmas is a lovely way of encouraging them to think of things other than presents, the classic tale of The Little Match Girl, is a sweet story to remind them of how lucky they are!

Make sure that the children’s bedroom isn’t too warm, a cool room promotes quality sleep. Also, it is always important that they have a comfortable bed to sleep in. Some children wouldn’t even recognize a lumpy mattress or a spring that has sprung, so regular checks by parents will help eliminate this kind of discomfort, visit the site now if you are looking for a new bed or mattress for your child.

When they have been put to bed, try giving them a ‘starting off dream’. Encourage them in a calm soothing voice, to build a land in their heads, it could be Christmas land, or it could be somewhere nice for The Little Match Girl to go and live. Often, if children imagine a world inside their heads in any kind of detail, they soon nod off if they are physically tired.

Hopefully, following these steps, not just on Christmas eve, but at any time of year, will help relax these wonderful bundles of joy that we call children!


Swagbucks

I am all for passive income!  So the thought of getting paid for doing what I do online anyway was a no brainer for me.  So when the Tots100 were looking for people to take part in their Christmas Swagbucks challenge I jumped at the chance to be part of it.

What is Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is a site that basically rewards users for spending time online. With this site you accrue a virtual currency for doing the things that you might normally do online – using search, watching videos, chatting, playing games, doing polls and surveys etc etc – and you earn from doing it. Swagbucks has been running in the US since 2007 and is one of the country’s top 100 trafficked websites. Since 2007, the company has paid out more than $26m in rewards to its members – and now Swagbucks is available in the UK!

What is the challenge?

The competition is simple, whichever blogger earns the most Swagbucks by 5pm on December 14, 2012 will win a fabulous £250 gift card. So I can earn these virtual pennies in a couple of ways, by searching the internet, spending time online, doing little quizzes and playing games and I can appeal to my friends, family, loved ones, blog readers etc to sign up and have a go themselves. getbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info) All you need to do is click this code: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/MuminTheMadHouse and follow the easy instructions - Please Come on something for nothing, must be a great idea!

This post first appeared on TheMadHouse 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Christmas Card Activity

What better way to get your little ones in the Christmas spirit at this time of year, than with some wonderful craft activities. Making Christmas cards is a great affordable activity that little ones will love and can let them express their creativity. Making cards couldn’t be easier and this guide and printout attached makes it a walk in the park.

Preparation

Before you start you will need a few essentials:

·         A4 Card or thick paper
·         Scissors (safety scissors – if the kids are cutting)
·         Glue (a glue stick is best – less messy!)
·         A computer attached to a printer
·         Something to colour in with: pens, pencils, paints or crayons etc.

Folding the Card

Take your piece of A4 white or coloured card or and fold it across the centre as shown below. The card should now be able to stand on its own ether as a standard card or a portrait one. Once folded you should have the basic template for creating any kind of greetings card.


 Decorate the card

Now that you have your card shape, it’s time to start decorating  it to look really Christmassy. This is where the fun really begains and your childrens imagination shines. A great idea when making the perfect Christmas scene is to get a background. This time of year you can find the perfect background almost anywhere by cutting out magazine pictures or even finding a great winter scene online.  This guide has a wonderful neutral background of the sun setting over snowy hills and is perfectly sized to cover the front of  landscape style card.



Once you have found the perfect background get your children to cut it out with some safety scissors and don’t worry if they’re not neat as it is all part of the home made charm. If they are a little young to handle scissors of any kind you might have to do this part. Once you have the background cut out so it leaves a bit of a border of the original card around the outside, stick it on preferably with a glue stick to avoid the potentially devastating amounts of mess other glue can create.

Now that you have the background it’s time to stand adding decorations to create the perfect Christmas scene.  Christmas images can be found all over the place from excess wrapping paper to newspaper cuttings. Look around and get a big selection for your children to choose from. This guide has some great printouts which even come uncoloured for your children to have extra fun


This guide includes some great printouts which come both coloured and uncoloured for your children to have extra fun colouring them in just how they want. This not only prolongs the activity but lets them express their creativity as there is nothing wrong with a red penguin. The images with this guide have an easy to follow cut out line or can be cut exactly if more skilled hands are handling them.  Once you have all your decorations simply cut them out and stick them on where you want.

Write the card

Now that you have your card decorated there is only one thing you need to do write the thing. Writing your own personalised messages in the card is much more special than shop bought clichés. One great idea if your children are just starting to write is to write it out yourself in a thin pencil and get them to trace over it with a thick pen. Not only does this make the children feel a larger part of the experience but it also helps with their hand writing. If they are really little why not get them to dip their hand in paint and sign it with a cute hand print.

This activity guide was designed on behalf of Vistaprint the online gift retailer that supply some wonderful products including Photo Christmas Cards

Printouts



 


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Frugality & Prudence With Christmas Gifts

The Christmas season brings a great deal of tradition and joy, but with these things comes a heavy burden of expenses and responsibility. Of course, for kids the holiday season is all about the fun things. But for adults, there is a lot of work to be done, and as you go about constructing an enjoyable and pleasant Christmas, there are a number of opportunities to be frugal and prudent that you should take advantage of. In particular, buying and storing Christmas gifts calls for a great deal of careful consideration that can save you money and help you to avoid holiday disasters. Here are a few specific tips for how to stay within your budget and protect your gifts.



Take Advantage Of Sales

In many stores and shops, the month leading up to Christmas has a few different opportunities for store sales. Generally, these sales bring traffic to shopping centers  and can make it rather unpleasant to shop. However, if you notice any stores running sales and think you may be able to find some useful gifts there, try to take advantage of the opportunity. It may cost you a day of waiting in lines and fighting through crowds, but it can save you a great deal of money if you're strategic about it.

Buy Online

For the majority of your Christmas shopping - or if you want to avoid mall crowds altogether - consider shopping online. Many families are still getting used to the idea of being able to order just about anything they like online, but the bottom line is that this is almost always the cheapest option. You may face a few shipping costs, but ultimately the wide selection of goods online makes it more likely that you can find the gifts you need to buy for the prices you can afford.

Check Your Insurance

Unfortunately, Christmas gifts are often a target of household theft. Criminals are aware that beneath the Christmas wrapping paper there are often valuable, unopened goods, and for that reason it is not uncommon for thieves to steal Christmas presents. Therefore, heading into the holiday season, it is not a bad idea to check with Aviva to make sure that your insurance policy protects you against theft. In the event of a break-in, you may not be able to recover your specific gifts, but you can be financially compensated for the loss, which is a major help.

Keep Gifts Out Of Sight

Another step you might want to take to protect yourself against potential gift theft is to keep your holiday presents out of sight until your family opens them! Some families like to gradually accumulate gifts under the Christmas tree, or in another place of notice, until Christmas finally arrives. However, the longer you keep your gifts out of sight, the less chance there is of a thief noticing them through a window and breaking in.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Our Advent Calender and activities



So as I have told you I believe in the wonder and joys of Christmas and want to welcome my boys to the warm arms of tradition.  I want them to relish advent each year and I want them to look forward to each day rather than just Christmas day itself.

I couldn't find an advent calendar that met our needs so in 2009 I made our advent calendar.  It has tags on with the tasks or activities on the back.  They have changed as the boys have grown older, but have included or include:
  • Write and post your letter to Father Christmas
  • Help ice the Christmas cake
  • Make Christmas cards
  • Make shapes with the cookie cutters and playdough
  • Make Jelly Baby Jesus cakes
  • Do an advent wordsearch
  • Make this years thumbprint tree ornament
  • make a christmas present
  • Make your teachers christmas gift
  • Sort out old toys for donating
  • Make a tree decoration
  • Visit Grandma's grave
  • Do some christmas crafting
  • Make a borax pipe cleaner decoration
  • Make meringue snowmen
  • Make gift tags
  • Make Christmas shrinky dinks
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Go to a Carol Service
  • Colour in some Christmas pictures
  • Make some Christmas fairy cakes
  • Make a loo roll nativity display
  • Make paper chains
  • Collect Pinecones
  • Start reading about the nativity
  • Have dinner with Family
  • Write your Christmas cards and deliver local ones
  • Make dried orange slices
  • Make angels
  • Make salt dough ornaments
  • Make reindeer gingerbread cookies
  • Make pomanders
  • String popcorn to go on the tree
  • Make snowman soup
  • Make a bird feeder
  • Sing and dance to Christmas songs
  • Make some Christmas cookies
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Make reindeer food
  • Read a Christmas Story
  • Make up a Christmas story
  • Take a walk in the dark to look at the Christmas lights
  • Help trim the tree
  • Make mince pies
  • Make spiced cider
  • Go to the school Christmas Fair
  • Find Mistletoe, hang it in our house and kiss under it
  • Help wrap presents
  • Make Thick Hot Chocolate and Homemade Marshmallows
  • Put up a wreath
  • Meet Father Christmas
  • Decorate our gingerbread house
  • Make a family traditional dessert





Saturday, 17 November 2012

Beautify your house on a budget


Upcycling is a word I have heard used a lot recently. Upcycling is converting old, waste products into something useful and more attractive. In recent times this has become a really popular and fun activity and can encompass almost anything.

For example, when the cost of a new sofa definitely out ways the benefits of the purchase of a new sofa, why not try reupholstering your old sofa or buying a nice bright throw and cushions. If your seat cushions have seen better days, consider having them re-stuff. Modifying an item of furniture can transform the energy of the room and create a nice change for a small percentage of the cost of buying a new one.

Small changes in each room can really brighten up your living space without impacting your bank balance.


Living Room

The living room is the room where people congregate when they visit your house. If you look around your living room and think “yuck”, then it is time to spruce things up.
Adding brightly coloured cushions in matching or contrasting colours can brighten a room up and give the feeling of a change.

Consider a new set of curtains. A new set of curtains in a dark colour such as maroon or dark blue can give the feeling of luxury and some say, nostalgia. Or set of curtains in a green shade to create the feeling of harmony. The psychology of colour can be really interesting and something to look into when choosing a new colour theme for a room.

For a bigger, more dramatic change, think about painting the walls. If the idea of painting the whole room makes you feel nauseous, what about painting one feature wall. The feature wall should be a bold colour. Think about the carpets, curtains and cushions that are already in the room try and use a colour that is featured in all of these. A well picked colour can pull the whole room together and really have an impact on the feel of the room.


Kitchen

Everyone would love a new kitchen with more cupboard space, more counter top space and better appliances, but this comes at a huge expense.

A small change like changing the cupboard and drawer handles can give the feeling of new. Or if you have the time, consider sanding the cupboards down and giving them a new lick of paint.
A new window blind, in a different colour, can really impact the feeling in the room, particularly if, at some point in the day, the sun shines directly through the window.

Even small things like brightly coloured cookware and crockery can brighten up the area for very little expense.

Bedroom

I think a signature wall in a bedroom is a great idea; I especially like feature walls positioned behind the head of the bed. Before choosing the colour you must make sure you are happy with the position of the furniture in the room. Move the bed around, see where you would like it to be, try a few different positions. When you are happy with the position, then you can look at colours. 

Choose a colour that is already present in the room, but in small amounts. Have a close look at the bedding and see if there are any subtle colours that could be used.

In a child’s bedroom, think about using wall stickers. These are really inexpensive and can be easily removed and changed as your child gets older. If you have a flare for art, try painting a Mural. Unless you are feeling fully confident avoid attempting to paint the entire cast of snow white and the seven dwarfs.

I really like the new trend of turning old sweaters and clothing into throw cushions; these can be used in the bedroom or living room. They are very unique and can be customised to you. These cushions can be made from anything; hoodies, wool jumpers, jeans, whatever you have laying around in the back of your wardrobe that you love too much to throw away, upcycle it into something useful.

Bathroom

The bathroom is usually the smallest room in the house, and as such, it often gets forgotten.
Changing the old, off colour shower curtain for a nice, bright, new one, can have huge impact in a small space such as a bathroom.

A new bathroom mat that draws colours from the shower curtain can transform the small area into a thing of beauty. Think about blues as these are neutral and create a feeling of nostalgia and light shades to create an illusion of space.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Six Christmas gifts for crafters


Is someone in your family a mad crafter? Unless you’re involved in crafting, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to know what makes a good present for them when Christmas rolls around – what will they want, need or appreciate? Here are six suggestions to get your gift ideas flowing.


[Photo by cuttlefish]

A heavy-duty plastic toolbox

It’s surprising how many hand-held tools crafters often have hiding away. Hammers, pliers, wire cutters, a hot glue gun… the list continues. A good, compact toolbox will be very useful if they haven’t already got one. It can also be used as a storage place for finicky bits and pieces – the kind that crafters tend to have a lot of – bits of lace or ribbon, threads, measuring tapes, pins, needles…

A taster class for a new skill

The great thing about having craft as a hobby is that there are so many aspects of it that you can learn. Has your crafter expressed an interest in sewing, pottery, scrapbooking, decoupage? Get them a taster session so they can add to their craft repertoire.

A new pair of scissors

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a crafter must be in want of a decent pair of scissors. Do some research, and allocate a decent budget – these are going to be used frequently and on a range of different materials, and need to be able to take a lot of use.

Supplies

If you can, reconnoitre their craft supplies and see what is depleted. Things like super glue, craft glue or hot glue sticks, threads running low on their spools, coloured card, marker pens, a new Stanley knife or tailors’ chalk.

Subscription to a craft magazine

Is there a craft magazine that your crafter buys occasionally? Show you’ve been paying attention and get a subscription to their favourite one. 

A voucher for a craft store

If all else fails and you are still stuck for a gift, you can’t miss with giving your crafter free rein to spend up in their local craft store. They will be able to choose their own supplies based on what projects they have coming up.

A nice touch for a crafty Christmas present is to make a card or do something unique with the wrapping paper – your crafter will definitely appreciate the extra effort.



Vivienne Egan writes for Baker Ross who have a great range of Christmas craft supplies that will make great presents.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Back to collage!



One of my earliest memories is the smell of paint and glue, that school smell, reminding me of the place where we were first encouraged to use our imagination to produce art works. I remember coming home from school proudly clutching pasta and pulses collages which used to grace the kitchen wall until the bits fell off.

The art of collage-making is far from dead. It can be used to make collages of photos on students’ walls, and compiled into self-designed calendars. You can use a host of things to make a collage.
The word collage comes from the French word ‘coller’, which means ‘to glue’ something, usually on strong paper or canvas, using a selection of objects of your choice.

Natural items

You can use handmade paper, torn into strips and sections of silver birch bark to create a background. Dried flower petals or dried autumn leaves can look stunning.

Recycled items

It’s a good idea to keep old postcards, wrapping paper, photos from magazines and newspapers. Crepe paper, die-cut shapes, paper craft items, shells, buttons, mosaic stone tiles, wooden craft sticks and coloured paper can all be used to make stunning collages.

Online Resources

Yellow Moon has a great selection of items to use, including glue and paper, feathers and self-adhesive acrylic jewels, which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But if you look on the crafts section on eBay, you can find all sorts of things for sale which could be used for the purpose. They can be bought for pennies online.

Last year’s collage exhibition at the Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), which traced the use of collage in British art, had objects ranging from rose petals to elephant dung.

History of collage

Collages have been around for centuries. The ancient Chinese used collage techniques when paper was first invented around 200 BC. The Japanese made it popular in the 10th century, incorporating it with their calligraphy skills in their work. Victorians popularised decoupage collage. Collage art was used to illustrate books in the 19th century. The famous artists Picasso and Matisse created some wonderful collages during their career.

Picasso and Matisse

Picasso was the person to actually coin the term collage at the beginning of the 20th century. His collage work includes a chair cane design on his 1912 piece entitled Still Life with Chair Caning. Matisse created his stunning Blue Nude II in 1952, using a cut-out collage technique.

Create your own masterpiece with some of the materials suggested. It’s a great way to keep the kids occupied on a rainy day. Encourage them to tear or cut shapes to then stick on paper, creating their own artwork. Let their imagination run wild to express themselves in a very creative way.
If you want to have a go yourself, you could organise a craft session with your fellow arty friends. You never know what hidden talents might surface.



Vivienne Egan writes for craft company Yellow Moon

How to throw an eco-friendly children’s party


Did you know that you can throw a fun-filled children’s party (complete with balloons, party poppers and goody bags) without harming the environment? That’s right; eco-friendly events are popular these days, so why not give one a go? Here are four tips to help you on your way:



Send paperless invites

If you are concerned about the world around you, there are many things you can do. From arranging a boiler service, to turning off the lights, you can certainly make a difference – but what about taking things that little bit further? When planning a birthday party, it’s a good idea to create an event on Facebook or to send round a group email. If you are inviting young children, get in contact with the mums of each child and tell them all they need to know. This will stop traditional invites ending up in the bin and will save the postman’s fuel.

Use recycled wrapping paper

Whether you are wrapping presents, or preparing pass the parcel, always use recycled wrapping paper. According to Paper Life Cycle, paper is by far the largest component of solid waste in landfills, so it’s good to use and promote recycled goods. At the end of the party, gather up all the rubbish and pop what you can in the recycling bin so it can be used again. You might not be able to give all products another lifeline, but at least you will save what you can from ending up in the ground.

Buy eco-friendly decorations

Decorations are an important part of any party, but they must be eco-friendly. Sites like Little Cherry stock a wide range of green decorations and party bag supplies, including biodegradable balloons, compostable ribbons and beeswax birthday candles, so it’s worth taking a look at what they offer. If you are feeling a little creative, you could even make your own paper chains and such like out of recyclable paper – as this will add a personal touch. Moreover, buy some non-toxic colouring crayons and paints and get the kids to do the work themselves.

Serve up organic treats

Let’s face it; kids would probably be happy with shop bought ice cream and cake – but there’s no harm in making some organic treats. Get hold of the freshest, tastiest ingredients available and knock up some mouth-watering puddings for all to enjoy. If parents are attending, you could always go the extra mile and put on a bit of a spread – but ensure all ingredients are locally sourced. It takes a lot of energy to ship products from one place to another, so visit your local farm shop or butcher.

Of course, switching off electrical items and calling a plumber to fix a leak could help you save energy – but if you are look to have a bit of fun, an eco-friendly party is the way to go.



Travelling Options: Getting From A to B



On most trips and holidays, you often take the simplest form of transport. This is usually a flight, connecting you via airports. It’s efficient and serves the purpose well, but it’s not the only option.

For the more adventurous, you should consider other options. Whether it’s making the most of public transport or taking your own vehicle to explore the country, there are more options. Not only do these reward you with an entirely different experience, you might also save money too.



Personal Transport

First of all, let's discuss the merits of using your own transport. The clear advantage is that it gives you much more control. With your own vehicle, you get to go where you want when you want. This is a freedom other transportation seldom affords; even on public transport, you're limited to where the bus or train goes and how frequently each respective service is running.

Of course, the next question is deciding on what form of transport to take. The car is the typical option, but it is small with limited storage space. On many larger trips, this will be a serious problem.

On the other hand, the campervan has many benefits going for it. Not least of all, the ability to sleep in it cuts down on accommodation costs. It’s suitable in a variety of roles, such as camping trips, or simply exploring the country with the kids. Having your bed with you is an excellent backup plan. Additionally, campervans aren't that expensive, with reliable and affordable van hire insurance to support them as well. So, if you have such a vehicle and want to make more use of it, now's your chance.

Public Transport

If you don't want to drive throughout your holidays and trips, which is perfectly understandable as it can often be tiring, you do have the option of public transport. Most countries have excellent transport links, with rail travel often being cheaper in Europe than in England.

That being said, you are still at the mercy of another public system. When travelling to major cities, this isn't a problem, but if you wish to move outside this you are limited to whatever train and bus routes are actually available. Compared to driving your own vehicle, you are suddenly limited in your freedom of choice when relying on public transport.

On the positive side of things, it can be cheap if you manage the costs right. This isn't easy, but overlooking all your options taking the cheapest might save a small amount. Likewise, you also only spend as much as you travel. If you hire a vehicle, for instance, and then don't drive it, it can be considered a waste of money. With public transport links, you only really pay for the actual travelling that you do.

In summary, this a quick way to look at your travel options, breaking them down into two rough categories. Hopefully this should show you the benefits of each, and help you in making a preference.


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