Updated: Apr 8
Travelling the world has got to be at the top of everyone's bucket list. But for many of us it is but a distant dream. Especially to those who don't want to remove their children from mainstream education. Even for those of you who do home educate, factors like finances can stand in the way. But what if there was a way that it could be done? Would you do it then? All it takes is a little bit of creativity.
My husband and I have never been beach holiday kind of people. Lying on a beach all day whilst I turn a deep shade of lobster does not appeal to me at all. The same can probably be said for a lot of people but the thought of backpacking around with children can be a scary alternative to consider. But it doesn't have to be. Your only option to travel the world may be in bite size chunks by using your annual leave and waiting for the children to break up for half term. So don't keep heading back to the same Spanish all-inclusive, step outside of your comfort zone and do something different.
I'm going to share with you my family holiday trips including costs and itineraries. We were meant to tour Thailand this year but sadly that was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So please subscribe to the website and once I'm back on my happy travels again, you can check back for inspiration! I will also be including UK travel itineraries too.
Were will you go?
How long will it take? 13 nights, 12 days
How much will it cost? £5501 for a family of 4
In 2019 we embarked on a tour of Italy with our two boys then aged 7 and 9. It has to be one of my favourite holidays of all time. We saw so much! The key to making a success of lots of travelling which can be tiresome for the kids, particularly with all the walking that tends to be involved, is to make sure you include something for them in the trip. Here's our itinerary. Travel as light as possible. We took two large cases so that me and my husband could each pull one, and the boys each had a backpack.
Sunday 28th July 2019
Travel from Birmingham Airport UK, to Naples International Airport. Taxi from airport to hotel.
Total flight cost for a family of four with 2 x 20kg cases (different return home departure airport)
Zia Bi Bed & Breakfast 28th July - 1st August £569 for a family room with two double beds, balcony and bathroom
View of Mount Vesuvius from our balcony
Naples is a busy, manic city with lots of noise and a melting pot of culture and poverty. And then up in the hills away from the chaos of it all lies this little slice of paradise. Behind the gates sits the understated Zia Bi bed and breakfast. The apartments are finished to a high standard and are immaculate. The grounds are well kept and there's two, well spaced swimming pools to choose from as well as a kids trampoline and play area. This is not the kind of place you have to worry about getting up at 6am to reserve a sun lounger. It's very laid back, so much so that you have to go up to reception to let them know hours in advance if you want to book a meal for the evening. We ate here almost every night and the food was delicious. In the mornings there's a continental breakfast and there's a poolside bar with plenty to choose from. Be prepared to ring the bell and wait though, this isn't your usual bustling hotel. Step away from the madness of Naples and into the calm of Zia Bi. We booked through Booking.Com as I do with all of my accommodation bookings.
Monday 29th July
Day trip to Sorrento
Taxi from Zia Bi to the port of Naples in the centre (Piazza Municipio)
Ferry to Marina Piccola, Sorrento. Total time on ferry 45 mins (each way). Total cost family of four £105.44
Before you embark on a taxi journey, let me just warn you...they are terrifying! There are absolutely no road rules when it comes to driving in Naples. Every car you see will be scratched and dented, these drivers practically bash into each other just to be first out of a junction. And if that wasn't bad enough, then you have the hair raising moped drivers to watch out for. Be prepared to see families of 3 or 4 on one moped, and people carrying furniture, rolls of carpet and anything else you just didn't think was possible on two wheels. It's quite an experience so if you suffer from travel sickness, get your magnetic bracelets out! Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time when you get to the ferry port to find out where you're terminal is. This is a busy port. Don't make the mistake we did and head for the cruise ship terminal, just ask someone and get to the right place. It's very confusing, but as long as you ask for help, even if you think you have it covered, you should be in beautiful Sorrento in no time.
Sorrento is absolutely beautiful. I would have loved to have spent more time here but when you're trying to see the whole world, sometimes a day needs to be enough! We started our day by walking from the port to Piazza Tasso. It's definitely worth the walk, even if you do have to get from the bottom of Viale Enrico Caruso up to the home of the golden shops and restaurants above. The view from the top is breathtaking.
Despite the fact we think walking is one of the best ways to see everything, dragging our kids around on foot all day would end in disaster. When travelling with children you must remember to think of their needs as well as your own, make it as comfortable as possible for them and you will succeed in seeing everything that you want to. Outside the Excelsoir Hotel (right at the top of where you will come out at Piazza Tasso), you can catch the Little White Train for just €6 per adult and €3 per child with complimentary headsets. The Little Train will take you on a delightful tour around the town, saving those little legs whilst allowing you to take in the sights and listen to the history.
After that we headed to a little spot with benches and munched on our packed lunches (make your trip as cheap as possible by taking packed lunches whenever you can), before strolling along to Villa Comunale where you can take in the incredible views of the bay of Naples and the pier below. After enjoying a glass of wine (gelato for the kids) we walked down the steps to St. Peter's Beach. There's also a lift cut into the rocks which will take you down for a €1. St. Peter's beach isn't free, you have to pay for the sun loungers and you won't really get your choice of spot. But it's a lovely opportunity to relax and for the kids to enjoy splashing around in the warm sea.
Once we headed back to Naples, it was an opportunity to see some of the sites because we knew it would be the only time we would be visiting Naples on our trip. We wondered around the snaking streets, took in some of the sites of the beautiful buildings and eventually settled on a backstreet restaurant for dinner before heading home for the evening.
Tuesday 30th July
Day trip to Pompeii
Travel from hotel to Naples train station - Napoli Piazza Garibaldi and get the train to Pompei. Travel time 40 mins. Cost: Free for the children, €2.80 per adult each way.
Pompei Tickets - We booked through Get your Guide and it cost us £39.70 for Fast Track tickets.
Once you get your head around the train system in Italy, you can get around really easily. It's actually a really good system. The best thing to do it to download the Trainline app onto your phone and check it constantly for updates on which platform you need to be on. It's very accurate and will help you keep up, because sometimes platforms change at the last minute so you have to move quickly. Napoli train station is huge but there's lots of information boards and staff to help you so don't be afraid to ask. You should find that the platform you need is underground.
The first thing you will notice when you get to Pompei, is the amount of ticket touters. Make sure you have already booked your tickets in advance to avoid these people who can be quite rude. They will literally drag you off the street even if you do have tickets to try to sell you the self-guided headsets, maps and whatever else they can get you to buy. But all of this is available when you get to Pompei so don't be dragged into spending money you didn't intend to spend.
From here, you can get a bus to the main entrance, and if memory serves, another train, but we walked. It isn't that long and it's an interesting journey.
Pompei is HUGE! You will never do it all in one day. Get a map as you enter and pick the route most suitable for your family, there's plenty to choose from. Take drinks with you, there's no shops once your inside, and make sure you have shade too. It's super hot in the Summer and there's nowhere to hide from the sun. We bought two lightweight, compact parasols that our boys could use and they came in super handy.
Wear comfortable footwear for this trip, flip flops just won't cut it. Most of the areas you will walk are cobbled with high pavements. Pompei is a truly amazing experience and a wonderful educational opportunity for your children. It's worth teaching them about it before you go there.
After you have spent the day trekking around Pompei, refresh yourself from the restaurant opposite the exit. If you're walking back, you will pass a huge supermarket so it's a good chance to stock up before you get to Naples.
Wednesday 31st July
Day of rest! Simply chilling by the pool, letting the boys show off their diving skills and catching up on some light reading before moving on the next day.
Thursday 1st August
Travel to Rome. Taxi from hotel to Napoli train station. Train to Roma Termini. Travel time 1hr and 11 mins. Total cost €49.80
V-Accommodation Guest House Manzoni booked through Booking.com
Before you embark on a journey travelling Italy, it's a good idea to look up the metro system and familiarise yourself with it. Once you do, it's simple to use. Figure out what metro line your accommodation is on, and work out which line you will need to get about. Our guest house was on Line A and close to lots of the major attractions. When we arrived in Rome, we took a taxi to our hotel, although we could just have easily jumped on the metro or even walked with it being less than a mile away. The guest house was selected purely because of its location and price and it was a treat to have a separate bedroom from the boys in this hotel. Sitting on a scruffy backstreet nestled amongst carbon-copy buildings is the V-Accommodation Guesthouse Manzoni. And it is delightful inside. There's even a little courtyard but we didn't use it while we were there. There's a breakfast every morning in a very small room serving mainly pre-packaged pastries and cereal. It's enough if you are on a budget and was fine for us. The first thing we did when we arrived, was ditch our cases and head for some of the sights and a spot of lunch. When you've only got a small amount of time in each location, it's important to plan ahead and get in as much as you can. The only way we were going to see the Trevi Fountain was if we got there and got on with it! (P.S - the Trevi Fountain is busy!)
Because we were on a budget (yes doing this trip on £5000 is actually quite impressive), we hadn't planned to eat out much while we were away. But for our first night in Rome, I booked us a real treat. I wanted to enjoy an experience with the family that we would never forget and I would recommend it to anyone. We booked into the Le Terme Del Colesseo which is a restaurant on the upper level overlooking the colosseum. A wonderful opportunity for a night time photo! But inside the restaurant is where the real treat awaits, a singing barber! It was so much fun! I booked a table in advance via Quando but you could also contact them via their Facebook page. Here's their website http://www.letermedelcolosseo.it
For the rest of our time in Rome we visited: (Total time spent in Rome was 3 nights)
The Spanish Steps
The Colosseum - including the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. Booked though Get your Guide. We chose not to have a guided tour and booked the fast track tickets at a total of £71.20
The Vatican - you need to book the museum tickets because essentially, that's what you are going to see and it is the only way you can get into the tiny city walls. Make sure you dress appropriately, they can be very strict about this but make a few more exceptions in the Summer. My husband wore a long sleeve shirt and long shorts, I wore a long dress past the knee and took a wrap with me for my arms just in case. The boys also wore shorts that covered their knees. Our tickets included St. Peter's Bascillica but it was far too long a queue to make the children stand in so we gave that a miss. If you aren't interested in actually going into the Museum to see the incredible Sistine Chapel, you can just visit St. Peter's Square for some incredible pictures instead. The total cost was €66 and we purchased tickets online via the Vatican Museums website. All links are at the bottom of this page.
On the day we visited the Vatican we had some time left and we were conscious that although the boys had been really good, Rome was really all about us and what we wanted to see. So we surprised them by taking them to a Luneur Water Park for the afternoon. There's sun loungers, kiosks, lots of water slides and fun for the children and a McDonalds right next door. There's also a Metro station close by to return home. We just showed up and paid for our tickets when we got there. https://www.luneurpark.it
TIP: For adults watch the movie Angels and Demons. It is so much fun running around Rome finding all the incredible sites and fountains from the movie!
Tuesday 4th August
Train from Roma Termini to Firenze Campo di Marte (1 hour 16mins), then another train on to Figline Valdarno, Tuscany (18mins)
Total cost £92.32
Your children could be in for a real treat on this leg of the journey. The train from Roma Termini to Firenze is run by one of the bigger tramlines and so we got to sit on a double decker train which was quite an experience! Once you get the Firenze Campo di Marte there's a small coffee shop on the street outside if you want to refresh yourself before the next train comes. Whatever you do, book your taxi in advance before you get to Figline Valdarno. Don't make the mistake we did! We expected to show up at a place where we could easily jump in a taxi and be on our way to our next destination but that wasn't to be. This is a sleepy place with nobody around! You could be left waiting a very long time. In the end, we were lucky enough a taxi came to pick up a local person who had pre-booked. We asked if he would come back for us and he said he would but that it might take time. He actually went home and came back in a bigger car and was able to take us and an Irish family who fell into the same trap we did, all in one go.
The Second week of our holiday was for the boys. We picked a Eurocamp destination so that they could enjoy the swimming pools and entertainment but we also knew we would be able to marvel at the sights of Tuscany too. This leg of journey was not pre-planned once we arrived and was more about letting the journey guide us.
Accommodation: Norcenni Girasole Club Campsite
Dates: 4th August-10th August 2019
Cost: £1173.00 - static caravan with decking
TIP: This is a very hilly site, after all, we were in the Tuscan Hills! Be prepared for tired legs. Not suitable for disabled access.
There's lots going on at this very busy site! A kids club, evening and daytime entertainment, sports activities, exercise classes, excursions, lots of restaurants, take away eateries and so very much more! There's even an evening market once a week as well as an adventure treetop walk including zip wires and all sorts! We didn't really get to enjoy the evening entertainment because you could never get a seat close enough to see it, but we enjoyed playing games on our deck instead. There's no TV in the caravans! That didn't bother us though, more time to get to know one another as a family!
There's a few supermarkets on the park where we stocked up in small bits (carrying it all the way back to your accommodation is no mean feat)! It was never difficult to get a sun lounger and if you fancy trying out a different pool to the one you're close to, there are little trains that take you all around the park (which is absolutely huge!) You get a voucher for one of the restaurants which we booked into for our last night. Just make sure you note the park train timetables.
We booked a day trip to Pisa and Lucca through the customer service department for less than €100 which included a guided tour of Pisa and Lucca with some time to see the sites by yourself. Travel was by coach there and back. It was definitely worth it! The square of Miracles (Campo Dei Miracoli) is absolutely beautiful! But don't stop there! We visited the Cathedral of Santa Maria and walked the streets to the river Arno, passing Galileo's birth place on the way. After enjoying lunch and browsing through the local markets we headed back to our coach for the trip to Lucca.
If you like visiting beautiful churches, Lucca, the home of Pinnochio, is the place for you! Lucca s home to around 100 churches and was an absolute gem of a find. A perfect example of not planning too much and allowing the journey to lead you instead. It was such a pretty place to see. It feels a little more upmarket here whilst not losing the charm of its rustic surroundings. The cathedral of St. Martin has a mummified priest pointing his skeletal finger which is a little bit of fun for the children to see. There's a huge book market if you've read the novel you brought with you as well as lots of interesting shops. But the best place by far is Ampitheatre Square. Take a seat at once of the many restaurants here, enjoy a drink and bask in the true Italian ambience. If you're lucky, there may be someone playing the Organetto.
Whilst staying at the Norcenni Girasole Club (Girasole means sunflowers by the way), we took the bus into the local town Figline Valdarno and followed the town treasure hunt which we picked up from the excursions desk. It was a great chance to see the pretty town and have some fun with the kids. When we arrived the town was bustling with activity, there was a huge market which made it difficult to follow the trail. But but the time afternoon came, the square was completely empty and we took full advantage by enjoying a quiet drink amongst the locals.
The return home was from Florence airport. We were truly sad to leave behind the charm of Italy and all the wonders it has to offer. As a family, we look forward to touring Italy again in the future and I hope you get to follow our itinerary and enjoy it for yourselves. Get in touch if you have any questions via the contact page!
The tickets to the sights were budgeted and paid for throughout the year with the exception of Lucca, Pisa and Luneur Park.