What makes a trip tick – home and away

Anyone that has read what I’ve written on ALTB or triptease will know that I like the finer things, but to be honest, some of the most memorable trips haven’t been in 5* hotels – there is so much more to having an awesome break than spending $$$.

That said, we’ve just booked a holiday to the UAE in February to warm ourselves up a little and choosing the right hotel was a minefield… but I think I did it… Here’s hoping.

In the UK I just love self catering.  It’s funny, I stay in so many UK hotels with work that I think the concept I just associate with work!  That said ME London and the Drunken Duck went along way to proving otherwise…

Complimentary afternoon tea at the Drunken Duck

Complimentary afternoon tea at the Drunken Duck

I think on a stay cation it is important to be able to get away from the part and type of the UK that you normally see (people watching isn’t always relaxing however much fun it is) and so quiet time in the country delivers that!  There is a massive choice of top end self catering – basically think of the space like a recently abandoned hotel, where the fire was left on and the champagne is on ice!!  More space, much cheaper, can choose your own wine and you can go out locally and enjoy restaurants and pubs and local butchers and delicatesns!  You can sleep in every morning and not worry about whether you put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door!

Umber, BoHo Cornwall, Boutique Retreats - bliss in St Just

Umber, BoHo Cornwall, Boutique Retreats – bliss in St Just

Boutique Retreats and Norfolk Hideaways offer some absolute gems in the West Country and Norfolk respectfully.  Often some of the posher hotels have lunch offers and so just because the cottage has a cooker doesn’t mean you need to use it all the time – try Coombe HouseOld CoastguardChewton Glen and the shed for a start!

Welcome fizz at Coombe House, Gittisham

Welcome fizz at Coombe House, Gittisham

Staying in the UK I particularly like that you can pack whatever fits in the car and there is hence no worry about fitting it into a suitcase or worrying about a change in temperature.It also requires a lot less planning as we know our own country so well!  It is also good in that in most parts of the country there are friends to be met up with.  Just last weekend we were in Anglesey to see some of our best friends – we take it for granted that we can stay, catch up and enjoy a location that is so remote.  Probably one of the best weekends of the year, but there was no need for a hotel – we had fizz, lie ins, giggles and stunning views and the drive home to the south coast didn’t even stress us out we were so relaxed!

Happy days at Trearddur on a windy afternoon

Happy days at Trearddur on a windy afternoon

When everywhere is 5 hours driving time from home, to be honest you don’t even need a full week off – a long weekend (and we’ve done extensive research of course) is as relaxing as a full week away if planned well!  Another good thing about being on holiday at home – someone will know the area at you know and word of mouth works!

The UK gets a bad rep for weather, but we had 2 weeks off in June and October and spent them in Cornwall – it rained occasionally and you know what – there are plenty of nice tea rooms, galleries or pubs to visit when it does!

Trewinnard Holiday Cottages, St Erth

Trewinnard Holiday Cottages, St Erth

Be ready when it stops and you’ll have empty beaches and footpaths!

Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay

We know the UK schools holidays which is even better – so it is easy on a stay cation to avoid peak times with confidence!

Now how about abroad….  I think there are a few key things to a memorable trip!  I do like to start in an airport lounge, moving swiftly to a flat bed on the plane!

Watching the US election results come in from the Concorde Room

Watching the US election results come in from the Concorde Room

The travelling bit shouldn’t be tiring and this ensures it isn’t, and air miles ensure it doesn’t cost a fortune!  That said, it isn’t the be all – but so far booking with air miles haven’t prevented me taking trips where I want! And that also helps with the luggage allowance – I always pack for every eventuality – of course you need a jumper in the Caribbean…

I used to plan big trips with military precision and using a spreadsheet, but I think I have got a bit more savvy in my old age (got ID’d today, so not so old apparently!).

Awake with jet lag at 5am in the mountains above Kingston - Strawberry Hill

Awake with jet lag at 5am in the mountains above Kingston – Strawberry Hill

We always seem to move around when we are abroad – so in Jamaica we stayed at Strawberry Hill, The Cove and Round Hill and in Oman we were at the Shangri La then the Chedi (similar for Dubai – desert Anantara, Abu Dhabi Shangri La and XVA in Dubai).  This means you see more of the country travelling between bases and also you aren’t putting all eggs in one basket!  I never book hotel day trips – in most places you can do better under your own steam or a local guide.

Dune Bashing trip to the Wahiba Sands

Dune Bashing trip to the Wahiba Sands

I do read the guidebooks intensively and trawl through twitter and other travel reviews.  That gives a long list of ideas.  My husband then reads this and the guide on the plane and we’re sorted – following our noses but knowing what should be round the next corner!  We have been known to book a restaurant in advance – so we’ve dented our credit cards seriously at Equinox in Singapore and Chateau Eza in France! We’d been looking forward to the treat for weeks in advance and weren’t disappointed on either occassion!

Menu Degustation at Chateau Eza, Eze

Menu Degustation at Chateau Eza, Eze

We always make sure we see where we are visiting, learn about the culture and meet the locals. We often get up early to beat the tourists – we saw the grand mosque in Oman privately and in Singapore found Sentosa completely empty!

Sentosa - a lovely view of 100 ships!

Sentosa – a lovely view of 100 ships!

What I love most about any trip however is being surprised!  So when we were in Oman, we expected Chedi to surpass the Shangri La – it did in many ways, but the staff at SL were just amazing and we could never have imagined how well we would be looked after!

Hotel points don't get better than this!

Hotel points don’t get better than this!

When in the UK, it is always best when the cottage has the sorts of things you never knew you needed – rugs, maps etc – or source a local coffee or beer that they leave for you on arrival rather than a bottle of Waitrose wine!  Added to all of the provisions brought from home and hey presto – you’ve arrived at perfection!

Great thing to include in a starter kit in Cornwall!

Great thing to include in a starter kit in Cornwall!

And when staying with friends – well, if they stay up until 11pm waiting your arrival and then greet you with Tattinger, you kind of know the weekend will be awesome!

It is the little things that make any trip memorable – whether self catering, in a 5* hotel or staying with friends!  Knitted together it just leaves you needing another holiday that’s even better!

GreenSundayTravelerSunday Traveler with A Southern Gypsy, Chasing the Donkey and A Brit and a Southerner

 

64 Comments

  1. costaricacurious2013
    January 18, 2014 / 5:50 pm

    Happy surprises are definitely the best of every trip – whether staycation or traveling about. I think sometimes these surprises come more frequently the less you plan and the less you stay in luxury accommodations and the more you mingle with the locals.

  2. costaricacurious2013
    January 18, 2014 / 5:50 pm

    Happy surprises are definitely the best of every trip – whether staycation or traveling about. I think sometimes these surprises come more frequently the less you plan and the less you stay in luxury accommodations and the more you mingle with the locals.

  3. January 18, 2014 / 8:09 pm

    Like both: vacation rentals, and hotels; trips around my country and to another one. Like you said, the little things make a trip memorable. BTW, my parents run a vacation rental, and my mum is always over stuffing the fridge, making cakes if she noticed a guest has a birthday, and my father drives them around showing the area, or making a BBQ, and slicing prosciutto. Crazy! But they enjoy it, and guests seem to appreciate.

    • January 18, 2014 / 8:11 pm

      And where is this place you mention….

  4. January 18, 2014 / 8:09 pm

    Like both: vacation rentals, and hotels; trips around my country and to another one. Like you said, the little things make a trip memorable. BTW, my parents run a vacation rental, and my mum is always over stuffing the fridge, making cakes if she noticed a guest has a birthday, and my father drives them around showing the area, or making a BBQ, and slicing prosciutto. Crazy! But they enjoy it, and guests seem to appreciate.

    • January 18, 2014 / 8:11 pm

      And where is this place you mention….

  5. January 18, 2014 / 8:37 pm

    ahhhh you plan so much more than I do. So impressive. I hate planning in advance because sometimes I feel like I can get cheaper options on the ground. That said, sometimes you get in a pickle and end up spending more which is the absolute worst. Just booked a hotel for our first night in New Zealand (tuesday), which is a big deal for us—we only pre booked because we arrive at 11 o’clock at night and wanted something close to the airport….haha

    • January 18, 2014 / 9:02 pm

      Haha I can’t imagine not knowing where I am staying!! But I’m an accountant and risk averse so it goes with the territory!! Enjoy, look forward to following!!

  6. January 18, 2014 / 8:37 pm

    ahhhh you plan so much more than I do. So impressive. I hate planning in advance because sometimes I feel like I can get cheaper options on the ground. That said, sometimes you get in a pickle and end up spending more which is the absolute worst. Just booked a hotel for our first night in New Zealand (tuesday), which is a big deal for us—we only pre booked because we arrive at 11 o’clock at night and wanted something close to the airport….haha

    • January 18, 2014 / 9:02 pm

      Haha I can’t imagine not knowing where I am staying!! But I’m an accountant and risk averse so it goes with the territory!! Enjoy, look forward to following!!

  7. January 18, 2014 / 9:11 pm

    Thanks so much for joining up with this week’s Sunday Traveler with a great post! I like how you have compared UK vs Abroad because it’s something that Heather and I are having to really consider over the next few years. With Chris being from England and Heather a US Citizen, we are really considering our options as to whether we want to move back to the UK and live there at least for a few years.

    The one thing I love about England is how close everything is. You indicated that everything pretty much is within 5 hours and that is such a great incentive. Here in Arkansas where we are based, there are about 4 cities you can visit within a 5 hr span (Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis and Little Rock) and it’s not ideal for weekend breaks.

    Great post Anna!

    • January 18, 2014 / 9:12 pm

      England all the way, and so well connected to the world! As Del Boy says, you know it makes sense!!!

  8. January 18, 2014 / 9:11 pm

    Thanks so much for joining up with this week’s Sunday Traveler with a great post! I like how you have compared UK vs Abroad because it’s something that Heather and I are having to really consider over the next few years. With Chris being from England and Heather a US Citizen, we are really considering our options as to whether we want to move back to the UK and live there at least for a few years.

    The one thing I love about England is how close everything is. You indicated that everything pretty much is within 5 hours and that is such a great incentive. Here in Arkansas where we are based, there are about 4 cities you can visit within a 5 hr span (Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis and Little Rock) and it’s not ideal for weekend breaks.

    Great post Anna!

    • January 18, 2014 / 9:12 pm

      England all the way, and so well connected to the world! As Del Boy says, you know it makes sense!!!

  9. January 18, 2014 / 9:47 pm

    Wow the most I do is just roughly plan what to bring but that usually just goes as far as clothes and electronics. I do try to read up on the country I’m going to though if I’ve never been there, guess that counts for something haha.

    • January 18, 2014 / 11:40 pm

      I love ordering a guide book, even just to look at pictures!!! 😉

  10. January 18, 2014 / 9:47 pm

    Wow the most I do is just roughly plan what to bring but that usually just goes as far as clothes and electronics. I do try to read up on the country I’m going to though if I’ve never been there, guess that counts for something haha.

    • January 18, 2014 / 11:40 pm

      I love ordering a guide book, even just to look at pictures!!! 😉

  11. January 18, 2014 / 11:01 pm

    This was a really good and informative post. I’m with Syd, I have a hard time planning that much. I love planning things as far as getting excited about the place I’m going, but not the actual planning like booking hotels, tours, etc. I can see how being an accountant would go with that though-my whole family works in that field haha. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler this week 🙂

    • January 18, 2014 / 11:41 pm

      A pleasure! Haven’t done any more than plan the hotels for our next trip as it’s accountant busy season… No idea how I’ll cope!!

  12. January 18, 2014 / 11:01 pm

    This was a really good and informative post. I’m with Syd, I have a hard time planning that much. I love planning things as far as getting excited about the place I’m going, but not the actual planning like booking hotels, tours, etc. I can see how being an accountant would go with that though-my whole family works in that field haha. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler this week 🙂

    • January 18, 2014 / 11:41 pm

      A pleasure! Haven’t done any more than plan the hotels for our next trip as it’s accountant busy season… No idea how I’ll cope!!

  13. January 18, 2014 / 11:51 pm

    Thanks for linking up to Sunday Traveler again this week. You can’t beat the little things on a holiday, does not matter how many tours you book or sights you see, all you need is just one ‘ah-huh’ 🙂

    • January 18, 2014 / 11:57 pm

      That’s what it’s all about!

  14. January 18, 2014 / 11:51 pm

    Thanks for linking up to Sunday Traveler again this week. You can’t beat the little things on a holiday, does not matter how many tours you book or sights you see, all you need is just one ‘ah-huh’ 🙂

    • January 18, 2014 / 11:57 pm

      That’s what it’s all about!

  15. January 19, 2014 / 1:55 am

    Interesting read! I like to have a rough plan of what I want to do and where I want to go but that is about it! Maybe I should plan more like you! 🙂

    • January 19, 2014 / 8:01 am

      I’m normally onto the next trip before the current one but I’m not at the moment!!

  16. January 19, 2014 / 1:55 am

    Interesting read! I like to have a rough plan of what I want to do and where I want to go but that is about it! Maybe I should plan more like you! 🙂

    • January 19, 2014 / 8:01 am

      I’m normally onto the next trip before the current one but I’m not at the moment!!

  17. January 19, 2014 / 2:16 am

    Always good to mix up your accomodation saves getting bored when travelling… There are times when even I need to cook

    • January 19, 2014 / 8:01 am

      Agree, could never just stay in one place for too long, need variety!

  18. January 19, 2014 / 2:16 am

    Always good to mix up your accomodation saves getting bored when travelling… There are times when even I need to cook

    • January 19, 2014 / 8:01 am

      Agree, could never just stay in one place for too long, need variety!

  19. January 19, 2014 / 3:20 am

    Sounds like you have got to have many wonderful experiences!! I love the short weekend trip in the car. It can be nice to get a break without all the hassle of a trip further afield. It must be lots more fun in the UK though with so many places nearby. We have to go so far in Australia to go somewhere different!!

    • January 19, 2014 / 8:03 am

      Our little island is definitely good for mini breaking, you kind of know what you’re getting at home!!

  20. January 19, 2014 / 3:20 am

    Sounds like you have got to have many wonderful experiences!! I love the short weekend trip in the car. It can be nice to get a break without all the hassle of a trip further afield. It must be lots more fun in the UK though with so many places nearby. We have to go so far in Australia to go somewhere different!!

    • January 19, 2014 / 8:03 am

      Our little island is definitely good for mini breaking, you kind of know what you’re getting at home!!

  21. January 19, 2014 / 10:24 am

    Oh wow that hotel looks absolutely fabulous, where was that? The super swimming pool?

    • January 19, 2014 / 10:50 am

      Chedi muscat, $$$$ but unbeatable pools! One is 100 metres!!

    • January 19, 2014 / 10:51 am

      Chedi muscat, $$$$ hotel but unbeatable pools, one is 100 metres long!!

  22. January 19, 2014 / 10:24 am

    Oh wow that hotel looks absolutely fabulous, where was that? The super swimming pool?

    • January 19, 2014 / 10:50 am

      Chedi muscat, $$$$ but unbeatable pools! One is 100 metres!!

    • January 19, 2014 / 10:51 am

      Chedi muscat, $$$$ hotel but unbeatable pools, one is 100 metres long!!

  23. January 20, 2014 / 4:15 am

    I haven’t heard the term ‘self catering’ before – does it just mean they don’t provide food?

    I love mini road trips – going a few hours away can be as much of a vacation as flying somewhere, but with a car you can get away with less stress and effort for planning and packing.

    • January 20, 2014 / 5:45 am

      It’s where you have a house or apartment to rent rather than be in a hotel. No food provided

  24. January 20, 2014 / 4:15 am

    I haven’t heard the term ‘self catering’ before – does it just mean they don’t provide food?

    I love mini road trips – going a few hours away can be as much of a vacation as flying somewhere, but with a car you can get away with less stress and effort for planning and packing.

  25. January 20, 2014 / 5:46 pm

    Wauw, that hotelpool looks like heaven! Loved reading your post.

    • January 20, 2014 / 5:47 pm

      The trouble is it has set the pool standard so high now, makes it hard to beat 🙁 will keep searching!!

  26. January 20, 2014 / 5:46 pm

    Wauw, that hotelpool looks like heaven! Loved reading your post.

    • January 20, 2014 / 5:47 pm

      The trouble is it has set the pool standard so high now, makes it hard to beat 🙁 will keep searching!!

  27. January 21, 2014 / 12:24 am

    Although there was a time when we planned ahead like crazy, today we are taking it easier. Getting old and carefree is suiting us 🙂 As for surprises and the role they play in travel, we agree wholeheartedly. Some of those places look very swanky. Must have been fun! Good luck and safe travels!

    • January 21, 2014 / 5:50 am

      🙂 love to mix up where we go!! Makes the fancy ones more of a treat (and more affordable!!)

  28. January 21, 2014 / 12:24 am

    Although there was a time when we planned ahead like crazy, today we are taking it easier. Getting old and carefree is suiting us 🙂 As for surprises and the role they play in travel, we agree wholeheartedly. Some of those places look very swanky. Must have been fun! Good luck and safe travels!

    • January 21, 2014 / 5:50 am

      🙂 love to mix up where we go!! Makes the fancy ones more of a treat (and more affordable!!)

  29. January 28, 2014 / 12:29 am

    Weekend getaways are always the best. UK weather can be tricky at times for planning on what to take on trips. Most of the time we overpack. It makes it so much easier having wonderful places to go that are a car ride away. Happy Travels!!

    • January 28, 2014 / 6:59 am

      I always overpack and just fill the car, just in case!!

  30. January 28, 2014 / 12:29 am

    Weekend getaways are always the best. UK weather can be tricky at times for planning on what to take on trips. Most of the time we overpack. It makes it so much easier having wonderful places to go that are a car ride away. Happy Travels!!

    • January 28, 2014 / 6:59 am

      I always overpack and just fill the car, just in case!!

  31. December 27, 2014 / 8:28 pm

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought
    this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to
    a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  32. December 27, 2014 / 8:28 pm

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought
    this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to
    a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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