Hi my name is Miriam or Mimi, as my family and friends call me. I am a mum to two lovely boys FJ, 7 and Deji,2 and wife to my best-friend Dotun. We absolutely love travelling together as a family and I personally believe travel and holidays are an important part of family life.
As a busy working mum, our family holidays are a chance to relax and unwind, spend some great quality time with the family while also learning about the history and culture of new places.
My motto is “family travel but make it little luxe”. I pride myself on finding luxury but affordable holidays and hotels for myself and the family to enjoy while away. I am somewhat of a self-proclaimed luxury hotel expert lol!
With having two energetic boys, I am also always on the look out for fun, family-friendly activities that we can enjoy together.
I created this blog to share snapshots of our travels with you in the hopes of giving holiday/travel inspiration, hotel reviews and ideas of family-friendly activities to do while on holiday.
I will also be sharing recommendations, tips and hacks we have learned along the way. Have a look at some of the holidays we have been on so far!
Please feel free to get in touch as I would love to hear from any readers or brands that would like to work with us.Have a look at my Instagram page here
Antalya: The perfect new year getaway —
We decided to plan a getaway for New Years 2019. I was on maternity leave at the time and would usually not get the opportunity to have time off during the new year break so we thought “why not?”
We wanted to go somewhere festive but also relaxing. We had initially thought of Dubai but after doing some research found it too expensive. I had heard and read about Antalya as a great holiday destination so decided to do a bit of research.
I found that a lot of the hotels had activities and galas on during the new year period (which we wanted) and it was a fraction of the price of going to Dubai so we were sold. Now to find the perfect hotel.
This is “my thing” lol. I love to find the perfect hotel for us whenever we are away and my family always approve! I’m usually looking for somewhere child-friendly, luxurious but affordable with modern/ contemporary style rooms and of course good food.
I spend A LOT of time doing research: looking at pictures and reading reviews on multiple sites ( my go-tos are tripadvisor, booking.com and hotels.com). I will even try to find YouTube vidoes of the hotel and room type we will be staying in just to make sure it is exactly what I am looking for.
Needless to say I am a self-proclaimed luxury hotel expert and after hours of research I settled on the perfect hotel for us.
I chose Rixos Premium, Belek for our new year stay and it did not disappoint. It is a 5* ultra all-inclusive luxury hotel in the golfing town of Belek, Antalya. It has 8 restaurants (including a buffet and a la carte options) , a patisserie as well as 7 bars.
The rooms are spacious, well-appointed and luxurious. There is a well-equipped gym, lovely spa and amazing pools to enjoy.
Entertainment wise there is so much to do there! There is a daily list of activities you can choose to participate in if you would like- including thinks like yoga, aerobics and archery.
For kids, there is a supervised indoor and outdoor kids club and play area where you can leave kids aged 4 and up (younger kids have to be with parents) to play while you get some much needed R and R.
This was our first time trying an all-inclusive resort. It meant that once we had paid we didn’t have to worry about much else except enjoying our holiday. We wondered why we hadn’t tried it sooner. It was just what we needed with delicious food, fun activities and childcare options - a parents dream!
New Year Celebration
We rang in the new year at this fabulous resort and it was amazing! The hotel put on a gala night with 3-course meal and live entertainment.
They had a playroom adjacent to the main gala and room with various entertainment acts and activities to entertain kids while parents enjoyed the gala night.
There was an amazing count down and over the top fireworks at the end of the night to ring in the new year. It was absolutely perfect. It you’re looking for a fab place to spend new year look no further!
The Land of Legends Theme Park
An added bonus with our hotel was that it included complimentary entry and transfer to and from the amazing Land of Legends Theme Park- a definite must-see when you are in Antalya especially if you have kids. We went on two separate occasions.
The Theme Park consists of a water park and a main park. The water park is closed during the winter months. but there is still so much to see and do in the main park including: Dolphin shows, 4-D rides and a hyper coaster to make a few. The park is also surrounded by an amazing shopping avenue and there are lots of dining options so you will have definitely have a blast!
Other things we got up to
Upside Down House for some amazing pics
We also did a bit of shopping at the Mall of Antalya.
Our Thoughts and Tips.
Most of the hotels in Antalya are all-inclusive meaning all food, drinks and activities are included in the price with a few exclusions (always check the hotel’s website). This also means your holiday can be as action packed or as chilled out as you would like. You can stay in the hotel/resort the whole time a or snooze to explore.
There are tonnes of things to do and see in Antalya in addition to the ones we did. I have created an Antalya highlights page with links to what we did and some other places you can explore.
The hotels have what is known as a summer /winter concept depending on when you go. The summer concept is much fuller with all the bars and restaurants open and lots of activities day and night while the winter concept is a bit more limited. However this difference is reflected on the price so travelling in the winter months is much cheaper. Whenever you do decide to go though I’m certain you will have a blast!
If travelling from the UK Jet2holidays have some great flight and hotel combo deals which include transfers to and from the airport.
We did not know what to expect with our trip to Antalya but we truly had an amazing time. The hotel was gorgeous, food was lovely and the activities for both adults and kids were perfect. We would go back without a second thought.
Antalya again for a much needed break?
Turkey is on the government’s “safe” travel list so I have been contemplating booking a holiday to Antalya later in the year. We enjoyed it so much the last time we went and it’s not too far away. I am still undecided as of yet though. To be honest, we could really do with a break but of course - safety first .
I’ve spent ages (a bit too long ) researching the amazing hotels there - there are absolutely tonnes of them! Even if we don’t end up going I can still dream and add them to my ever-growing list of places to visit when we feel comfy enough to travel. If you’re thinking of travelling to Antalya these are some great hotel options in addition to Rixos Premium, Belek where we stayed the first time we were there. Have a look at my blog about our New Years trip there.
Why I love them: They have stringent hygiene measures in place , they are luxurious, the food looks lush and most importantly they are all-inclusive! They also have lots of activities for the whole family. This is perfect in the current climate as you can just spend the whole time in your hotel and relax!
They all have rave reviews on tripadvisor ( I’ve read A LOT of reviews lol). The last two hotels are more fantasies than anything because they are quite expensive! However, if money is no object then you should definitely give them a try.
Just click on each hotel name and you will be taken to their webpage so you can see for yourselves why I love them so much. If you like any of them, feel free to bookmark this page and add them to the list of places you will get to once you’re ready to travel again.
(Disclaimer: all images are taken from each hotel’s website which are all linked)
If you’ve stayed in any of them or even if you’ve just had a nosy feel free to send me a DM on insta and give me your thoughts and let me which one you think we should try.
If you are considering a trip to Antalya or anywhere else in Turkey in the near future like then be sure to find out what restrictions and requirements are in place in light of covid. I have linked the government’s guidelines below.
Singapore for me, has always been one of those must-see, bucket list places. I had always heard how amazing it is. For my 30th birthday rather than throw a big party we decided to go away. We love our birthday trips don’t we?! My birthday is usually during the Easter break so we had about 2 weeks off. We decided to visit Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai.
Singapore was the second stop on our 3 country holiday and it was so stunning!
We stayed at the 8 on Claymore serviced residences. A few other family members came along to celebrate with me so we needed somewhere spacious, affordable but still luxurious.
It is centrally located on Orchard road at the heart of Singapore’s shopping and entertainment district and so is perfect for exploring- we would often walk down to the shopping area to explore.
The rooms were well-appointed, clean and well maintained. Each room was en-suite and there was a spacious living room as well as fully equipped kitchen including washer and dryer.
There was a small play area with toys and a slide where the kids could play and a lovely pool too.
There was a free buffet breakfast included as well as unlimited WiFi. They also kindly provided us with a complimentary welcome pack in the kitchen which included snacks, cereals and noodles.
This accommodation was perfect for us as there were quite a few of us- a hotel would have been much more expensive. It was also nice to have laundry facilities and a kitchen where we could heat up takeout and make small meals.
(Disclaimer: image taken from hotel website, linked below)
Gardens by the Bay
We had a mini tour of the city one evening and we got the see some of the main tourist spots.
Gardens by the bay is a stunning nature park with huge glowing super trees. They are so gorgeous. We took some pictures, had snacks and walked around the park- definitely a must-see!
Merlion Park and Marina Bay Sands
Another top spot is Merlion Park which is home to the Merlion - Singapore’s national symbol, a mythical creature with a lion’s head and fish’s body. There is a light and water show at the park which is a must-see.
It also over looks the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel. We didn’t get a chance to go in the hotel but I would really have loved to!
Marina Bay Sands
Singapore zoo, River and Night Safari
Fj loves animals so you know we had to do this one! We booked this through our hotel and it included coach transfer to and from the zoo which was great.
We saw and learned about some stunning animals and enjoyed an amazing and interactive nighttime show as well. This is definitely a must-do especially if you or your kids love animals. It was a FULL day of exploring and we were all exhausted by the end of the night but it was well worth it!
These pictures really don’t do it justice. It was such an amazing experience for us all. I have linked it below so you can explore for yourselves.
Resorts World Sentosa
This is another absolutely must-do in my opinion. Resorts world Sentosa is a huge entertainment area with TONNES of fun activities to choose from. There is are beaches, an aquarium, Universal Studios, water parks, cable car rides, should I go on? There is something for everyone. I will link it below so you can have a look.
We spent a day there so we only did a handful
of the activities- we saw some 4-D shows and rode some rides, visited the aquarium and rode the cable car. We decided against Universal Studios as we felt the kids were too young to really appreciate it. We had a blast nonetheless in hindsight I think we needed more than a day there.
Our Thoughts and Tips
Singapore is absolutely beautiful and so clean! Random fact for you: the sale and importation of chewing gum is prohibited in Singapore except for medical reasons. That’s how serious they take the cleanliness of their country!
We really enjoyed our stay there. We did however find it more expensive than the other Asian countries we have been to. That is definitely something to take into consideration and plan for when visiting.
The way we got round it was by visiting in addition to other countries and spending a few days there, which I think was sufficient to see and explore the main parts anyway. Staying in a serviced apartment rather than a hotel definitely helped to reduce costs also.
We were able to negotiate an affordable daily rate with the taxi driver who picked us up from the airport. He drove us every where we needed to while we were there. This made moving around much easier and less stressful. A lot of taxi drivers in Asia seem to offer this. I would recommend it if you will be getting out and about a lot and will need taxis. I have his number in my phone still so feel free to DM me if you would like.
I highly recommend trying the food from a hawker centre. Our taxi driver recommended the Newton food centre and the food was amazing. It was very fresh and there was so much variety.
Although we enjoyed our day at Sentosa, I feel that we didn’t really get to see everything. If we go back we would maybe spend a night or two there and then a few days in the main city that way we get to enjoy everything it has to offer so definitely consider this if Sentosa is big on your itinerary.
Any questions or thoughts about our trip?
Abu Dhabi Day Trip - Mini Guide —Check out Rayna Tours
Bangkok, you have my heart —
I have a soft spot for Bangkok because it is where Dotun and I got engaged. This time we planned a family trip there and although I was bit nervous about travelling so far with Deji we decided to go anyway.
We stayed at the amazing Oriental Residence Bangkok. It is a 5* apartment style hotel with beautifully decorated rooms, amazing food and a Michelin star restaurant. It is close to Lumpini park as well as a short drive away from MBK Centre and Siam Paragon mall.
We stayed in a 3 bedroom apartment as there were 7 of us and we needed the space. This was the perfect choice as each room was en-suite and there was a fully equipped kitchen as well as a nice living and dining area we could all spend time in together.
The rooms were cleaned perfectly and towels and toiletries replenished daily. It felt like a home away from home but much more luxurious (and without the house work lol).
The breakfast buffet was amazing and food was delicious with lots of variety. The concierge was very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful - we booked all our tours and shows with his help.
I would definitely recommend this hotel if your are travelling in a big group but also if you are travelling as a couple or even solo; they have a variety of room types to suit everyone.
(Image taken from https://www.oriental-residence.com)
Temples and Palace Tour
On our first day we had a private guided tour of all the main temples and palaces. This was the best choice for us as it was flexible, especially as we had 2 kids with us.
It was also the best way to learn about the culture and history of Bangkok while also seeing the top sites. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly so that helped too. We booked the tour through the concierge at the hotel.
Temple of the Golden Buddha
Principal Buddha of Wat Pho
Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Something fun and a bit unusual that we did was watch a cabaret style show. We got all dressed up and watched The Calypso Cabaret show at the Asiatique night market.
The show was put on by some very gorgeous ladyboys. It was fun with lots of different tribute acts including Bollywood and a Rihanna impersonation.
The night market itself is good to explore with lots of little shops around. Dotun and Fj even got a fish pedicure there!
We watched a stunning show about the culture and history of Thailand : Siam Niramit. The highlight of the show was that they had real life elephants and Fj got to take pictures with one of them at the end of the show. A real treat because he is obsessed with animals. This is a definite must-see in Bangkok.
A bit of shopping
We also did a bit of shopping. We went to MBK centre which is great for cheap thrills and bargains and Siam Paragon mall which is more modern and luxurious.
Wherever we go we always try to do lots of fun things with the kids. On this trip though , it was all about FJ as Deji was only 6 months old so he wasn’t too bothered.
We went to Imaginia Playland at the Emporium Mall.
Sea life Bangkok Ocean World at Siam Paragon Mall.
Our Thoughts and Tips.
Our trip got off to a stressful start as our luggage did not arrive. We managed ok though because we had enough clothes in our carry on and the hotel provided toiletries.
So the first tip is if you are travelling long haul particularly with kids- take some extra clothes and underwear in your carry-on in case of any eventualities.
If you would like the luxury and amenities of a hotel and are travelling in a big group, staying in an apartment hotel is a cost effective option - ours was absolutely perfect!
The weather when we went (October) was very hot and humid so be sure to research the weather when you are going and pack appropriate clothing and protection and always stay hydrated.
We thoroughly enjoyed Bangkok and the activities we did were just a tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to do and see in Bangkok and Thailand. We would love to visit Phuket and Koh Samui next.
Tips for saving up for your dream holiday.
With a bit of planning and preparation your dream holiday doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some tips I use to help save up for our holidays.
Do your research.
The first thing is to do some due diligence on your chosen destination. Research the best time to travel, where to stay and things to do. Bear in mind that all destinations have high and low seasons.
In high season, prices are often higher but the weather is much better and all facilities and amenities are up and running. It is however usually much busier in high season. If you are visiting places like theme parks - queues and waiting times can be extremely long.
In low season, while the weather may not be as good and hotel facilities may be a bit limited, prices are much lower and it is usually less busy-which can make for a relaxing holiday.
There are advantages and disadvantages to travelling in either season and doing your research will help you find a good balance between the price of your holiday and the facilities and amenities you enjoy while away.
Make a budget of your existing expenses.
Make a budget of your current monthly expenses, be sure to include absolutely everything you spend on a monthly basis. This will help you see where you can cut back on and save some extra money.
Some ways you can cut back on monthly expenses are:
1. Reviewing utility bills and switching energy providers to get the best rates.
2. Taking a homemade lunch and / or coffee to work instead of buying on a daily basis.
3. Cutting back on extras such as takeaways, nights out and impulse buying.
4. Taking advantage of money-saving offers such as 2 for 1 cinema tickets , restaurant offers such as the eat out to help out scheme and also using supermarket coupons.
5. Walking or cycling to places which are close by instead of taking a bus or taxi.
Treat saving for your holiday like paying a bill and based on you travel budget, make a commitment to save a set amount every month. Start saving between 6-8 months or even a year before your desired holiday.
Open a separate travel account and set up a standing order into that account for the same time every month (I find the first few days after payday work best for me).
Ensure you do not tap into this account and better still if you are able to cut back more than expected on certain months then you can choose to save even more.
Of course sometimes life gets in the way and you may not be able to save as much (or even at all) every month but try to stay consistent as it will pay off when you’re off enjoying your wonderful holiday!
3 Days in Barcelona —
I decide on a whim to book a couple’s only trip for Dotun’s birthday. We had always wanted to visit Barcelona and it seemed like a good idea.
Although we were a bit skeptical about travelling without FJ for the first time, (Deji was not born at the time) we knew he was in capable hands with my sister in law and a friend both looking after him.
The fact is we needed some alone time and it was only for 3 days so I went ahead and took the leap!
After doing a bit of research I settled on The Catalonia Magdalenes Hotel. It is a 4* luxury hotel located in the Gothic quarter, close to Las Ramblas, Plaça Catalunya and The Catherdral. This made it the perfect hub for exploring the city especially as we there for a short time.
The rooms are modern and stylishly decorated. There was a lovely breakfast buffet with lots of great options including Spanish omelettes of course (what’s not to love?).
There is complimentary WiFi, a hammam-style spa, fitness centre as well as a terrace with pool and snack bar (open in summer months).
A nice little addition was that we had free snacks and drinks in the evening by the bar. It was nice to have a light bite to eat after a full day of exploring everyday.
The staff were also really nice and helpful. Always ready to answer any questions we had and point us in the right direction.
(All images except the yummy food taken from the hotel’s website).
For Dotun’s birthday the lovely staff at the front desk recommended a restaurant for us to go to.
They also kindly brought a cake and bottle of fizz to our room a birthday treat which was such a nice gesture.
We had a yummy seafood paella for lunch - is it even a trip to Spain without eating paella?
The food was delicious and we basically just chatted and enjoyed our time together.
We spent a full day touring the city using the Hop-on/ Hop-off bus. For us, this was the best way to see all the top sites and take some lovely pictures particularly as we had limited time. I would definitely recommend this. Unfortunately I lost most of my pictures from this trip so I’ve put on the fair few I could find.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia
We spent our last day walking and exploring around our hotel. We walked along Port Vell and did a little bit of shopping along La Rambla- we bought some souvenirs and I even bought some clothes (I can’t help myself lol).
We also visited the Boqueria market where had some yummy fresh juices and tasty nuts.
Our Thoughts and Tips.
We thoroughly enjoyed our short but sweet city break to Barcelona. It made us realise that it’s ok to take a break and ask for help sometimes. Time alone as a couple is so important and we definitely need to do more of it when possible. So I suppose the first tip is to make time to spend quality alone time together as a couple.
If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or any special occasion always mention this to your hotel. Most hotels will usually give you a cake, a bottle of bubbly or even more.
Although we didn’t experience this ourselves we were told by the hotel staff to be wary of pickpockets and keep our wallets/ purses close which we did. So definitely keep this in mind if you visit.
Finally, definitely take a city tour! It was the best way to see all the top sites and take amazing pictures (even though I don’t have many to share). There are so many options for tours we did the traditional hop-on/ hop-off but sites like tripadvisor and viator have lots of different options too so take a look.
We would definitely return to Barcelona but next time with the kids in tow! xx
Dubai Covid Checklist —
Dubai is open for tourists and we are so excited as we love it there!
I have put together a checklist of covid requirements should you want to travel there for some winter sun and a much needed break. I have also included a mini guide with some ideas of places to stay and things to do xx
The Emirates website is a great resource for Dubai covid requirements as well as flight and hotel information and inspiration.