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TRAVEL / May ‘2018

Tips to making your dream European Holiday come true

PHOTOS Low angle view of a London Underground sign next to the Big Ben clocktower at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster
TRAVEL / MAY ‘2018

Tips to making your dream European Holiday come true

If you’ve ever dreamed of, or decided to take the family to London, Paris and beyond, now’s a good time to get the ball rolling. 

 

Words COLLEEN WILLIS

PHOTOS Low angle view of a London Underground sign next to the Big Ben clocktower at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Europe is towards the top of many people’s wish list for places to visit. Here are some useful tips and ideas for planning a trip with the family to London and Paris. 
Now’s a great time to start arranging such a trip as towards the end of the year, airlines release what they call their “Earlybird” fares. These fares are usually sold at rates that are cheaper than normal. 

Helpful hints to find the best deals available: 

  • Use a travel agent. This can often save time as a good agent will be able to access many fares quickly. 
  • Check out the airlines own websites and join their email list. 
  • Follow the airlines on social networks as sometimes they offer sales on their sites. 
  • Word of mouth. If you know someone who got a great deal on their last trip ask them who they went with and how they booked it. 

While cheaper airfares can be a great incentive to travel, there are some things you must be aware of and some simple precautions to take when booking them: 

  • If possible, know your departure and return dates 
  • Decide if you want a stopover or not. 
  • Make sure you are fully aware of all fees and charges. If you need to change dates or cancel your trip, the fees can be quite high and in some cases, not even possible to do. 
  • Check that everyone’s passports are up to date. 
  • Insurance, insurance, insurance. NEVER travel without it! Ever! 

If you’re like me and dread the thought of a long haul flight with anyone under 10, then keep reading! Earlier in the year I travelled from Perth to London with my family and then flew home from Paris. We flew with the “New kids on the block,” Qatar airlines, and were really happy with them. The airline staff were pleasant and helpful to all the families on board. 

For more information visit www.qatarairways.com/au      

Something that we took advantage of during our transit time at Doha airport was the Oryx Lounge. Normally you need to be either a business or first class passenger to access the lounges. However, for Qatar airways, you can pay to use this lounge if in economy.  

** Please note it is free for first and business class travellers and there are also separate complimentary lounges for gold and silver frequent flyers ** 

Highlights include 

  • Washroom and shower facilities (wonderful!) 
  • Complimentary food and drinks 
  • Free Wi-Fi 
  • Rates are USD 40.00 per person 

** Places are limited and are subject to availability. ** 

Some tips include: 

  • Pack snacks – good for between meal times and possible delays. 
  • Order special children’s meals. 
  • Pack wipes 
  • Take a change of clothing in case of spills/accidents or baggage delay. 
  • Technology can be a life saver. I-pads, smart phones, DVD players have all diverted many an argument when travelling! 
  • Books shouldn’t be ignored either, especially for older children. 
  • Take something to alleviate ear pressure for take-off and landing e.g. lollipops, dummies.  
  • Make a toilet run before the food and drink service commences. Trust me, it’s often inevitable that someone will need to go when the aisle is blocked! 

When we arrived in London we decided to hit the ground running (a good way to help with jetlag is to get outdoors as soon as possible). We had researched what we wanted to do before we left and took advantage of the good weather to go straight to the London Eye and get a magnificent view of London. For more information visit www.londoneye.com 

There are many fantastic things to do and see in London for all the family, from a leisurely garden stroll to a fast paced day at a theme park. 

Highlights include 

  • The Tower of London 
  • Big Ben 
  • Legoland Windsor (take the train to Windsor for the day – this is a winner!) 
  • The London Dungeon 
  • V & A Museum of Childhood  
  • Buy a London “Hop on hop off” sightseeing bus pass. This is a terrific way to get around to many of the attractions on a double decker bus and learn a few things on the way. 
  • The British Museum 
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew 
  • Buckingham Palace. Don’t forget to say hi to the Queen if she is there! 

For more information visit www.visitlondon.com; www.londontoolkit.com; www.visitbritain.com 

Accommodation 

There are just so many different options for London accommodation that you need to decide what your parameters are: 

  • Hotel or apartment? 
  • Is it family friendly? 
  • Location – if possible stay near a “tube” station (this is the nickname for the Underground rail) 
  • Pricing. 

For more information visit www.visitengland.com; www.visitbritain.com 

"For most children, a visit to Britain isn’t complete without the chance to see Disney Paris."

For most children, a visit to Britain isn’t complete without the chance to see Disney Paris. It has all the magic and wonders that we come to expect from such a place. Whether it’s your favourite characters walking around right before your eyes, or just the sheer magnitude of it all, there’s something here for everyone. Disney Paris is located in Marne-la-Vallee which is 32km from the centre of Paris. There are two separate parks to visit, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

Disneyland Park is divided into five lands:

  • Main St U.S.A.
  • Frontierland
  • Adventureland
  • Fantasyland
  • Discoveryland

Each land then has its own rides and attractions that are specific to each theme. Walt Disney Studio’s Park has plenty of action and rides too.

  • Production Courtyard
  • Toon Studio
  • Backlot
  • Frontlot
  • Accommodation.

Disney has several of their own branded hotels, which are located closer to the parks than other properties. One of them, the Disneyland Hotel, is right at the main park itself. For more information visit www.disneylandparis.com

Things to consider when booking a Disney hotel:

  • They are closer to the parks
  • They are ‘theme’ orientated which can very appealing
  • Some rooms are apartment style

However, these rooms can be expensive and if you choose to stay a bit further out, the savings can be significant. We stayed in an apartment at the Marriott Village d’lle –de-France which was fantastic and then hired a car (a shuttle was also available to the parks) For more information visit www.marriott.com

Travel Tip:
If you are short on time yet still want to see Paris, it’s easy to catch the train in. This way you get to see some of the main sites and then go back when you are ready. There is a train station about 100m from the parks called Marne-la-Vallee and it’s easy to book your ticket. The train takes approximately 45 minutes into central Paris.

Getting there 

If arriving by plane into Charles de Gaulle airport, you can either hire a car or take a train from in the airport itself. The train is fantastic as it is high speed and takes less than 10 minutes to the station! Bus services and taxis also run from both airports. If coming from London, the Eurostar goes directly there! It takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. For more information visit www.sncf.com/en/trains/tgv; www.eurostar.com 

COLLEEN WILLIS

Colleen has roamed the world for many years on her own and with her husband and daughter, Rebekah. During this time, Colleen has been a teacher and an award-winning recipient of Flight Centre both in Australia and overseas. Colleen will guide you through family travel the way she knows best!