Travel Motivation: Be like a kid at a Theme park.

Picture taken by 13weekstravel @ Holidayworldmaspalomas

Be like a kid at a Theme park.

Enjoy the rides.

Try everything at least once.

Do the rides you love AGAIN and AGAIN.

Be like a kid at a Theme Park

When was the last time you looked at new things in your life like it was an exciting ride to take?

Yes, it might be a bit scary, but fun and exciting for sure, and definitely worth standing in a line that feels like forever just to take the ride.

Start opening up to new possibilities in life by thinking of them as an exciting ride in an amusement park – give it a try, step out of your comfort zone, let it go.

Enjoy the rides

Picture taken by 13weekstravel @ Atlantis water park

Do you think kids worry about school when they are enjoying a ride in the park? No! They take every minute of it in, and absorb every detail of the moment. It always amazes me how my kids can remember little details from our travels; it’s because they truly live in the moment and enjoy every bit of it. Live the moment! Don’t multitask your life away, but make every day chores more enjoyable so you will love the routine.

Try everything at least once

Without trying you’ll never know how something is like. It’s about time that YOU start giving new things a try! And I don’t mean you have to change your life in this moment, but try new hobby, anything you might say a straight no to before.

Do the rides you love AGAIN and AGAIN.

Make enjoying life a habit, not a once in a blue moon type of thing. Who says you can’t have fun everyday and who says that even work has to actually feel like work? Yes, it requires a lot of smart planning, but you can make your everyday life to feel like a day at the Theme park, all the time, by choosing to do things you love or finding love out of the things you do.

Would you look at life from the perspective of a kid at a Theme Park?

Let me know in the comments.

Dubai: The Most Memorable things to do in Dubai, UAE as a family.

Dubai is a dream luxury holiday destination for most families and this was true for my family as well. We were intrigued by the various news, videos and pictures we had seen through numerous marketing strategies and so we wanted to explore everything Dubai had to offer in 12 days.

The aim was to ensured that we created treasured and mad memories . We wanted the children to be thoroughly engaged by exploring new cultures and gaining new perspectives.

We stayed at an all inclusive luxury resort – Atlantis the Palm, and ensured that we didn’t restrict ourselves to just Atlantis, The Palm hotel grounds and Aquaventure Waterpark (the water park) which came as complimentary when you stay at the hotel.

Dubai has various memorable activities to do depending how long you plan to stay for. This is a list of the most memorable things we did as a family of 5.

Aquaventure Waterpark

Aquaventure is the largest waterpark in the Middle East, and it’s really massive. The 2km long lazy river and rapids takes about 30 minutes for a round circle around the outskirts of the park. There are two towers where all the rides are located – The Tower of Poseidon and Tower of Neptune, which are both inside the lazy river. 

The Tower of Poseidon is the power house of fun. There is Aquaconda – represented by the structure of giant sea serpent, with unimaginable twist and turn as well as intense vertical banking.

I particularly loved going through the dark tunnels and then suddenly plummeted out into the largest fibreglass tube. I screamed. I laughed. I cried! It was intense!

There is Slitherine – another water slide where you’ll end up in the belly of the Aquaconda after various twist and turns. It is also a dual waterslide so my girls had amazing fun racing each other to be the first.

Image shows The Slitherine - a waterpark attraction at Aquaventure Dubai.
The Slitherine
Image credit: @13weekstravel

There is Poseidon’s Revenge – My husband’s favourite where you step into a capsule which is equipped with terrifying trapdoors, then you wait for the floor to fall from beneath your feet and plummets you at speeds of about 40mph before you’re turned upside down.

There is Zoomerango – A less intense family ride which sits 6 people in a raft. It also has various mega drops and vertical zooms. It’s the gentle highlight of the park.

The Tower of Neptune has more adrenaline pumping rides including the Leap of Faith’s ride which hurls you vertically down a clear water slide surrounded by Sharks at crazy rapid speeds.

There’s also Shark Attack, a calm ride through dark tunnels and then suddenly, you make it into a huge tank filled with Sharks.

There is The Stringer, The Falls, The Plunge and The Surge. All these ring rides are set at varying levels with excruciating joy, gasps and heart pounding moments at each ride.

In order to have maximum satisfaction, we spent three days at Atlantis, the Palm and Aquaventure Waterpark and yet, we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the fine white sand man-made beach which is exclusively for the use of the residents at the hotel.

The Atlantis Aquaventure is everything – the trills, the screams, the gasps, the fun. It is completely magical.

Mall of Emirates

Mall of Emirate
Image Credit:@13weekstravel

The Mall of Emirates is located along the popular Sheikh Zayed Rd, Al Barsha. It has a Metro /monorail stop – the Dubai Metro is new, sophisticated and well run. It connects most of the major sights and comes with a specially designed carriage for families and women. Children under five travel free on public transport. Alternatively, you can get to the Mall of Emirates by a Taxi. Taxis are comfortable, efficient and affordable. There are a huge amount of supply and respect amongst the drivers at the Taxi ranks. Hence, it was easy to move around.

The Mall of Emirates is also home to five hotels which confused us when we arrived there because each entrance we saw was through one of the hotels so we thought we were at the wrong place.

We first visited the Magic Planet – which is a massive arcade with mind blowing racing simulators, trampolines, video games, rides, bowling, amazing attractions in fact, everything to keep children aged 4 to 16 and adults alike entertained for hours. We got a card on site which we loaded with 525 AED and we got 950 AED on it. It was a bargain for all the activities we were able to do. The card is then swiped at the entrance of each attraction. This made it easier for us to choose what we wanted to do in the midst of a lot of choice. We spent the entire morning at the Magic Planet then we headed to Ski Dubai after lunch.

The basic ticket entry for Ski Dubai comes with a full snow suit, socks and snow boots which is all the snow clothing you’ll need except for gloves. It has a huge slope, chair lift, bob sledging, zorbing, snow tubing amongst many other activities, we felt like we were in the middle of The French Alps. We were beginners so we found an area where we could take some gentle turns and tumbles harmlessly. We also saw budding ski-champs like the ones that perform during the Winter games ski the 400m and perform some amazing stunts.

The play area for children was super fun as well and my girls enjoyed the bumper cars the most.

The facilities at the Mall of Emirates is world class. The mother’s room was special. It was such a big space with comfy sofas, drinking water, baby changing facilities, baby food warming facilities and a diaper machine if you wanted to buy one.

Dubai Parks and Resorts

The Dubai Parks and Resort is located on the famous Sheikh Zayed Road again and is also the largest theme park in the Middle East.

It consists of three theme parks and a water park:

Motiongate

Bollywood Parks Dubai

Legoland Dubai

Legoland Water Parks

and Riverland Dubai, which connects the four parks.

It is easily accessible by a taxi, bus or the Metro. We took a taxi down with a prepaid ticket which gave us entrance to three of the four parks. We opted not to visit Legoland water parks because we had the complimentary unlimited entry into Aquaventure Waterpark anyway.

The three parks we visited are

  1. Bollywood Parks Dubai
  2. Motiongate
  3. Legoland Dubai.
Bollywood Parks Dubai
Bollywood
Image credit:@13weekstravel

If you grew up just like me watching movies from Bollywood then Bollywood Park Dubai will resonate really well with you. It bought back childhood memories where we would watch Bollywood movies without English translation and still enjoy the amazing story telling.

Bollywood Park is enchanting and it draws you closer to understand the colourfulness and vibrancy of its culture. It brings to life the magic of India’s temples and palaces.

There are stunt-shows and 4D rides which we enjoyed but the dozens of live performances with music glaring was definitely the highlight here.

There was ‘Stars on Steps’ which is a live song-and-dance show to a backdrop image from elaborate LED screens.

There was ‘Show Me Your Jalwa‘ which offers a chance for the whole family to work on their Bollywood dance steps.

There was the ‘Kids Korner‘ which concentrated on choreography for children and it was led beautifully.

Bollywood Park Dubai also offers a beautiful replica’s of the Taj Mahal ( a building in India that I’m still in awe of).

Motiongate
Motiongate Dubai
Image Credit:@13weekstravel

Even though I was familiar with movies from the Hollywood studios of DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures, and Lionsgate, I wasn’t aware that there was actually a theme park that so beautifully transformed your mind to feel as part of all the movies.

As you enter Motiongate, you will find Studio Central. Studio central has various restaurants and souvenir shops.

Tip: Buy a refill bottle here and as you walk around, you’ll be able to refill drinks for free throughout the theme park.

Motiongate is split into different theme lands –

There is Liongate studio – The home of Hunger Games. If you’re a fan of Hunger Games, you’ll feel right at home here.

My husband had several repeat rides on the Capitol Bullet train ride (as there were no queues) and enjoyed the Panem Aerial Tour with the girls (aged 9 and 7).

Next was the Columbia pictures studio – Home to Cloudy with a chance of meatball, Hotel Transylvania, Green Hornet, Zombieland underworld and Ghostbusters.

The Cloudy with a chance of meatball had Flint and Sam’s water adventure – expect to get wet here!

The Green Hornet is a rollercoaster ride which is made up of sudden up and down stops. It was a bit scary for my 7 years old but great fun.

The Ghostbusters is a calm ride through a dark alley where you’re given a laser gun to attack ghosts and creepy crawlers for points.

It was super thrilling and my girls can still recount their experiences on these rides word for word.

We stopped for dinner at the Baby Brent – A Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball restaurant.

Baby Brent restaurant @13weekstravel

We briefly stop at Smurf’s village – surprisingly, it had the longest wait time to go on the ride. The wait was about 35 minutes and my girls weren’t so pleased.

Finally, we visited DreamWorks Animation studio which had different favourites like Madagascar, Shrek, How to train your dragon and Kung fu Panda. It was like we saved the best for the last!

Here there was one of my favourite movies of all time Shrek. A puppeteer told the very emotional story of Shrek and Fiona which shows the Fairy tale story with all the characters of the story like Donkey, Donkey’s Dragon wife, their babies, Puss in Boots and other characters.

Shrek Performance
Image Credit:@13weekstravel

Then, there was Kung Fu Panda dancing and teaching my girls his moves, there was a full theatrical performance with the cast of Madagascar, it was mind – blowing!

Legoland Dubai

Legoland Dubai have no competitors. I believe! It is absolutely fantastic! It has Lego city, Imagination, Kingdoms, Adventures and Miniland.

Lego City

We started at Lego city and I would say it is excellent for younger children (below 8 years) the attractions here included a driving school where the children learnt how to drive and obtained a Legoland driving license, a fire fighter station, a boat ride and gentle plane ride.

Imagination, Kingdom and Adventure land

These areas had amazing rides and roller coasters. We particularly enjoyed Imagination because it offered Lego Robotics which my girls enjoy at school.

Miniland

I was fascinated by Miniland as an Architect and believe me I could spend the entire day at Miniland. It was a display of Architecture, design and creativity at its best. It had Lego models of a number of amazing sky scarpers and iconic buildings around the world. The information on the buildings were all detailed and it could easily pass as a sort of museum. There was a work space where children could build anything they wanted to build with Lego.

Lego Robotics was on show here as well. All the iconic buildings had a robotic aspect to it. If you have a budding architect, IT engineer, robotic specialist developing in your family then you must visit Miniland at Legoland Dubai.

Lego Model of Burj Al Arab
Image by 13weeksTravel
Lego Model of Burj Al Arab
Image credit@13weekstravel

Dubai Miracle Centre

Dubai Miracle Garden selfie.
Photo Credit:@13weekstravel

Amazing place

The Dubai Miracle Garden is actually a miracle as the name indicates, you won’t expect such breathtaking natural flower garden in the midst of a desert. Would you?

The Dubai Miracle garden is large, I mean very large. It covers an area of about 72,000 square meters of land. It is the largest natural flower garden decked with awe- inspiring assortment of flowers – most of which are rare and thriving for the first time in the Middle East.

The garden was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013. I don’t quite see the link because you’re not allowed to display any form of physical contact here. I was told off for resting on my husband’s shoulder as he tried to take a selfie of us.

The landscaping is exceptional and words can’t describe the beauty of the garden. The garden has been well thought out as there was something for everyone.

The Disney Theme character will keep your children entertained, an award winning aeroplane made of flowers complete with its engine. Japanese gardens, water fountains and wonderful scenery for the adults.

You will easily spend a couple of hours wandering around the garden and exploring the various structures which has been creatively crafted.

If you love flowers and plants as much as I do, you need to visit @dubaimiraclegarden it’s truly magical.

5 steps to achieving Wellness during a luxurious holiday.

I have been more interested in my wellness ever since I turned 30 years old, a few years ago. Does wellness have anything to do with age?

Am I the only one who felt this way in my thirties?

Disclaimer: High level of responsibilities can be experienced at different stages for different people and while some might feel a high stake of responsibilities at an earlier age, others might feel more responsible at a later age.

Certainly, there is no age set in stone for people to start taking their wellness seriously.

In my case, I felt this overwhelming level of responsibility at this age as I was responsible for the well-being and nurturing of three young children, as well as juggling a full-time teaching role, running a design business and volunteering my skills and other random acts of kindness I get involved in at my local community centre.

My desire to blend wellness into my travels led to an extensive research into wellness and travel.

In as much as I love to delve into adventures on holidays, I also sometimes love to just chill and relax and indulge in health and wellness.

Here are my 5 steps to achieving wellness during a luxurious holiday.

Start with a healthy breakfast

A healthy breakfast will set the tone for a healthy day however, in a luxury hotel setting where you’re spoilt for choice on the food front, establishing a strict approach to food will help you achieve your health goal.

Are you more plant based or paleo or do you prefer sweet and savoury food? Regardless of your food desires, remember to keep things simple and go for the healthier version. I love to be flexible about my choice and I sometimes cross between the plant based and paleo diet.

Take a walk

How would you feel strolling down the promenade after breakfast and glazing into the clear blue skies and endless sea water? What about Yoga on the beach?

Do you wear a pedometer/step counter? Does your watch or phone help record the number of steps you have taken in a day? Well, this is surely a step in the right direction when it comes to your well being. A pedometer is a great motivational tool that helps you see an instant result. I have frequently recorded the highest number of steps taken in a day whilst on holiday.

It is no surprise that I always feel healthier on holiday than when I’m not on holiday. Do you feel the same?

Taking your wellness seriously on holiday by walking either first thing in the morning or at sunset will give you a clarity of thoughts and rejuvenate your wellbeing.

Spa is a must

Luxurious holidays are the best time to indulge in spa experiences. Most luxurious hotels would give you discounted spa sessions or you can look around your location for more affordable spa sessions.

The essentials for a good spa experience on holiday are:

  1. Arriving early – ensure you arrive early to take in all you have paid for. Spend a good time relaxing in the saunas and Jacuzzi, before your treatment starts.
  2. Taking your swim wear – this is an essential especially if you’re having a traditional bath. I remember forgetting to take my swim wear to the traditional Turkish bath – Hammam. It was such an awkward experience to say the least.
  3. Hair essentials – this includes hair clips, hair pins, swim cap, shower cap, hair brush, hair de-tangler and hair oil. The last thing you want to deal with is the battle with your hair which might constantly be falling on your face.

Spa treatments during luxurious holidays gives you the time to go that extra mile while on holiday.

Pampered evenings

I like the idea of dancing all night in a club while on holiday however, I have long decided to use that time for a pampered evening.

How do I achieve a pampered evening in a hotel?

Well, this is what I do.

  1. I put on my battery powered candles
  2. I run a bubble bath with scented bath salts
  3. I put on my tranquil playlist
  4. I make my favourite drink
  5. I wrap up warm in a cosy dressing gown.

Seek advice

Some hotel resorts employ a wellness specialist who will discuss, calculate and refine a personalised program that can be continued after your travels are over.

Medical travel tourism is a big industry and while it’s best to seek advice with your private doctor in your country, some wellness resort destinations covers more than you might get in your country.

It is worth enquiring and gaining more information.

I hope you start taking your wellness more seriously and you use my five steps to achieving wellness during a luxurious holiday.

How to maximise your 1st experience at a Luxury hotel.

Picture taken at Burj Al Arab by @13weekstravel

You have always been a budget hotel person. You have fancied the idea of a luxury hotel but you’re not sure how to maximise your experience. Well, the first impression you receive when you arrive at a luxurious hotel either leaves a sweet or sour taste in your mouth.

Here is the ultimate guide to maximise your experience.

  1. Did they welcome you with the correct pronunciation of your name? – You will understand how frustrating this is if you have a ten-letter last name like I do. I mean, with a quick google translate service, a luxury hotel should go that extra mile for you.
  2. Did they welcome you with a drink? It might have taken a certain amount of time to travel and arrive at your hotel. You really don’t want to start the lengthy checking in without a drink first. If you’re not offered one, ask for one.
  3. Did the space, colour, texture represent anything close to the culture, history or art of the location or country you’re visiting? Nothing is more off putting than mismatch design and interior decor. Many people have genuine interest in design and this truly matters to them. Would you be put off if the hotel had artificial flowers rather than a vase of fresh flowers?
  4. Are loyalty programs available? With my Hilton Hotel loyalty card, I earn base points when I stay at any of their hotels. This base points can then be used to pay for future stay.
  5. How accommodating are they to your request? Are you celebrating an occasion whilst on holiday? Could it be that it’s your birthday, anniversary or something? Let the hotel know and watch out for their reaction. All the hotels I have stayed at have actually gone the extra mile to accommodate my celebration requests.

When you have a jaw-dropping first impression, you will be eager to revisit and return to them over and over again.

A Luxury Break at Limassol, Cyprus.

I had an open mind when I arrived at Amathus Beach Hotel, Limassol, Cyprus.

Amathus Beach Hotel, Limassol

You see, Cyprus is my go – to country. I have visited every year since I first visited about five years ago and I have joked that I will retire in Cyprus one day. I love Cyprus so much because of its similarities to Cambridge, England where I live.

The similarities includes

  • driving on the right hand side of the road
  • English speaking
  • Safe for families

The difference, obviously is the weather. While Cyprus can boast of year round encouraging sunny climate, Cambridge is trenched with the usual United Kingdom climate – rain, grey and gloomy.

Amathus Beach Hotel, Limassol is a 5 star hotel located in the prestigious, reserved area of Limassol Marina. It is a member of the Leading Hotels of the world and this means that the quality of the facility on offer is top-notch.

Arrival

My arrival was greeted with a glass of cold orange juice and wine. Checking in was smooth and the smile from the staff who had memorised my 10 letter surname with correct pronunciation sold me.

I knew straight away that I was in a luxurious hotel without any element of doubt. I was led to my room again with precise professionalism that is expected in a luxurious hotel.

Private Beach

The hotel has a direct access to a private beach from its ground which is great for outdoor activities like jogging, scuba diving and jet ski. I particularly enjoyed strolling down the private beach straight after breakfast and late evenings to watch the sunset.

Family

My family and I enjoyed the beach pool and water slides and the highlight for my children was the Pelican kids club. The Pelican kid club had taken into consideration what children enjoy the most and they offered them a great experience. My children enjoying getting the souvenir the club offered as well as learning new skills in drawing, knitting, painting and role-play. The pelican club was well staffed and the staff spoke English clearly.

Dining

Dinner at The Grill Room

The fine dining from the restaurants must be experienced to appreciate how fantastic it was. The Grill room with an array of mouth-watering food makes me smile every time I remember. You will need to dress up for this restaurant. Kalypso restaurant was more chilled out with the rich buffet on offer. We had breakfast here every morning.

Overall Experience

We really enjoyed our stay at Amathus Beach Hotel. The staff were welcoming, requests were met promptly and it was such a great experience, one which we would love to relish again.

Affordable Luxury Travel: How to enjoy the Luxe life at a Low cost.

Luxury travel is life but what’s even better is the low cost if you know how to find it.

If you have school – aged children like me and you prefer the consistency that term-time schooling gives them, then you have no choice than to travel only during the school holidays.

In England, UK, there are 13 weeks of school holidays. Travel during this 13 weeks tends to be more expensive because the travel companies take advantage of the demand and then increase the cost of supply.

In order to enjoy luxury travel at a low cost during school holidays, you need to follow my 5 ‘go-to’ tips.

dubai pixs-min

1. Time

With seven continents and over one hundred and ninety five countries in the world, you are spoilt for choice with where to go. The question is when?

In order to find when to travel, you need to pick a location, search for the possibility of natural disasters, peak periods and non – peak periods. Then, book the non-peak period that is favourable for you.

For example, we travelled to Turkey during the half-term school holidays in February which was not a peak period hence it was unbelievably affordable.49266534-1b4f-4ecf-bff9-f9c330629b05 We stayed at the prestigious Concorde De Luxe Resort.

2. Have a growth mindset

Growth Mindset simply means you need to be flexible and have an open mind about achieving your travel plans. The best deals at a particular school holiday period might not be where you have on your list but giving it a go could be the best decision you ever made.

For example, when we booked our first Easter school holiday to Cyprus about five years ago, we didn’t know what affordable luxury life Cyprus had in stock for us and ever since we first visited, we have ritually continued to visit Cyprus every year and we have even joked that we will retire in Cyprus one day.

3. Use Comparison Sites, Cash-backs and Discounts

Comparison sites are great for checking out what’s on offer. Trivago and Travelscoop are one of my favourites for luxury school holidays offer.

Cash- backs are great for comparing various booking websites like Expedia, Booking.com and icelolly.com offering cash-back deals when you book with them.  I mostly use Quidco  for these.

There are a number of career – based discounts that are great at giving you staff discounts. The most popular is the National Health Service (NHS) discount. If you work with the NHS, make sure you use the health service discount website to check out what discount is on.

4. Use Prepaid Currency Card

I have introduced Revolut travel card to a large number of friends already and they’re all so happy about the fact that they don’t need to pay handling fees or transactional fees unlike credit cards from banks.

Revolut travel card works like a credit card and you can conveniently transfer money from your account to your Revolut card and vice- versa, whilst keeping an eye on what you’re spending. The range of currencies on offer is amazing and I noticed that Revolut’s conversation rate is usually higher than the banks.

For more guide on the best and worst debit cards to use abroad, check out this blog post by Veggievagabonds.

Bank International ATM fee International transaction fee International withdrawal limit
Monzo* Nil Nil £200 per month. 3% charge for foreign withdrawals after.
N26* 1.7% Nil No limit
Revolut* Nil but 0.5-2% on weekends Nil £200 a month. 2% charge for foreign withdrawals after.

5. Use Rewards and more Rewards

We all love to be pampered right? Rewards come in different shapes and sizes. Using them on your luxury travel makes it all more affordable. How?

Ensure your credit card gives you offers for using it. An example is the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card which gives a 2 for 1 companion travel on a BA flight for an annual fee of £195 and a minimum spend of £10,000 over a period of 12 months.

Ensure you use your supermarket royalty scheme which have partnership points that can be used for travel. Examples are Tesco Club-Card points which converts into Avios and Sainsbury’s Nectar points which can be used for travelling with Easy-Jet.

The secret is out! This is how you too can enjoy affordable Luxury travel during school holidays.

I hope you find these tips useful and if you have your tips that you wish to share, please do by leaving them in the comments below.