Thursday, April 4, 2019

England | Intinerary and FAQs

We just returned from a 2 week trip to England and it was glorious!  It was our first time traveling overseas as a family and it was truly the best vacation we've ever taken.  The boys are now 16 and 10 years old, which are pretty ideal ages for traveling. I started planning this trip last summer and did quite a bit of research, all of which I'm going to share here in the hope it helps anyone wanting to plan a similar trip.

Here is how we broke down our time.  Total trip was 13 days, 2 were lost to traveling...

Arrive in London, travel 2 hours to Bath. we got in early, 6:00 AM and were in Bath before 11:00.  We took a bus from Heathrow.

Explored every nook and cranny of Bath and picked up rental car in evening.

Castle Comb to walk around
Northleach for pub dinner

Daylesford Farm for brunch
Stow on the Wold hike
Bibury to walk around
Barnsley for pub dinner

Bourton on the Water
Upper + Lower Slaughter

Chipping Campden
Warwick Castle
Drive to York

Explore city 
Tea at Betty's Tea Room
Evensong at York Minster (skipped)
Ghost Tour

Robin's Hood Bay
Fountain's Abbey
*this was the plan but we ended up spending a second day in York*

Train to London
London Tower
Tower Bridge
London Eye (skipped)

Shopping day!
Double Decker Tour (skipped and biked instead)

Changing of the Guards
Churchill War Rooms
British Museum (skipped)
Tea in Marylebone

I will do a blog post for each portion of the trip and give lots more details - like where we stayed, our favorite things, what we would change, etc. The above was loosely my guide, with some additional shops, restaurants and attractions written down for each stop.  You can see there are things we skipped.  Usually nothing major except for Day 8 which we completely changed.  Andrew was running a low grade fever and had a headache on our first day in York, so he missed some of the sights and wanted to experience the city when he was feeling better.  It ended up being one of my favorite days of the trip.  We were all very relaxed and the day felt more spontaneous since we had extra time to discover and explore.

Some common questions I've had via instagram:
How did you get around?
We took a bus from London to Bath, had a rental car for most of the trip and then a train from York to London.  The first day or so of driving was a little scary (100s of roundabouts, but Jimmy got the hang of it quickly.)  You need a car in the Cotswolds, there is no way around it.  Plus driving around there was one of the best parts!  You do not need a car in the bigger cities.

What did you pack?
I'll try do a separate packing post with specific items.  I fit everything into a carry-on suitcase.  We didn't want to risk checking any bags.  Plus the cars are small, so we wouldn't have had space for big suitcases. The key was packing mostly things in the same colors, almost all navy and ivory for me.  Packing items that can be layered and worn in more than one way.  Here's what I took:
1 pair of jeans, 2 tunics that I could wear with leggings, 2 cardigans, 4 sweaters (3 light weight, one a little thicker), 2 short sleeve Ts, 3 dresses, 2 skirts, couple pairs of pjs, 1 wrap, 1 light weight raincoat, 1 Patagonia "sweater" jacket for layering under lightweight jacket when cold, 1 pair of rain boots and 1 pair of flats.

Why didn't you go to Scotland and Wales?
I wanted to be able to stay in each location in England for about 3 days and not feel rushed to the next stop or lose whole days to travel. I would love to visit both, but will save for future trips!

How did you prepare for the trip?
I'm not usually such a planner when it comes to vacations.  I sort of like to see where the day takes me.  However, with a trip like this, in a country I don't know well at all, I needed to plan.  I read Rick Steves England book and it was a big help for planning the itinerary and narrowing down the places I wanted to go.  I read Susan Branch's book which helped with the Cotswolds.  I also followed England based bloggers and instagrammers from the time I booked the trip.  And the best suggestions came from generous readers and followers through Instagram!

How did you find the places to stay?
When it comes to traveling as a family, I prefer a house to a hotel.  You have more space to spread out and you can have a dinner at home if you are too tired to venture out.  Also, if someone wants to go to bed earlier than the rest, you don't all have to sit in the dark. For Bath and York I used AirBnB.  For the Cotswolds I used Character Cottages (link here) and for London I used the Plum Guide (link here)

I'm running short on time, next up will be a recap of Bath!

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