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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Category: Travel

  1. 5 reasons why a festive break is the best Christmas present

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    Halloween is out of the way and we are into November, which means that we can mention the C word without fear of too much reproach. Seeing your children’s eyes light up at Christmas keeps the magic of the season alive — but away from the tinsel and crackers, it can be a testing time.

    So some of us are opting to spend our Crimbo cash on a sun-kissed break rather than presents and party food — according to a British Airways survey, 45 per cent of Brits would rather head for the horizon than spend big on gifts.

    If you’re tempted to get away from it all, here are five reasons why a festive break is the best Christmas present.

    1.       Expense

    Christmas figures from stats gurus Statista show that the average spend per British household was £821 in 2017.

    And since many of us spend considerably more, perhaps this hard-earned cash would be better invested in a flight to take us on a revitalising winter break?

    With bargains available in a range of destinations in Europe and beyond, no wonder we’re rejigging our festive priorities.

    2.       Choice complexity

    Choosing an appropriate gift for friends and loved ones feels tougher as we get older and research from US clothing brand Trunk Club suggests that this struggle is real.

    Apparently, someone aged 55 or over is twice as likely as someone in their 20s or 30s to consider themselves poor at giving gifts and 26 per cent of all age groups find festive shopping frustrating.

    So perhaps it’s worth abandoning those trips to source socks and soap-on-a-rope in order to stay calm and composed?

    3.       Cheap holidays

    Destinations like Tenerife and Lanzarote are perpetually popular with Brits looking for an affordable winter break to top up their tans and sink some sangria.

    But according to info from travel experts Lonely Planet, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is the cheapest place to fly to this year for a Christmas adventure.

    With a week-long break coming in at just £923, it’s not much more than the average household Christmas bill, and a reasonably small price to pay for experiencing an exciting culture.

    4.       Disposable gifts

    If you’re worried about waste and the environment at Christmas, cover your eyes — a study by retaildive.com last year revealed that a staggering 5 billion pounds of unwanted Christmas presents end up rotting away in landfill sites.

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    So if you want to save the planet and avoid wasting your cash, it might be appropriate to cut back or consider a charity donation as an alternative.

    5.       Stress

    Christmas is officially stressful — a survey from discount app Zeek reveals that 15 per cent of us find it worse than moving house and ten per cent report that it’s more nerve-wracking than a child’s first day at school.

    So you’ve got to ask yourself if your time’s not better spent booking airport parking from comparison specialists Looking4.com and stashing your car at the terminal before sashaying to check-in for a chilled-out winter break.

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    There’s no reason this season should be nerve-shredding — perhaps a change of scenery’s all you need.

    That’s our list! Are you flying abroad this Christmas? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

  2. Top Attractions in Aspen for Families?

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    The weather has definitely made a turn for the worse so we are already thinking about our next family holiday and looking for somewhere different to go.

    I am told that Aspen is like a vast playground for families. Whether you arrive there during summers or winters, there is a lot to do there for the lovers of the outdoors. One can ski, hike or for a brewery tour, or a Museum tour. Aspen may be known for skiing, but there are indeed many other attractions to explore.  Just pick one of the aspen cabin rentals for your stay and enjoy panoramic views as well as self-catering accommodation units. Your children would love staying in a cabin made of wood complete with a fireplace and mountain views. Enjoy all the world-class amenities like sauna, flat-screen TV, private bathrooms and more. Aspen is the perfect location for summer or winter getaway for the whole family.

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    Aspen offers many indoor and outdoor activities to create a memorable family time. Here are some of the top attractions to enjoy in Aspen.

    • Hop on the Silver Queen Gondola
      Families just cannot get enough of Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen! Once you reach more than 11,000 feet, you feel on top of the world. Those picturesque views are truly unforgettable as you gaze at the city below and the vast Elk Mountain Range. During summer, you can enjoy the recreational trails, nature tours and special events like concerts, and in winters, one can enjoy a skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe trolley.
    • Maroon Bells with unforgettable natural wonders
      It is indeed a unique and special experience to explore the breathtaking Maroon Bells. Rising 14,000 feet above sea level, Maroon Bells are one of the most picturesque forestlands of the state. Apart from the scenic beauty of the wildflower-filled meadows, what draws the families and visitors are the picturesque trails. Maroon Creek Trail and Maroon Lake Scenic Trail are the most popular. Families can bring picnic lunch along and can hike or bike amidst the lovely Maroon Bells.

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    • Cool down at the Mill Street Fountain
      Children love to cool down in the Mill Street Fountain, especially when the Aspen temperatures soar. It is a fantastic and free attraction that is especially loved by families. Located near the Hyman Street Mall and in the heart of downtown, the Mill Street Fountain has always been a major attraction since 1979. Just splash around with your children amidst those the 12 jets of cool, refreshing mountain water! Balls and water toys are welcome, and if you get hungry, there are plenty of stalls nearby.
    • Theatre Aspen with special programs and activities
      The professional Theatre is indeed an amazing location and is actually a lofty, riverside tent that is placed in the center of Rio Grande Park. One can get fantastic mountain views all around. Recent productions of Theatre Aspen include Hitchcock’s all-ages show. The theater also organizes a host of summer youth camps for children. Families must include Theatre Aspen in their itinerary.
    • The immensely popular Aspen Ice Skating
      If you are lodging at Hyatt Grand Aspen, entry to the Aspen Ice Skating is free. The outdoor ice skating is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and all year-round. It is a great place to visit in the heat of the summer. Often you would find art exhibits in Aspen Ice Skating venue.
    • Carriage and Sleigh day tours in Aspen
      Families love exploring the town in this homegrown attraction offers wagon and pony rides, which are just perfect for the children. Sleigh rides very popular in the winter, and you can enjoy hot cocoa as you take the ride and under cozy blankets. It is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the peaceful tranquility around. It is a joy to explore the Aspen-filled forests and vast meadows that make for a perfect backdrop for a family adventure.
    • Endless fun at Aspen Recreation Center
      Head towards Aspen Recreation Center and you are guaranteed hours of endless fun with your family and kids. No matter the weather outside, you will find children of all age groups rock climbing, swimming, sledding and ice skating at the Aspen Rec Center. On can also take kayak lessons in the indoor pool.
    • Enjoy the speed with Aspen Snowmobile Tours
      Another excellent way to explore the mountains and enjoy the exhilaration of speed is to perch on a motorized snow vehicle comfortably. The sped and thrill is the best part of the Aspen Snowmobile Tours! You can pick from a vast variety of tours and venture amidst the most picturesque and most photographed mountains. The ride is perfect for the more extended weekends!
    • Stress-free trails at Buttermilk
      If you are looking for a perfect spot to teach your kids to ski, then head straight for Buttermilk that is made of 21 miles of open, stress-free trails. The beginner trails are groomed and well suited for the new learners. One can sign for private skiing and snowboarding lessons under friendly and helpful instructors. There is plenty of room and space for skiers to maneuver on the beginner-friendly slopes aside.
    • Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
      If you love nature, then this is your chance to teach your kids about natural surroundings and the local flora and fauna. All you need to do is head for Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Take them for the winter snowshoe walk and attend wildlife workshops. You may even come face-to-face with the bald eagle, America’s favorite bird. You can sing up your kids for nature hikes and arts and crafts classes. This is the way to go if you want to know the wilder side of the town.

    With so much to do, I am not sure it would be a relaxing holiday but it sounds like it could be pretty amazing.

  3. Want to holiday somewhere different? Why not explore the hidden gems in Oman?

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    I have to admit that since having the children, we have not been particularly brave with our hoilday choices. We have always chosen somewhere that is well known and a relatively short flight away but maybe we should be a little more adventurous and look at exploring somewhere new.

    In recent years Oman has had a turn-around that is unheard of in almost any other country's history. A nearly bloodless exchange of power has put a forward-thinking, and modern monarch into power that has delivered the country into a golden age. You can get your Oman visa and book a trip to experience this new wave of Omani history.

    This uprising and historical oddity have many people flocking to experience a country that was shut up in isolation for so long. Now, the new Sultan in power doesn't intend to let the raw beauty of the landfall by the wayside either. He's brought a balance to updating the country bringing in improved living condition and education access, as well as protecting these hidden gems. 

    The Green Mountains

    These mountains are regularly called “Magical Mountains” or “The Magic Mountain” which says a lot about their stunning geographical features, but more about what these mountains have done for Oman. Omani tribes were separated by these mountains creating historical divides that still have some semblance today. 

    But you’ll find that these tribes have protected much of their culture, and these mountains truly are magical.

    Wadi Nakhr

    A Wadi is any channel or river that runs through a valley or ravine. Wadi Nakhr is special because it runs through an area known as Oman’s Grand Canyon. This ravine sets inside the Hajar Mountains. Its beautiful clear waters are an enchanting contrast to the sandstone cliffs that rise around it. 

    When visiting Wadi Nakhr, you should plan the whole day. Because you’re far out from nearby cities or villages you should account for needing to bring water, and food. Oman camping policies don’t allow people to camp directly next to any wadi, so be sure to go out a few miles before setting up camp.

    Misfat Al Abryeen

    A bit of history still living today, the traditional Omani village of Misfat Al Abryeen is one of this country’s greatest hidden treasures. The stone housing flows right from the mountain. Many houses sit underneath a canopy of banana palms. You can walk through the many lanes of this old village for a lazy and relaxing day.

    If you’re planning to see this ancient big of Omani culture and history, bring a lot of water. Always take your time getting there as well, much of the beauty in Oman is between the villages and towns.

    Al Ayn Beehive Tombs 

    These beehive-like structures are a far cry out from the killing fields that many travels to Cambodia to see. Instead, these toms commemorate a time frame in Oman. These tombs are from the 3rd millennium, B.C. The tombs themselves stand individually with only a single opening to enter or exit and a single room inside.

    When you're visiting the Al Ayn Beehive Tombs, you must be careful to watch your footing. The same stones used to craft these structures lay all across the ground. Losing your balance is easy.

    Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve and Beach

    Although this isn't necessarily a hidden gem, it is the most protected turtle beach in Oman. Ras al Jinz is a world-famous reserve for turtles, and it's only a short trip from the city of Sur. At the right time of year, you can watch sea turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.

    The warm gulf waters and mostly untouched beaches are the haven that sea turtles look for when nesting. If you're planning on making a trip  to Ras al Jinz, you'll need a reservation. Even during the offseason, many people flock to this reserve for the experience.

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    Whenever visiting reserves, or sanctuaries in foreign countries it’s important to ask about the rules. Some places only allow visitors during certain times of day, or in Ras al Jinz’s case, by reservation.

    My girls would love the turtle beach and maybe, just maybe we should look beyond the usual all inclusive holiday options and look for something different next year!

  4. How Taking a Staycation Benefits Your Family

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    Summer has arrived and now is as good a time as any to start making plans for the upcoming months. Whether you find yourself with some holiday hours you want to use up, or just desire to spend some time with your family doing something different, a staycation is a fantastic and affordable option.

    What is a Staycation?


    A staycation is a combination of staying at home and going on vacation. If done right, it can be comparable to a wonderful, relaxing expedition to another destination.

    Just like a vacation where you travel to a new place, a staycation is about enjoyment and relaxation. In fact, a staycation can also be about trying new things. After all, how many people have truly explored everything in their city, town or the area surrounding it?

    While a staycation may not have the exact same draw of setting up shop in a new and exciting location, it can be much less stressful than one in many ways, allowing you and your family more time to just enjoy the time you have together.

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    Benefits of a Staycation

    Save Money - The beauty of a staycation is that you can avoid spending an abundance of money on air travel, gas and hotels. Being as a staycation is an inexpensive alternative to a tradition vacation, it is more likely that you will be able to take the time to enjoy one more often. Not only that, but any money you save can be put towards day trips or activities instead of expensive accommodations, making your adventure that much more fun.

    Get to Know Where You Live - Taking a staycation gives you the opportunity to explore parts of your community and its surrounding area, that you may not have otherwise enjoyed. Visit a new museum, have lunch at a restaurant that you haven’t tried yet or just go for a stroll at a nearby park.

    Relax - These days, families have extremely busy lives. Between extracurriculars, work and school it can be difficult to find the time to relax together. A staycation provides the perfect opportunity to lay back and just enjoy each other’s company, giving you time to truly connect and relax.

    Comfort - There is nothing more comforting than being able to sleep in your own beds, enjoy the comforts of home and just lounge in your pyjamas. A staycation allows you to enjoy all the perks of a vacation, without the discomforts associated with staying somewhere else.


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    There are many benefits of deciding on a staycation with your family this summer. You will be able to save money, get to know where you live, relax and enjoy the comforts of home, and you get to do it together without interruption.

    Author Bio

    This is a guest post from my lovely blogging friend, Sarah Anguish who is a thirtysomething-year-old northerner who now lives in Norfolk with her husband and three children.  Previously working for the NHS in various roles for 15 years before being made redundant in 2016.  She is now a work from home mum who showcases family life, home decor, travel and everything in between on her award-winning blog www.boorooandtiggertoo.com. Whilst working from home may not have been part of the plan, it allows her the greatest flexibility around the needs and activities for her children.