Travel and World-Schoolingj

Our 6-7 month trip is coming to an end, and we have had the most amazing time! Lots of ups and downs, lots of last minute plan changes and we have all grown so close.

We have all learnt so much as a family and as individuals, and we are very grateful to be able to experience everything that we have, we feel very lucky.

Here are some things that me and Glen have learnt:

  1. Never plan ahead just take each day as it comes
  2. Possessions are not important
  3. Life is for living and loving
  4. You only live once
  5. Take risks
  6. It’s important to say “I love you” everyday
  7. Surround yourself with people who are happy and smile alot
  8. People can be incredibly generous
  9. Animal therapy is an actual thing, and cuddling a dog, cat, rabbit or petting a horse will make you happy
  10. It’s always best just to laugh at everything that goes wrong (especially if you break a bed in a lovely hotel)
  11. You will never get 1 minute to yourself when travelling with your children
  12. You can love and hate your children at the same time
  13. Our girls are more demanding and strong willed than we realised, and could probably run for prime-mister one day.
  14. You can teach maths pretty much anywhere everyday, using sugar sachets, counting objects under water, and lift buttons
  15. There is never a “language barrier” when you are a pro at charades….
  16. ….And you have google translate
  17. Booking.com will take your money regardless if you like your hotel or not
  18. Americans’ and Thais’ are the happiest people we have met on our travels
  19. Baths, dressing gowns and Yorkshire puddings are missed everyday (by Gemma)
  20. Glen has learnt how to play the ukulele
  21. The girls are now ready to settle somewhere for a while

What Ellie and Maisie have Learnt:

  1. To swim like mermaids
  2. They have both learnt how to belly surf and now they want to learn to do real surfing
  3. Both learnt how to horse ride
  4. Leant how to fish, gut and cook a fish
  5. How to feed a baby goat
  6. How to make friends and play with children from all over the world with out worrying about language. They have friends from China, India, Thailand, Japan, France, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, America, Fiji, New Zealand….
  7. How to say hello, goodbye and thank you in many languages
  8. How to get used to change and constant moving around, nothing fazes them now!
  9. How to pose for photos around 5 times a day for Indians, Thais And Chinese as they love their skin and hair colour!
  10. Learnt how to say goodbye without getting upset
  11. How to get used to only having a small bag of cheap 7-11 plastic toys
  12. Both can now walk for 3-4 miles with out complaining
  13. Both have tried new foods and realised they like new things
  14. Both of them are a lot closer as sisters than they were before we left
  15. Both of them want cats, dogs, rabbits, horses as pets, they have a list…
  16. Academic Lessons America– History, Cowboys, Tectonic Plates and mountains, astronomy, weather, wildlife, art, music
  17. Academic Lessons New Zealand– earth quakes, tectonic plates, and Thermal activity, wildlife, the sun and the moon
  18. Academic Lessons Thailand– Language, friendships, religion, culture, cooking and food, swimming,
  19. I’m sure they have learnt so much more than this list!

But now it’s time for a new adventure, in a new country with a different language that we have been practicing as much as we can!

Keep reading our blogs to find out what we are doing next!

Love Gem, Glen, Ellie and Maisie

Xxx

Have you ever wanted to visit Thailand or have plans to go, but wonder how you would get from town to town? If you are wanting to really immerse yourself in the Thai culture keep reading this blog has all the information for you!

Lets look at different types of transport in Thailand;

TuktukYou would only use this method of transport to travel a few miles, no further and you wouldn’t expect to pay more than 100-200 Thai Baht. This seems to be their starter price, any less then they will certainly be trying to sell you something else later (see more information on this further down in “Bangkok”). You can also use a Tuktuk for a day trip, taking you to many temples and other places of interest; we paid around 400 Thai Baht for 2 hours around Ayutthaya.

Taxi – Can be a more convenient way to travel somewhere that’s only around 1 hour away, for example we used a lot of taxies to get to different areas of Bangkok, as well as travelling down to Pattaya, and Koh Samet.  You shouldn’t be paying any more than approx 1000 Thai Baht per hour.

Bus – we didn’t get to use this method of transport but here is a link that may help:

Train – All of the above will get caught in traffic at some point, plus there are a lot of accidents in Thailand, a lot more than anywhere else in the world. So with traffic, accidents and two busy children in mind, we felt the train would be more suitable for us; plus there are toilets on trains which is good if you are travelling with children.

The Northern Line Train goes straight up the middle of Thailand from Bangkok to Chiang Mai; there are many different types of train that run on the Northern Line, some run faster than others, some have aircon and some don’t. Prices range from 40 to 500 Thai Baht each depending on what class and train you choose to travel on, we chose to travel on all different trains so keep reading if you need help decided what kind of train is best for you.

Examples of Different trains:

Ordinary: No class choice, No aircon, Large open windows, 40 Thai baht, Slower

Express (71 & 77): 2nd class, Aircon 400 Thai Baht each,  or 3rd Class no aircon 50-60 Thai Baht each, Fast

Special Express (3 & 7): 2nd Class Aircon, 400-500 Thai Baht, Fastest

On our very first train experience we chose a 2nd Class Express train with, as we had heard some awful stories of 3rd Class and Ordinary trains, we will talk about 3rd Class/ Ordinary Trains later on in this blog.

www.thailandtrains.com has lots of information and timetables

BANGKOK

Bangkok is usually where most people start, so here are some tips on where to stay, what to do and how to get the train to your next destination.

There are many areas of Bangkok to stay, just make sure you don’t book the wrong area – otherwise you will be in the middle of a “business” area (Eg Silom) which is much like Fenchurch Street London with no restaurants or street markets. Siam is good if you like a busy town, links to other towns via the Skytrain and would like to do some shopping -at the Siam Square and MBK Centre.

Here are some good areas and hotels that we would suggest, and we have included some surrounding things to do:

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham, Bangkok, Menam Riverside (booking.com)

This hotel is higher end with a swimming pool, and right next to the river, so you can get a river taxi as cheap as 20 Thai Baht each (£0.50 / $0.65) to any town along the river as well as the main Koh San Road.

In the evening be sure to visit the night market, and book to watch the Muay Thai Kick Boxing show at Asiatique http://www.muaythailive.com. This is suitable for all ages, showing the history of Muay Thai through music, dance and martial arts. You can if you wish stay for 2 live fights at the end, which we did, our children are both girls aged 8 and 4 and they absolutely loved it!

Mango Lagoon Place, Koh San Road, Bangkok (agonda.com)

This hotel is a budget hotel with a swimming pool, its set in the middle of a very vibrant street full of street food, clothes stalls and restaurants. Only 5 min walk to the River (so you can get a river Taxie to any nearby towns) 5 mins walk to the busy Koh San Road, which has a fantastic night market! And an added bonus is that this is also 5 min walk to the famous Muay Thai Street boxing camp, and on Sunday evenings at 6.30pm you can watch a live match for free!

UPDATE: Soi Ram Buttri is achally much better and not as touristy as Khao San Road!

Just a few tips for Koh San Road area:

  1. TukTuks are on commission, so if you hire them to take you to some temples for a hour, they will take you to random shop at the end of your trip in hope that you will buy something (they will get a special stamp/ or money if you do) one place that we were taken to was a high end suit making shop, it was very awkward and uncomfortable!
  2. You will get told that Ko San Road is shut because there is a fight down there, OR that its a special day today, only today to see floating market! TRUST ME Do not believe them, they are trying to get you in their Tuktuk to make their money.
  3. You will be asked over and over by many Tuktuk drivers while on your peaceful stroll if you would like to go on a day trip to see the local Temples, or to the floating markets – if you don’t want to go just tell them that you have been already! Job done!

AYUTTHAYA

Getting there

Train from Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) to Ayutthaya, we caught the

71 EXPRESS = 10.05am arriving at 11.24am this cost approx. 1200 Thai baht for 3 of us (Maisie was free)

About Ayutthaya

If you listened to the history of Muay Thai when watching the Muay Thai Live you would have learnt that Ayutthaya is where it originated from. If you are also a fan of the films “Kick Boxer” and “Mortal Combat” you will certainly want to make a stop here, as this is where they filmed them! We will tell you where to go to get the best side by side photo from the films.

Fun Fact: Each town has its own style of tuk-tuks, Ayutthaya’ are especially cool, and unique, and very brightly coloured!

Where to stay and what to do in Ayutthaya

P.U. Inn Resort (Booking.com)

This resort is absolutely beautiful, Mrs Pu has taken her time to make this place very welcoming and comfortable for her guests! Each room has a sofa inside and outside of the room, beds are extremely comfortable, and the style is clean and modern. If you book for a family ask for one of the rooms on the first floor, as you will get an amazing view of their pond at the back. By night you can watch the Fireflies twinkle, and in the morning you can see the beautiful pink flowers opening – which are closed during the day, absolutely magical.

Just 2 min walk from P.U. Resort there are many bars and restaurants which we highly recommend, the street is quiet all the chairs are outside and it has a wonderful warm feeling. One of the bars is called Jazz Bar, which has live music every Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Mrs Pu will offer you a boat tour, which is definitely worth every penny, its a late afternoon boat trip, that will take you to see 4 temples with a final ruin temple at sunset!

The next day hire a Tuktuk, we paid 400 Thai Baht (£10 / $12.50) for 2 hours to be taken to 4 temples of our choice, (they will show you a list and you can choose) and we chose them as Glen wanted to photograph the temples/ruins from scenes in movies KICKBOXER and MORTAL KOMBAT.

Glens side by side film photos:

If you are interested in seeing these filming locations then this is where you you need to go.

KICKBOXER :-Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana.

MORTAL KOMBAT :- Wat chaiwatthanaram , Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

It can take some time pin pointing the exact filming location within the temple grounds, but it is fasinating slowly walking around these temples taking in the spiritual atmospher.

LOPBURI

Getting There

11.27am from Ayutthaya arriving at 12.39pm 201 Ordinary Train 3rd Class 40 Thai Baht each

As the train was only just over an hour we decided to brave the “Ordinary” train which was a fantastic choice, the windows were wide open, the views were spectacular and there was a very cool breeze.

About Lopburi

Lopburi town is located 130 kilometres north of Bangkok and only 60 kilometres north of Ayutthaya, this town is known for its resident monkeys that you will find swinging over the rooftops and climb on ancient ruins. Its definitely worth a visit, especially now (july) as all the monkeys have babies!

Where to Stay and What to do in Lopburi

Little Lopburi Village (Booking.com)

I can not recommend this homestay enough! Little Lopburi Village is run by a retired Thai couple, who are the most loving and welcoming people we have ever met! If you decide to stay here, please arrive with a smile, and be kind please, they deserve every ounce of respect. We decided to take their afternoon trip, which took us to 2 temples, a sunflower field (was not season for sunflowers but it was an amazing location) and a bat cave! This was one of the best few hours of our lives, and we totally recommend you go on this trip.

Their property is around 10 min walk to the monkey temple, if you decide to walk to see the monkeys, be aware that they are feisty, and will jump on you or chase you. If you are a little nervous you might be better off watching them in the nearby roads, as they are not as hostile, and will run away from you.

The Monkey Temple is their home, and I think that they are just protecting their area so please be careful – was was advised to take a stick to shoo them away.

Here is a little video Little Lopburi Village made for us

PHITSANULOK

Getting There

1.00pm arriving at 4pm, Special Express 3, 2nd Class 400 Thai baht each

Where to Stay and what to do in Phitsanulok

The Grand Riverside Hotel (booking.com)

IMG_3330

We didn’t expect too much from this stay, but we had a fantastic time staying here! Our rooms were interlocking so the children had their own room, plus I managed to have a bath! Every evening they have karaoke in the Restaurant which we all joined in with, it was lovely to let our hair down and have some fun!

Book a taxi asking to visit the Large Water Lilies, its around 10 min drive from the hotel and totally worth a look! If you are under 120 ib you can pay 100 Thai Baht to stand on a Lilly pad and have a selfie!

More information on https://www.thailandee.com/en/visit-thailand/giant-water-lilies-pond-phitsanulok-398

SUKHOTHAI

Getting There

There are no direct trains from Phitsanlok (I didn’t realise this before booking) you can book a taxi for 800 Thai Baht to get there in 50 mins.

About Sukhothai

Where to Stay and What to do in Sukhothai

Foresto Sukhothai Guest Home (booking.com)

We had been travelling for sometime by now, and decided to take a break for a few days, and relax somewhere with a pool! And this is what we did, along with some Spanish lessons, Ukulele lessons and reading for the kids! We took one day out to the Old Town, via wooden bus – that cost 100 Thai Baht for all of us which was wonderful! We hired bikes when we got here for the kids, which cost 30 Thai Bahts, and took a leisurely stroll around the ruins in the Central Zone. Once we had finished looking around the ruins, we were told about a ceramic making place.

 

LAMPANG

Getting There

Taxi back to Phitsanlok Train station 800 Thai Baht

13.22 Special Express 7 train arriving at 17.30 we opted for 2nd Class as it was a longer journey and cost us approx. 1200 Thai Baht for all of us

Where to Stay and what to do in Lampang

Kanecha’s Home (booking.com)

Kenecha’s home is probably one of the most beautiful houses we have stayed in, wonderfully decorated rooms, comfortable beds and welcoming staff! We booked a two bedroom villa, so our girls had their own room and shower which they loved, travelling as a family doesn’t give you any privacy!

If you visit here at the weekend, take a walk to the weekend night market, this for us was a beautiful walk taking in the atmosphere and smells. It was such an odd experience walking through a very busy market, but being so calm and quiet; I have never felt so relaxed in such a busy place.

Lampang is known for its Horse and Carriage, so we decided to book a trip around town for 1 hour costing 400 Thai Baht, where we were taken to a few temples, and a street party! We did feel bad for the horse as we are not the smallest of people, but luckily we only travelled for 4-5 mins at a time and then the horse relaxed in the shade for 10-15 mins.

Weekend Street Market Lampang

Horse and Carridge Ride Lampang

 

CHIANG MAI

Getting There

The Journey from Lampang to Chiang Mai is approx 2 hours, and we decided to take the 12.36 Diesel Train that only cost us 70 Thai Baht for all of us (£1.80 / $2.40) Here is a little video of our journey that we really enjoyed!

Where to Stay and what to do in Chiang Mai

Baan Sang Singn  (Booking.com)

IMG_4266

This resort is run by a wonderful family, and has many room options suitable for families eg Bunk Beds, a beautifully clean swimming pool, and a few ride on toys for the kids. The family have children themselves, and definitely have thought carefully about travelling families and their needs.

This is by far the cleanest hotel we have ever been in, rooms are cleaned every day, windows are cleaned, pool side toys, tables and chairs. The cleaners work hard all day to keep the resort spotless, and you can tell that the family have alot of pride in their business. The food here is very well priced, and very tasty, and if you would like breakfast its best to order the night before to be ready at a certain time in the morning.

We stayed in a special room for our daughters birthday which we would highly recommend, its a Family Suite (with Bunkbed) it even has a bath! see photos below:

The girls were very excited, and even spent some time playing with their toys on the bus,  we had some very happy children – Thank you Baan Sang Singh for an incredible stay we will be recommending you!

The resort is approx 10 min tuktuk drive from the train station, and 10 min walk to the main walls of Chaing Mai.

There are many things advertised to do around Chaing Mai, but with us looking into them further they seem to be either cruelty to animals or cruelty to the village people, too expensive or unappropriate for children. Here is an example of what is on offer in the Tuk-tuks:

IMG_4497.jpg

One place we wished we could visit was 2-3 hours drive away was the Golden Triangle, White Temple – if you have young children this can be a very long day for you all. Maybe staying at Ching Rai or further north might be a better option.

We planned to be busy every other day, so the children can play by the pool and relax on the others. Thailand is very hot, and you will all get very tired if you have long busy trips booked everyday. Here is our list of things to do in Chiang Mai that is suitable for children, that you can either walk or organise transport yourself with a Tuktuk or Taxi:

Cat Café – They Call Me Cat (15 Min walk)

https://www.facebook.com/Cat-cafe-They-call-me-cat-403918557032783/

This was a fabulous little time spent petting 25 cats, all different breads and all absolutely beautiful! We paid the 100 Thai Baht each to enter, the money goes towards running the small business, and keep the cats well feed and pampered! All the cats are happy, healthy and love lots of attention! Be prepared to have the puuuurrrrfect time!

 Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre – Khantoke Dinner Show (10 min drive- 150 Thai Baht)

https://www.facebook.com/OldChiangmaiCulturalCenter/

We had a fantastic time here, we sat at the front on traditional Thai mats, and ate our food from a small platter in the middle. For us it was an opportunity for the children to try new foods, as so far they havnt been very adventurous. The food is wonderful, – (some spicy some not) and they do come around and offer more when you run out, so don’t worry if you are feeling hungry you will be well fed. The show itself is a mixture of all Thai dances from Traditional thai to Hill tribes. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening, and both the girls were both memorised by the fingernail dance!

Ploenrudee Night Market (5 min tuktuk 100 Thai Baht)

https://www.facebook.com/ploenrudeenightmarket/

Vibrant market place with fusion food stalls, funky cocktail bars made from converted busses, and live music! We had a wonderful time here, and once you have finished eating and dancing you can have a lovely stroll up and down the night market outside – what more would you want?

Lucky Bunny Cafe – (10 min walk)

https://www.facebook.com/luckybunnycafe/

Or

https://www.facebook.com/Pinny-House-by-Lucky-Bunny-Cafe-269179213734435/

If you love a fury friend, you have to visit Lucky Bunny Cafe! They only allow 8-9 people in at a time and it cost 200 Thai Baht per person to enter. So when you arrive grab yourself a table in the cafe and wait for a bit untill they are ready for the next group!

I assure you the wait and the cost is totally worth it! You will meet several bunny’s of different breeds, each can do a different trick from kissing, high 5s and standing, and you will get a chance to practice the tricks yourself with the bunny’s! All of them are well looked after, coats are shiny, and they bright eyed and happy – definitely well loved and looked after.

If your looking for something to do with the kids while in Chiang Mai this is definitely one of our top choices- the kids will be “hopping” for joy!

Hmong  Hill Tribe and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthed Temple

Since we have been in Thailand all of the trips we have done, we have always made our own way there, and not booked any organised trips; we find them very expensive and time limiting. For our trip to Hmong Hill Tribe and Temple we booked a red TukTuk van for 1200 Thai baht, instead of 900 Thai Baht per person with a tourist operator.

Hmong Hill Tribe was not what we expected, I had a secluded warm welcoming village in mind, with everyone dressed in tribal clothing, all running at us open arms- but unfortunately this was not the case. The whole town is commercialised tourist trap full of hundreds of stalls, and children asking for money if you take their photo! I am assuming they are dressed in the morning, and briefed for their days work, making sure they collect as much money as possible. We were very gutted about this, and feel it’s a real shame that what probably was once a beautiful village in the mountains, is now just a huge money making town.  But we did have a wonderful day out, driving up the mounting, having fun as a family and seeing all the beautiful views!

The Temple down the hill from Hmong was beautiful, we had to climb many steps to get to the top and was just 30 Thai Baht to enter (adults) We purchased flowers, and incense from the bottom, and all made a wish to Buddha at the top.

 

Chiang Mai Elephant Home (Free transfer) 

https://m.facebook.com/CmElephantHome/

https://chiangmaielephanthome.com/ 

If you love elephants, and really disagree with riding them this is the place to go, no chains no saddles, just love! Chiang Mai Elephant Home is a team of people who rescue Elephants from Riding camps, where they have been treated badly, and offer them a beautiful home in a small village surrounded by mountains. The whole experience is calm, nothing is rushed and you are welcomed with a smile.

We decided to book a full day elephant experience, which starts off at 8am when you are picked up from your hotel and driven south of Chiang Mai approx. 1 hour 30 mins away. When you arrive you are greeted by the team, and given some clothes to put on. The first part of the morning is very relaxed, you will be given lots of information about the elephants, while you are making a yummy treat for them while watching them play in the field behind you!

Once you have made your elephant treat, you will be given a bag of food, and taken to meet the elephants to feed them! They are always very hungry, and the babies will hunt down your bag for bananas, they are very cheeky and playful!

Once you have fed the Elephants you will be asked to give them huge leaves, which they play with and eat, which gives you an opportunity to have a photo with them. Around 12-12.30 it’s your turn to eat, and the food offered is very yummy – curry, rice, vegetables, omelette and some fruit. We were very lucky to have cake, as they kindly made one for my daughters 5th birthday as a surprise, which we were incredibly grateful for.

After your lunch, your afternoon consists of washing the elephants with mud, and then splashing them with water in the river, an absolutely incredible experience, especially watching the babies who were obviously very happy rolling around in the water. On your way home you will be taken to a waterfall for a dip, perfect end to the day.

Chiang Mai Elephant Home Full Day Experience was the highlight of our Thailand trip, most  magical experience being so close to these incredible animals, If you love Elephants I would highly recommend booking here! If you would like to see our experience in full please watch our YouTube link below:

Places to eat near to Baan Sang Singh:

B Samcook – Outstanding Breakfast and Dinner very high standard https://www.facebook.com/thebfamilycnx/

Chiangmai Breakfast World – beautiful garden and large selection of breakfast https://www.facebook.com/cmbreakfastworld/

 

BACK TO BANGKOK

Getting There: Night Train! 14 hours in a 1st class private sleeper cabin 19th July 2019 VIDEO AND REVIEW TO COME!

 

 

1. Freedom camping is now illegal in most towns.

We only discovered this once we arrived in New Zealand, we were under the impression that it was the best place in the world for camping- but we were wrong! Unfortunately many other campers have abused the system in the past by littering and dumping anywhere and damaging their beautiful scenery. So now most “Freedom” camps are closed for good, and many signs are up saying no freedom camping.

2. Locals call Motorhome’s “Road Maggots”

Especially in the South driving in our 7.5 metre campers,we didn’t feel welcomed! We learnt that our nickname is “Road Maggots” that just get in their way on the roads; we had many cars and lorry’s tailgating us, forcing Glen to pull over to let them past. Parking can be a struggle in smaller towns if you have a larger Motorhome leave earlier, or plan your trip accordingly.

3. South Island is less welcoming to campers compared to the North.

We haven’t worked out why this is yet, and maybe we will never know but just we didn’t feel liked in the South Island.

4. Camping in New Zealand is harder than camping in USA.

I know we are comparing two completely different countries here, but our travels in a Motorhome in USA was a lot easier than our trip around New Zealand. USA is fully equipped with dump stations every few miles, where New Zealand has a dump station every 50-60 miles if your lucky. Americans sell their homes, and buy massive RVs to travel in around their own country. So locals in USA are more welcoming to travellers, and you can meet a lot more locals on the road compared to New Zeland.

Our trip around New Zealand was amazing, but I feel we would of learnt a lot more about NZ and it’s culture if we travelled by car and stayed in hotels.

5. All your camper friends will be European or Asian.

Get your language book out, as you might struggle making friends around the campsites! We didn’t meet many New Zealander’s during our travels, or English speaking families. Our children had a fantastic time and learnt a lot from foreign children which I am extremely grateful for. Ellie got her pen and pad out most days, going off to teach all the children English!

6. New Zealander’s don’t wear shoes.

I googled this as I wasn’t sure why New Zealander’s don’t wear shoes- they walk barefoot in the supermarket, shops and streets! Here what I found:

“Culture: In Maori culture, going barefoot means that you connect with nature. A wharenui (meeting house) in a marae (Maori meeting place) is considered a tapu (sacred) place. Wearing shoes inside a wharenui is an act of desecration to the tapu of the wharenui. Our Maori heritage is important and meaningful to all of us.”

More info click HERE

7. Rotorua and many other towns have Maori gangs, that wear different colours.

I am not joking, and I only found this out when another New Zealander couldn’t believe I survived a grocery shop called Pak ‘n’ Save, Rotorua! I just felt like I was in Pitsea Essex nothing different for me!

“FOR a quiet country, New Zealand has a peculiar problem with gangs. It is reckoned to have one of the highest membership rates in the world. In a population of 4.7m, police count over 5,300 mobsters or “prospects” who are angling to join.

More info click HERE

8. You will drive though sheep and clouds for miles in the South Island.

This is quite an experience as you are literally driving in the clouds all the time while you are in the South Island everything looks so beautiful! I have never seen so many sheep in one space before, all dotted up the hills for miles…

9. …And then without warning you will see the most fascinating views.

This is the best part about New Zealand, the huge contrast between green lush fields, and rugged mountains. And it creeps up on you without warning, giving you a wonderful surprise! Even in the North Island you’ll be driving through sheep and fields, and little do you know that over the hill is the most pristine beach you have ever seen! The two don’t usually go together, but in New Zealand two contrasting landscapes stand side by side as one.

10. New Zealand sits on a tectonic plate Fault line.

This is what freaked us out the most about New Zealand- the many “Fault Lines” it has causing all the geothermic activity and many earth quakes. The biggest fault is the East Coast of the North Island, where the Australian Tectonic plate pushes under the Pacific Plate- rather than how they should be- side by side. At the moment there are predictions of a Tsunami anytime soon! Read more HERE

SNEEKY EXTRA TWO 😊

11. There are no Land Animals in New Zealand

I still can’t get my head around this to why there isn’t any land animals here, there are many birds, some of which can not fly but nothing else! I do wonder weather all the geothermal activity and the fault lines have scared them all off!

12. Top 10 Campsites are the best

Top 10 are fully equipped campsites, with full hookups, hot showers, kids playground, other children for our children to meet and play with. Yes I know these cost a few more $ than some of the DOC Sites, but for us Top 10 has been a god send! Nothing like a hot shower, a little bit of WiFi for blog writing and Netflix when the kids are asleep! Click HERE to see their website.

SOUTH ISLAND CLICK HERE

NORTH ISLAND CLICK HERE

NORTH ISLAND CAMPERVAN ROAD TRIP

Are you planning your road trip for New Zealand and need some ideas on where to go, and best places to visit in New Zealand in a motorhome? You are in the right place! We have also written about our trip South Island Trip click HERE Take a look!

This travel blog is intended to help other campers travel New Zealand in the best way possible, alot has changed with New Zealand rules and you can no longer freedom camp. DOC camps are available, but do not supply hot water, or electricity just drop toilets. During summer months these DOC camps are full up by 2pm, and if you are travelling with children you do not want to find yourself stuck with no where to stay.

I would highly recommend either booking local familes “Driveways” you can find these on Campmate (download the app on your phone. The next recommendation is Top 10 Campsites www.top10.co.nz they have everything you need from dump stations, cold water, hotwater showers, Wifi, electric hook up, kitchens, TV rooms, bike hire, laundry, childrens park, jelly mountain and of course you can book in advance! If you sign up to become a member you will get 10% off each park you book, and during the Autumn months of May and June they Offer 30% off. For us, comparing the cost of DOC sites (that only offer toilets) and Campermate sites, you are achally paying around the same for Top 10 – sometimes a little more –  but trust me its totally worth every penny!

We have been in situations in the South Island when we have not had anywhere to dump, or shower and stuck in the middle of no where without phone coverage, and I can tell you that wasnt fun! Since we have travelled New Zealand these past 6 weeks we have realised that it is not fully equipt for campers, freedom camping is now illigal in most towns, and we have found it a very hard country to camp in.

So here you go this is our 18 day road trip around the North Island of New Zealand;

WELLINGTON

2 Nights

Night one: Cuba Street Motorhome Park $35 (campermate app)

This carpark campsite is 1 min walk from the hippy vintage town of Wellington, Cuba Street is full of quirky people, and vibrant restaurants and bars.

We ate at The Flying Burrito Brothers, and a meal for 4 came to $100, which for us was very reasonably priced.

Night two: Paekariki Holiday Park $42 (campermate app)

We loved this campsite because it was full of large butterflies, and each bay is separated by hedges; we felt like we was in the Queens’ back garden! Lots of grounds for the kids to explore as well as a park and a jelly mountain.

DRIVE FROM PAEKARIKI PARK TO LAKE TAUPO 4 HOURS

 

LAKE TAUPO

1 Night: Happy Daze Drive Way – families drive way $40 (campermate app)

This wasn’t an official Lake Taupo campsite, but we could walk out the back of their garden and see the edge of the lake! Beautiful spot with a beach, and stunning sunset! The family are extremely friendly and have done their fair share of travelling. Our girls played for hours with their children, they are lovely and very sociable – my girls had a lot of fun!

DRIVE FROM LAKE TAUPO TO ROTORUA 1 HOUR

ROTORUA

3 nights: Top 10 Rotorua (30% May and June) $148

There are lots to do around Rotorua so we suggest taking your time here, its an absolutely fascinating place; If you can stand the smell (to be fair it wasn’t as bad as others describe – it was like burnt gases) This campsite is a perfect base for all the things to see and do below.

Things to see and do:

Hot Pools at Top 10: Here they have two hot pools that they fill up every day with fresh hot water from the natural geothermal pools, it’s a bit smelly and green, but is ment to be good for your skin and its very relaxing.

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Wakarewarewa Forest, Treewalk: www.treewalk.co.nz This is an absolutely amazing 700 metre long tree walk in the Redwood forest, that consists of 28 suspension bridges for you to walk across from tree to tree. Redwoods are known for being gigantic, these are only 100 year old are not even fully grown yet, but still HUGH! We booked the Redwood Treewalk +Nightlights which was out of this world! You get to walk along the tree tops after dusk when they light up the trees with beautiful lights, and 30 lanterns designed by an artist called David Trubridge. If you would like to see them in the day too, and you have a campervan maybe try what we did; park up at 4pm walk into the forest  (free to explore the forest next to the treewalk) go back to cook your dinner, and then walk across to the treetop walk after sunset!

Wakarewarewa Living Maori Village: www.whakarewarewa.com This for us was an absolute treat, and the best experience of our trip so far! We had a guided tour around the Maori Village, learnt about how they live, and some of their family history. It was fascinating to see all the geothermal activity and how they use it in their everyday life. After the tour and Maori traditional dance show, we were allowed to spend as long as we liked exploring the village, which we did! We ate lunch in their café, and we choose pastries and corn that was cooked in their geothermic underground ovens – trust me you must try, they taste amazing! We then took a walk round following the maps to see all there hot pools, mud pools and geezers, which again I highly recommend.

DRIVE FROM ROTORUA TO HOTWATER BEACH 3 HOURS

 

HOTWATER BEACH

4 Nights: Top 10 Hotwater Beach (30% off May/June) $159

Beautiful campsite 5 minute walk to the Hotwater beach

Things to see and do

Hotwater Beach – This for us was a fascinating experience, and to this day we don’t totally understand why there is hot water under the sand! But anyway, this must be on your list of to dos for the North Island. It will be busy, so get there at the times they suggest, dig a hole and sit in the water that comes up from the ground! It will be hot, so if you have a bucket take it with you so you can cool it down with cold sea water.

Hahei Beachabsolutely beautiful beach, if you go in Autumn you will have the whole beach to yourself!

Cathedral CovesUnfortunately we didn’t get to go to the coves, it was on our list but struggled to get there with the weather, and tide times. I love to go places where no one else is, and capture beautiful photos, so sunrise was on our minds. But everytime we got up at 6am, the rain was coming down hard! Absolutely gutted.

DRIVE FROM HOTWATER BEACH TO AUCKLAND 3 HOURS

 

AUCKLAND

1 Night: Z-Peir $20 for 24 hours (campermate app)

Things to see and do

There is probably a lot more to do in town, but we had to apply for our Visa for Thailand, and buy a few things so we didn’t have a lot of time here. After we finished our to do list, went to a cool place called Great Escape www.greatescapethegame.co.nz If you are brave enough to take on a challenge you can be locked into a room where you have to solve puzzles to escape! We choose “Dreams of Alice” as we had the kids with us, and we didn’t know what to expect! All I can tell you is that there are a lot of surprises, and we managed to escape with 2 seconds spare! Highly Recommended!

DRIVE FROM AUCKLAND TO WHATUWHIWHI 4 HOURS

 

WHATUWHIWHI (Doubtless Bay)

2 Nights: Top 10 Whatawhiwhi (30% off May/June) $91.80

Beautiful campsite, close to the beach!

Things to see and do

Fishing: Buy fishing equipment from Reel Rods www.reelrods.co.nz we just bought two different types of hand lines that cost $5 – $10.

Perehope Beach – 2o metres from the Campsite great for Fishing, fishing at high tide is recommended.

Waikato Bay – Double bay full of beautiful shells and warm water, as we are travelling in Autumn we had the whole beach to ourselves and had a fantastic day out.

Karikari Beach – Long white sandy beach absolutely beautiful.

DRIVE FROM WHATUWHIWHI TO CAPE REINGA 2-3 HOURS (allow time for Sand Dunes)

 

CAPE REINGA

1 Night: Tapotupotu Campsite DOC – $32.50 Beautiful campsite by the beach (campermate app)

Things to see and do

Te Paki Sand dunes – Hire boards from a little van at the dunes $10 each – the smaller dune behind the van is best for kids and they will still fly down the dune quite fast we had a fun few hours here.

Lighthouse – Very spiritual place for Maoris as this is where their loved ones in spirit “leap” into their final journey. This is a beautiful 10 minute walk down hill to the lighthouse.

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Meeting of Oceans – To the left of the lighthouse you will see a group of waves, which is the Tasmanian Sea and Pacific Ocean meeting – they do not mix just clash against each other.

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DRIVE FROM CAPE REINGA TO BAY OF ISLANDS 2.5 HOURS

 

BAY OF ISLANDS

1 Night: Top 10 Piapia $52

Things to see and do

This was a pit stop from Cape Reinga to Red Beach – We didn’t plan anything here as we needed a relaxed day, but that is what is great thing about staying at a Top 10, they always have things to do for the kids if you are wanting a chilled day! We spent the day playing in the park, and the beach 1 metre away from our campervan. There are around 20 ducks here, that are not shy, and love to be fed! If you are looking for things to do around the Bay of Islands, there are plenty of boat trips and day trips for you to do around the area.

RED BEACH

2 Nights $63

Top 10 Red Beach (30% off May/June) $63

Beautiful campsite walking distance to beach and 30 min drive to Auckland

We have spent the entire day packing up all our things in just one small suitcase, and bagging up the rest of our unneeded clothes, and unused food ready to donate tomorrow at Auckland City Mission!

Things to see and do

We have found possibly the worlds best homemade science children’s museum in the world! You can tell that a lot of thought and hard work has gone into designing this, and is most definitely made with love!

If you are after something to do with the kids, especially if you are world-schooling we would HIGHLY recommend The Science Play Room https://www.scienceplayroom.co.nz Our girls love science, and this covered everything in a fun, educational way for children of all ages! This is an interactive, educational mum and toddler group that will keep them little minds active for hours! There is even a separate locked gate area for small children/ babies aswell as somewhere to make a tea or coffee.

The room is made into many little rooms separated by little wooden walls in bright fun colours. I can’t remember them all but they have: The Body, Bees, Dinosaurs, Magnets, Space, Submarine, Music, Vets, Electricity, Architecture, Air machines, Mirrors, Bending Light…the list goes on!

OUR VISION

Spark innovative, imaginative learning through playful experiences.

Stimulate curiosity about the world around you.

Explore science, technology, engineering, arts and maths activities.

The lady who runs it has clearly worked very hard to put this all together, a lot of thought has gone into The Science Playroom and you must definitely take a visit! Please go to the website for directions on where to park for Free.

Here are some photos from our day:

Last Destination is Auckland Airport as we are off to THAILAND for 2 months keep an eye on our blog!             

Top Tip: We suggest planning your route around dump, water stations, and petrol stations and Plan your trip before you go to your next few destinations; Wifi and phone service is very limted.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE NEW ZEALAND TIPS

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New Zealand

South Island Road Trip in a 6 Berth Campervan with Kids

We are a family of 4 from the UK Travelling the world, this is our second road trip of our travels and we are in New Zealand; We flew in to Christchurch after a wonderful time in Fiji! We picked up our Maui 6 berth motorhome from the airport, and set off to explore the South Island. For those of you reading from the UK, you will feel like you are still in the UK until you are atleast South West of the Island, and it’s a very strange experience especially if you are in a little day dream and forget where you are!

We have shared our 21 day South Island Road Trip in this travel blog in hope that it will help others who are trying to put together a road trip plan, I have included as much detail as possible, and everything listed below is suitable for families.

All campsites mentioned can be found on an app we recommend you download called CamperMate, and most of our day trips we used www.bookme.nz for last minute discounts – I have also added approx. driving hours.

A lot of our ideas have come from other bloggers talking about their experiences, so please if you have any other information about the South Island of New Zealand for Motorhomes and campers please comment on this blog.

CHRISTCHURCH

Night one – Spencer Beach Holiday Park Lots of open space, park and bounce pillow for kids

Night two – Fifield Driveway $12  Large quiet driveway perfect spot for a good nights sleep

What to see and do in Christchurch

This was a quick stay for us to get our bearings after a long flight but we went to:

The Antarctic Centre https://www.iceberg.co.nz $149 for a family but we received 30% off from a tourist Magazine

We had the best day here! Had a shivering experience in the Storm Room, cuddled beautiful Husky Dogs, had the most thrilling ride in a Hägglund which we didn’t expect to be such fun! And we finished the day watching a 4D movie! Absolutely perfect and highly recommended.

New Brighton

If you fancy a long stroll along the beach with an icecream, watching the huge waves and surfers this is perfect for you! If you walk along the peir to the end you will also see people fishing have a nose in their bucket to see what they have caught for their dinner!

DRIVE FROM CHRISTCHURCH TO DUNEDINE 4 HOURS-

DUNEDIN

Night one – The Oval FREE This carpark does get busy, but it is next to a large playing field and a pub Incase you don’t want to cook, and you fancy a bite to eat.

Night two – Cairnlea by the Sea $25 Driveway stay plus Pony ride for an extra $10 We highly recommend this “Driveway” stop! The host is super friendly, welcoming and her home is absolutely beautiful! If you pay an extra $10 she will take you on the most magical horse ride you have ever been on! the beach was out of this world, I thought I was in heaven absolutely stunning.

What to see and do in Dunedin

Otago MuseumDiscounts on Bookme

We absolutely loved this museum! So many activities for the kid, and highly educational especially if you are home schooling. After trying out all the science experiments, don’t forget to pop into the butterfly house at 11am to watch the release of new butterflies. The new butterflies have not had a chance to spread their wings yet so you will be able to hold them for a while! Beautiful experience for the kids.

Otago PerunsulaFREE

This drive is very tight and winding road but highly recommend as the views are spectacular – we managed it with our 7.2 meter motorhome.

DRIVE FROM DUNEDIN TO THE CATLINS 2 HOURS

THE CATLINS

One Night: Purakaunui Bay Campsite – DOC Site – $20 2 adults 1 child 1 infant – We highly recommend this campsite, I can not stress enough how spectacular it is! The sunset and sunrise are magical, set up your chair and watch every single colour graduating across the sky! We were lucky enough to get close to Sea Lions too, and we were able to watched them fight and flirt with each other. Purakauni Bay Campsite has to be on your wish list! Tips before you go: No wifi, pay by cash only, long road driving in just keep going!

What to see and do in The Catlins

Nugget Bay LighthouseFREE

This is a must see, beautiful 800 metre walk up hill to the lighthouse, the views are amazing.

Sea Lions at Purakaunui Bay Campsite- FREE

Sunset and Sunrise at Purakaunui Bay Campsite – FREE

DRIVE FROM THE CATLINS TO QUEENSTOWN 4 HOURS –

QUEENSTOWN

Three nights:

Queenstown Top10become a member for $13 to receive discounts on other campsites

What to see and do in Queenstown

 Skyline Gondala Rides and LugesDiscounts on Bookme www.skyline.co.nz

We booked this for Easter so our kids, they loved hunting for eggs at the top of the Gondala and after the hunt we made our way down to the Luges. Luges are go-karts that you pull a handle midway to release and drive down hill, and pull pack to break! The track is just like a go-kart track, but uses gravity – so can go quite fast (there are two to choose from depending on how brave you are) We doubled up so we had a child each, there were younger children riding themselves but I didn’t feel comfortable with this, especially with how fast others go. (I could just about control the luge myself!) Once your up in the Skyline you can also choose from Parachute jumps, bungee jumps for the adrenaline junkies!

All In all we would highly recommend Skyline!

Arrowtown Bike hire from Arrowtown Bike Hire www.arrowtownbikehire.co.nz

Arrowtown is absolutely beautiful especially if you are travelling in Autumn, as the trees in and around the town are turning beautiful reds, browns and yellows. You can park your camper for free, walk into the village and grab yourself a full breakfast from https://www.postmasters.co.nz/ wonderful English cottage pub food is amazing. After breakfast cross the road to the bike hire shop and they will get you ready for your bike ride! The track you ride on is 16 kilometres towards a winery – its upto you if you have the energy to bike that far! We made it as far as the Southern Discoveries Bridge which isn’t far at all! BUT we had Ellie aged 8 riding with Glen on a tandem bike and Maisie aged 4 in a trailer on the back of my bike! Which was HARD WORK, we decided to take the road way back rather than go back up the hill! We were out for around 2.5 hours altogether which for us was just enough.

If you decide to go on a bike ride from Arrowtown book on the Arrowtown Bike Hire link above – if you have joined Top10 you will receive 10% off.

Arrowtown information:

 http://www.arrowtown.com/visitor-info/

 -DRIVE FROM QUEENSTOWN TO MILFORD SOUND 4-5 HOURS –

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MILFORD SOUND

Two nights:

Knobs Flats Campsite $20pp £10 Child we recommend this campsite if you are wanting a good priced campsite to book rather than hoping there is space at one of the DOC campsites – our boat trip was at 3pm so didn’t want to risk not having somewhere to stay late at night.

What to see and do in Milford Sound

https://www.backpackerguide.nz/15-stops-cant-miss-road-to-milford-sound/

Mirror Lakes – FREE

Lake Marian – FREE

Milford Sound Juicy Boat Trip $90 (2 adults 1 child 1 infant) – Bookme for discounts

This was one magical trip and the drive to Milford Sound is probably the most unique experience of all; as you will drive for hours through fields, and all of a sudden the landscape changes without warning! You will be driving in the clouds looking at huge Beautifull mountains and lakes and there will be plenty of places that you will want to stop and say WOW! We decided to drive to Milford a day before our boat trip as we wanted to take our time stopping and taking photos (I would recommend this if you have a day spare). The boat trip itself was something that you cant describe in words, all I can say is you must go and it can not be missed!

Important Tips before you go

  1. Fill up your tank at Te Anau
  1. Make last calls / emails at Te Anau
  1. Empty your toilet waste at Te Anau Marina or Milford Sound as there will be no where else to dump
  1. Wrap up warm, regardless of how warm it is, as you will get very cold on the boat.

-DRIVE FROM MILFORD SOUND TO WANAKA 4-5 HOURS- Stop at Jackson Orchards, Cromwell Apple Farm.

WANAKA

Two Nights:

Glendu Bay Campsite – $88 for 2 nights

What to see and do in Wanaka

Puzzling World – Bookme for discounts www.puzzlingworld.co.nz

Our girls absolutely love a challenging puzzle, so for us this was a must! If you love to boggle your mind, and try out a cool out door mazes this is for you!

Lavender Farm –  Low cost but will only see Lavender in season https://www.wanakalavenderfarm.com/

Wanaka Tree – FREE

If you are going to Wanaka you must see #thatwanakatree it’s a tree that has grown out of the Lake a few metres away from the beach – yes that’s right a tree growing out of water! It attracts a lot of attention from tourists and has had a lot of photos taken! You could say that its quite a famous tree!

-DRIVE FROM WANAKA TO HAAST 1-2 HOURS-

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HAAST

One Night:

Pleasant Flat Campsite DOC Campsite $34 2 adults 1 child 1 infant

What to see and do in Haast

Waynes River Safari – https://www.riversafaris.co.nz/

This is one of the best experiences we have had in New Zealand so far, it wasn’t cheap but it was worth every penny! Defiantly wrap up for this as you will get wet and cold, but you will have a trip of a lifetime! The jet boat only takes around 8 people so it is a very personal trip, and is out in the rain forest for around 2 hours. You will seeing beautiful waterfalls, and fierce river rapids while Wayne tells you everything he knows about the rainforest  – you will get some amazing information at each stop. The travel back is very exciting driving against the current, and you will enjoy a few fun turns and drops! Super exciting! One tip – it’s the rain forest and it will rain A LOT! Wrap up very warm with layers and take up their offer of warm jackets they have hanging up – you will need them!

Tips before you go

There is no internet or cell service until you pass Fran Josef, (you might be lucky to pass one or two spots here and there) But plan your stays before you head off, download your CamperMate so you can use it offline,  as well as anything on Netflicks you would usually watch. Once your on your way you will not be able to make any calls or check for stops so have a little plan before you head off that way.

-DRIVE FROM HAAST TO HOKITIKA 4-5 HOURS- Stop at Fox  Glacier for a Photo

HOKITIKA

Night one: The Woodstock Hotel – FREE The first night we stayed in a pub carpark for free – The Woodstock Hotel. The pub opens at 4 and offers amazing food and self brewed beers (you can try them all on a sample platter) Most nights they have a meal deal and some nights even live music!

Night two: Seaview Lodge and Campground – $45

This was the most quirkiest campsite we have ever stayed in! We chose to stay here as it was a 2 min walk to see free glow worms at “The Glow Worm Dell” You will find directions to this on google maps. Anyway, this place used to be an old Asylum and its open to campers for showering and cooking. We had so much fun exploring inside the building, walking down all the creepy corridors and finding creepy dolls! Highly recommend if you don’t mind somewhere strange to stay and explore!

What to see and do in Hokitka

Hokitika Treetop WalkBookme for discounts www.treetopsnz.com

This was fantastic, walking along the tree tops and seeing the iced topped mountains in the horizon, peaceful and calm. We had lunch in the café after, which was set up for children with a park and outdoor toys. We felt settled here, and stayed for sometime playing badminton!

Glow Worm Dell – FREE –Just a short work with a torch to a wall of glow worms! You have to wait until after sunset to see them.

See Mushrooms on the way to Woodstock Hotel – FREE – Keep your eyes open for red and white spotted mushrooms along the road, I was quite excited as I thought these kind of mushrooms only 🍄 existed in fairy-tales!

-DRIVE FROM HOKITKA TO PUNAKAIKI 1-2 HOURS-

PUNAKAIKI

Two Nights:

Punakaiki Beach Camp – $105 for two nights www.punakaikibeachcamp.co.nz

What to see and do in Punakaiki

Pancake RocksWe went here twice as we loved it so much! Make sure you check the tide times as its best to go at high tide so you can see the waves pushing through the blow holes! Spectacular and exciting event for all the family to enjoy.

Truman Track – Best visited in Low Tide

Punakaiki Caverns – The tide does not effect the cave

Tips before you go –There are no shops or petrol stations here stock up before you go

DRIVE FROM PUNAKAIKI TO PICTON 4-5 HOURS (quick stop at Nelsons Lake for a Photo)

Do you want to see a Dinosaur tree? 

On your way to Picton you may want to stop at Westport as its the next town to get some Petrol and shopping – on your way out you will pass Buller River. If you look to your left you will see what looks like a dinosaur! This is not advertised anywhere, we are guessing its just a fun find! I may go back and name it Englandsuras…..

PICTON 

Two Nights:

Top10 Picton – We highly recommend Top10 campsites! They are not as cheap as some DOC stations, but with your 10% discount and during May/June 30% off it works out around the same! And for that you get a park for the kids, use of bikes and trikes (some charge some don’t) hot clean showers with music playing! (You May of heard us singing) We paid $20 for 1 hour in the hot tub which was pure luxury and relaxing family time.

What to see and do in Picton

Picton Foreshore – 12 minute walk through the harbour to the main town, nice walk through the town centre lots of nice places to eat. For the kids the Foreshore has a fantastic playground, with a water splash park in the middle for free! Right next to the beach. Highly recommended for a cheap day out while in Picton.

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Click HERE to see the North Island

Top Tip: We suggest planning your route around dump, water stations, and petrol stations and Plan your trip before you go to your next few destinations; Wifi and phone service is very limted.

WANT MORE TIPS ON NEW ZEALAND CLICK HERE

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The Big Bend National Park, BBNP for absolute beginners, children and non-hikers!

The Big Bend is an 801,163 acre park at the border of Mexico, separated by the 100 mile Rio Grande River; the park is named Big Bend after the bend in the river in west Texas. The BBNP has been attracting tourists for many years, who either choose to cycle, hike, or drive miles through the park to see the beautiful mountains, waterfalls and forests.

“No fire can burn so bright, no projection can duplicate the colours that dance over the desert or the bare rock formations that form the backdrop. No words can tell you, and no painter can hold it. Its only to be visited and looked at with awe” Ledwig Bemelmans 1956.

Imagine smelling the sweet smell of bluebonnets perfuming the air as you drive through the long smooth roads, surrounded by miles of monstrous mountains; This place is not just for full time enthusiastic hikers, it’s also suitable for young children, the elderly and ofcourse photographers/artists – This is The Big Bend National Park, Texas!

In this blog we will be going over The Big Bend National Park for absolute beginners/Non-hikers telling you where to stay, where to go, what roads you can access with an RV, roads to avoid with an RV, how to get amazing photos of stars and landscapes, and finally where to hire a 4 x 4 (which is an absolute must!)

Is there anything I need to know before I go down to the Big Bend?

There are a lot of things that we come across that we wasn’t aware of before we left, and we would like to share this with you to make sure you are fully prepared!

  1. There is no Wifi and no service what’s so ever within a 50 mile radius away from the park, as soon as you start your way down there you will find even when you are an hour away you will not be able to make any phone calls or check on places to stay. (you can get Wifi in the park at Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, and Rio Grand Visitors centre)
  2. Do not rely on RV park Wifi If you need to make bookings for later on in your trip, the Wifi is also limited here too (we spent 24hours without Wifi at our RV park)
  3. With the above two points in mind, we would advise to Book up and make all your calls you need to do before you leave, as if there isn’t any space, you will not be able to call or email any other park as you wont have wifi or service. Once you are there you are off the Grid.
  4. The RV parks inside the Big Bend are booked up weeks in advance.
  5. First stop you should make is Panther Junction Visitors centre – or any Visitor Centre that you past first, they will give you all the information about what places are suited for you.
  6. The winter is still hot (esp for us Brits) it will get cold at night, as cold as -2 degrees but during February it has been 18-25 degrees. If you are planning on going in the summer be prepared, as it will be extremely hot.
  7. End of Winter/Spring is highly recommended as all the flowers begin to blossom.
  8. It will take you a long time to get through the park, the first road is 20 miles before you get anywhere so if you are planning lots in one day just take that into account.
  9. You can’t drive an RV over 24 foot down some of the roads, take this into account when planning your day.
  10. If you are a photography enthusiast take a tripod.

Do I need to be a Hiker to Visit Big Bend National Park?

Our children are 8 and 4, and not good at long walks and we spent 4 days at the park and still felt as though we could of done more! There are plenty of overlooks, mini trials, drives you can do so don’t worry if you cant walk for long you should still visit!

How Much does it cost to visit the Big Bend National Park?

It cost us $30 for a 7 day pass into the park, you can go in and out as you please for the whole 7 days.

What are the Gas/Petrol Prices at Big Bend National Park?

Gas is very expensive at the Big Bend, Marathon was at $3.79 and Sturdy Butte was $2.77 so I would suggest waiting until you got to Sturdy Butte before you fill up. There is another in the park at Panther Junction if you are getting empty.

Where can I sleep over night with an RV in Big Bend National Park?

Rio Grand Village is a very popular RV site, if you cant get booked up there (we would advise booking well before you arrive as this one is always fully booked) any of the RV parks along the 118 from Sturdy Butte/ Terlingua, or within the Ghost Town (approx. 5 mile radius around that area) is a great “base”. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that we would need to book beforehand, and we ended up in a beautiful RV park called Terlingua Ranch, we had 2 nights here. It was within the mountains, absolutely fantastic stars to see, but it was down a long 16 mile road to nowhere, and then 3 miles off road! We had to drive 30 miles before ending up anywhere near the park.

We then stayed at Big Bend Rv Resort and Adventures, which is a lot closer to big bend national park, we opted for dry camp at $20, and our last night we asked to hook up so we could dump/get water. This cost $39.

How many days should I plan to spend at Big Bend National Park?

We spent 5 nights at the Park and we found something to do and see everyday – and this did not include hiking, you can easily drive around in a day and see a few spots but if you want to explore and see some back roads we would suggest at least 3 days.

Can I drive my RV round the whole of Big Bend National Park?

We were unaware of the difficulties driving around Big Bend with an RV/ motorhome until we arrived. We just assumed we could turn up, find a spot and that’s it. You can only drive on around 2 roads with an RV over 24 foot – for example you can’t get to Chisos Basin (access to the Window) with a larger vehicle, or close up to the Hot Springs. These routes are either full of sharp twists and turns, or off road. We were advised not to drive down Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive but we found that ok with our RV which is 28 foot.

If you are wanting to explore more of the park and have an RV over 20 foot we would highly recommend renting a 4×4 Jeep!

How do I rent a Jeep and what Roads can I drive down off road at Big Bend?

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We rented a Jeep from “Far Flung” which is along the 170, off of the 118 (opposite the Petrol Garage, and RV Park) They charge $189 for a days hire from 9am to 7am the next day. It sounds like a lot, but honestly this was by far the best day of our travels so far! We left our RV in their carpark, and picked up our RV at 6pm (posted the keys in the letter box)

Our first trip was off to the Window, driving down Chisos Basin Road, this road has sharp turnings, and is not recommended for RVs over 24 foot. We then travelled down a road called Glenn Springs Road, onto River Road East towards the Hot Springs. The map says its around 22 miles, but this thrilling off road drive took us around 3 hours, and was unforgettable! The Road is very off road so do not attempt this unless you have a 4 wheel drive, you will drive along narrow roads full of gravel and stones hanging over a cliffs edge! The views are spectacular and felt like we were ontop of the world.

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Subscribe to our Youtube channel for a video on our jeep adventure: The England Family Travels

I am not a Hiker what Trials can I go on at the Big Bend National Park?

We went to the following:

  • Talinguar Ghost Town before Big Bend off 118, along the 170
  • Santa Elena Canyon Trail – 1.2 miles 1 hour (but we just walked ¼ mile to the river/opening)
  • Chisos Basin Over Look Trial – 0.5 miles ¼ hour walk
  • Hot Springs – 1 mile ½ hour walk
  • Rio Grand Overlook – Park and look
  • Boquillas Canyon Overlook – Park and look
  • River Road East Scenic River (4x4s only) Scenic Drive with a Jeep
  • Boquillas Del Carmen Port of Entry to Mexico

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You could do but we run out of time; Basin Loop – 1.8 miles one hour walk, Sam Nail Ranch – 0.5 miles half hour walk, Fossil Discovery – 0.2 miles 15 minutes walk, Rio Grande Village Nature Trial – 1.2 miles 1 hour walk

Is it worth doing the Boquillas Del Carmen Port of Entry to Mexico?

We were not sure if we wanted to go across to Mexico –

  1. We were not sure if it would be safe for children
  2. We were told by others its just a old run down town and there is nothing to see

The Port of Entry to Mexico was probably the most random day we have ever experienced, ever! and so glad we did it! You start off by showing your passports at the Port at Texas (this is only open Wednesday – Sunday 9-5pm) You then go to the river, get onto a small rowing boat. The little Mexican man will then row you over the river (approx. 30 seconds) when you get to the other side you are then Mexico – you can choose from walking ¼ mile, or taking a DONKEY ride to town. If you opt for a donkey you will also get a guided tour, we had a man called Lopo, he was fantastic!

On our return we had to check in in Texas like you do at the airport, but via one of them digital passport machines, a camera and a telephone call – also a very strange experience!

There isn’t a lot to see in town (people are right) just a few old Mexican restaurants and lots of locals trying to sell handmade items – but the experience of being about to hop over to another country in 30 seconds, and doing that via a boat and a donkey is an experience like no other!

You must do it, but remember if you go over there on a Sunday, and miss the last boat back you’ll be in Mexico until the Wednesday.

Subscribe to our Youtube channel for a video on the crossing – The England Family Travels https://youtu.be/I2vlV382tyQ

Will I see Stars?

Pictures abov: 1st picture just after sunset, 2nd picure 2-3 hours after sunset.

When it gets dark, look up and you will see millions of stars; there isn’t any light pollution at the Big Bend so you will be able to see the Milky Way. If you would like to photograph the stars, you will need a tripod with you, and preferably a Mirrorless camera – I have a Sony 7 II its absolutely fantastic!.

To achieve the photos below I set my Sony camera up using the following settings:

– Photo Style: Night Sky

-Shutter Speed “25

-ISO 4000

-I have a 14mm 2.8 Stigma Lens so I was able to put the F stops right down to 2.8, if you have other lenses just put it to the lowest F stop possible (usually F4.5)

Point the camera up at the sky, on the tripod and take the photo! You might have to adjust the settings depending on the outcome. Please comment below if you have any other photography questions.

Before you leave, don’t forget to take a visit to Talingua Ghost Town

Driving through the local Ghost Town is a very unique experience, lots of old fallen down derelict buildings contrasting with new buildings, and residence staying in teepees, cool RVs and some of the old buildings! If you fancy eating there, we ate at Starlight Restaurant and Saloon www.thestarlighttheatre.com it has a calming atmosphere tables with candle light and warming décor. We were there on a Thursday evening, as the sunset, with live music playing – it felt as though we were somewhere else intown! Our food was absolutely perfect, probably the best meal we have had yet! Highly recommended.

Final Words

The Big Bend is a must on your to do list while visiting Texas, its suitable for all ages/abilities and is rated one of the top place to go to escape every day life. The vast contrast between mountain, desert, and river will dazel you, the bendy roads will excite you and the nature will amaze you. If you are one of them that are able to trek miles to the top of mountains, the views will be out of this world.

If you are going to the Big Bend or have been and want to add please comment below.

 

 

 

How to Find the Perfect Ranch in Bandera Texas

While in San Antonio we found out that a close by town called Bandera was the “Cowboy Capital of The World” and at last minute decided that we had to go! We struggled finding somewhere that would take an RV, and emailed the Visitors Center. (Email director@banderacowboycapital.com) They were extremely helpful, and kindly emailed back with a list of a few good local ranches. We looked through them all, and of them was Twin Elm Ranch which luckily takes RVs (also has other accommodation so anyone can stay) After looking at their website we booked up straight away, as they looked absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.twinelmranch.com

A Typical Day at Twin Elm Ranch in Bandera

A typical day at a Ranch is totally up to you, there are a number of activities you can book, one of which is a 1 hour horse ride with the Wrangler through the forest and river. This is for Adults and children aged 6 and up, so we opted for pony rides for both of ours so Maisie aged 4 didn’t feel left out.

“There are many activities to enjoy here at the Twin Elm Ranch, from horseback riding to evening campfires and hayrides.. you are sure to have fun filled days without the stress of your typical daily life.  Take a cool dip in the swimming pool, play volleyball, horseshoes or basketball.  Hike the trails looking for arrowheads or spot wild life.  Maybe even a nice stroll to the river to dip your toes! We also have a game room for your enjoyment equipped with a pool table, ping pong and air hockey.  Relax on the couch and read a book, play a board game or watch your favorite cable TV show.  Fun for the whole familyTwin Elm Ranch

http://www.twinelmranch.com/activities.html

We only spent 24hours here, so we didn’t get to do all of the amazing things that they had to offer.

Our experience at Twin Elm Ranch

We arrived at Twin Elm Ranch mid day hooked up our RV, and took a short stroll to the horse stables. Ellie and Maisie has a pony ride booked for 1pm, and were all dressed up in cowboy hats ready to go. We had a friendly welcome from the Ranch Wranglers Nancy And Shirley, taking both the girls by the hands leading them to their horses. Both of them had help onto their horses, and were taught how ride…in just 10 mins both girls had control of them! Absolutely amazing how much children can learn in such a short space of time. All the horses were extremely well behaved, calm and friendly, and we had a lot of trust in them. We enjoyed the experience so much we booked another horse ride later in the day.

The Ranch has a calming effect, and extremely peaceful. We all felt part of the family straight away, everyone is so friendly and welcoming! We could of stayed forever!

We took a stroll after lunch, and was lucky enough to watch a horse being re-shoed by the local Farrier. He had his own mobile workshop built into van that he drove around all the local ranches. Ellie and Maisie were both fascinated and made sure they asked many questions!

Later in the day we walked back to the horse stables, the sun was setting, the light was casting over the horses- perfect opportunity for photos! Again the girls had an amazing horse ride and loved every minute.

We booked a campfire for the evening, which was worth every penny! And highly recommend that you book one if you stay at Twin Elm Ranch.

Is it worth booking a campfire at Twin Elm Ranch?

Absolutely! Twin Elm Ranch have an option of booking a camp fire- this MUST be on your to do list! We arrived at the campfire at 7pm, the logs were burning and we were greeted with a warm smile. Others join you at the campfire, so you get to make new friends and talk about your day. We had s’mores, listened to the guitar playing before being invited to try lasso throwing!

We all spent the rest of the evening being taught how to throw a lasso on a metal bull- we had so much fun!

Is it noisy at a Dude Ranch at night?

Twin Elm Ranch is probably the quietest RV stay we have ever had! Not a pin drop, or a dog bark, or a horse neeeey! Absolutely perfect! Most peaceful night yet….and a wonderfully magical morning watching the sunrise in this calm tranquil ranch.

Would you stay at a Dude Ranch again?

YES YES YES! We have a special space in our hearts for ranch life now, and could easily stay somewhere like Twin Elm Ranch forever….The most memorable experience on our whole trip yet!

We would highly recommend a Dude Ranch experience, if you like to get involved, find out about new cultures and different ways in which people live this is a must. Our whole family was welcomed with open arms at Twin Elm Ranch, And we thank each and everyone of them for an experience of a life time!

We will never forget our 24hours at Twin Elm Ranch, Bandera Texas

http://www.twinelmranch.com

810 FM 470, Bandera, Texas 78003

P. O. Box 117, Bandera, Tx 78003

Ranch: 830-796-3628    

twinelmranch@hotmail.com

Best day out in Louisiana with Children….

Looking for a cheap day out in Louisiana? Head down to Avery Island. There’s a spectacular little place called Jungle Gardens where you can get lost for hours in miles of peaceful, breath taking scenery. Want something more adventurous? Don’t worry about that, you’ll be on your toes looking out for alligators, and they will be within feet of your RV! Its an experience like no other and only cost us $26 (Adults $12.50/ Children $5). Also at Avery Island you can visit the famous Tabasco Sauce Factory, but we just visited Jungle Gardens this time.

https://www.junglegardens.org

Where to stay near to Jungle Gardens with your RV?

You can’t stay on Avery Island unfortunately, but we stayed on an RV park called Koc kampground www.kockampground.com New Iberia, Louisiana. Koc kampground is around 8 miles (15 minutes drive) into Avery Island, and is probably one of the most welcoming camp grounds we have ever stayed on. The reception staff were very welcoming, we made friends with the locals and they made us feel at home! On site they have a massive field for the children to run around on, a fishing lake, swimming pool and a park for the kids. We would highly recommend this RV park.

Can you drive through Jungle Gardens with an RV?

If you have a car you can drive around the whole park, but with an RV you have to take a different route, park up and walk around some of the spots – reception will show you where to stop on the map they give you. This walk isn’t long and well worth it, the views are just breath taking.

What is there to see at Jungle Gardens?

Following the map from reception you will see 170 ache semitropical gardens, beautiful flowers, birds, a Buddha Garden, Snowy Egrets of Bird City, alligators, turtles….we were even lucky enough to see a few snakes! Take your time and take it all in, this is the most spectacular place we have ever been to.

 

Can you see Alligators?

If you are planning to visit Jungle Gardens plan to spend all day at there (maybe pack a picnic); take your time to soak up the atmosphere, and make sure you see everything. We felt peaceful and calm within the jungle, and before we knew it we had been exploring for hours. As we spent long there, we were lucky enough to see a few little alligators in the water (they are hard to spot as they look like logs!). Later in the day we drove around again, and to our excitement, sitting there on the bank was a long 8 foot armoured body of thick scales; a huge alligator! Slowly and quietly we got out of the RV to take look, quickly took some photos and ran back into the RV! Probably the most memorable time of our RV road trip yet, being able to see this monstrous but beautiful beast!

Are Children welcome at Jungle Gardens?

Yes! Defiantly, children will absolutely love it here. So much to see, lots twists and turns and variety of different things to explore. The excitement on their little faces when they spot an alligator is absolutely priceless.

 

This is why you must go to Jungle Gardens!

Jungle Gardens is a must see, and must be top of your list of places to visit if you are going to Louisiana. We had the most memorable day here, our whole family was calm and bedazzled by the beauty of this place. This is not just for families who like nature this is for everyone, as it’s a fusion of peaceful beauty, and thrilling wildlife.

 

Are you planning your exciting adventure around the world? Left your job, sold your house and starting to pack all the things you might need for your long journey? With children it’s a bit harder, as they take up more space then you realise!

Since being on the road for 3 -4 weeks now there are some essential items that we as a family could not live with out! I hope you find this blog helpful! Please comment below if you have any of your own that you can’t live with out!

1. “Lush” Solid Hair Soap

Yes it sounds extremely weird to have solid hair soap! But believe me, it’s an absolute life saver! It foams up just like usual shampoo, your hair feels amazing after a wash, and it saves lugging around heavy bottles. So save some space in your rucksacks ladies, get your self down to Lush – also online https://uk.lush.com/article/mighty-shampoo-bar “These highly-concentrated bars, packed with powerful natural ingredients and essential oils, do the job of three 250g bottles of liquid shampoo” highly recommend and all three of us have used one of these for three weeks and still going strong!

2. Dry Shampoo

For them days where you just haven’t got time to wash your hair but it really needs a spruce up- try Batiste Dry shampoo. I find “Clean Classic Original” best as any other brands or fragrances makes my hair really itchy and sore. If your planning on staying in an RV for a while, dry shampoo is an absolute must; you don’t get a lot of shower time so hair washing isn’t top of the list.

https://www.batistehair.com

3. Comfortable Loungewear OR pyjamas

This again, along with dry shampoo is an absolute must if you are planning on a long road trip! You spend a lot of down time in the RV driving for miles, and I feel it’s important to feel comfortable. Pack them baggy old PJs, and get cosy – you’re in for a long ride!

4. BB Cream or a Light Foundation

You haven’t been able to wash your hair as regularly as you’d like, and wearing baggy old PJs to keep you comfortable during them long road trips – so it would be nice for us ladies to make sure we look a little presentable. If you want a quick fresh face I absolutely recommend an Australian brand called NATIO, I use a foundation called Flawless, Full coverage. I can tell you now, this goes on beautifully like a BB cream, extremely light but gives you a lovely coverage – for that quick morning pick me up we all need! You can grab your self one of these in Tesco In the U.K. otherwise ebay. https://www.natio.com.au/makeup

5. Portable Charger

We have all been there, out of battery at 4% and desperate to google something important! Get your self on eBay/ Amazon and buy yourself an “EasyAcc Charger” It takes 3 leads at once (three USB ports) and charges all three devices up full charge with in an hour! This has been an absolute life saver! Especially with an iPhone, I have used this to charge my iPhone up 3 times YES people THREE TIMES in one day since we have been away! Taking photos/ videos uses lots of battery, and you do not want to miss that amazing photo.

https://www.amazon.com/TNSO-Portable-13000mAh-External-Smartphones/dp/B01N4M1XG6/ref=asc_df_B01N4M1XG6/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309973029349&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2657985404483236040&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028102&hvtargid=pla-351865615395&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=60473698983&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=309973029349&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2657985404483236040&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028102&hvtargid=pla-351865615395

6. Amazon Fires

This one is for those of you travelling with children, call us mad for deciding to it in the first place! It’s hard work believe me, all cramped up in an RV there are times when us adults need some down time. If you have children like ours that do not sit still, and like to run jump and play – 1 hour screen time is seriously needed. Make sure you download apps that work with no WiFi, and download films from Netflix and Amazon to work offline. As WiFi in RV parks (even though they say it’s included) can be hit and miss.

7. Wine/ Beer Glass (plastic)

Last but not least, the most important, and most needed essential while travelling in an RV! Get yourself down to the local grocery shop, and get a decent drinking glass. It will come in handy- especially those of you with children. You will definitely need a large glass of wine/ beer at the end of the night. It’s an absolutely amazing experience being able to be together as a family, and work as a team but it’s hard work! Being in such close perimeters for long periods of time can cause a lot of sibling arguments….by the time it’s bed time – for them an adult drink is needed.

So there you go! My 8 essentials for travelling in an RV I hope this helps! Are there anything you could suggest or that you found helpful in your travels? Please comment in the comments

Xxx

PS- I’m editing this and adding a new essential- hiking / walking shoes! We all have a pair and have worn them most days! They are heavy wearing, waterproof and absolutely perfect for all them little adventures you have planned.

 

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So after the -30 weather conditions at Chicago had settled down we decided it’s safe to leave the hotel after 4 days cooped up in there.

So we grabbed our very first Uber(ever!) to take us to pick up our RV, our Uber driver was a lovely lady called Roz she was a lot of fun. The 20 minute ride we shared with Roz was full of laughter, and excitement about our trip, she said a blessing for us for our travels – right there in the car park of ARTS RV’S.(www.artsrv.com) Roz is a great lady, and that’s a great service right there thank you Roz.

So we dragged our bags through the snowy car park and into ARTS RV’S, throwing them down as soon as we were through the doors. We watched the tutorial video, sign all the paperwork then from around the corner appeared our RV, (the moment we have all been waiting months for) a brand spanking new 28ft long RV pulls up.

It’s even better than we imagined, it turned out that the bad luck with the weather was a blessing in disguise, we got a brand spanker of an RV, first people to use it with 181 miles on the clock, thank you very much.

So we had the grand tour of this big beast and they explained how everything worked, and once they were satisfied that we understood  everything, we were free to hit the road in this thing and we couldn’t wait.

As we pulled out of ARTS RV’S we all felt that this adventure had truly begun, and what better way of showing it, than us all shouting YEEE HAAA as loud as we could all so excited to have finally hit the road in our RV, and heading away from the snow.

First stop Walmart. We drove for about 20 minutes till we see a Walmart and we couldn’t wait to get in there and stock up the RV with all the things we were going to need for this adventure , we spent a small fortune in that hour we were in there, we got food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we got things to make the RV homely like a door mat, towels, table mats, potpourri (you know all the essentials).

So once we’d done our 60 minute make over we were back on the road, and heading south on i-55 for DOUBLE J’s RV park (www.doublejcampground.com) in Chatham Illinois. It was about 3 hour drive on a nice straight road, just what we needed to get use to driving the beast, set cruise control to 70mph hold on to the wheel and enjoy the views.

We arrived at DOUBLE J’s around 5pm, it’s the first RV park any of us had ever stayed at so we wasn’t too sure of how it all worked, we pulled up to the office and was greeted by Liz who was so helpful and friendly. Liz explained how the site runs, where we are staying, and offered to help set us up. We drove around to our plot, and thankfully remembered the tutorial from 4hrs ago about how to set up the RV when arriving at a campground. First thing check the RV is level with the spirit level they provided, plug the electric in, plug the cable TV in (would of hooked it up to the water but our RV had been winterized, this means the water tanks on this RV were filled with anti freeze due to the winter weather in Chicago so we had no on board water facilities, no shower, no tap water etc)

But as soon as we get to better climates we would have it de-winterized to give us full use of the facilities.  So we were starting to get the feel of this RV life, was pretty good to drive, easy to set up, and it felt like home, hey this is easy, and a lot of fun.

We stayed at DOUBLE J’S  for 2 nights , it was a great RV park and it could not have been a better starting camp for us beginners.

 

So it was time to hit the road again, and we had MEMPHIS in our sights, we just had a 5 hour journey to concur first, again we got on   i-55 south set cruise control and enjoyed the view, this time singing Elvis Presley songs for most of the way.

We stayed at the MEMPHIS K.O.A JOURNEY RV (www.koa.com) campground on i-55 which is actually in Arkansas but bordering Tennessee, what a fabulous campground this is. The staff there were very friendly and helpful and gave us great tips on where to go and what to see, the campground was very well looked after and we really enjoyed staying here. We had a fire in the evening which we all enjoyed sitting around roasting marshmallows.

The next day we went to THE CHILDRENS MUSEUM OF MEMPHIS,(www.cmom.com) which we had a lot of fun at, they have some great things for the kids here to play with from real police cars and fire engines, airplanes to climbing frames, disco rooms, milking cows, shopping experiences, and air tubes which were really fun. The best part was the carousel, this  was in pristine condition and had so much history behind it, it was a pleasure to ride such an amazing work of art.

After that we drove to a little place they call Graceland (Elvis Presley house)                        (www.graceland.com),  we cannot believe we had the pleasure of visiting Elvis Presley house, (how crazy is that) one of the most famous if not the most famous person ever to have walked this earth and our little family is at his house, it’s something we are never going to forget, we truly appreciate that moment. We signed the wall and floor of Graceland as many millions of others have, but seeing THE ENGLAND FAMILY TRAVELS wrote on the wall of Elvis Presley house was truly a magical moment, and we are truley thankful……. “thank you, thank you very much

The next day we went to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis                    (www.peabodymemphis.com) to witness a daily tradition they celebrate called the “March of the Ducks” which is where you can watch duck’s come down an elevator at precisely at 11am EVERYDAY from the penthouse suite where they live in this 5 star hotel. They march from the elevator on a red carpet to a very grand water fountain, where they spent the day swimming around until 5 pm where they then hold another ceremony where the duck’s get out of the fountain! They march back up the red carpet to the elevator, and up to the penthouse suite where they live in absolute luxury until 11am the next morning, it’s absolutely barmy but a lot of fun to watch. There’s a great story behind all of this as to why they do this, check out the Peabody hotel duck story it’s pretty neat.

After that we went to Beale Street (this is the main party street in Memphis) full of neon lights, bars, street performers, and live blues, soul, funk, and rock music. We stopped in Silky O Sullivan’s bar (www.silkyosullivans.com) for a bite to eat and listen to the band, we had a great time and food was fantastic. The band played great music which we all sung and danced to and believe it or not they had goats in the back garden, we KID you not. So a lot of fun was had by all.

So our time in Memphis Tennessee was great but it was time to hit the road again, so we have packed up, got the RV de-winterized and we are heading South for NEW ORLEANS.

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