July family trip

Old Sep 7th, 2018, 06:56 AM
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July family trip

Hi !
We are family (2 adults and 2 kids of 7 and 11) that like to travel. We have been in Germany, Austria, Catalonia, Potugal and Italy before.
Next summer (we are a techer and a school psychologist so no other option) we have think about Engand and Scotland. We have budget for something like 23-26 days trip. We are from Montreal.

Our idea was something like:
- Filght to London (3-4 nights in london)
- Train To Cotsworld (2-3 nights)
- Train to bath (2-3 nights)
- train to Edinburgh (2-3 nights)
rent a car ...that part is a big question. First time I would drive on the other side of the road...how hard is it ?
for 10 nights drive around Scotland (Skye is a must see), leave the car in Glasgow and fly back to Montreal from there.

How is that plan ?
destinataion are just ideas, not look deep into....


Thanks
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Old Sep 7th, 2018, 08:12 AM
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Driving on the wrong side, is "interesting" but very doable. What may be more distracting is some of the back roads are narrow and your natural view of your road position takes time to re-orientate. What you need is a partner who screams " get over" to you every 10 minutes or so and who reminds you after every stop "honey, the left side please". Also roundabouts may be new to you.

You'll do fine.

You are underfocusing on London, it is a big place and you will be jet lagged for the first day at least. Edinburgh has a festival in August (the world's biggest arts festival) so room prices go through the roof, investigate options if August is a must.
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Old Sep 7th, 2018, 12:13 PM
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I, too, would add more time in London. There is so much to see and do there and quite a bit your kids should enjoy.
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Old Sep 7th, 2018, 03:43 PM
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Random thoughts:

• Trains are essentially useless in the Cotswolds (note the spelling)

• 3 or 4 nights in London -- especially with children is at least 2 or 3 nights too few. The first day is basically useless due to logistics and jet lag. Plus London has many MANY things for kids.

• Driving is easy in rural places like much of Scotland (and in the Cotswolds)

• Skye IS wonderful but is not the be all and end all many visitors assume. Go there if you wish but do realize it will eat up a minimum of 4 full days of your short time in Scotland. A full day to get there, a minimum of 2 days on-island (3 would be better), and a full day to travel to either EDI or GLA.

• Edinburgh will be very VERY VERY crowded and expensive in August. The city doubles in size (triples on weekends) for the Festivals, Fringe, Tattoo. As much as I love (really LOVE) Edinburgh I'd seriously consider not staying there with young children - stay somewhere in the Trossachs or maybe Stirling instead an take one day trip by train in to visit the castle, Holyrood, and fight the crowds on the Royal Mile.

(that is IF your trip goes over into August - - )

• Skye has become very popular so you will need to book accommodations far in advance -- months.

Last edited by janisj; Sep 7th, 2018 at 03:46 PM.
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Old Sep 7th, 2018, 04:57 PM
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As Janis says, Edinburgh is going to be very crowded if your visit there takes you into summer.

I'd give consideration to reversing your trip to some degree. Fly into Edinburgh and spend three or four days in the city. That will get you over jetlag, and you won't be completely knackered by having so many things to do - and in a city as spread out as London - in the time you're there.

Then go to the airport and pick up a car, tour rural Scotland, and drop the car either back at Edinburgh, or, frankly, just keep it and use it to get down to Bath and the Cotswolds. Tour that area then drive to Heathrow airport, drop the car, and spend the last several days in London car-less. Alternatively, drop the car in Bath and take the train from there. With four traveling, keeping the car for an extra day or two would probably be cheaper than the train, but it's your call.

Here's a map showing an imaginary route, one of thousands possible - https://goo.gl/maps/ne3a2PPySn72 . This shows going from Edinburgh up to Skye, then back south via Glen Coe and Stirling. On this map you'd then head south into England, eventually getting to the Cotwolds, then Bath, then ending at Heathrow. Obviously you'd want to stop someplace between Scotland and England; this could be in the Lake District, or if you took an eastern route, in Northumberland or Yorkshire, or someplace in the Midlands. Nevertheless, the idea is to end in London, where you'll be less tired, will know which way to look before crossing the street (don't laugh) and can spend your time in the city or nearby countryside. As a side note, I agree with Janis regarding Skye. Just be mindful that there excellent alternatives to Skye that might be easier to manage, particularly with limited time and in peak season. Google the Isle of Mull for example.

Regarding driving, starting in Scotland would be easier, and most people adapt quickly to driving on the left side of the road and the right side of the car. Book an automatic transmission (reduce the number of factors) and you'll be fine right away. If you stick to motorways (freeways) when you set out, it will be easier.
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Old Sep 7th, 2018, 08:10 PM
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Gardyloo's map is a very good option (do ignore the drive time calculation though. Google map is notorious for overly optimistic drive times. You'd want to add at least 30% to 50%)

Starting in Scotland would have you there earlier in the summer when British schools are still in session and before the craziness starts in Edinburgh. It matter none at all when you hit London since it gets about the same crowds pretty much year round.

Something like Edinburgh for say 3 days car-less, then 13 days give or take driving Skye, southern Scotland, Hadrian's Wall, Chester, the Cotswolds, Bath, Stonehenge, and drop the car at LHR. Take public transport in to London and spend the final week in London. Rent a flat in London for the extra space and savings.
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Old Sep 8th, 2018, 08:55 AM
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I don't think janis said it would be crowded and more expensive in Edinburgh in summer, just in August due to the fringe festival. The OP just said sometime in summer for travel.

I've been there in August, actually, and it didn't particularly bother me, the festival crowds. I just didn't hink it was that bad. But if you don't care about that festival much, I sure would advise going at a different time.
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Old Sep 8th, 2018, 09:32 AM
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>>I've been there in August, actually, and it didn't particularly bother me,<<

How long ago? The change in crowds from even just 10 years ago is truly remarkable. I was there in Aug '15 and '16 and the difference between 2005 (my next most recent Aug visit) and now is really amazing. And the '80's and '90's - that was before he Fringe exploded to its current size. One can literally not walk down the Royal Mile because there are thousands of visitors, mixed in with hundreds of performers and barkers. A zoo (but soooooo much fun). Think NO Mardi Gras sized crowds - but for almost an entire month.

>>The OP just said sometime in summer for travel.<<

Well - July specifically, but being for up to 26 days it is very possible that it spans both months. My 'dire' warnings are simply if there IS any August time . . .

And Skye anytime in summer. Just about every room on Skye gets booked up far in advance for July and August.
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Old Sep 8th, 2018, 01:28 PM
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Think I read recently that there are one million more tourists visiting Edinburgh Festival now than a decade ago.

Had four nights there last week and it was manageable as the Festival had finished - even got impromptu seats in the Bow Bar and Cafe Royal!

Skye at the end of the month but agree that it seems to be getting too much attention when there are so many beautiful places - and less visited - in Scotland.
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Old Sep 8th, 2018, 02:15 PM
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>>Think I read recently that there are one million more tourists visiting Edinburgh Festival now than a decade ago.<<

I hadn't read that but it sure felt that way. I had a flat overlooking the Royal Mile just below the castle in Lady Stair's Close and the and the view was a solid river of humanity. It wasn't like that years ago.
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Old Sep 8th, 2018, 05:29 PM
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With a family with young kids I'd do a car rental the whole way - especially needed in Cotswolds and thought Bath a hassle to drive in experts say can always stay in smaller nearby town and take train or bus in for the day. Drive around Scotland end in Edinburgh - ditch car and take train to Glasgow. With family much nicer in car IMO - and driving on wrong side of road takes about 15 minutes to get used to. I love trains but for you do a car. Maybe take train out of London to someplace and rent car.
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 04:02 PM
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About driving on the 'wrong side' of the road - yes quick to pickup IME at least and I'm not the sharpest on the ole uptake but I would start off by driving if possible on 'dual carriage ways' as limited access freeways are called in England. These are easy peasy and give you the hang of driving on right side of car and left lanes on highways and then graduated to regular main roads which with lots of traffic are easy on which to remember 'keep left'. T graduated to small side roads that in the countryside can be very narrow. I often drove large Ford Transit vans over these tiny lanes and would find myself at times - when there was not any other traffic to remind me that I'd at times revert to a right-hand drive mentality and sub-consciously drifted into right-side driving - I learned after a few times to always 'think left' when driving on those roads and rounding tight curves on these narrow lanes doing that could have been disastrous.

so when I say that it 'takes about 15 minutes' to get the hang of driving on the left I'd qualify that by saying on main roads but it takes more concentration when on these side roads at least IME.

But after a while it will be just like driving on a trip back home. Pull right up to your accommodation - book only hotels or B&Bs with easy road access and parking and all your bags, etc are steps from your hotel room. If going by train you have to pack up everyday - which for some can take ages - carrying it all on trains and off and into taxis or public transports from stations to hotels - cars are much much nicer, especially for a family. And you will be going to place in Scotland poorly served by public transports - if just large cities then I'd say take the train.

Cheers!
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 04:07 PM
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Thanks for all those answers. My post is just a basic coverage of what we would like. Of course, we need to read a lot about what we really want to see. Skye is not mandatory, but it seems so beautiful.

Jtpj777: what are those less visited places that could be visited instead of Skye ?

What we really want is a mix of cities, villages and natural beauty.We love history, craft beer, good food, and fun things for the kids. Just let them play un a playground for 1 or 2 hours fits the bill for them !

In our 2016-2018 trips (Germany, Austria, Catalonia, Portugal and Italy) we have managed to sleep in Air bnb, travel (train, bus and car rental), see museum, playmobil park, eat well, sleep in airbnb for about 260 euro by day (some days more, some days less). Can we get away with the same budget for Uk ? We guess that London would cost more, but we hope to have some less expensive places to compensate.

Last edited by tostaky; Sep 9th, 2018 at 04:11 PM.
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 04:33 PM
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€260 = approx 230. You should be able to cover accommodations, food, and entrance fees for less than that with the exception of London and possibly Edinburgh. You have said if the trip 'slops over' into August when room rates will double (or even triple) in Edinburgh.

>>What we really want is a mix of cities, villages and natural beauty.We love history, craft beer, good food, and fun things for the kids. Just let them play un a playground . . . <<

You are easily covered for all that.

>>Jtpj777: what are those less visited places that could be visited instead of Skye ?<<

Not Jtpj777 . . . but there are quite literally a hundred other wonderful places/islands/regions you could visit other than Skye. Scotland is a beautiful country. I suggest you pick up a good guidebook - one with a lot of photos - and you and the kids read through it. Skye is a very large island and you can easily get away from the crowds - the biggest problem is there is relatively limited accommodations and it has become VERY popular in the last few years. Places book up far ahead.
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Old Sep 10th, 2018, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by tostaky View Post
Jtpj777: what are those less visited places that could be visited instead of Skye ?
I'll just throw out one option (one that I make semi-frequently.) Upthread I mentioned Mull. Mull is the second largest of the Inner Hebrides (behind Skye) and it offers many of the same attractions - wild and remote feeling country, a colorful town in Tobermory, castles.... but it also has standing stones and easy access to incredible historic and natural sites like Iona and Fingal's Cave on Staffa. Best of all, it's quite a lot closer to the Central Belt cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and a visit to Mull can save as much as a whole day's driving, maybe more.

Here's a map showing a *possible* driving route around Scotland. I'm starting the drive at Edinburgh airport, and ending it at Glasgow, but I strongly feel that keeping the car for the drive south makes the most sense. https://goo.gl/maps/cWPnFYpqJ1q

What's on the map:

Start with a short drive from the airport to The Kelpies, a remarkable pair of horses' heads set in a field near Falkirk. The kids (and their parents) should get a real kick out of this.



Continue past Sitrling (stop at the castle and/or the Bannockburn battlefield) and into the Highlands. You'll drive past the Rannoch Moor and the road down Glen Etive, all used in various James Bond and Harry Potter movies, to Glen Coe.

Entrance to Glen Etive; Glen Coe in the distance -



Spend a night in Glencoe village or nearby, then drive south to Oban and take the ferry across to Mull. You'll pass Duart Castle overlooking the seaways as you approach Mull.



On Mull, visit the colorful main village of Tobermory -



Or head to the village of Fionnphort, from which you can cross to the historic island of Iona, or take a sightseeing boat to Staffa and Fingal's Cave -



On Mull you can also see standing stones, or you can wait until you're back on the mainland and visit the tiny village of Kilmartin. The floor of Kilmartin Glen below the village is littered with prehistoric relics - standing stones and stone circles, burial cairns... it's a fascinating stop as you head back to the east. I'd also spend a night or more in Inveraray, a picture-postcard village near the chateau-styled Inveraray Castle, home of the Campbell clan and home of Cousin Shrimpy in Downton Abbey.



Finish your loop of Scotland at Loch Lomond; there are lots of activities and sightseeing options around the loch, which is also very close to Glasgow and the roads south.

As I said, this is but one of umpteen possible plans. I'd suggest consulting the Undiscovered Scotland website - https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/ - as an excellent resource. Their A-Z guides are invaluable.
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Old Sep 10th, 2018, 06:58 AM
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Oops -- typo and too late to edit: >>You have said if the trip 'slops over' into August . . . << should have been "You haven't said if the trip 'slops over' into August . . ."
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