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Scotland or England or BOTH - family vacation with kids

Scotland or England or BOTH - family vacation with kids

Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 01:22 PM
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Scotland or England or BOTH - family vacation with kids

My husband and I have never been to Europe, and we've decided to take our first trip there - with our two kids (who will be 12 and 9) - in June or July 2016. Of course, I am overwhelmed with the possibilities. I don't know whether we should focus only on England, or only on Scotland, or, perhaps we could fit in England and Scotland in one trip.

Our trip length will be for 9 nights. I would love to see beautiful countryside, explore nature and historical sites (castles, ruins), maybe spend some amount of time in a city (maybe a few days or so), eat great food. We would be flying in from Florida, and I expect that we would rent a car to explore more rural areas. I'm fine with trains and other public transport in cities. My kids are great travelers and easily adaptable, though they've never been overseas.

I've been advised to:
- Stay only in London, and use it as a home base to explore via day trips
- Spend half the time in London and half in Paris (but I'd rather not only stay in cities)

I'm tempted to plan either a trip only to Scotland or a trip to London (few days) then Scotland.

Any suggestions?
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 02:00 PM
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9 days is not very long -- especially if that is the entire trip from home > UK > back home. If that is the case you will only have 6.5 days free to see/do things. (1.5 days is spent getting to the UK and one day is spent flying home) Plus you'll have jet lag to deal with.

London is absolutely fabulous . . . but it is also enormous and a bit overwhelming and would take your whole trip to even scratch the surface. If it was me, and w/ kids the age of yours, I'd seriously consider sticking to Scotland. Fly into Edinburgh and stay 3 nights (which is only 2.5 days). Explore the wonderful city, recover from the jet lag and get acclimated. Then collect a car for the other nights (4 days) and plan a short loop tour either • 1) up along the east coast through St Andrews, Glamis, Dunnottar, and the Castle Trail or • 2) into the Borders, St Abbs, and very northern England (Alnwick and Hadrian's Wall), or • 3) The Trossachs/Stirling/Glencoe

Drop the car either at EDI or GLA and fly home.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 02:34 PM
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When I took my youngest nephews (11 and 14) to Scotland (a trip they chose) we had a bit more time. they loved the area around Fort Augustus (Lower Loch Ness)--took a boat trip on the Loch, explored the Nessie exhibits, went to the Highland Wildlife Park (where they are breeding endangered species and reintroducing some to Scotland. We had a wonderful foot tour with one of the rangers.), saw some highland games--second week of July if I remember. there were events for kids who did not have to sign up ahead of time.

We went to Mull and took a trip to Iona and Staffa where we saw puffins on a magical day. Two castles on Mull though I believe one of them is now closed to tourists. Ate supper on the pier at Tobermory.

Then we went down to North England as Janis suggested. Bamburgh Castle was great. We went out to Lindisfarne and hiked out to the ruins. Alnwick was fun. We drove down to Hadrian's Wall and walked a short way along it and visited the museum, where the boys bought fake swords and were interviewed by BBC who was filming a special there.


When I took their older brothers 10 and 12 to England we spent a few days in London and then drove out to the Welsh border castles.

Both sets did lots of research and made a list of suggestions, and we worked out our route together.

Get your kids involved. Buy some guide books and have them do some research on the internet.

It will be such fun! Kids are great traveling companions. Seeing things through their eyes opens up new worlds for us. You will have great family memories and the stories will get better as the years pass. (My nephews have told their children who are now eagerly awaiting their turn for a trip.)
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 02:35 PM
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I forgot to say that I heartily endorse Janisj's rec. to do one or the other, not both.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 03:46 PM
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Thank you so much, JanisJ and Irishface, for your replies and suggestions. I think I will try to convince my husband to take off additional time from work. I'd love to stay longer than 9 nights.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 05:16 PM
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It's too far and expensive to go for 9 days. I know an airline plot who takes his family to a different European capital each spring break but they aren't paying for the flights.

I think 2 weeks not including travel days is the absolute minimum. Fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh, rent a car and have fun. Return the car near a rail station outside London and finish with some days there.

I have done the base yourself in London and just take day trips and didn't like it as much.
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Old Apr 6th, 2015, 03:28 PM
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Do one or the other - not both.
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 03:42 AM
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You really need to work on your husband to take the extra time off as you can't do both places in 9 nights, especially if that includes travel time.

For a longer trip, I'd aim for a week in London--with a day trip or two thrown in to maybe Windsor or HCP and then a week in Scotland to include Edinburgh, Glencoe and Mull.

With only 9 nights, I'd agree with the majority, just choose one.
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 08:23 AM
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<<It's too far and expensive to go for 9 days. I know an airline plot who takes his family to a different European capital each spring break but they aren't paying for the flights.

I think 2 weeks not including travel days is the absolute minimum.>>

Tom_mn is out of line. The family wants to go and has limited time. This is a matter of family priority. Who are you to say what place is too far and costly for X days?

This is the reality of work in the US. The dad seems to be able to get only a limited amount of days off in one go. This is not uncommon. If so, maggie9 should use the time she has to the best of her abilities, not forego the trip altogether.

To maggie9: London and daytrips or Edinburgh and the Highlands would fit your needs. London is catnip for the hobbits - there's enough there that they'll be interested in to keep the little monsters busy for months. At 12 and 9, they're computer literate enough to go trawling the internet for things they'd like to do there. (Make sure you use www.daysoutguide.co.uk for discounts).

Edinburgh is great (even though all hills go UP only - dunno why, different physics there) and has two castles, men in skirts, and history and mystery for everyone's needs. The countryside is excellent on a bad day. Stirling Castle is a short train ride away. Aberdeenshire and its castle and whisky trails is 2+ hours from Edinburgh.
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 09:03 AM
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Why not let your husband return after 9 days and you and your children stay on longer in London. There is so much to see there and you could easily handle it on your own.
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 09:56 AM
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Thanks BigRuss -- I would have been 'nastier'. If one has 9 days they can have a <B>WONDERFUL</B> trip -- just as long as they don't bite off too much and try to see <i>everything</i>.

9 days (6.5 on the ground) would make a lovely trip to either a bit of Scotland, or London and environs.

If you are at all tempted by almcd's suggestion -- you could do the Scotland bit w/ the whole family and then travel down to London, wave goodbye to Dad and enjoy several days on your own w/ the kids. Your kids are old enough that it would be easy (if they were much younger/toddlers it would be more of a hassle on your own)
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 11:14 AM
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<<It's too far and expensive to go for 9 days. I know an airline plot who takes his family to a different European capital each spring break but they aren't paying for the flights.

Fodors is becomin pathetically opinionated .

Too far? For whom?
Too expensive ? For whom?

We have many friends who regularly travel from the UK to holidays homes in Florida for a week or a long weekend in Vegas or NYC.

We spent 9 amazing days in Charleston last October. Yes, 2 weeks or a couple of months would have lovely but......

Were is Florida?

There are direct flights from Orlando to Glasgow, Delta/Virgin operate the route.

I would second Irishface's suggestion. Rent a cottage on Mull for a week, it is beautiful. Visit Iona and Lunga, see the Sea Eagles and enjoy the wild and incredible, beaches. Spend a few nights in Edinburgh then fly home.
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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Sorry where in Florida ?
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 12:01 PM
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Agree with doing one or the other, and for a first trip to Europe, I'd do London for three full days (excluding day of arrival) and environs for the rest. Hampton Court Palace, Bath, Cotswolds, Oxford, Windsor or Warwick Castle, Glastonbury Abbey, Stonehenge and Avebury, would make a good, fairly compact trip from London.
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Old Apr 10th, 2015, 12:30 PM
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JanisJ and alcmd - I sort of like that idea of spending extra time if my husband must return early. We're still in discussions on how feasible it would be to take more time off. And thank you for your supportive and helpful comments!
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Old Apr 10th, 2015, 12:33 PM
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Thank you for that, BigRuss. You're absolutely right - I want to make the best of whatever time we have. I appreciate your insight and suggestions!
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Old Apr 10th, 2015, 12:34 PM
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BritishCaicos,

I'm in northern Florida, so I'm close enough to Jacksonville, Tampa, or Orlando - any of the three are good options for us. I'm heading to investigate Mull now...
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Old Apr 10th, 2015, 12:35 PM
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Thanks for those suggestions, dwdvagamundo (wow - a mouthful!).
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Old Apr 10th, 2015, 01:59 PM
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9 days - how about the classic London to Scotland trip - after 3 days in London or less - 'collect' your car - British for pick up - and head north to York - well lots of neat things for kids that age there - climb around the walls of one of Europe's oldest towns - see the fabulous famous York Minster cathedral - take the thrill-packing Yorvik Viking Tour (kind of a carnival ride based on history of the Vikings that settled York and check out the National Railway Museum, one of the best family-oriented sites I've been to in Britain - lots of hands-on things plus huge old locomotives, royal carriages, etc.

From drive along the coast via Newcastle to some little coastal town - doing a typical British B&B - nothing like them in London - drive along one of Britain's most gorgeous coasts to Scotland thru the Borders Abbeys region - check out famous old ruined abbeys like Melrose and Jedburgh - drive up for a taste of the Scottish Highlands around Loch Lomand - end up in Edinburgh - fly home from there or take the Caledonian Sleeper Train at night back to London - another thrill for kids that age IME!

Try to do more than 9 days and that could be a sweet trip.

1-3 London
4- York
5- Along coast to Borders Abbeys area
6- Loch Lomand area
7- Loch Lomand/Highlands
8- Edinburgh
0- Edinburgh
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Old Apr 10th, 2015, 02:53 PM
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GEEZ that PalQ itinerary is a LOT of bouncing around for a family of four with two kids. And London is worth way more than 3 nights with the hobbits in tow.

Note: PalQ is a train shill. Traveling 8+ hours in an overnight train for what is normally a 4.5 hour trip won't thrill anybody and if the kids can't sleep, it would really suck.

You can easily do 5 nights London, four in Edinburgh with day trips (if you want to split the time) and day trips as necessary. Less bouncing from inn to inn (kids won't give a flying ducksnort about a brit B&B) is better, especially if you're inclined to rent a flat, not a hotel room.
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