Monday, 14 October 2019

Our USA Travel with Kids Wishlist


The USA is so full of personality from the small towns to the big and I would love to go exploring across the country, but I have been thinking more about which states look great for travelling to with a young family and I have narrowed it down to my top 5, all for very different reasons.  Flights to the USA aren’t as expensive as they used to be and it is easier than ever to get an ESTA visa with E-visa. 

ESTA

To travel to the USA you must have a visa whether you are travelling for business or pleasure. You can apply directly for your ESTA with E-Visa and it takes only 5 minutes.  The ESTA covers you for up to two years on multiple trips and E-visa take all the hassle out of applying! Everyone needs to have one regardless of age and you must do it before you get to the airport. You can find out more about an ESTA Application here


California

California may be an obvious choice for a family trip but for good reasons.  It hosts its own Disneyland parcs as well as Universal Studios and Legoland. There is so much more than just theme parks though with the beautiful Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, the national parks and of course Hollywood.  The state is huge with so much to explore that I think it would be impossible to do in one visit!  

The Golden Gate bridge looks stunning and we would love to hire a car and road trip around this state.  I think with the sun, theme parks and all the national parks like Redwood and Yosemite this would be the children’s first choice!



Alaska

My children love animals and Alaska has an amazing variety from the bald eagles in the sky to the bright red salmon in the lakes as well as all the reindeer.  Alaska is a state for outdoor adventure, wildlife and scenery on a grand scale. Whilst other states have all the attractions I am attracted to Alaska for the wild beauty of it and I would love to visit in a few years when the children are all big enough to go hiking through the national parks.  There seems to be plenty to do all year round and I would love to visit in the winter where snow is on the ground and you might catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

I love the idea of cruising to Alaska but I have heard that driving around is pretty special and it could be combined with a trip to Canada which is included in your ESTA from E-visa.



Florida

Dylan has been talking of visiting Florida since his visit to the Harry Potter Studios last winter and I would love to take him to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.  It looks huge, spectacular and the kind of place that would make me want to re-read all the books! There are two parks and you can catch the Hogwarts Express between the two which would be magical!  I visited Florida a few (many) years ago and I would love to take my children back to the Kennedy Space Centre and Busch gardens as well as the obvious Disney parcs.  

I have seen photos of Miami beach though and that is somewhere I have never been and would love to visit as a family.  The white sand, the beautiful blue sea and the atmosphere look so different from our beaches at home (and so much warmer!)

New York

I would love to visit New York with the children (or without them) and I think they would be mesmerized by the skylines, the bustle and the culture.  I want to watch a play on Broadway and see the sets of TV shows I have loved. Central Park is on my bucket list of places I have to visit one day and I think the children would be amazed by the Statue of Liberty.  

Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller building - there is so much iconic architecture in this state but there are also places to camp, to enjoy a beach cabin or so many other types of holiday.  It is a city of culture, museums and diversity and I think it would make a wonderful place to visit as a family.



Hawaii

The beautiful beaches and the opportunities to surf draw you in but it is the opportunity for island hopping that makes me want to visit. On our recent trip to Croatia we went on a boat tour round some smaller islands and it was one of our highlights.  The Hawaiin islands sound like they are full of culture and exotic cuisine.  



My curious children would love to learn more about the state’s active volcanoes, go whale watching or on the submarine adventures available and I think it would be a truly memorable trip.


I could go on listing the states we would love to visit in the USA and all the places we could travel to and I hope that some of these become a reality for us in the future. If you have any American adventures planned then check out E-Visa for ESTA USA to make sure everything runs smoothly!

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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Running a Half Marathon

I have to admit, I wasn't convinced I would ever be ready but I turned up early last Sunday morning and registered my name at the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon with the hope that my legs wouldn't let me down. I have been training for a few months with the help of my Simplyhealth plan and whilst I hadn't run 13 miles, I had reached 10 on my training and I was told if you can run 10, you can run 13.


The atmosphere was amazing and Millennium square was full of excited looking runners with numbers pinned to their t-shirts as well as partners, parents and families preparing to cheer on their loved ones. I noticed the notes on people's backs that told me a fraction of their story, why they were running or who for. I was confident my body could cope with the grueling two hour run but I was trying to make sure my mind could as well.


The sun was beating down as we lined up, I was in the green wave, and everyone was setting up soundtracks on their phones or making sure watches were ready to track the action. The crowd was full of excitement, the music was playing and it was hard not to feel enthusiastic and positive. We started, slowly at first as we edged towards the start line and then with a bounce in our steps as we crossed and begun the easiest mile of the 13. The streets were lined with people cheering us on, there were smiles everywhere and I set a time in my head of when I wanted to complete the half marathon. I had a few issues with my ankle during my training and I had used my Simplyhealth plan for physio to ensure it was strong enough to make it through. I felt no pain at the beginning which is usually the toughest bit and I was so grateful I had seen to my problem early before it escalated.


It was around mile 4 I started to lose the bounce, the heat was intense and I wasn't used to training in the sun as I tend to run in the evenings. I focused on reading people's shirts and I felt humbled and uplifted by those running in the name of Will, a little boy with a brain tumour. Everyone there had their own story, and we were running not in competition but together. By mile 9 things were getting really hard and my body was running out of energy, my pace had slowed right down but every time I saw children holding out their hands for a high five I found a little more energy, every time someone called out the number on my bib and reminded me I was doing great, I found another bit and the support from strangers, from marshalls and from the other runners kept me going even when everything felt exhausted.


I knew I was getting close to my target time when I saw the 12 mile board and the streets were full again with music and people and cheering and suddenly it said 400 metres, then 200 metres and I dragged the last bit of energy out to get across the finish line. I did it, with over a minute to spare before my aim time. 2 hours and 8 minutes and I could stop and walk, pick up my finishers pack with the medal I had more than earned and find my family to celebrate.



My daughter was so excited to come and tell me that I won and I did, because I wasn't running against the other people, I was running with them, trying to beat myself, to beat my expectations of myself and to prove to me that I could do it. I didn't care about anyone else's time, I was a winner and I was going to celebrate my success!


Back in the running village, I headed straight to the Simplyhealth stretch zone where a trained PT was leading a full stretch which I definitely needed after over 2 hours of running. You could join in halfway through the session or wait for the next one so I jumped in and stretched out my poor muscles. They got a real treat afterwards though in the complimentary massage tent and I could have fallen asleep on the table!



The running village also had a 'Rate my Gait' station where you could run on a treadmill and have it recorded and then speak to a physio or podiatrist about your results and your running style which was really interesting and has definitely given me some pointers to work on! It is such an important thing when running to understand your body and how it moves - this is such a valuable service.



Running the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon left me feeling both completely exhausted and utterly invincible. The runners high is like nothing else and I felt so incredibly proud of myself and still do. I worked so hard to get here and I had such an amazing day in Bristol. My Simplyhealth plan has helped keep me on track with my health as I took on the commitment to train for this. It has covered my costs from dental work and optical to physio and I am sure I will be using it plenty as I want to keep up the running (although I think 10k might be my preferred distance for now!). I have definitely caught the running bug and the children really want to take part next time after watching the Simplyhealth Great Bristol half Marathon (and seeing the medal I got!). They helped me throughout my training so I think now I need to help them with theirs!
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