We paid £9.50 to go on holiday…

I’ve always heard of the Sun newspapers £9.50 caravan holidays but had never done one until now. We have recently got a Chow Chow puppy called Moana and we want to be able to take her on our travels with us. We thought a good tester trip would be a holiday in the UK.

Moana in her suitcase

To get the holiday you have to enter codes – I found the codes on http://www.holidaypirates.com. You have to choose 4 different dates that you are available and 4 different parks you would want to visit. Only one of ours came back with availability – Highfield Grange, a Parkdean Resort in Clacton-on-Sea that was dog-friendly. When booking you get charged for a minimum of 4 people even if there’s only 2 of you so we invited my little brother and sister so we had a total of 4 people and 1 dog (who was the most expensive by far at £25). There was also a service charge to pay at the time of booking and I also paid extra for bedding and entertainment passes. All in all I paid just over £120.00 for 4 night for 4 people and a dog which is really cheap. We were exited for our holiday but then I went on Trip Advisor (follow me @hollyisonholidayy) and saw the most horrendous review for Highfield Grange. The reviews mentions dog poop everywhere, filthy caravans, toilets that hadn’t been flushed by previous occupants etc. I felt like we’d made a mistake – I knew it wouldn’t be the fanciest place that we’d ever stayed at but I also don’t want to stay somewhere that has someone else’s poop in the toilet when I arrive. I was called up by Parkdean Resorts a few days before we were due to arrive and was told that there was a chance that our caravan wouldn’t have double glazing or central heating. We were asked if we wanted to pay more to upgrade to a caravan that definitely had these. I said no, we would just take extra bedding and lots of blankets – we packed like we were heading to the Arctic.

Off we go!

We drove down to Clacton-on-Sea on Monday afternoon and we arrived just after 5pm. When we got there the reception was closed so we went to the sales office for help. They handed us a map of the park and our caravan key. We drove into the park and to our caravan and from the outside it looked fine – no dog poop around it like the reviews said.

Our home for the next week

We went inside and it did have double glazing and central heating and was clean as a whistle! The living space, bedrooms and bathrooms were spotless and we’d been upgraded for free to a better caravan! We couldn’t believe our luck especially after we’d prepared ourselves for the worst. We got all our bags inside and then popped to the Tesco that was a 2 minute drive away to get some groceries. We couldn’t be bothered to cook so we decided to eat dinner at the onsite restaurant. It was literally empty in there and the food was mediocre for the price, as well as not having some of the food on the menu. Afterwards, we headed to see what entertainment was on – it was time for bingo! There was only 6 people in the room – us 4 and 2 other people on another table.

A busy bingo night

We played two games of bingo in which Charlie and Declan won a water bottle and a frisbee. Top prizes. We gave up on the entertainment and headed back to the caravan to drink there instead. The entertainment was the same every night – a small game of bingo with barely anyone playing and we didn’t stick around for anything else after that. We found that when we wanted to take our puppy on walks, there were plenty of dog poop bins around and we didn’t see any mess anywhere. After our 4 nights we checked out which was easy and simple but the drive back home was a nightmare. Moana got really restless in the back of the car so we let her out to go to the toilet. She did her business and got back in the car.

A little break from driving

We started driving again and she climbed on top of Charlie and started to try to jump up at the window. Suddenly we hear Charlie shout “she’s having a poo!” Moana had done the most vile poop ever all over the backseats (thank god we had a towel down). She proceeded to tread it in and walk it all over. We pulled over again and Charlie took Moana out to clean her feet off and Declan & I had to clean out the car. It was like an explosion and I couldn’t cope so Dec had to deal with it. The towel couldn’t be saved and got chucked. Funnily enough once Moana got back in the car she went straight to sleep the rest of the way home while we had to drive an hour and a half with all the windows down in the middle of November because the car smelt like shit. 10/10 would recommend the Sun £9.50 holidays. 0/10 do not recommend travelling with a dog that has diarrhoea.

An absolute disaster

Meet Moana!

Meet our puppy Moana!

She’s a 12 weeks old, female Chow Chow and the perfect addition to our family!

We had been looking at getting a Chow Chow for a while and we looked a lots of them but the one we fell in love with was Moana.

We were on vacation in Orlando at Walt Disney World right before we went to pick her up and we were still undecided on a name. And then all of sudden she was Moana, it just became her name and we found ourselves calling her it without thinking so it became her official name.

We bought her lots of toys and essentials like food and puppy pads and then brought her back to our home. She loves being outdoors and sitting in the sun watching the world go by. Her favourite toy is her stuffed Pua toy (Pua is a character in the movie Moana.

We can’t wait to get Moana a puppy passport to come on our travels with us. Let us know if you have any recommendations of a good place to take a puppy on holiday!

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I’m 23!

I celebrated my 23rd birthday with a trip to Orlando! My fiancée surprised me with booking a night at my favourite Disney resort – the Polynesian Village!

When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted and given lei’s to wear and I also received a birthday badge. We were given magic bands that we were able to link our park tickets to as well as using it as a room key!

Our room was gorgeous! We had a lake view room giving us views of the Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom! The room was so clean and spacious and I could honestly have moved in and lived there forever!

The most magical part of the night was being able to watch Happily Ever After from our room! We slid open the balcony doors and just enjoyed the spectacular show together.

As we only stayed for one night, we couldn’t stay at the Polynesian and not have an Ohana breakfast! We booked a table for 10am and as usual – it’s the best breakfast in the world! It’s family style dining which means that it comes in one big plate and you help yourself to whatever you want. The food was delicious and the service was amazing! The cast member who we had made my birthday feel even more special! She brought out a cupcake and birthday card for me signed Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. It was such a cute, magical moment that I’ll remember forever.

If you are planning a visit to Walt Disney World I would 100% recommend to stay at the Polynesian Village Resort (even for one night) and get a lake view room! It’s so worth it and makes your stay that extra special.

Blue Lagoon – Iceland

When you visit Iceland you have to go to the Blue Lagoon. It’s expensive but definitely worth the experience.

We got transfers from our hotel to the Blue Lagoon which was about an hour away from Reykjavík. There was a long queue to get in but eventually we got there. We had only paid for the standard package which included; towels, a locker, a face mask and one free drink.

The one down side to the Blue Lagoon? Showering naked before you enter is mandatory. It was a horrifying experience that I do not want to re-live but once it’s done and you’re in the Blue Lagoon it’s worth it.

The water is so warm (about 38 degrees Celsius) and there it’s a lot bigger than it looks on pictures. We were able to find our own small section to hang out and drink our drinks in. I had a raspberry slush and Declan had blackberry smoothie.

TIP: When going to the Blue Lagoon, lather your hair in conditioner because the properties of the Blue Lagoon dry your hair out so bad. I used plenty of it and it still made my hair feel dry and crusty for a few days.

Strokkur Geyser – Iceland

One of the trips that we were most excited about during our visit to Iceland was our Golden Circle tour.

We boarded a bus and it took us to different natural sights outside of Reykjavík. One of the stops was at the geothermal area of Haukadalur Valley.

When we got there we could see little hot springs bubbling all over the ground and we followed the walkway to where most of the people were stood. Everyone was waiting for Strokkur Geyser to erupt. It’s a famous and reliable fountain geyser that can erupt every 6-10 minutes every day. It wasn’t long before we got to see it ourselves. It was around 15 meters whilst it was erupting and it was spectacular.

We had previously seen Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in June. Click the link to see my blog post on that. Has anyone else seen a geyser erupt?

The Unknown Bureaucrat – Reykjavík, Iceland

We’re in Iceland!

We arrived last night so today we took a walk around Reykjavík city centre. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe then had a wander around.

We headed towards Tjörnin – a small lake in central Reykjavík – and then along it towards Reykjavík City Hall. Just outside city hall we saw this statue.

It’s a person wearing a suit seemingly walking towards City Hall but instead of shoulders and a head there is a giant piece of rock. It references the “faceless officials” going to work everyday and was sculpted in 1994 by Magnús Tómasson.

The Venetian, Las Vegas

The weather in England is currently cold and raining so I am wishing that I was back in Las Vegas in the sunshine.

This picture was taken from the Venetian looking out onto their Gondolas and the Strip. The Venetian, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful hotels on The Strip. The design and theme has been carried out perfectly throughout the entire hotel. The artwork that they have is so beautiful and definitely worth looking at if you’re in Vegas.

One thing that I regret is not actually having a ride on the gondolas here. I really wish we had done. Has anyone else ever had the chance to do it? Was it worth the price?

Disneyland Paris

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Visiting Disneyland Paris at Christmas should be on everyone bucket list!

It was a magical experience that I would love to do again! We visited the park on a Saturday and I was concerned that the queues would be so big that wouldn’t get on many rides. However, the queues were not too bad (40 minutes tops) and maybe the bad weather helped too. More rain, less queues is a family motto!

The whole Disneyland Park had undergone a Christmas makeover and Main Street USA was no exception. The giant Christmas tree was so tall and beautifully decorated that even the miserable weather couldn’t ruin it.

Disneyland Paris

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Today we booked another visit to Disneyland Paris! We will driving down from England on November 10th for the first day of Christmas at Disneyland.

I love visiting Disneyland Paris and the last time we went was February 2017 when this picture was taken right before we left the parks and went home.

We’ve booked a EuroTunnel crossing and our tickets so I can’t wait!

The Grand Ducal Palace – Luxembourg

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Whilst in Luxembourg we booked a tour to visit the Grand Ducal Palace which is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The tours only take place during the summer from July until the end of August.

We were not allowed to take any photos of the inside of the palace so the only ones we took were of the outside of the building. It’s a truly beautiful building and the inside was just a royal as you would imagine. A highlight of the tour was walking up and down a very grand staircase.

You can book tours through the tourist office in Luxembourg – which can also be booked in various languages as well.

 

Roller Coaster – Lagoon Amusement Park, UT

041 Roller Coaster - Lagoon Amusement Park

Our last stop of our road trip was Utah! Our flight back to England was out of Salt Lake City International Airport so we had to research things to do and see in Salt Lake City.

Just outside of the city is an amusement park called Lagoon. We had never heard of it before but it sounded brilliant! We drove down there and paid for tickets at the gate (I think that it would’ve been cheaper to buy them online in advance). The first ride that we went on was called Roller Coaster – an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster. Wooden coasters are one of my favourite types of rides! The queues were relatively short and the seats had plenty of room.

The ride takes you around and around and up and down and was my favourite ride in the entire park! For a fun day out in Salt Lake City, visit Lagoon!

National Parks Annual Pass

040 National Park Annual Pass

Since we were visiting so many different National Parks, someone from Devils Tower recommended that we purchase the National Parks annual pass.

This got us entry into every national park in the US for a year and it worked out cheaper than paying separately to visit them all.

Since we had already paid a single entry fee to Devils Tower we were unsure of whether to purchase the annual pass since we had already started paying separately would it work out cheaper? The answer is YES because as long as we kept the receipt we would get the fee we had already paid knocked off the price of the annual pass.

Once we arrived to Grand Teton National Park we asked about purchasing the National Park Annual Pass. The lady who helped us was very informative and friendly. We showed her our Devils Tower receipt which she did indeed knock off the price so we bought the annual pass!

Now we can enter any national park within the US for free until next June! If you are thinking of doing a road trip across America or you are just wanting to visit a handful of national parks. Invest in the annual pass!

Old Faithful – Yellowstone National Park

039 Old Faithful - Yellowstone National Park

Driving through Yellowstone National Park was an amazing experience, there was so much to see, we kept pulling over every few minutes to take more pictures.

The main thing that we wanted to see there was the Old Faithful geyser – it’s not the biggest or taller geyser in the park but it is the one that is most likely to erupt.

Since we took so long to get to the geyser we were unsure if we would be able to stay long enough to see it erupt since we were only visiting the park that day and there are many other things to see. (Side note: it takes more than one day to see everything so stay on-site for a few nights to get the most of of the park). Luckily once we got there, parked up and went through the visitors centre to see it there was only a few minutes until the next expected eruption.

We found a good spot (it was very crowded and we were lucky to get such a good view since we were late arriving) and waited for the eruption. There were a few little spurts of water and then it shot out getting taller and taller and I had to put the camera down to really take in the experience.

Old Faithful is a must-see when visiting Yellowstone National Park!

Grand Teton National Park

038 Grand Teton National Park, WY

On our drive into Jackson, Wyoming we were astounded by these giant mountains that were so beautiful! We were planned on only visiting Yellowstone National Park but we had to make some stops in the Grand Teton National Park after seeing the magnificent mountains!

There are so many places to pullover on the sides of the road when driving through the Grand Teton National Park and it’s no wonder why – there are so many picture opportunities!

This was my favourite picture that we took whilst we were in the national park. Out of all the national parks that I’ve visited – Grand Teton is my favourite. The views that you can see when you visit are unlike anywhere else.

FACT: Kanye West used a photo of the Grand Teton Mountains on his iPhone and used it as his “Ye” album cover.

Jackson, WY

037 Jackson, WY

Jackson, Wyoming was our second-to-last stop on our road trip and we stayed at the Snow King Resort for a few nights. The surrounding scenery to our hotel was beautiful. We parked the car in the hotel car park, got out and took this picture.

The whole town of Jackson is beautiful and all around it are huge mountains – some still with snow of them in June.

Baby Black Bear – South Dakota

036 Baby Black Bear - SD

After we visited Mt Rushmore we stopped at Bear Country USA to drive around and see the different animals they had.

The drive through experience was great! The best animals that we saw up close were wolves, grizzly bears and black bears. Seeing the bears so close to us was an amazing experience and I couldn’t believe how big and fluffy they were in real life!

Once we finished the drive through part of Bear Country USA, we got out and looked around the walk around section. We saw so many cute small animals but the best ones were the baby black bears. They were running around and playing with each other and I could’ve watched them for hours! This little bear was sat minding his own business and it just looks so cute!

Mt Rushmore

035 Mt Rushmore,

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE SIGHTS OF OUR ENTIRE ROAD TRIP!

Seeing Mount Rushmore has been on my bucket list forever so when we planned our road trip, Mount Rushmore was at the top of the list.

We queued for such a long time to get into park but whilst were in the queues we did see to see it from afar. By the time we got there I just wanted to see it up close. The national park was set out beautifully with lots of different flags above you as you walk downwards towards the memorial.

When you arrive to the viewing point you are still quite far from the mountain BUT you can still get some excellent pictures and see the details that has gone in to this memorial. There is a seating area where you can just enjoy the weather and take in the views (as well as get some delicious soft serve ice cream). 100% would recommend going to see Mt Rushmore to everyone.

TIP: Definitely treat your self to the soft serve ice cream – it’s delicious!

Devils Tower, WY

034 Devils Tower, WY

Devils Tower was one of the places that wasn’t on our bucket list originally when we planned our road trip. We had never even heard of it until we started researching Wyoming.

Devils Tower has naturally formed like that and it was one of the weirdest things we’ve seen. When we asked people in the local area about Devils Tower, they all told us different stories about how it was formed. My favourite story was one of the most popular ones we heard about a bear trying to catch some children and its claws left the marks down the tower.

There were many different walking and hiking paths to take around Devils Tower but since we were rushed for time we only did our own short walk and climbed over the rocks to get more pictures.

When we visit Devils Tower again we will definitely embark on one of the recommended trails to see even more views of this amazing natural formation.

Falls Park – Sioux Falls, SD

033 Falls Park - Sioux Falls, SD

One of random stops that we made on our road trip was to Sioux Falls in South Dakota. We googled what there was to do there and found some pictures of the local park – Falls Park – on Instagram.

We drove down to check it and there was plenty of photo opportunities of the waterfalls and the rocks. It was very relaxing to walk around the park and rest under the shade of the trees since the weather was so hot that day! Sioux Falls was a small town but we enjoyed our short stay there.

Millennium Park – Chicago

032 Millennium Park - Chicago, IL

Chicago had so many things to do and see but one that was on my bucket list was the see Millennium Park.

The Cloud Gate sculpture is amazing and it was so much bigger than I had expected it to be. We walked around it and underneath it and it is just a really cool piece of art. The best part about “The Bean” was all the photo opportunities you can take of yourselves and the reflections of the surroundings.

We used a Big Bus to take us around the city which has a stop right across the street, making it so easy and quick to get to the Cloud Gate sculpture.

Chicago

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As soon as we arrived in Chicago (which took a while for us to be able to navigate the Upper and Lower levels of the city) we checked into our hotel and headed to the John Hancock Building.

We bought the Chicago City Pass which allowed us to experience many different attractions while we were there. 360 Chicago is located on the 94th floor and gave some amazing views of the city.

We paid extra for Tilt tickets which was one of the best things we did in Chicago. Tilt does exactly what its called and tilts you 1030 feet above the city giving you downwards facing views that you cant get anywhere else. It’s the first of it’s kind and it truly is an experience not to be missed.

Niagara Falls

On our last day in Niagara Falls we took the iconic Maid of the Mist boat tour which was an amazing experience that I would 100% recommend to anyone visiting Niagara Falls.

At the beginning of the boat tour we managed to get good pictures, however the closer we got to the Falls there was a lot of spray coming up which ruined any pictures that we took.

Clifton Hill, Canada

While we were in Niagara Falls we went to Clifton Hill and bought the Fun Pass which allowed us to do 6 attractions.

There were two different mini golf courses to choose from; dinosaurs or wizards. We chose the Dinosaur Adventure Golf which features a 50 foot high volcano that erupts and a giant T-Rex statue.

It’s Canada’s largest mini golf course at 70,000 square feet and has a total of 36 holes. It was a really great activity to have some fun at Niagara Falls. I would recommend going at night when it is quieter and you don’t have to wait for anyone in front of you.

Niagara Falls Fireworks

One of the best places we visited on our road trip was Niagara Falls. We booked the Falls Firework Cruise with Hornblower Cruises.

We crossed Rainbow Bridge and the border from the New York side to the Canadian side. Hornblower was only a few minutes walk away from the border which was great.

They had live music, a bar and food before you board th boat which was a lot of fun. We put on our complimentary ponchos and climbed up onto the top deck of the boat.

The cruise was amazing and took us close to the Falls. They were lit up in an array of colours and at the end of the cruise the fireworks began. It was a lovely experience that I would recommend to anyone.