Imagine yourself surrounded by some of the richest artistic, musical, and literary history possible. A place famous for it’s forward thinking and thoughtful embrace of the past. The smell of fish and chips luring you into a rustic pub as you pass by some of the most famous fashion boutiques in the world. After filling your tummy with delicious, vinegar drenched delightfulness you can hop on the tube and visit the third largest ferris wheel in the world where you get an eye full of one of the most majestic cities in the world, London, England.
A few weeks ago I was invited to enter the VisitBritain Shop blog contest. I was a bit hesitant at first because I felt like if I just wrote a post about an adult shopping trip in London it wouldn’t be accurate, and it wouldn’t fit in with the content of this blog. So I’m not going to write a normal entry about my dream shopping experience without my kids because that is extremely unlikely. If the opportunity arose for me to go to London, I would want to take my kids with me! I love my three little sprouts.
I have always wanted to travel to London, beyond the walls of the infamous London Heathrow airport where I have personally spent many hours between flights. In this post let’s imagine that I have just been handed enough money to transport my entire family to this magical city, and I am planning my dream vacation there. Hey, it could happen, right?
In planning my dream family vacation to London, I would attempt to be very clever about it because I have three small children. There are many things my husband and I would love to see that would bore our children to tears, but not to worry, I have a plan. In situations like these, my husband and I employ the following method:
The Best of Both Worlds
-Look for fun things your children would enjoy.
-Find the things that you and your spouse would enjoy that your children might not enjoy as much.
-Make two separate lists. One with the child centered activities and one with the more adult activities such as shopping or historical tours.
-Depending on the location, pair up one or two child activities with one or two adult activities.
-Use the child activities during the times of the day that your children will be able to enjoy them more, and adult activities during the times when the children might relax more such as nap time or after dinner.
Finding an adult interest located close to a child friendly activity is something that can turn an ordinary family vacation into something extraordinary. We all know that children and adults have different interests, and the most important thing you could do to create the best family trip is to plan ahead.
Here are two illustrations of how this can be put into practice, using our family and London as examples.
We would start with a ride on an authentic double decker bus with the locals, and a feast for the eyes provided by a go-around on the London Eye (both things my children would love). Then my husband and I could enjoy the shops in Piccadilly Circus while our two youngest take a nap in the stroller (i.e. buggy), our oldest daughter holding my hand as we stroll along. Travis and I love vintage items like books and vinyl EPs, and in a historic city like London, there are a plethora of shops to browse for these rare treasures. London is also famous for its fashion, and offers enough variety for any style, including the eclectic preferences of my husband and I. Vintage clothing shops like Rokit and boutiques like Alenka Retro Accessories would be a must. If our shopping expedition took longer than our little ones could bear, we would resort to bargaining, something we only do on rare occasions, by offering them a tasty English treat like a Galaxy chocolate bar. Then we would take the tube to the nearest Browns bar and brasserie, an eatery highly recommended by close family friends.
My university degree specialized in literature so one of my insisted stops would be 221B Baker Street, also known as the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I can guarantee you that my children would not find this very interesting. However, this museum is conveniently located 13 minutes away from the Puppet Theatre Barge, which I know my children would adore! I would plan to attend the earlier show of the Puppet Barge and while the children have satisfied their need for entertainment for the next few hours, they would be able to tolerate the Sherlock Museum my husband and I are dying to experience (pun intended).
Assuming my youngest was of walking age, we would also have to stop (after carefully and thoughtfully placing a few traffic cones) for the once in a lifetime opportunity to take a family photo of us crossing Abbey Road. It is actually a very busy street… to watch people attempting to get photographs check out this live website http://www.abbeyroad.com/crossing. It is quite hilarious, and includes sound, so you can hear people honking.
Hopefully the Spencer family will get an opportunity to travel to London soon! And until then, as always…