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London was beyond perfect as our first multi-generational vacation.
When I was around Maddie and Ashley's ages I went to London for the first time. I remember the city feeling so very different than any I had been in before. It felt more proper and had more energy in a non-stressed way, or at least that is what I felt as a teenager. But the big takeaway from that family vacation to London was that everything was so exciting. This time felt the same in so many ways and so different in other ways.
When we landed, and on the drive to our hotel, I had this strange feeling wash over me. Everything I was seeing felt the same as everywhere else we have been, but also different. I shared it on Instagram. Looking back, this was definitely jetlag talking. Ha!
This was our first international multi-generational vacation so when I was planning, I was taking into consideration a vast amount of data. The trip needed to allow time for Pete and I to work, for the teens and an 8-year-old to have fun, and it also had to be a real vacation for my parents, who are not big travelers.
We wanted to stay in a central location so our home base hotel was right by River Thames.
We booked three rooms that were side by side with balconies that looked over the river and had club access. Club level rooms have become a regular for us as they really are great for a quick breakfast, snack and drink at night. On this trip, we didn't really use the club because they didn't have bottled water and most of the food options were very English (as to be expected) with heavy meats and cheeses. My parents definitely used the club to enjoy those options and a nightly beer/wine, but us vegetarians and vegans could have done without. If you are club regulars like us, this is something to consider. Plus there were so many dining options around that we were not even that hungry for extras.
Having said all that, the location was perfect for us.
We could do work in the morning or evening with the balcony door open and have the river as a backdrop. Then when we wanted to just set off and explore, there were endless possibilities available by foot.
When it came to needing to drive somewhere, we used equal parts taxi and prearranged drivers. Taxies were not hard to come by and they now seat 5 people which is more than they did when I was there years ago. We would split into two groups for our party of seven to go places and there were a couple times when Pete and I had business meetings and my parents set off with the girls.
There were three times when we planned ahead and hired a driver.
- We arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport. We flew non-stop from Los Angeles to Gatwick on a red-eye where we didn't sleep, so having someone there to meet us, help with luggage and drive the hour plus to the hotel was definitely necessary. Our whole trip was over three weeks with a week in London, an 11-day transatlantic cruise and then a few days in New York City so we had more luggage than usual. My parents flew ahead of us and spent a week in Ireland and then met us for the rest of the trip in London. I made sure they also booked a driver.
- When we went to have a full English tea and to WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR LONDON. We had tea at a hotel across town, so we wanted to get that all lined up and not have to worry about securing a driver. Same with the tour since it had an exact time we had to be there.
- We took an all-day tour of London so that came with a private driver. I'll be sharing more about that in a future post because arranging private tours is one of our best travel tips.
Let's talk about food.
London might be one of our favorite places for food. There is such a melting pool of different cultures in London and that means all sorts of eating opportunities. Being vegan and vegetarian and traveling with traditional eaters (my mom and dad) meant that we had to pick restaurants that had options for everyone. Back home in San Diego, we have our go-to restaurants that we go to when the whole family is there, but in London, nearly every restaurant has something on their menu for all of our diets.
But it doesn't stop there. They also have more vegan restaurants than I have ever encountered. The vegan scene in London is on fire! See that hot dog below? It was the most delicious vegan one on the planet!
Everyone we traveled with loves walks.
Walking through parks, streets lined with shopping and just wandering and we did all of that. Plus Emmy just needs space to run so we took her to Hyde Park. There is a huge pond with birds galore and a little restaurant with sit down service and fast service.
We were also here on Emmy's first day of third grade so she made sure to mark the day like we do wherever she is on her first day of school. Being that she takes all of her classes online she has celebrated the first day of school all over the world.
Side note- be a little more attentive when here as pick-pocketers love this spot.
My mom fell in love with the cottages in the park!
The first two days we were in London, we fit in enough shopping to last us months. Of course, we started at the world famous Harrods. The food hall was especially popular with our group and my mom bought Christmas presents for the other grandkids here. The store was just as spectacular as I remember it being.
The London Eye.
Our hotel was right next to the London Eye. You can see it in the background of these pictures. We actually didn't even make it onto the Eye but we for sure will next time. It sure did make for some great pictures and it made getting back to our rooms super easy because you can see it from far away. We also used Google maps and the walking directions to get around. It worked perfectly in London, but in NYC it always thought we were a few blocks away from where we actually were.
This was Emmy on our balcony and the actual view off of it.
Almost every night we stopped to get Emmy Snog frozen yogurt!
The walk along the river has all sorts of snack and meal opportunities and we found pop up festivals too. Don't be afraid to just start walking in London.
Emmy pretty much sums up how we felt in London. So much joy!
We have a bunch more to share of our time here. If you are looking for a perfect multi-generational international vacation, London is for you!
Let's continue the conversation on Instagram:
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🤗 When did you start traveling with your kids? Do you think there is a perfect age for kids to start traveling? 🤗 That is a common question for us. I think that we as parents are always trying to maximize our time, money and vacations… and rightfully so! But the reality it that right now is the best time to travel regardless of your children’s ages or where you go. . The only restrictions we have ever placed on travel is that we didn’t travel far when I was pregnant because I had complications and we traveled outside of cold and flu season when our girls were newborns because they were preemies and their doctors recommended staying away from crowds in general. . Maddie took her first flight on her first birthday, but we would have traveled sooner if she had been medically cleared sooner. Clearly she is doing a-ok these days! 😍 . The way that I look at travel for young kids is that they might not remember what we did, but they will remember the feeling of fun and being together. . Plus we will have tons of pictures to show them! . #worldschool #itisalovelylife #london🇬🇧 #worldschooling #kidstravel #worldschoolers #worldschool #londonbridge #toweroflondon #familyvacation #familyvacation2018 #familytravel #homeschool #homeschooling #homeschoolingmom