Monday 30 January 2017

Planning a trip to Edinburgh Zoo & the Highland Wildlife Park

Image Credit: BBC

For a long time now I've been an advocate of giving experiences as presents rather than physical things. I tend to have friends and family around me who don't need more stuff, that doesn't mean that we are all super rich and have every gadget imaginable, it just means that we are content with what we have and don't need any more ornaments, clothes, photo frames, perfume, chocolate etc

Many years for Christmas I give my Mum a trip to London with me around Mothers day and we go shopping, sightseeing, to the theatre or cinema and enjoy some meals out. This Christmas gone was no different and we are both very much looking forward to our March stay at the Mercure hotel, Kensington and spending that alone time together. There really is a different dynamic when we don't have the kids shouting Mum or Nan constantly.

JJ was the first of my children to receive a night away as his Christmas gift, it was two or three years ago and I asked what he wanted for Christmas and he said to go to London with his Dad and to stay up there. So I booked a Premier Inn at a bargain price as it was for a January and the two of them had an amazing boys weekend visiting museums, walking the South Bank, going to the cinema and eating JJ's favourite food like gourmet burgers and pancakes.

Of course then the girls want to get in on the action but they are still young enough that sometimes there are things they'd like as their Christmas or birthday gifts, roller blades, a bike or art equipment. Last Christmas though I treated them (and my Mum and myself) to a weekend at a Haven holiday park in a luxury caravan and they had a ball, swimming, roller disco, evening kids entertainment, food out, arcade, movie night. It was great for the four of us to have that girlie time together.

This year I'm thinking of giving the girls experiences for their birthday gifts, they will be ten and that is quite a milestone. More and more they are enjoying spending time on their own with either my husband or I so the plan is for us to have one each and do something wonderful with them. Miss M adores Little Mix and they are touring this year and there are a few dates in London, so I am trying to secure tickets for Miss M and I and I'll book a local hotel so we can make a weekend of it with some shopping, eating out and having our nails done. The things she really loves.

The more complex trip to organise will be for my husband and Miss E. She adores panda and polar bears and has been desperate to see them in real life for years. Of the course the perfect trip would be to the Arctic circle to see a polar bear but that's not necessarily practical or affordable for our family so the next best thing is to visit them in a zoo. Sadly most zoos don't house polar bears anymore, I assume because they don't have the room to let them enjoy their habitats in the way they should.

However one place my husband has found that does is the Highland Wildlife Park, which is associated to the Edinburgh zoo. He has been floating the idea for a few years now that he could take Miss E there for a visit and this is the year we will make it happen, I'll plan it and he'll take the trip with Miss E as he loves animals too. I can imagine she'll have her sketchbook and camera with her so she can capture the experience forever.

I've been making a list of what I need to plan and looking at how cheaply I can do this trip -
  1. Flight to Edinburgh from Gatwick - far cheaper and quicker than going by train as long as I can find an off peak flight
  2. Airport taxi transfer from Edinburgh airport to town
  3. Hotel for a nights stay in Edinburgh
  4. Entrance to the Zoo
  5. Car rental to drive the 2.5 hours up to the Highland Wildlife Park
  6. Entrance to the Highland Wildlife park
  7. Investigate the Keeper for the Day and Photographic tours available. Can you imagine how thrilled she would be if she could get that really personal experience with a polar bear?
  8. Hotel for at least one night in the local area
  9. Check out the flights back from Inverness to Gatwick
  10. Make sure I am around to do the airport drop and collect from Gatwick
It all sounds amazing fun, but if I am honest I think we need to start seriously saving some money as this summer isn't going to be cheap! lol

What about you, do you enjoy experiences as a family instead of gifts sometimes?

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