…Our half term UK road trip.
Last half term, we did something we haven’t managed in ages…. a UK road trip. We’ve travelled abroad a lot recently and had several weekends away in Great Britain but we haven’t just got in the car and started driving for ages.
So with the UK currently enjoying a rare patch of lovely warm weather, and our Merlin Annual Passes running out, we decided to forgo a flight and go on a magical mystery tour instead!
Now a Single Adventure Mum road trip really is a magical mystery tour as, look away now super organised people, we literally never know where we are going to end up. We just pack our bags, install a cat sitter, download a new playlist and start driving!
So we set off on Tuesday lunchtime and the only plan I had to stick to was to be Rugby by Sunday for my gorgeous nephew’s 2nd Birthday party. I decided to do an Instagram poll to decide whether we should head “Ooop North” or “Darn Souf” to really start the mystery off and have to admit I was glad when it was North that came out top as we do tend to end up headed in a Southerly direction so it was a nice change.
We set off and around the border we saw a little brown sign with a train on it, now Luka loves a train so we decided to follow it and found ourselves at the fabulous Perrygrove Railway, a little steam railway with playgrounds and a treasure hunt. You can see our review of Perrygrove HERE.
We didn’t leave home until quite late so it was 5pm when we were finished at Perrygrove. I asked Luka what he would like to do the next day and unsurprisingly enough, he said aquarium (I swear he’s obsessed)!
So over some dinner at a local pub I did some googling and decided we should head to Manchester as they have a Sea Life. A quick visit to booking.com and we had a hotel booked and were back on the road.
TOP TIP: Correlate how much time you’ll be in the room with how much you want to pay. If I’m going to be spending a lot of time in a room or staying for a week I want a bit of luxury but we weren’t going to get to Manchester until past bedtime, we didn’t need to eat and I knew we would be off first thing in the morning so there was no point spending £150 on a luxury spa hotel we would be in for 12 hours. Instead I booked one for just £30 and apart from it being on a main road so we couldn’t leave the windows open it was fine. The room was huge, tidy and had all the usual complimentary tea, coffee and toiletries etc.
On Wednesday morning we headed straight off to the Intu Trafford Centre where Sea Life Manchester is. There’s also a Legoland Discovery Centre which makes it a great day out for kids. I had hoped to keep the Legoland part a secret from Luka (I do love to surprise him on our trips) but there were signs over the entrance. Single Adventure Mum fail! We really did enjoy our day out there and it was fun for all the family, you can read what we did and what we thought HERE.
While we were in Miniland at the Discovery Centre, Luka spotted Blackpool and said “Wow Blackpool looks fun Mummy”. Well my wish is his command so we jumped back in the car and without telling him that’s where we headed. Although he did think we were in Paris when I woke him up whilst driving up the promenade so he could see the tower!
Now I have never been to Blackpool or every really fancied it in all honesty. I must admit I thought it was going to be really tacky and even a bit rough but having been there now I take that back. While I admittedly wouldn’t visit without a child, for kids it’s a total playground there is just so much to do. And if you have a Merlin Annual Pass it’s a must visit, with all of the big attractions, apart from the Pleasure Beach, covered. You can read all about our adventures from going 380ft up the Blackpool Tower, to a trip to the circus HERE.
As I had to be back in Rugby by Sunday, the one part of our magical mystery tour I had half planned was to spend Friday and Saturday at Alton Towers. We’ve only been once so Luka was desperate to go back and it was kind of on the way. Me and my best friend had also discussed going at some point so when I mentioned to her my plan I was absolutely thrilled that she decided to come along with my favourite little girl in the world, her daughter.
Luka has also always been desperate to stay at Alton Towers but it’s just so bloody expensive I just haven’t been able to justify £400 for one night in a hotel. In all honesty someone would have to give me £400 to stay in a Mr Tumble room for a night. But while sitting in Blackpool googling away I managed to bag a pretty good deal which was one of their cottages in the Enchanted Village on a Friday in the half term for £220. Now that’s not exactly cheap but when split between two families it was manageable and I have to say it was definitely worth it as it was totally magical. See my review of Alton Towers with a two year old and five year old, and staying in a hobbit house HERE.
After a fun packed few days at the theme park we headed off to Rugby to see my lovely nephew for his birthday party and managed to even fit in an adventure there by staying with Luka in my sisters campervan outside her house just for fun! Honestly Luka was so excited I probably could have just spent a week there and saved myself some money. Proof that not all adventures have to cost.
Speaking of money thanks to our Merlin Passes the week was actually a total bargain! We were we away for 5 nights, travelled almost 700 miles and went to 10 different attractions and apart from £100 on petrol, under £200 on accommodation, food money (which I never count as you have to eat even at home but wasn’t a lot), some discretionary spending on mementoes for Luka (which had I been on a budget I would have skipped), I spent the grand total of £25!! That was under £20 on us going to Perrygrove and a fiver in the arcades of Blackpool!
Without our Merlin Passes our weeks activities (minus Perrygrove) would have cost £243.50 (for us both) and that is by booking early and using combi passes. Now traveling as we do we usually can’t book early so would have to do walk up prices which takes it to a massive £416! We only paid £358 for the passes for the whole year so my TOP TRAVEL TIP has to be, if you’re up for going on an adventure like ours, get a Merlin Annual Pass!