Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tips for an affordable family holiday (Guest Post)

You've trawled the web looking for the best deals, packed the dog off to kennels and little Laura's already looking forward to writing a story all about it when she gets back to school. Yep, you guessed it, we're talking family holidays.

Despite the leaner times, a healthy number of people are expected to get away from it all this year. Explore Research found that 82%  were 'very likely' or 'quite likely' to holiday overseas in 2013. Unsurprisingly, the study revealed that 55% of respondents were most concerned about the costs associated.

So, how can you make holidays more frugal?

Here are a few tips:

Where to go
Whether you're seeking a relaxing sun-filled break, or a city trip bursting with family activities, it is certainly possible to plan to an enjoyable holiday and keep within budget.
Check out this list of budget family locations for 2013:
·         Some Eastern European destinations, such as those in the Euro could be more appealing, including Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovakia
·         For skiing, how about Slovenia, a trendy destination for winter fun? The Slovenia Tourist Board has a list of resorts in different price ranges.
·         After a beach holiday? Then good auld Spain is recommended by The Lonely Planet. It may not be off the beaten path, but over the years it’s remained affordable and enjoyable for British families seeking sunshine. The Costa del Sol is top of the list for bargain resorts.
·         Think about going long haul? If you kids are a little older and you can tackle a longer flight, places like Cancun, Bali, Vietnam or Sri Lanka may command expensive flights, though dining and accommodation costs are usually great value.

Have plans, will travel?
Arrange your flights as soon as possible as most budget airlines don’t discount their flights at the last minute. Book accommodation either very early, or very late, as prices are often discounted at these times.
Check out the dates you're travelling and make sure they aren't during a big festival or event, when accommodation is likely to be more expensive. Prices can rocket during the school holidays, when most other families like to make a great escape
Shop around for the travel money rate. Rates across providers can vary considerably, so it could be worthwhile doing your research.
How you will get there? Can you take the train or drive instead of flying? Check out Eurostar andRaileurope to try and find some competitive fares. You could also make a ferry journey part of your trip, or choose your holiday based on the cheapest flight available. It pays to be flexible!

Where to stay?
Rather than splash out on a hotel, where you have to pay for expensive ‘extras’ and meals, hire a villa which can accommodate more than one family. By splitting the cost, this approach could work out much cheaper. If you're a small group, then why not camp, home swap or rent an apartment rather than book a hotel? Try Airbnb for accommodation all over the world and for those on a budget.

Spending wisely….
You'll want to spend your hard-earned travel money as economically as you can. When in ‘holiday mode’, it’s easy for expenses to pile up. Many of us like to splash out on holidays, which is why planning parts of your trip in advance could help you cut back on unexpected expenses.
Here are a few money saving tips to keep in mind during when you travel.
·         Research free attractions and museums, or visit the smaller venues that might charge less.
·         Buy a city pass, like the Copenhagen card, that gets you inclusive travel and entrance fees.
·         Can you buy restaurant vouchers in advance? Many restaurants are signed up to daily deal websites and you can book your dates before you go.
·         Limit the number of meals out. Take a picnic so you can enjoy food in novel places, whilst enjoying the views.
·         Try walking, cycling or public transport rather than a hire car.

A family holiday on a budget does not have to be a ‘budget holiday’. As you can see, there are many ways to save money and still do all the things you and your family love.

This guest post was written on behalf of Sainsbury's Bank’s Money Matters blog. The views expressed here are of the author and not of Sainsbury's Bank. Though it may include tips and information on affordable family holidays, it does not constitute advice and should not be used to make any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions of external contributors or any external websites included in this piece. All information provided was correct at date of publication.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

5 New Fantastically Gruesome Boys Halloween Costumes For 2012

Halloween is upon us again and so is the need to get the kids kitted out with new and gruesome Halloween costumes. I've taken a look through various new product lines that have been launched since last October and have compiled below, 5 of my favourite costumes for boys that will be big sellers this Halloween.

Child Lab Rat Costume
Now, if it is your goal to find a Halloween costume that is gruesome, this may well be your first port of call. The Lab Rat costume creates visions of lab experiments gone wrong in The Fly kind of way. Featuring a realistic looking mask, I would be surprised if this costume is not a big seller this October.

The Lab Rat costume is available in 3 sizes and comprises of a biohazard lab coat with green markings, sleeves with part fur and an attached furry top. The mask is very cool looking and has complete overhead coverage. It is made from vinyl and has attached fur just like the top.

Heartless Ninja Costume

This outfit is a little different, the idea is the ninja character has become embroiled in a battle so treacherous that his still beating heart has been ripped from his chest. I like this one, it is a step away from typical vampires and the like.

The heartless Ninja costume is available in 2 sizes and includes a black top, a green and gold coloured vest with section to show the heart has been ripped from the chest, a pair of black trousers, shoe covers, leg and arm cuffs and a ninja mask. You'll need to add a pair of black gloves to complete the desired look.

Zombie Doctor Costume

If you are looking for the most dramatic zombie costume for your little one, you'll struggle to find a more startling looking outfit than this. One of the most blood curdling costumes for a kid on the market today, this ensemble will be the spotlight of any party.

The Zombie Doctor costume comes in 2 different sizes and is deliciously gory for this Hallowen season. The costume comes in six parts, the surgical hat being the only standard item. Also included are the tattered blood spattered top, ripped open to expose the dramatically moulded vinyl chest piece, with exposed ribs and intestines; the trousers with another moulded piece, exposing the muscles and knee joint, a blood drenched lab coat, pair of surgical gloves and finally the terrifying overhead zombie mask of the undead.

Spina Tap Costume
The Spinal Tap costume has certainly come a long way since the days where you painted yourself green and threw on your tattiest, old clothing. The Spinal Tap costume sets itself apart from any other kids Frankenstein costumes on the market with it's gory and gruesome nature which is brought to life with glowing lights protruding from within the deep and dark cavity of the gaping chest wound. Rest assured your kids will think this is a cool costume.

The Spinal Tap costume is available in 3 different sizes and is a unique looking children’s outfit. It comes with a scary looking jacket with attached shirt front revealing a rib cage and boasts a moulded chest piece with a fully-functioning light up heart, a pair of contrasting coloured trousers and a terrifying Frankenstein face mask.

Werewolf Costume

This Werewolf costume is a great modern take on the traditional werewolf outfit. In the short time that we have stocked it at Jokers' Masquerade it has proven to be very popular. We recommend adding a little black face paint around the eyes to help the eyes blend in with the mask.

The werewolf costume comes in 3 different sizes. It features an excellent vinyl chinless mask, which makes this outfit so much better than other werewolf costumes on the market today. It offers great attention to detail from the bloodied wolf teeth and realistic fur. A shirt with realistic werewolf chest splitting through the fabric design offers a 3 dimensional effect and reveals a very believable wolf under belly. The costume also includes a pair of fingerless gloves. Whoever is wearing the costume will need to wear their own trousers as they are not included. This actually saves all the hassle and worry of wondering if the trousers will be too long or too short or will adequately fit around the waist. They can wear their own pair of favourite jeans or trousers making this a very comfortable and fangtastic looking outfit that will be admired by all their friends.

What do you think about my selection? What are you going to get your boys wearing to go trick-or-treating? Add your comments below.

This boys Halloween costumes guest post was written by Ian Tomkins from Jokers' Masquerade . The above costumes do not fit him even though, in one ear ripping instance, he did try.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Food for family car journeys

Travelling with a young family can be a stressful experience.  Keeping everyone topped up with healthy, nutritious food will go a long way to making sure that a long car journey doesn’t turn into a road trip nightmare.

Hungry kids are fractious kids, so always make sure that you pack adequate food for the journey. Keep things fresh by bringing a cool box or bag and make sure that you have healthy, dry snacks at the ready.

Follow these simple tips, and while we can’t guarantee a peaceful car ride, at least you’ll be well prepared.

Foods to avoid

Sugary treats will buy you a few minutes silence, but a sugar rush followed by a crash won’t do anything to keep the peace in the long run.

Just like us, children have a tendency to feel hungry when they’re bored.  Try to distract little ones with in-car games, like I spy and bingo. If all else fails, go for healthy snacks. Dried fruit satisfies a sweet tooth, but it’s healthy too.

Less mess

Cleaning up smears of food from car seats is no fun. Be sure to pack things that are easy to eat and won’t damage the upholstery if they get dropped.

Pitta pockets and wraps might be a better alternative to sandwiches as fillings are less likely to be spilled.

If possible, pull over to an appropriate area for your young passengers to eat. Not only will you reduce the amount of food that ends up on the seats and floor, but the risk of choking is minimised.

To make the trip more enjoyable, plan ahead to stop somewhere nice for lunch. A well-planned break can turn an arduous journey into a memorable family day out.

Make sure that everyone has a chance to stretch their legs too – after all, it’s not just children who get irritated when cooped up for too long.

Slow burn

The best foods for long journeys are ones that release their energy over a long period of time. Cereals like oats and barley as well as pulses are great foods for sustaining even energy levels – good for the kids and ideal for the driver, helping to maintain concentration.

Long lasting energy from oatcakes, wholemeal bread and bean salads are an important part of a healthy road trip meal.


Car sickness can be a major problem for young passengers and fatty foods really won’t help.

Stick instead to raw fresh veggies like carrot sticks, celery, cucumber and peppers. Go for low-fat sandwich, pita or wrap fillings like chicken or tuna and steer clear of mayonnaise.  

Fresh fruit salads or seasonal compotes are a better choice than sticky cakes or pastries.


Good hydration is very important, but avoid giving children fizzy drinks or bottles of juice. They’ll gulp them down and soon need the toilet.

A good solution, especially during the summer months, is to freeze a bottle of water or juice. Kids will love handling the cool container and because they can only sip the melt water, they won’t be able to guzzle the drink too quickly.

Don’t forget to give your car a once-over before you leave home. Inspect oil, coolant and other fluid levels, make sure tyres are fully inflated and check that your car insurance
 offers an appropriate level of cover for the driving you’ll be doing.

Author Bio:
Liam Williams writes for the Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog. In his spare time he enjoys motoring and organic gardening.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

How to make your car child-friendly

This is a guest post by Kath Morgan

If you have kids, there’s a good chance that a large proportion of your motoring hours are spent ferrying them to and fro – or you’re all piling into the car for a family day out.

You might be the person who buys, maintains and fuels the family car, but your kids spend a lot of time in it too. You’d be wise to bear this in mind when stocking up on all those in-car essentials.

Here are our recommendations for making sure your car is KIDS friendly.

Kit – Kit out your family car with all the essential tools for their health and comfort and be prepared for every eventuality.
Health: Always carry a first-aid kit for those minor mishaps that seem to go hand in hand with kids and travel. A good first-aid kit might contain: a thermometer, some infant Calpol or other child-appropriate pain reliever, sticking plasters and bandages, insect repellent, antiseptic cream, calamine lotion, a gel pack, antihistamine cream and rehydration powder. Note emergency contact numbers on the inside lid of the box.

Comfort: A kit-bag stocked with loose comfortable clothing comes in handy in case of spillage or an accident. Include lots of layers as temperatures inside a car can fluctuate.

A couple of blankets and a pillow or two are great when the kids decide they need a nap. Put in a sun-hat for each child and a bottle of suntan lotion.

If you have a baby on board add a bib, nappies, wipes and nappy rash cream. Removable window shades can help with glare.

In-car Entertainment – There’s no reason why your child should ever get bored in the car. Cater for every mood by including entertainment to appeal to their whole range of learning styles.  
Visual – Invest in a built-in DVD player and turn your car into a mobile cinema. Or if you have more than one child, consider individual portable players, which mean no arguments about what to watch. You can plug in headphones, too, and let the adults up front enjoy the peace.

Auditory – Make a kid-friendly iPod mix to share together and get into a bit of family karaoke. Alternatively, those individual headphones will allow everyone to be their own DJ. Recorded books are a great way to share a story.  

Read/Write – Keep a small stock of fiction and puzzle books to hand. A good story, crossword or word search could keep the kids busy for hours.

Kinaesthetic – Fitting a travel tray onto the rear of the front seat will enable kids to play with travel board games, colouring books or sticker books. For babies, try magnetic building blocks or fuzzy felt. A favourite cuddly toy kept in the car can be a great comfort for all ages.

Diet – Keep a mix of healthy, dried foods in a cool-box to fill in those hungry moments while dashing from A to B. Peanuts, dry biscuits, dried fruit and crisps keep well and shouldn’t upset small stomachs. A permanent supply of water is advisable, too. If you are stocking up especially for the journey, add some frozen juice boxes and fresh fruit.

Safety – Before you stock the car with lots of fun stuff for the kids, make sure you’ve taken care of the more serious stuff such as car insurance, road tax and an up-to-date MOT. In addition to these basics, when travelling with children you should check that the child locking system is working on all relevant doors and that you are using the correct child car seat, fitted safely.

Follow our recommendations and your kids should be healthy, engaged, well-nourished and safe while travelling in your family car.

Author Bio:

Kath Morgan writes about a whole host of motoring topics, including family travel, car insurance and safety concerns. An avid traveller, she spent many years living abroad and understands the lure of the open road only too well.