Can you have a dream ‘bucket list’ family holiday in the UK?

There’s nothing better than a good family holiday – you get to spend some quality time with your loved ones, create fantastic memories together, and experience some of those “bucket list” activities that you’ve always dreamed of.

However, some parents may recoil at the idea of a long-haul flight with the kids in tow, and

Seeing that hefty dent in your bank account once everything is booked is something all parents dread.

But what if we told you that it’s actually possible to tick off some of those big “bucket list” items without having to pay for an expensive trip to an exotic destination? What if holidaying in the UK and Ireland could be the perfect answer to all your bucket list dreams?

Well, the ferry company Stena Line decided to put this theory to the test. They surveyed the UK public and found out which activities they most wanted to do whilst on their dream holiday and found that the top 5 most sought-after activities were:

  1. Surfing
  2. Safari experiences
  3. Thermal Springs
  4. Whale Watching
  5. Skiing

In order to help families all over the UK, they scoured the UK and Ireland for destinations where families could surf, safari, and ski without spending thousands or travelling for miles!

  1. Surfing

Surfing has grown massively from its humble beginnings as an underground sport, to a multi-million-pound industry that’s first on the bucket list for many people seeking their dream holiday.

People now flock from all over the world to the USA and beyond just to take to the waves. Hawaii is renowned for its profound surf culture and top-notch waves because it’s tropical climate and white sandy beaches make it a surfers dream.

However, with a 17-hour flight that sets you back around £1,244 per person, and a hotel for five days in Honolulu at £890, for many, the idea of travelling across the world and forking out a small fortune is off-putting. Once you’ve added on the cost of an ESTA and surfboard hire, the trip racks in at a whopping £2,205.90 – for one person.

There is another option though – Llangennith, Wales. This long stretch of beach is where both avid surfers and amateurs can dive right into the Gower, an area that’s well known as the heartland of Welsh surfing. Llangennith is also where many professional surfers come to practice their moves – so you may even bump into a few pros whilst you’re there!

In comparison, staying in a hotel at Llangennith will only cost around £425 for five days, surfboard hire costs an average of £80, and you won’t need to spend on flights. That brings the total of your trip to just £505 – £1,700.90 less than Hawaii!

  1. Safari experience

All wildlife fans dream of the day they can travel to the plains of Africa to see majestic wild animals in their natural habitat. From lion prides and crocodiles, hyenas and giraffes, Maasai Mara in Kenya is one of the best-known locations for a safari, being famous for being home to some of nature’s wildest animals.

Unfortunately, you can’t really plan a day trip to the plains of Africa – the shortest safari trip available is three days, and the starting cost is £564.20 per person. Even more eye-watering is the fact that a hotel near Maasai is an average of £500 per night – that’s £1000 if you stay for just two nights. Additionally, flights cost around £378 each for a return, and then you need to add on the cost of paying for vaccinations, and a visa for entry to the country. That means, not including food, airport transfers, and more than one traveller, the whole trip comes in at £1,622.87.

Fear not though, because the West Midlands Safari Park in Birmingham offers one of Europe’s most amazing wildlife experiences for a fraction of the cost. Almost all of the animals you and your family dreamed of seeing on the Serengeti plains have a home at this safari park – and you can see them all in just one day.

Day passes cost just £24 per person, and VIP packages are also on offer if you fancy something extra-special. Also, hotels in Birmingham cost an average of £43 per night, and you won’t need to worry about covering the cost of vaccinations, flights, or visas.

  1. Thermal Springs

Thermal springs are an amazing natural experience that has really come into demand over the last few years, with many holidaymakers travelling to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland solely for the thermal experience. Sporting an azure blue volcanic lake that offers a contrast to its darker surroundings, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most idyllic places to visit.

However, due to this increase in popularity, the Lagoon has now been cited by many as the most expensive tourist destination. For just 1 hour in the pool, it costs £44.60 if you book in advance. Staying at the Silica Hotel, the hotel that’s closest to this natural spring costs an incredible £448.83 per night.

As an alternative, visiting the Thermae Spa in Bath offers the chance to take a dip in a genuine geothermal bath. For just £36 on weekdays, you’ll get a 2-hour spa session and access to the open-air rooftop pool in the Nierva bath which is the largest of the thermal baths.

With accommodation in Bath costing about £67 per night, this experience comes in at just £103 which makes it ideal for families who want to try out thermal springs without spending a small fortune.

  1. Whale Watching

Whales are Mother Nature’s gentle giants, with the largest of them reaching up to 30 metres long. That’s why it’s understandable that you can’t just head to the local aquarium to see one of these beautiful creatures up close.

One of the best locations to go whale watching is Husavik in Iceland. Due to the fact Husavik has become the go-to place for whale watching, companies offer world-class tours out of Skjalfandi Bay on traditional oak boats. However, as previously mentioned, Iceland doesn’t come cheap, with 3 hours on the water costing £66.52 per person. Also, 1 night at a hotel in Husavik costs £103 for each room, and return flights to the nearest airport are £396.

Instead, many families are now opting to visit Cork, Ireland to tick whale watching. Whale watching in Cork is around £42.67 per person for four hours on the water, and hotels are £87 a night. Getting to Ireland from the UK is also super simple – even with kids – with a ferry ride costing £41 per person for an overnight stay, giving you and your family a few days to explore Ireland.

  1. Skiing

Cosy lodges, log cabins, and stunning scenery are just a few of the reasons avid travellers hit the Matterhorn on the border between Italy and Switzerland. One of the most popular ski resorts at the base of the Matterhorn is Cervinia where you can catch a lift to some of the most beautiful skiing areas in the world.

Flights to Cervinia are more than reasonable at just £72 off peak, a day pass to the resort is £35.59, and ski hire is only £18.79 per day. But then comes the accommodation costs – for two nights, one room at a nearby hotel will set you back an average of £426.

Instead, Glenshee Ski Resort in Scotland sees a great deal of snowfall throughout the year and offers much of the same scenic beauty as Cervinia. It’s also great for families who have never been skiing before and fancy a go on the slopes.

A 1-day lift pass at Glenshee is slightly cheaper at £32 for intermediate or advanced skiers, or just £20 for access to the beginner’s slopes. Ski hire is a little dearer at £23 each, but the biggest saving comes with accommodation. Staying at a mid-range hotel in Ballater – a half an hour drive from the resort – is £55.

A bucket list family holiday from home

Many families don’t have the means to travel halfway across the globe for their dream holiday. But by opting to experience your dream activities closer to home, you could save upwards of £4,500, and still make some life-long memories with your family. A breakdown of all prices can be found in this infographic on the Stena Line website, and in this table:

Abroad (£) At home (£) Total Saving (£) % Saving
Surfing 2,205.90 505 1,700.90 77%
Safari 1622.87 67 1,555.87 96%
Thermal springs 666.43 103 563.43 85%
Whale Watching 565.52 170.67 394.85 76%
Skiing 552.46 165 387.46 70%
TOTAL 5,613.46 947.67 4,665.51 83%

One Response to Can you have a dream ‘bucket list’ family holiday in the UK?

  1. S.Gulzar says:

    Absolutely fantastic article – thank you for the research .
    S.Gulzar

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