*This is a collaborative post
Normally I dread travelling with the kids and it is far from a relaxing experience. Flying/driving anywhere with kids is definitely not the beginning of my holiday. So as we don't get the opportunity very often, the thought of an airport experience without feeling like I need 5 pairs of eyes and to be on high alert followed by a 10 hour flight where I can spend the whole time reading and watching movies sounds like actual heaven to me and I am planning on making every moment count.
Flying to Cuba | Information to Complete Before You Fly
As a UK resident, you need a tourist card to visit Cuba. We are lucky that this is organised by our tour operator but this often isn't the case. If your tour operator does not arrange this for you, you'll need to apply for a tourist card via the Cuban Consulate in London. You can visit in person or order by post. The cost ranges from £17 - £39. You can find out more here.
As you'll probably be flying over American airspace, you also need to complete API (Advance Passenger Information). Your airline should send you a link to do this and it needs to be completed online at least 72 hours prior to travelling.
Finally, don't forget to buy comprehensive travel insurance that will cover you for all of the activities you have planned (including watersports which are popular in Cuba) and if like me, you like to be organised, don't forget to utilise online check-in if available to save time at the airport.
Long-Haul Flying | Skin & Nail Preparation
I have been neglecting my skin lately which is something I'm keen to rectify. Everyone knows that flights can seriously dry your skin out. I am preparing my skin with a pre-flight moisture boost facial at my local salon and have started using Liz Earle's Skin Repair Moisturiser every day which seems to be helping.
I have considered a manicure and pedicure but at around £40 (it's £60 in Manchester airport), I think I'd rather spend that cash on some duty-free treats so I've been trying to get my nails in ship shape with weekly manicures at home and using nail and cuticle oils. I'll be taking a selection of polishes away with me so I can change the colour every couple of days along with my travel manicure set which is simply adorable!
Manchester Airport | Hotel & Parking
We used SkyParkSecure to book airport accommodation and parking. We normally stay at the Radisson Blu which is actually joined onto the airport and super convenient but prices were very expensive this time around. Instead, we've compared various deals using SkyParkSecure and opted for a hotel located 10 minutes from the airport which cost under £75 for the 2 of us for one night's stay and 8 night's parking. What a bargain! We haven't booked breakfast as we'll be enjoying this at the airport. Our hotel has a spa and a bar and we'll definitely be making the most of them and hopefully enjoy a decent night's sleep before our flight.
Manchester Airport | Escape VIP Lounge
I have yet to experience a VIP lounge and as we're flying in the morning, I dithered over booking as we won't be drinking any alcohol (well - maybe we will have a couple) in the morning and I am not sure it is going to be worth it? In the end, I just went for it - the Escape Lounge is only £21 per person and this includes breakfast, drinks, WiFi and a more comfortable environment to relax in. I am pretty sure we would spend this amount of cash on food and drinks in the airport anyway so I'm confident we've made the right decision and will start our holiday in a much more relaxed fashion. I will be reporting back after our trip and letting you know if the lounge is worth the expense when you have a morning flight so if you're interested, look out for that post.
Long Haul Flight | Hand Luggage Essentials
I normally use my beach bag as my hand luggage and pack a smaller across the body bag inside which holds my essentials. This year, I'll be stealing a tip from Katie Jane Online and also packing a wash bag inside which will hold all the small essentials I need for my flight - hand cream, antibacterial wipes, headphones, coin purse, face cream, warm socks, tissues, mints, iPhone.......they'll all be in there. Then I can simply pop my main bag into the overhead storage and keep my wash bag full of everything I need in the seat magazine holder for easy access. Genius! This year I am using a special travellers wash bag from The Contemporary Home which is nice and roomy and fits everything inside comfortably.
I will be storing my travel documents separately in my gorgeous Travel Wallet which is almost too beautiful to use. It fits two passports + documents inside so is perfect for couples and would make a lovely anniversary or wedding gift I think (or like me, you can just indulge and treat yourself).
I am also planning a digital detox while I'm away so there will be no Social Media or Blogging allowed. I usually get all of my best ideas whilst I travel and I'm not attached to my phone so I'll be packing these explorer notebooks and travel pencils to make notes and grand plans.......
Ah sitting on a plane with my headphones in, jotting down travel plans and sipping Champagne. I am starting to think I don't even need to visit Cuba and the flight itself is going to be a huge treat.
Let me know if you have any pre-travel essentials, products or services I should be looking into.
The Contemporary Home | Travel Stationery Giveaway
I've teamed up with The Contemporary Home to give away a travel stationery bundle featuring these two gorgeous explorer notebooks and this quirky traveller pencil set. I love their little slogans! Very cute. To be in with a chance of winning, simply enter via Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
Terms and Conditions: Prize is provided by The Contemporary Home - a travel stationery bundle featuring two gorgeous explorer notebooks and a quirky traveller pencil set.
Item will be posted to any UK Mainland address within 30 days of the giveaway closing. UK Mainland Postage is included. No refunds will be given. There is no cash alternative.
Giveaway ends midnight 2/4/17. A winner will be selected at random from all valid entries and notified via email.
Giveaway excludes employees and family members associated with The Contemporary Home and North East Family Fun