Welcome to the Travel Vixta blog

Hello and welcome to my brand spanking new travel blog called Travel Vixta.  In this blog post I’m going to share with you why I have set up this travel blog as well as our travel history both before kids, individually, as children ourselves and now as a family!

So why Travel Vixta?  Travel because it’s a travel blog of course and Vixta because I’m Victoria and that’s an old nickname of mine.  All the other great names had gone Travel Vix, Travel Victoria, Victoria Travels and so on.  Ben and I have actually been thinking of starting a travel-only blog pretty much this entire year, but could not think of a name.  Or rather, we could think of hundreds of names, but every single amazing catchy name was already taken!  I was being fussy and wanted no hyphens and only dot com, so it made it harder to find something available.

Anyway, I finally thought I’d found the one when I saw no-one had a Travel Vix website, but even though it’s not active, the domain is owned by someone.  Arg!  Instead of spending another ten months trying to think up a name, I decided to just go with Vixta which was a nickname I once had.  I also think it’s kinda catchy and memorable – Travel Vixta.

Travel Vixta Logo 2

I’m not new to blogging.  I have two blogs of my own already and Ben has one.  I’ve been blogging for 5.5 years already and absolutely love it.  My main blog covers a gazillion topics and so I’ve been branching out and setting up some more niched down blogs to see how that goes.  It’s been a long while since we thought we should have this travel only blog and we were even more inspired to start it when we purchased our first camper this year!

Our Mazda Bongo Friendee camper

In June 2018 we purchased a Mazda Bongo Friendee!  Ben’s mum always had campers so he was brought up camping lots as a child and loves it.  He’s quite happy to stay in a tent, but I’m not so keen.  Probably because I’ve only ever stayed in dinky tents like Ben’s two-man tent, which should really be called a one-man tent, adn in the morning I feel so claustrophobic and want to get out.  I always want to love staying in a tent, but I just never do.  Plus I hate the faff of setting them up.

So Ben wanted to camp more and I wanted to glamp more, so the van was a nice compromise.

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Making beans by ‘King Bongo’ in Rhossili Bay, The Gower, Wales

Ben is also starting to set up his own furniture making and selling business, so the van doubles up as transport for furniture and big pieces of wood too!  We basically convinced ourselves it was a necessary purchase!

We chose a non-converted van as we wanted the extra seats (ours has 7) and also the extra bed-space.  Plus we needed the room for Ben to transport furniture and a kitchen would cut into this space.

Also, we thought about how often we would realistically use the kitchen.  I quite like exploring local pubs and restaurants when travelling, especially if it’s only a short trip, so I didn’t think we’d use the kitchen much.  We have purchased a camping stove instead which does the job for some beans in the morning!

So far we have taken the kids camping in the van twice, just for one night each time.  They are a bit young at the moment (3 and 6) and both times one of them woke up and came down to us from their bed in the poptop, meaning we had a terrible night’s sleep.  I think they just need to get used to it and be a little older so they don’t wake up so much in the night or get scared.

With the kids we had a night’s stay in Branscombe, Devon and also a night’s stay at the UK Vegan Campout Festival.

Ben and I have managed to go away two times on our own in the van, both times to the Gower in Wales.  The first time to Oxwich Bay and the second to Rhossili Bay.

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Brrrr!  October campervanning!

Ben also went for two nights to mid Wales with his friend Pete.  They go for an annual camping trip every summer and usually Ben is in his tent, so it was great he had the van this time.

We are hoping we can travel a lot more in the van and it makes it so much easier for Ben and I to have a cheap night somewhere when the kids are having a sleepover at Nana’s.

Our only concern is whether it is a money pit as it’s so old and not long after getting it we spent £400 on a new turbo and today it’s back in the garage again for a £1200 repair to the head gasket.  Providing the van survives and doesn’t start falling apart, we will share our campervanning adventures, tips and advice in this blog.

Our travel background before kids

Ben and I decided to have kids right away, so we weren’t in a relationship long before I got pregnant.  We got together in February 2011 and found out we were pregnant in September 2011.  Our travel history together is therefore very limited before kids!  We had a ‘babymoon’ to Gran Canaria when I was six months pregnant.

It was good, but I remember being very mean to Ben!  My hormones were rife and I was really argumentative the whole time I was pregnant with Bella!  We still had a good time and went on a few excursions, including my favourite which was a tour of the whole island.  Other than our Gran Canaria trip, I remember we went camping in Cornwall, stayed in Devon, as Ben’s brother lived there at that time, and that was about all for our pre-kid travel adventures.

Here’s our travel background before we met each other:

Ben

As a child

Germany – Ben mostly went to Germany as a child because his mum is German and so he has a lot of his family there.  He remembers driving to Germany in a campervan as it way the cheapest way to get there.  They’d stop off at places along the way in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Cornwall – Ben’s dad is Cornish so he’d go to Cornwall lots with his Dad for holidays and to visit family and friends.  They mostly went to Perranporth beach and Port Holland.

Cyprus – Ben and his brother went with their Dad to Cyprus one year, when he was a teenager, and he remembers it feeling like 500000 degrees when they got out the airport and the floor being so hot.  I’m not sure what they were expecting it to be like, but it was quite a shock and I think it’s basically put Ben off this sort of holiday for life!  Ha!  Though I think with our trip to Fuerteventura this year he might now be convinced that sunny holidays aren’t that bad!

As an adult

Europe – Barcelona, Cannes, Paris, Frankfurt, Stavanger and somewhere in Portugal – Ben went to all these European cities and some more with work.  he says he never saw any of the lovely sightseeing places, only the insides of exhibition halls and hotel rooms.

Victoria

I wouldn’t say I am well travelled, but I have been to a few places.  Here’s my travel experience so far:

As a child

France, Argeles sur mer – we went here five years in a row if I remember correctly.  We stayed in those dinky caravans where the table turns into a bed.  The sort of caravan off that Father Ted episode with Graham Norton if you know the one I’m talking about.  I always have friends nowadays saying they’re staying in a caravan and when I ask more questions, it turns out they are actually staying in a mobile home or even a lodge.  What we stayed in was an actual caravan!  The holidays were always a nightmare!  They were super cheap and we got a 24 hour coach that took us from our hometown to the south of France.  Something always went wrong like the tour operator not paying the campsite, the coach breaking down, the driver falling asleep at the wheel, our caravan being infested with ants and so on.  There are lots of stories to tell!  Most people wouldn’t go back again, but they always offered my mum such a good deal because of the nightmare year before, that as a single parent she just couldn’t resist!  It always meant a super cheap two week holiday in the sun.

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Greek islands – Corfu, Rhodes, Zakynthos – from around age 15 I went with my mum and sister to a Greek Island each year.  I think as we were older and my mum could work more that we could afford a holiday with a flight that was a bit further.  She always managed to get a bargain though and would often get last minute deals from the travel agents.  Even now I know my mum still books her holidays in the travel agents and secures the best deal she can get.  This was the first time I ever flew on a plane which is quite mad as my eldest is 6 now and has flown 6 or 7 times already!  One of my friends, mid thirties, flew for the first time this year which is even crazier.  Anyway, these holidays were always two week long beach/pool holidays with a couple of excursions.

As an adult

Corfu – this was a last minute trip with an ex-boyfriend to one of those nasty Club 18-30 things!  We didn’t intend to go on one of these, but it was the cheapest holiday available for our budget!

Santa Ponsa, Majorca – a last minute holiday for a few days with an ex-boyfriend.

Callela, Spain – another last minute holiday with an ex-boyfriend.  I remember visiting Barcelona by train.

Florence, Italy – this was with work.  I did a few trade shows when I worked at Superdry.  I actually got to walk around Florence quite a bit and it’s beautiful!

Berlin, Germany – this was also with work and I did not get to experience Berlin as I only saw the hotel, a coach and the trade show!

California, Nevada, Arizona, USA – I’ve travelled here twice.  The first time was a five week long trip with an ex-boyfriend.  We did loads of touristy stuff like the zoos, theme parks, Universal Studios, Hoover Dam, Calico Ghost Town, Las Vegas and even and Tijuana, Mexico.  It was amazing.  The second time was for 2.5 weeks with an ex-friend.  Ex-friend since that holiday as it was a nightmare because she was a nightmare!  I still want to go back as there’s still so much I never got to see like the Grand Canyon and Lake Tahoe.

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Tenerife & Lanzarote – Both these trips were with my mum.  We stayed in Playa De Las Americas which is definitely the wrong place to stay in Tenerife.  We did not have a good time there.  I think perhaps I would go back, but choose a different resort.  I thought Lanzarote was beautiful.  I loved all the white buildings and how everything looked so pretty.  The highlight of these holidays was riding camels (from which I remember texting Ben as I went on this holiday just as we were starting to date) and going up the volcano.

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Our family travel so far

We are now a family of four!  Ben and I have two children together – Bella, 6 years old and Reuben, 3 years old.  Since having children, our holidaying abroad has been limited. Here’s where we’ve been:

Soltau and Munster, Germany – We have been to Germany five or six times to visit Ben’s family so we have experienced flying with babies, toddlers and young children plenty of times!  I never count this as an actual ‘holiday’ though as it’s to visit family and do family things.  It just happens that some of Ben’s family is in another country rather than down the road.  We do have some days out and see local attractions when there so we do still get to experience a bit of Germany and see some sights.

Fuerteventura – we spoilt ourselves rotten in 2018 and treated ourselves to a 5* all-inclusive hotel for a week in the Easter holidays.  It was a First Choice premier holiday.  We had a great time, but it was pretty expensive and not something we can afford to do regularly.  We had been doing up our family home for almost four years by this point and had never been on an actual holiday abroad of our choosing, so I decided to go all out in 2018!  As well as this holiday we also went to Center Parcs for the first time this year and we have Bluestone coming up too.  I was keen we would have a holiday year in 2018 and we have been!

Cornwall – In 2017 we went to Cornwall for one week and stayed in a holiday cottage.  To be honest, it was pretty rubbish!  Being restricted by school holidays meant that prices were sky high so we chose somewhere cheaper in North Cornwall which was fine, but miles from everywhere!  So we had to drive far every day to get anywhere good.  It also rained for a whole week.  I spent everyday food shopping, washing and cleaning and did not feel like I had a holiday at all.  The weather definitely didn’t help.  That’s why, in 2018, I was adamant we were having a holiday with guaranteed sunshine and food served to me the whole week!   I do love Cornwall and we have been a few more times than this for shorter stays, but this one particular trip was a bit negative, mostly due to having young kids and bad weather!

Center Parcs, Longleat – This year, 2018, we went for four nights to Center Parcs for the first time in the summer.  We had a brilliant time and I’d definitely go back, but perhaps when the kids are a bit older to take part in more activities and also when I have lots of money to spend on all the activities!  The water park is amazing and I can’t fault the accommodation or setting.

We also enjoy lots of family days out whenever we can to castles, beaches, theme parks and all sorts of UK attractions!

We’ll be sharing our adventures in this blog and hope you’ll enjoy our journey 🙂

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