The 2 amazing Transatlantic stopover destinations you should know

First of all let’s clarify what I mean by transatlantic stopover destination.

A stopover is an airfare hack that can double your vacation and is not to be confused with a layover.  Still the word stopover often is met with ” we prefer to fly directly, nothing worse then being stuck in a random airport waiting for your connection”, but that is not what a stopover is about at all. Stopovers allow you to  visit a country, leave the airport to go and explore at no additional airfare costs .Making it a “cheap” double vacation option. Several airlines are offering stopover fares which allow their passengers to enjoy their hub city for a few days at no extra airfare costs to them  before flying on to their final vacation destination. Did you know that en route from Europe to North America there are 2 airlines that offer Transatlantic stopover options? Yes,there are two major international airports en route to Europe ⇔ North America.

THE BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL TRANSATLANTIC STOPOVER DESTINATIONS

I am sure you will easily guess Transatlantic stopover destination number 1. Yes that it is right it is Iceland! Iceland- the land of Ice and Fire. The country that has been on everyones travel wishlist and is popping up on Instagram daily. It is a very unique place with amazing nature, hot springs, plenty of volcanos and glaciers.  And IcelandAir is doing a great job at promoting Iceland as a Transatlantic stopover destination.

Source: Flightradar24.com

But then you scratch your head and think -there is only a lot of water between North America and Europe and there is no other major airport on the way…maybe Bermuda (part of the United Kingdom, about 2 hours flying to New York)…but no, that is not what I am talking about. Have you ever heard of the Hawaii of Europe? Say What? The Hawaii of Europe that is right- The Azores! The Azores are still very much flying under the radar, but trust me once you see pictures you will be visiting the website of AzoresAirlines to book your trip.

On your next journey across the Atlantic, take advantage of the option to stop in Iceland or on the Azores (Island of São Miguel or Terceira Island) for up to 7 nights at no additional airfare.

Iceland vs Azores

Both destinations are breathtakingly beautiful and well worth visiting. Another thing both of these isolated Transatlantic stopover destinations have in common is that they have both been breaking their own tourism records continously since 2016, in that year the Azores started to permit lowcost carrier flights, from airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet.  Iceland, was once a rarely-visited island but has now grown into one of the most popular countries in the entire world for travelers.

Award Winning Destinations

Both are award winning destinations which  offer unspoilt nature, volcanoes, amazing hiking trails, waterfalls, beaches, whale watching and are mainly heated by geothermal energy. The Azores have won” the most beautiful landscapes of Europe by Best Destination”, are continously listed as “one of the Global Top 100 Most Sustainable Destinations” and The Azores were considered “the most beautiful place in the world by Belgian Dutch edition of National Geographic Traveller”.  When googling ‘Iceland the most beautiful place on earth’ google has no less than 1.720.000 results listed. While the beaches of Iceland are cold and stormy, the Azores are more of a beach destination and also when it comes to exquisit food, the Azores beat Iceland hands-down, unless you consider the Icelandic inofficial national dish of  hot dogs and ice cream, haute cuisine.

Some facts about Iceland
  • Foreign overnight visitors to Iceland was around 8 million in 2016, a 40.1% increase from 2015 , compared to less than 500.000 visits in 2010!
  • Population : +/-335.000
  • Currency: Icelandic Krona
  • Language: Icelandic
  • Iceland is an independent country
SOME Facts abot the Azores

I will let the  pictures speak for themselves to show you just how beautiful and unique both Transatlantic stopover destinations are:

    

While all the Iceland images are my own, the ones from the Azores. I got from the VisitAzores Instagram account.

Lets compare the 2 Airlines THAT OFFER THE STOPOVERS

I have been to Iceland and flew Icelandair and have nothing but good things to say about the country and the airline! When looking for reviews on the airline for this article, to confirm my positive experience, I found that the general consensus about Icelandair is that it serves yummie food, has good service on board, a modern fleet (fleetsize: 33) and load of travellers praise them for their outstanding service.

Azores Airlines, formerly known as SATA Internacional, on the other hand seems to be a solid reliable airline  (fleetsize: 7) without much glamour and some growing pains. They are more of a low cost carrier it seems when reading the reviews. We have a flight booked with them in spring 2018 and I will be able to report back on my actual experience them then. Stay tuned.

FLIGHT TIMES & ROUTES

Both Airlines have various international connection options in Europe and North America.

Azores Airlines

 

Icelandair

ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT

IcelandAir offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and free access to a personal in-flight entertainment system in the seat in front of you. A good selection of food and drinks is for sale (with a complimentary meal for children), as well as Wi-Fi access on all flights.

Azores Airlines, seem to have old planes. The in-flight entertainment seems to be some mediocre movies screened on overhead screens. One review I read sums the airline up nicely:” Its a budget airline. Bring your own water, some nibbles and a tablet, try to sleep and remember that the destination [The Azores] is so worth those tiny seats. And you will not mind the short flight.

 

Stopover T & C

For up-to-date Terms & Conditions visit the airlines websites:

                            

AzoresAirlines website                                   Icelandair website

Have you ever been to Iceland or the Azores?

Want to read more of our travel stories, visit our ‘where we have been’ page to see all of the travel adventures we blogged about.

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Our Favourite Websites and Apps to Plan our Family Travels

Destinations

www.atlasobscura.com

Is a great guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places, hidden gems and forgotten landmarks.

Planning

www.rome2rio.com

Rome2rio is a comprehensive global trip planner that helps you get from A to B worldwide. You can enter any town, address or landmark as your destination and Rome2rio will instantly display flight, train, bus, ferry and driving options with estimated travel times and fares.

www.seat61.com

The site is run by  THE guru of global travel by train  and ferry

www.skyscanner.com

A travel search engine, great for looking up flights.

TIP: We often enter our departure airport (from) and in the destination field (to) we type: Everywhere. Then we choose our destination for a weekend away or a last-minute trip based on lowest prices available on that date, rather than location.

www.kayak.com

KAYAK searches other sites to show travelers the information they need to find flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages.

Accommodation

www.booking.com

The World’s largest selection of incredible places to stay, including apartments, vacation homes, and family-run B&Bs to 5-star luxury resorts, tree houses and even igloos. .

www.hotels.com

A leading online accommodation booking website with properties ranging from international chains and all-inclusive resorts to local favourites and bed & breakfasts.

TIP:They have a great reward progam – Pay for 10 nights and get one night for free.

www.airbnb.com

Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.

we also follow travel bloggers and are members of Facebook Travel Groups, Which are a great resource for up-to-date travel information.

We get loads of information from other travel blogs. We find that while there is useful information on forums and the big travel websites, blogs offer more personalized information, and most blogs we follow are from other family travellers.  This makes it is easier to find information about how suitable a location attraction is for kids, or get recommendations for great playgrounds.

FREE DOWNLOADChildren Travel Journal (pdf)  Create a great keepsake with your kids and see the world through their eyes. It is easy remembering the big moments of a trip but keeping a travel journal helps you remember details of your travels you might forget otherwise.  

Hopefully you have  found some new websites and apps for planning your next trip.  Which websites and apps do you use?

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10 Best ideas to curate travel memories for children

How to curate travel memories  for children? During my hunt for inspiration I came across so many wonderful ideas. Let me share the 10 best ones with you.

Research by Cornell University shows that we experience the same increase in happiness when we buy something we want and when we go traveling. However, the amount of happiness we derive from our purchase falls over time, whereas the memories of our traveling experience continue to supply us with happiness hormones for much longer.

We are preparing for our sabbatical and apart from sorting out the obvious like finding insurance and accommodation, we also started to think about how we will document our travel memories of this trip (apart from this blog) for our little one. Much is written about planning a trip, ideas for how to keep toddlers and babies entertained while travelling  are shared on many sites and how to immerse children in the travelling mentality through picture books is also a hot topic ( at the end of this post you will find 4 book recommendations). But how do you deal with the reverse culture shock when coming home from a longer trip and keep the memory of the trip alive?  Let me share the 10 best ideas I came across.

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE KIDS TRAVEL JOURNAL TEMPLATE ⇒ Children Travel Journal (pdf)

#1 Choose one TYPE OF SOUVENIR and buy it everywhere you go

A former colleague of mine collects Hard Rock Café Pins, it is his ambition to collect a Hard Rock Café Pins from each existing Hard Rock Café. It is a tradition he started when he was a kid on holiday with his parents. They are small, easy to store and won’t break the bank. And there are Hard Rocks cafes on each continent, so reaching his life ambition to get a pin from each will truly take him on a trip around the world.

You can of course also collect T-shirts or other souvenirs like magnets.  Instead of sticking the latter on your fridge  you can start a world map with your kids  to help them visualize where you have been.

#2 Make a postcard journal

Why not send yourself a postcard from each destination that you visit and then make a journal out of it. In that way you might get postcards for a while, after you have already returned home (Who does not love to receive good old fashioned snail mail?!?).Cate from Smallplanetstudio,  took the idea of sending yourself postcards even further she makes a postcard journals (see picture below).

Cate states on her blog that she “labels each postcard with the date, location, and trip “Day #. I keep the written postcards in a ziplock bag in my travel backpack or suitcase until I get home. If you’re on a long trip and don’t want to carry them around the world with you, just mail them home[…]Leave your postcard journals on your coffee table or hang them on a bulletin board. They’re a great way to invite questions and conversations about your travels without feeling like you’re forcing the topic on anyone.”

#3 Start a stone collection

Sometimes it is also nice to take a piece with you. Whether you are standing on an amazing black lava stone beach or found a beautifully shaped stone in a stream in a National Park. Take it with you and start a collection. Every time you go on a trip collect a nice rock  and write the place and year on it. Before you know it you have a piece of the entire world in your house.

Source: http://quarryorchard.blogspot.nl/2010/02/vacation-rocks.html

Disclaimer: Make sure you are allowed to pick up a stone and take it with you. Some countries have VERY strict customs rules about removing stones from their countries i.e. potential archaeological artefacts.

#4 Scratch Maps

If you don’t want to carry around any souvenirs with you  how about decorating your kids room with a big scratch map and each time you come back from a trip, you reveal another part of the world you have explored with your little one(s). There are numerous scratch map styles, with country flags and without & co.  We particularly like the Landmass scratch maps.

#5 Collect foreign currencies

While travelling in the Eurozone might not make this a very interesting collection, once you venture further afield this is an interesting way to collect keep sakes. According to Travelex there are 180 current currencies across the world, as recognized by the United Nations. The British pound is the world’s oldest currency that’s still in use, dating back to the 8 th century.

#6 Create a flight journal

Bine,  BineLovesLife Blog, has a flight journal. Her mom started the tradition when she was 5 years old and each time that she is on a plane, she asks the crew to fill out the flight details and gets signatures from the pilots. As you can see she has been on 250+ flights…She has started a book for her son and is continuing the family tradition.

#7 Travel journaling

It is easy remembering the big moments of a trip but keeping a travel journal helps you remember details of your travel memories you might forget otherwise.  And kids see the world through different eyes. The below bullet points are copied from Vikki Reich’s post Travel Journals for Kids: Why They Are Worth the Hassle, as I could not express it any better than she did:

  • By asking kids to reflect on their day, you discover what was most enjoyable or important to them.
  • Journaling reinforces the experience and strengthens their memories.
  • It is a good way to wind down after a busy day of sightseeing. Family vacations are intense. You are together 24/7, usually in a hotel or smaller space than you are all used to, and are flooded with new experiences. That’s a recipe for exhaustion and bickering. Quiet time at the end of the day can be a gift. Grabbing your notebooks and cuddling up in bed with some colored pencils is a nice way to wind down.
  • Looking at old journals is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming.
  • The journals become a keepsake they’ll appreciate when they’re older.

FREE DOWNLOAD Children Travel Journal (pdf)

#8 BRING HOME A TASTY MEMORY OF THE local cuisine

One of my favourites is to visit local markets and spice shops and buy spices that are typical for the area. Then when I come home I cook with them, it  keeps the travel memories alive and often forces me to try out new recipes. Often the smell reminds me of our trip. On my last trip to Israel I have discovered Sumac, and it is something that is a staple in my pantry ever since. Also for kids it is an interesting subject for an inpromptu history lesson.  Explain to them how important spices and other commodities were back in the days, actually pepper was once so valuable that it could be used to pay the rent, It is an interesting read how the spice trade changed the world.

#9 TURN YOUR children’s drawings INTO WEARABLE ART

Ask your child(ren) to draw a picture of his/her favourite experience on holiday.  And then transfer the drawing onto a T-Shirt for them to wear. It makes them beam with pride to show off their art and share their travel stories. It is very easily done, a simple instructions on how to do it can be found on No Time for Flashcards Blog . Fabric Transfer Paper is available at most craft stores, office supply stores and online.

#10 And obviously …Take loads of pictures

Do you keep the pictures on your hard drive and hardly ever look at them?  Do you print out loads and hang them up? Maybe you make beautiful collages with them to decorate your house? Whatever you do with the pictures you take, it is an easy way to journal. You and your kids will undoubtedly look at the pictures later and start a trip down memory lane.

Personally we really want to try out  FLYTOGRAPHER. Flytographer is a community of local photographers ready to capture your memories in 200 cities around the world in front of iconic backdrops. It is the ultimate session for people who never get around to have a family photo session while at home, this way you can have professional family pictures taken while being on vacation!

And last but not least some book recommendations to get kids into the world explorer spirit.

Travel Book for children Recommendations

Atlas of Adventures Early Explorers Subscription Kit Walk the World City Atlas
Explore seven continent maps, packed with hundred of activities and challenges to inspire armchair travellers of any age. Atlas of Adventures is part of a series containing 6 other books. A great way to discover the world and all its treasures at home or while travelling. Beautiful to look at as it takes us on a tour of the world. There are over 80 flaps to open up and explore which give you little insights into other worlds. 30 best-loved cities from around the world are brought to life . A search-and-find game on every page helps young readers to explore every city and spot the hundreds of details that makes each place unique.

What’s your favourite travel souvenir and what memories does it evoke?

Want to read more of our travel stories, visit our ‘where we have been’ page to see all of the travel adventures we blogged about.

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