Travel Mum

Local Mum Karen Simmonds, who runs the travel company Travel Mattersblogs for us about everything to do with holidays and travel

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Have you ever asked what the benefits of using a travel advisor are? 

We’ve been in the business of organising travel for over two decades. Perhaps you are of the opinion that you can arrange all your travel, adventures and holidays yourself but I want to write a few reasons where I believe using a travel advisor can offer several benefits, especially when planning and booking complex or important trips. Here are some advantages of using a travel advisor:

Expertise and Knowledge: Travel advisors are professionals with extensive knowledge of various destinations, travel trends and insider information. They can provide valuable advice and suggestions based on their expertise, ensuring you make informed decisions about your trip.

Time-Saving: Planning a trip can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially when you have limited knowledge or busy schedules. Travel advisors can save you time by handling all the research, booking and logistics, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your life.

Personalized Service: Travel advisors take the time to understand your preferences, needs and budget. They can tailor your travel itinerary and activities accordingly, providing a personalized experience that matches your interests. They can also make recommendations for accommodation, dining options and attractions that suit your specific requirements.

Access to Exclusive Deals and Upgrades: Travel advisors often have access to exclusive deals, promotions and packages that may not be available to the general public. They can help you find the best value for your money and may be able to secure complimentary upgrades or additional perks for your trip.

Assistance and Support: During your travels, unexpected issues can arise, such as flight cancellations, lost luggage or itinerary changes. Travel advisors act as your advocate and provide support when such situations occur. They can help rebook flights, make alternative arrangements or provide guidance on handling any challenges that may arise.

Insider Tips and Recommendations: Travel advisors often have firsthand knowledge of destinations and can provide insider tips and recommendations that you may not find in guidebooks or online. They can suggest hidden gems, local experiences and lesser-known attractions, enhancing your overall travel experience.

And lastly - Peace of Mind: Having a travel advisor by your side can give you peace of mind throughout the planning process and during your trip. They take care of the details, offer guidance, and ensure that you have a well-organized and enjoyable travel experience.

It's important to note that while travel advisors can offer numerous benefits, their services may come with a fee or commission. However, many travellers find that the value they receive from the expertise and assistance of a travel advisor outweighs the cost.

Hope to see you soon,


Karen Simmonds is the founder of 
Travel Matters in SW London 

Local Mums Discount
Local Mums receive 5% discount on all retreats with Travel Matters

Contact Karen:
Travel Matters
Tel: 020 8675 7878


Reasons to Retreat

Have you ever been on a retreat before? I can think of many reasons why it is important to retreat from time to time. As busy individuals, it is important to take time out to savour the goodness and serenity of our beautiful world. Nature is a great healer and finding a place where you cannot be disturbed by the regular stresses and strains must be one of the doctor’s orders! 

Do you ever long for the opportunity to disconnect from technology? These days we are bombarded by a constant noise and stimulation of everyday life. It’s so important to break away from this to reduce stress, improve mental clarity and allow creativity to increase. I have found taking myself outdoors for a walk in the woods or by a body of water as the most soothing therapy and a refreshment to my soul.  

As a business owner, mother and wife I know all too well that I need to focus on my own well-being and self-care. If I don’t, those around me know about it! A retreat can help improve our physical and mental health providing the break from the daily routine. It doesn’t have to be for a particularly long time like jetting off to the other side of the world or a luxurious five star property with spa facilities and wellbeing programmes. You can fill your own cup with gentle self care, in a peaceful place allowing God’s peace to calm your soul, letting serenity in. There's a bonus to attending a retreat as it allows you time to meet new people, enjoying fellowship and new friendship with others.   

Participating in a retreat can help us gain new perspectives and insights. There is always the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. I can vouch first hand that this help us grow and develop as individuals. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to rest and recharge? A break from our daily routine helps us feel more energized and refreshed. Who wouldn’t want the chance to have someone else do the shopping, cooking, clearing up and cleaning? 

Retreats enhance personal development. They provide a space to reflect on life and set new goals. This can help us achieve personal and professional growth, and make positive changes in our lives.

There are many reasons why I would advocate taking a retreat. Having run a travel business for nearly 25 years where we organise our client’s holidays (NB – the word “Holiday” is from the words “Holy Day” which is linked to being directly from God or as connected with him. What is not to like?) 

This autumn I am co hosting a couple of retreats located on the bank of Loch Tay in Scotland. There is time to relax, walk, swim, paint and sleep. Guests will be able to immerse themselves in nature and roam throughout the spectacular countryside surrounding the lodge, ancient woodlands, cascading burns and the nearby Waterfalls of Archan, all looked over by the brooding Ben Lawers mountain range. You are cordially invited to take a step into the great unknown, and emerge rejuvenated, creative and powerful. You can find more details about the retreats here.

I’m currently offering all Local Mums 5% discount off any retreats at Travel Matters.

Hope to see you soon,


Contact Karen:
Travel Matters
Tel: 020 8675 7878

Travel Matters Retreats Poster UPDATE

Local Mums Discount
Local Mums receive 5% discount on all retreats with Travel Matters

Contact Karen:
Travel Matters
Tel: 020 8675 7878Email:

Stress free travel tips on holiday 

That old motto “be prepared” never had so much relevance when travelling on holiday as a family. It has its challenges, but some tricks and planning can smooth the way. So I have put together some tips and advice to help you keep everyone’s face smiling.

Before you pack

What kind of holiday will it be?

Casual self catering?

A hotel?

A touring holiday?

Hot, rainy, cold?

This will dictate what type of clothes you’ll all need and whether you’ll need a separate overnight bag.

How will you travel?

Luggage restrictions vary by airline so do check yours. The type of luggage you use can make a huge difference too. Obviously you can fit much more in your car compared to the luggage restrictions of the airline.

Write yourself a list

Forward thinking…check the passports are all in date at least 8 weeks before you travel so you have time to replace them if not. Check you have valid personal travel insurance as well as for your car if taking it abroad. Check your visa requirements for the country you are visiting.

What to pack?

Children’s/ Toddlers travel bag

Favourite toys, colouring books and pencils

Travel games and books

Favourite comforters

Drinks and snacks. Please note: you will need to purchase your liquids after customs if travelling by plane

Your toddlers snacks – Raisins, breadsticks, dried fruits, grapes, or dried cereals

First Aid Kit – including insect repellent/ bite and sting relief product

Sun cream

Cull the clothes…bring easy-to-wash, non-iron items, versatile colours and accessories to ‘dress up’. For the kids, bear in mind what they’ll spend most time in and be prepared to rinse things through if necessary.

Hire when you can. Can you hire a car seat, is a cot provided, are home-cooked kids meals or a baby pack of nappies, wipes, etc available?

These days there are many commercial products that can help keep the children amused: from classic board games in travel forms, to the latest apps and electronics. We hope to give you some simpler ideas for fun stuff during car rides or plane journeys for several age groups.

Travelling with children

Sometimes the simplest things can delight a baby (at least for a few minutes) such as a couple of pieces of large lego that can be pieced together or a few magnetic stick-together blocks. Even a safe little plastic mirror can entertain. Other simple, inexpensive, and easy to bring along items are:

Bubbles (use them in airport, during spare hours between flights)

Balls (for rest areas during car trips)

Travelling with young & older children

This is a great age for picture books, stickers and activity books.

Wrapped up presents or snacks – double or triple – wrapped. It’s the unwrapping which is the fun part.

Watching a DVD in cars can while the hours away nicely, but give a thought also to audio books, and especially to listening to the audio book together, through your car sound system: so the kids aren’t glued to yet-another screen, there is still a shared experience of watching the landscape outside the car; meanwhile the children use their mind’s eye to picture the story, and the whole family shares the story experience together.

Also for older children, look for the latest card-based games or puzzle games that are perfect to take along on a trip. Travel-sized board games are great as well.

There’s a new trend in family travel: the great escapes that aren’t. Our holidays these days are not always the real escape. The mobile phone, BlackBerry or iPhone, the laptop come with us and keep us constantly connected to the world we are escaping from. Calls from work, a catch up with friends, checking email “just a minute”. This is the one major hiccup that is going to irritate the other half or the family. As with any addiction, it’s tough to leave it. We are getting used to constantly getting messages. In some workplaces, there’s an expectation that you should answer every email within ten minutes, wherever you are. (If that’s your culture, and you’re reading this advice – it may be time for some re-thinking of lifestyle).

Most of us, however, will bring the device along, and tell ourselves we can handle it. Sound familiar? A piece of advice -

1. Do not feel obliged to answer email, especially during the times of the day when you’re with your family – playing, eating, talking, tucking into bed.

2. If you need to check email, do it when the children are asleep, or playing with others.

How many years will your children want to spend time on holiday with you so happily? You can’t afford to waste your time together. Children are brilliant at living in the present. So when you’re on holiday, join them. 

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Travel Matters was Karen’s (above) first baby twenty five years ago. She has always enjoyed organising the perfect family holiday. Since then, she juggled travel and family life, with the arrivals of her now grown up daughters Alice and Elsie. Her experience is wide and varied including taking old people around Europe with Page and Moy, hosting double-decker bus tours with Top Deck travel and running her own tour operating programme in Portugal. She can also be found slipping from English into fluent French, German or Portuguese, often helping in those tricky hotel booking negotiations! The last couple of years she has visited Thailand, South Africa, Mexico, Cyprus, France, Eygpt and five Caribbean islands.
Mention Local Mums Online when contacting Travel Matters to receive information of current discounts and offers.

Contact Karen:
Travel Matters
Tel: 020 8675 7878

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