Family History Holiday

Family History Holiday – Update 2

I felt it was time to update you on the progress of the planning for our Family History Holiday.  I am struggling with how to plan to see what I want to see.  The issue is that I have so many things I want to do that I’m not going to be able to do this in the limited time we have.  The kids have started to put in their wish lists and the rule is majority rules – that is, 2 out of 3 is the clincher.

Family History Holiday, The Jacobite Steam Train, The Hogwarts ExpressMust Do Sites

  • Stonehenge
  • Warner Brothers Harry Potter
  • The Jacobite Steam Train from
  • Fort William to Maillag, Scotland mad famous in the Harry Potter Movies
  • The Beatles Story, Liverpool
  • White Cliffs of Dover
  • Windsor Castle




London Tower, Family History Holiday, Double Decker BusWe are spending our first six nights in London so will see the majority of the sites in that time.

  • The Hop On, Hop Off bus
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Tower Bridge and Tower of London
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Big Ben
  • Oxford Street
  • London Eye
  • West End Show – we are currently in heated debate over what to see.  I have said we can see one in our first week and then when we return to London for our last night.  My son is adamant now that he will only go to England if he gets to see School of Rock but my daughter and I aren’t keen.  I desperately want to see Wicked.  So there is contention over which ones to pick as there is a large range available – certainly better than the one every few months we get in Brisbane for double the price!



United Kingdom, Birth, Marriage, Death, Genealogy, Family History HolidayI want to go to Scotland to see where my grandmother’s parents families came from – the Matheson’s and Brands.  The Matheson’s came from the northeast in Fourpenny, Dornoch.  The Brands from Perth, and Larbert in central Scotland.  Now given that the Jacobite Steam Train is a definite on our list we will be in the north of Scotland and then Dornoch is only about a 2 1/2 hour drive away it is doable.  We can easily drive through Larbert and Perth to get to the train and Dornoch so that works.  However, going to Scotland is at the expense of our time in England and Wales.






The Dilemma

I would love to see Snowdonia in Wales as well as the Lakes District and Yorkshire Dales in England.  I just do not know how to make it work as I intend to spend about 8 days in Staffordshire.  This is where dad is from and close family are still in the area.  We are spending 6 days in London – 5 when we arrive and one before we leave.  We have a total of 23 days in England so taking these into account this leaves us with just 9 days to see everything else!

Family History Holiday

I don’t want to cut down on the time spent in Staffordshire as we will be meeting with family and exploring the area dad grew up in and the areas heavily represented in his ancestry.  There are only a few of his ancestors outside of Staffordshire but are still in the vicinity – Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Nottinghamshire. Nottinghamshire is the furthest and we could visit on our way down from Scotland.

Mum’s English side, however, are much more widespread and that is proving problematic.  They come from London, Middlesex, Essex, Kent, Bristol, Coventry, Norfolk, and Surrey.  These are very spread out and it will be impossible to see all these places in the time we have so I need to re-evaluate my goals for this trip.   I am thinking that we can obviously do London and Middlesex whilst there and combine a day to go to Dover and see Essex and Kent on the way.  Coventry is very near Staffordshire, so I think I will just skip Briston, Norfolk, and Surrey this time.



  1. Family History HolidayFamily – we are essentially meeting family for the first time so this is our first priority – spending time with them.  The reality is sites and locations will be there the next time we visit but you can’t guarantee that family will be.
  2. Allowing my kids some of their dreams.  My son really wants to go to “School of Rock” in the West End, ride a double-decker bus, see the Harry Potter movie sets, and Legoland.  Really the only contentious one is Legoland as I don’t feel it will be of value for money – we will see.
  3. My daughter’s wishlist is the Harry Potter train, The Beatles Story, Liverpool – she said “well duh” when I asked if she wanted to see that.  Her biggest wish though is to train with a Muay Thai fighter that she follows online – I’ve told her she needs to get details so we can be sure to do this for her.  She also wants to meet up with an old school friend who lives near Cambridge and we haven’t seen her for nearly two years.

I’m looking at these issues as an excuse to save up and go again!  My daughter is using this trip to evaluate England as she wants to return for every Aussie young person’s dream to spend a gap year in London.  So, if she does this I have to go visit her!


Distance and being an Aussie

Family History Holiday Just Down the Road AustraliaOne thing that stands us in good stead is that distance driving doesn’t faze us.  Being Australians we’re used to someone saying “I’m just going down the road” to mean 10 minutes away or 600km away!  My kids travel well and we did Brisbane to Melbourne in 2 1/2 days in 2014.  The fact that driving from Dover to Dornoch will take 11 1/2 hours does not cause us any sense of dread.

I remember the first time my aunt came out to visit us she was astounded by the distances.  We decided to take her to Montville in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for the day – approximately 130km and nearly 2 hours drive away.  As we drove through Beerburrum about 1 1/2 hours into our trip she asked where we were staying the night as we hadn’t brought any clothes with us.  We responded that we’re going home.  “What?!? We’ve already been driving 1 1/2 hours!”   As everything is so close in the UK they would drive that far for a weeks holiday.  Whereas we think nothing of driving for three hours to get somewhere, spend the day, then drive home.  I remember in my early 20’s finishing at work on a Friday afternoon and driving to Rockhampton some 600km away for the weekend!

So not much further planned but will hopefully have a better idea in the next month……


I hope my post is giving you some hints to planning your trip.  Have you ever taken a family history holiday?  Have you been to the UK?  What are your tips?  Are you looking to take a holiday in the future and reading my posts to find what will work for you?  Well these are my thoughts for the day, I hope you have enjoyed my post and have gotten some ideas for your next trip.


I love to hear from my readers.  Please comment below and tell me about your family history holiday or give me your tips for planning a great UK trip.


8 thoughts on “Family History Holiday – Update 2

  1. Well, at least you have something to work with your getting an idea of what everybody wants to do. If you can’t come to an agreement write them on a piece of paper put them in a hat and pull them out and see which come up with. This seems like a rather adventurous trip you then have to see 2 or 3 things that day to get everything in. Since this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience go for it. I have always been a believer that you cannot plan for the next time, so get in everything you can name. I know the planning is so much fun, isn’t it?

    1. Hi Sylvia

      I like your idea of drawing contentious ones out of the hat! At this time it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I want to see it all but I realise I can’t. I will be happy to sit and talk with the older members of my family. The planning is half the fun of the trip and I always worry that the reality won’t live up to it, however, so far I’ve never been disappointed.


  2. Great plans Megan, I don’t know where you live, I live in the US and would love to see them places. Your very fortunate to get to see that beautiful country. I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed time. This would be a dream trip for me. Best Wishes

    1. Hi Fred

      I’m in Australia so a trip to the UK is HUGE for us. I’m fortunate that I have family in the UK to visit and find out about our ancestry. It’s a dream trip for us and we are excited to be going.


  3. What a fun perspective that Australians are used to driving long distances, I guess we all have very different ideas of distance depending on where we live and how densely populated it is. That’s SO exciting that you have 23 days to spend in England. As someone in the process of meeting my “new” family courtesy of the DNA services, just take it slow, keep an open mind, and look for similarities, not differences. To my horror, the first ones I met were Trump voters. It got better from there, at least!

    1. Hi Penelope

      I am fortunate that dad and mum know some of them, albeit many years ago. I have also “met” some on Facebook and one mentioned to me being very excited but a bit apprehensive to meet us. I responded that we are typical Aussies, easy going and like everyone except our politician’s! I’m glad you moved past the Trump voting thing 😉


  4. Any chance of coming to America? BTW, what’s School of Rock? You gave great plans. I really wanna see Wicked myself. I remember when Aussie was my dream vacation, but I’m too afraid of the wildlife. If I take a cruise over there, I just may stay on the boat.

    1. Hi Lane

      America is definitely on my bucket list as I have found cousins there! However, not this time. School of Rock is a musical production being shown in the West End – London’s answer to Broadway. Don’t be scared of the wildlife in Australia. The population continues to grow so the wildlife isn’t too damaging. We do have dangerous snakes and spiders, however, if you don’t aggravate them, they don’t hurt you. If you come to Australia and you are not sure about an animal, ask a local and they can tell you the best way to behave around them. We also have cute animals as well – wallabies, koala’s, quoka’s, and bilby’s to name a few.


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