Although I live in Bristol, a city with an airport, we are still lacking in transatlantic flights but thankfully we aren’t too far away from Gatwick and Heathrow and often end up travelling there. Our holiday to Florida started this way also and I wanted to share a few tips for anyone else who has this issue. Firstly be aware that most flights to the USA leave early morning, this can be an issue for public transport as it is almost impossible to leave Bristol and arrive in time for an early morning departure. As soon as we are able to we book our travel to keep the cost down, the earlier you book the cheaper it is. It’s always worth looking at both National Express and the train. There’s no direct train from Bristol but the transfer is incredibly easy and we have travelled really cheaply this way before. You get on the London train and get off at Reading to transfer onto a smaller train. This is pretty much always on the same platform right by the entrance to the train station. This time though the coach was cheaper so we left the night before and stayed in a hotel.
Staying over the night before is a great way to avoid more stress on what can already be an incredibly stressful day. Waking up already at the airport makes the start of the day so much easier. We have used several different hotels for overnight stays, we aren’t loyal and will usually go with the cheapest. The one hotel we won’t stay at though? Travelodge at Gatwick, we got some really cheap rooms a few years back but honestly, it was one of the worse hotels I have ever stayed in. It wasn’t very clean, the beds weren’t very comfy and it was loud. This time we stayed at Bloc which is actually located in the South Terminal. You actually fly out of the North Terminal on Virgin Atlantic but there is a free shuttle that runs between the two terminals so it’s dead easy to transfer.
Our room was overlooking the runway which was amazing, I could have just stayed there for hours watching all the planes taking off into the sunset. It really was beautiful. The bed was super comfy, we had paid for one of the slightly bigger rooms. It’s worth noting that the cheaper rooms don’t have windows so if that’s an issue for you make sure to check before booking. The hotel is reasonably priced and somewhere I would consider staying again for convenience.
The other thing that we treated ourselves to was access to Virgin Holidays V-Room. This is an additional cost but when you take into account the drinks and food you get included in the price its a really good offer and not to mention you are away from the madness of the departures hall. V-Room is quiet and it even has a specific “adult only” area so there are no excitable, noisy children running around. We secured a fantastic seat by the window and watched the planes departing which helps to really build up the excitement for the rest of your holiday. We both grabbed a bite to eat, I had some hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, beans and sausages which was delicious. I went back later for seconds and used the pancake machine to make myself some pancakes which I decorated with some caramel sauce, sprinkles and marshmallows. Such fun. The V-Room has warm food, cold food, cereal, pastries, everything really. Soft drinks are included however alcohol is an additional cost. One random thing here? The floors in the bathroom…seriously in love.
Our flight was called and before we knew it we were on our way to sunny Florida for 2 weeks of rollercoasters and Mickey-shaped food. Oh, one more thing, upon approach to Florida make sure to look out the windows and if it’s a clear day you can see Cape Canaveral and the landing site for the Space-X rockets. As a bit of a geek, I found this super exciting.