Days out or “excursions” are probably the most memorable part of any travel adventure. While we spend more on flights and hotels these are just tools to get us to the real excitement. Spending a day zip lining from tree to tree or flying high over your favourite city for an epic view. These are the memories we hold on to from our travels around the world.
I was invited to review one such provider of unforgettable experiences, Into The Blue, a UK based company who offer a huge range of days out, taster sessions and excursions. There are plenty of “red letter day” style sites these days but I was keen to see what sets this one apart from the rest. Would I be able to find something to suit all family members? Will budget be an issue? What unique experiences can I find? All will be answered!
Into The Blue first started from humble beginnings. Created by Jock Maitland, a popular WWII pilot often known as “Mr Biggin Hill” where he was based. After the war he organised air shows all over the UK and especially at Biggin Hill near London. He was often asked for flying lessons and so started his own business offering days out for wannabe pilots. The company grew with more and more activities and excursions on offer and it really started long before many of the familiar names in the excursions and experiences industry, with a keen eye on customer service. They also have lots of connections in the aviation industry too so boast a number of flying experiences not available elsewhere.
So lets delve in and explore the website. On first visiting www.intotheblue.co.uk you’re greeted with a tidy home page filled with inspiring ideas and some easy-to-navigate categories. The site is responsive and looks great on both desktop and mobile devices. The large banners in a slideshow format give me some ideas of where to start with my search for the ultimate day out in Britain. The spitfire experience does definitely appeal to me and the driving days at Goodwood are the sort of thing I’d love to do too. The navigation bar is filled with plenty of categories to browse and below the slideshow is a handy search facility where you can search but a number of different checkboxes such as “pampering” or “water sports”. It definitely throws up some interesting options that I wouldn’t have normally searched for. With over 1000 activities on the site it can be a bit overwhelming unless there’s a useful search feature so I’m glad there was something based on my location and types of experience rather than just a search box.
Range of experiences
With so much to choose from I was keen to see just how much of a range there is. Its all very well having a lot but would the variety appeal to all ages and preferences? While there are categories for the more obvious activities like flights, track days and romantic dining, its easier to see the range available in the “Special occasions” pages. The menu offers some great collections including “for him” and “for her“. There’s also birthday categories right up to age 70 which I found the most useful. Its also interesting to see what they deem suitable for different ages.
Admittedly there are plenty of familiar looking excursions and experiences that you often see on sites like this, there were definitely plenty of notable additions I’d not seen before or even thought of like “An Introduction to Taekwondo” or truck driving schools. There’s even “create your own perfume” and Ice sculpting schools in London so the range is fairly eclectic! What’s interesting is the variety of options within categories too, something to suit pretty much any budget rather than just expensive days out. From simple tours of spitfires at Biggin Hill Airport, right up to personal air displays and pilot training days.
One of the most important aspects for me on any website is how easy it is to browse whats on offer and get back to what I find most useful. The top navigation definitely does a good job of displaying lots of possible options and once you’re in to the results pages there are numerous ways the information can be displayed. If you’re looking for things near you there’s a handy map button which can locate your position and show you where each product is. In the default list view there’s also a drop down menu of sorting methods, pricing from low-to-high, high-to-low or by location.
The site features a very useful live chat service which popped up after a short while with “Gill” ready to help me out. This service is fantastic if you’re undecided or really need some inspiration. I set Gill the challenge with this message
“Hi, I’m looking for an experience that would be suitable for older people. Fairly active 70 year olds. Something unique and different. Not the usual day out. Can you inspire me?“.
Gill was very helpful and started sending me some great ideas with links I could click on for more information. I pushed Gill for some more unusual and active experiences and sure enough I was presented with some more experiences that were a little different to the norm. I highly recommend putting this live chat tool to good use as it helped me find suitable days out and made me more confident to purchase too.
When checking out you can add a gift message if the order is for someone else. You can also choose to receive the voucher in a gift box for £3.99 extra or if you just want it sent by email there’s no extra cost. I’m a sucker for a gift box especially when the gift is such a special day out but if you’re looking for a quick purchase for yourself then an e-voucher is perfect. You can send a personalised voucher with each product you purchase although I noticed my personalisations were lost if I continued browsing the site and added another product, so be sure to add these at the end of your browsing.
Into The Blue often run promotions too with discount codes making your purchasing experience even sweeter. They usually advertise them on their homepage and its also worth asking on their live chat if you’re not entirely sure. You can pay by card or the ever popular PayPal which is my preferred method as it usually takes fewer clicks!
I was pleasantly surprised by the variety on offer at Into The Blue and with so many ways to view the collections I found it easy to browse and make collections of my own. The customer service was polite and helped give me confidence to not only purchase my chosen day out but find new and unusual things to do for any age.
Prices were very good and I found plenty for every budget, in fact my experience with using Into The Blue has inspired me to be a little more daring with some forthcoming birthday gifts for loved ones.
Booking excursions like these are often a step in to the unknown. We’ve all paid for flights and hotels online before but booking days out doing things we’ve never experienced before can often take a little extra trust from the seller. I’m glad to report Into The Blue’s website and customer service did a great job of letting me know all the details I needed to make an informed purchase.