Gold Coast on a budget – Part 1
We are about to head of on our first holiday as a family of four since the birth of my second baby earlier in the year, and what better choice of a family holiday than a trip to the Gold Coast, Australia! We have holidayed on the Gold Coast a fair few times pre kids, but this will be the first time as a family. We have a 3 year old and 4 month old, so this blog series will focus not just on holidaying on a budget, but also on the Gold Coast for kids/toddler/babies.
This post, part 1, is full of tips on the planning stage of a holiday, the exciting things like booking flights, hotels, attractions etc. I will even include the price we have paid for each component, how we found those prices (some are mega cheap), as well as other general tips on the planning stage, which can really be applied to any holiday. So let’s get started!
We had been considering this trip for a while before the birth of my son, but didn’t want to set anything in stone until after his arrival since we had a few health scares during my pregnancy (luckily everything has turned out just fine). We had been watching the price of flights for a while and there were definitely some good sales, we came across flights for as low as $69 one way Adelaide to the Gold Coast. When Jetstar held another sale about 8 weeks back, we jumped on them immediately. Our flights were $89 each, so the total for 2 adults, 1 child and 1 infant (free on Jetstar), plus 25kg of checked baggage was $588. Not the most amazing bargain I have ever found flight wise, but still not too bad at all.
My biggest tip for finding cheap flights is to decide where you want to go, and the approximate time of year you want to travel, and keep an eye out. Sign up to the airline newsletters to receive sale alerts, and keep an eye on their Facebook pages where they also post about sales. Secondly, you need to be flexible. For example, we wanted to fly home on the Sunday however flight were half the price on the Saturday, so we ended up booking our departing flights a day earlier, and returning flights a day earlier.
Within Australia, the only airline that includes a baggage allowance in the base fare price is Qantas, and while this is a pain, it’s not always a bad thing. We have only booked 25kg of checked baggage, which forces us to pack smarter and lighter, only taking the essentials. We will be taking advantage of the generous 10kg carry on baggage allowance that Jetstar offer, and will also be making full use of the laundry in our apartment during our holiday.
Along with flights, accommodation is one of the larger expenses of a holiday. We are staying on the Gold Coast for 5 night, which is a good length of time to stay when it comes to accommodation discounts; many will offer discounts on stays of 5 nights or longer. I had decided it might be nice to stay in Q1, so with that in mind I kept an eye out for offers. Q1 are currently offering a 5 night special, plus the Tuesday is only $20. On top of that, I used a 10% discount code I received for liking the Q1 Facebook page. I noticed on booking that an ocean view apartment was only around $2 more per day, so I opted for an ocean view. With all the discounts, the bill for our 5 night stay comes to $807 for a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment, that’s only $161 per night! While we could have easily found somewhere cheaper, we have opted to pay slightly more and spoil ourselves. I think the price is still absolutely fantastic, and I will let you know in a later post whether it was worth the money.
In this case, it was by far the cheapest option to book directly with the hotel, by 100’s of dollars. However, this is not always the case. There are now some fantastic website that aggregate a heap of deals from many different websites, instantly showing you the best price. Hotels Combined is one of our favourites, but also try searching on Booking.com, Expedia.com.au, HotelClub, Hotels.com, Low Cost Holidays and Webjet.com.au.
Car hire can sure add up quickly, and there can be such a huge difference in prices between hire companies. There are some extremely cheap hire companies on the Gold Coast, they do offer older model cars though, I haven’t used one myself but if anyone has feel free comment below with your experience. We decided to go with Budget, because we have used them many times before and know they are reliable. We hired a large car to fit both car seats, including my sons rear facing seat. Our car hire cost came to $243 for 5 days hire, including a $20 discount for using the Entertainment Book. Other car hire companies we recommend include Avis, SixT and Thrifty. Be sure to check out the deals section on each car hire website before booking to see if any current deals apply to your booking period.
Baby Equipment Hire
We decided before booking our rental car that we would hire our baby equipment rather than taking a porta cost and pram with us, which would have meant hiring a much larger car to fit it all in the boot! Our hotel, Q1, quoted $10 per night ($50 all up) for porta cot hire, I thought that was a little steep so I started searching around for alternatives. I came across Baby by the Beach Hire, who quoted only $35 for 5 night hire. We also needed a pram as opposed to a stroller, since our son is only 4 months (just slightly too young for a stroller still), and thought our 3 year old might need a pram with all the walking around theme parks we will be doing. Baby by the Beach Hire offer double prams, so we added one to our booking, at $75 for 5 nights. Prams are a little more expensive to hire than strollers, but it will be a great investment for our holiday.
Best of all, the porta cot and pram will be delivered to our accommodation before we arrive, and there is no delivery cost since we are staying in Surfers Paradise. We then just leave the equipment at our hotel reception by 10am on day of checkout, and they will be collected for us. How easy is that! Baby by the Beach have been fantastic to deal with, and make holidays with kids just that much easier, so they get a big tick from us.
Travel insurance is not something we always get domestically, but because we are hiring a car, in my opinion it’s a necessity. We could opt for the excess reduction from Budget for $113 for 5 days hire, which doesn’t even specify exactly what the excess is reduced to. Instead, we purchased travel insurance from 1Cover for $79, which covers us for a $4000 rental car excess. That way, we also have cover for loss of luggage, not to mention if we miss any part of our holiday due to illness etc. I always go with 1Cover, they offer fantastic prices, the best cover I have come across, and are underwritten by Allianz. Other travel insurance worthy of getting quotes from include Woolworths Insurance, InsureandGo and Cover-More.
Theme Park Tickets
This is the fun bit, the theme park tickets. We could have waited to buy these when we arrive at the theme parks, but we would have been paying a premium for theme. I kept an eye out for special offers, and purchased tickets once I found prices I was happy with. The theme parks each have their own unlimited annual passes, which on their own are fantastic value compared to one day ticket prices. The tickets will generally expire around June each year, and therefore will be discounted as they near their expiration date. I managed to get our Movie World, Sea World and Wet n Wild unlimited pass for $49 each, normally $99. They expire June this year, but that suits us fine since we are traveling in May. These were purchased through themeparks.com.au.
Our Dreamworld and White Water World unlimited pass, including unlimited entry to Skypoint Observation Deck, cost $85, normally $119 for adult tickets, and $63, normally $79 for child tickets. These are valid until June 2015, so we can get even more use out of them if we visit again in the next 13 months, which were purchased through the Entertainment Book.. All up, our theme park passes cost $380 for the 4 of us (babies are free), which would have cost $614 full price.
Keep an eye on Experience Oz who often discount theme park tickets, as well as other attractions.
– Flights $588
– Accommodation $807
– Car hire $243
– Baby equipment hire $110
– Travel Insurance $79
– Theme park passes $380
Total so far $2207