I was recently features in the newspapers nationwide sharing a little about how we as a family make holidays a priority (you can read the article here), so it’s safe to say I know a little about planning family holiday on a budget. It’s so important to us to take family holidays, but obviously these holidays cost money! While making sacrifices in your budget helps free up money for holidays, knowing how to seek out those travel bargains helps lower the amount you need to save in the first place.
We take time out to travel as a family at least twice per year, and I would have to say I have become great at tracking down those travel bargains. In the past two years I have managed to score return Adelaide to Auckland flights for $180, return Adelaide to Gold Coast flights for $58, and a 10 night cruise for $2000 (that’s the price for four people, not just one!). Read on for my budget family holiday tips.
Avoid traveling at peak times
This one is not always possible, sometimes if you want to get away as a family you just can’t avoid school holiday travel periods, so if that’s the case for you, just ignore this tip and focus on saving in other areas. If you do need to travel during school holidays, booking early will usually get you the best price possible. But for everyone else, avoid traveling during the school holidays and Christmas/Easter periods if you can. These are well known for being the most expensive times of year to travel, and you are very unlikely to find sale airfares during these times. If it is practible for you, travel during school terms and enjoy the savings!
Wait for sales
Why pay full price when you can buy on sale? The same advice applies to holidays, it seems like airline are holding sales every second week these days, and hotels booking sites often release discount codes. If you don’t need to book in a hurry, choose your destination then sit back and wait for a sale. I have saved thousands of dollars by waiting for sales instead of booking full priced fares.
Consider apartment style accommodation
Consider staying in an self-contained apartment rather than hotel style accommodation. You will have more space to start with, as well as having access to a kitchen and laundry which is a bonus in itself when traveling with kids. You can then stock up at a local supermarket and make your own breakfast and dinners, as well as making packed lunches to take out with you during the day. This can save massive amounts of money when compared with eating out for 3 meals per day.
Search for discounts on everything you do
Search for the best price on absolutely everything, why pay more than you need to if there is a discount available? When it comes to accommodation, there are a number of hotel booking and comparison websites around, but also be sure to check the price directly on the hotels website, because the hotel itself will often have a guarantee in place offering the best price.
Do the same if you will be hiring a car, as prices vary hugely between rental companies. If you have an RAA or similar club card, or an Entertainment Book, check to see if they entitle you to any further discounts.
Choose all inclusive styles of travel
Cruises are the perfect (almost) all inclusive holiday for families. All of your meals and snacks are included, as well as entertainment and kids club facilities for the over 3’s (over 2 on Carnival). It’s hard to find that sort of value on land, and it’s a real luxury not having to cook or clean at all while at sea. Just like airlines, cruise lines often hold sales so wait until the next sale to book. These sales will often also include added bonuses, such as reduced deposits and on board credit. My favourite are the kids sail free sales that Royal Caribbean hold, we have booked our last two cruise during these sales and it makes cruising extremely cheap, even more so if you can drive to the departure port (unfortunately here in Adelaide we can’t).
Research budget activities
Activities and attractions don’t have to cost you a small fortune. Before you go, research activities and attractions that are cheap or even free. These could be local beaches, parks or historical sites. One of my favourite ways to get to know a new place is to simply walk and explore. Of course, if you have hired a car this is even easier. just grab a map and see where you end up.
If you are looking for paid attractions, do a quick search before you leave home for any discounts. It might be cheaper to buy discounts online direct from the attraction. Bargain Mums have partnered with Experience Oz, often offering adults at kids prices entry to a range of attractions, so be sure to check them out too.