How to Save Money on Family Holidays

New data from Travelzoo shows that holidays rates are expected to rise by almost 10% this year. Ouch! Cue savvy money-saving tips to help you save a bucket load of cash before you’ve even packed your suitcase. Use these tips to save your way to a better holiday.

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Before you go:

1. Splitting the bill

Splitting the bill is nothing new. Your next holiday is an opportunity to bunk up with your friends or family for a week or two. This way you can share costs on more than just your restaurant bill:

Travel – Companies can offer big discounts on groups travelling together. Netflights for example have a dedicated groups team that can look after your booking from start to finish if you need.

Accommodation – A holiday villa/apartment/lodge that accommodates twelve people won’t cost you twelve times as much. You can find lots of places that sleep over 10 people on groupaccommodation.com, all over the world.

Food – Cooking for a large group can seem daunting, but the money you save shopping in bulk will make it worth it. Get everyone involved and it will become fun and memorable part of the holiday. Genius Kitchen has great recipe ideas for large groups, and not just your bog standard large batch meals. They cover party food, picnics, soups and so much more.

2. Have Fun Saving for your Holiday

Saving for your holiday doesn’t have to be a chore. The whole family can pitch in. To get started, your kids should need little encouragement to make a money box. Here are forty different ideas if inspiration is needed. And don’t be afraid to let your children know how much the holiday is going to cost either. Take the opportunity to have a ‘money’ chat with them if they are old enough. If you do want to turn saving into a chore however, your children could contribute by doing some small jobs around the house (like loading the dishwasher) so you can put pocket money in the box on their behalf.

3. Weigh up your options when deciding your ‘Board Basis’

What seems the cheapest when you are booking, doesn’t always work out that way by the end of your holiday. Extra costs can pop up when you least expect them. When researching your board options, here are some things to consider:

All Inclusive:
All inclusive packages sometimes look scary expensive to begin with. When you look at what’s included, like all three meals, snacks and drinks, and then work out the cost for your family to do the same on a daily basis elsewhere, it can work out much cheaper. Take a look here at the top ten all inclusive resorts according to tripadvisor.

Half Board:
Half Board is a good one to try to ‘cheat the system’. It entitles you to breakfast and one other meal per day – the trick is to fill your boots at breakfast (and maybe sneak a couple of croissants into your beach bag!). Eat a light lunch, and then when dinner time comes around, fill your boots again!  Holiday Hypermarket discusses the top reasons to book a half-board holiday.

Self Catering:
There are loads of options to keep it cheap when choosing self catering. It just depends how much work you want to do on holiday. Use local shops and market stalls to do your shopping, and eat fresh local produce, instead of trying to find familiar things from back home. Spain is a popular choice for self-catering holidays. Take a look at ten of the best here.

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4. Avoid Unnecessary Frills

When you’re in a shop, they put all those tempting treats by the till as you check-out. Airlines and package holiday companies do the same thing. Seat selection, speedy boarding, extra insurance, airport parking, and car rental being just a few. They are nice perks, but they aren’t really necessary – especially if you’re on a budget.

5. Take the Basics with You

A little bit of effort and planning can make a big difference in this department, especially if you are self-catering. Packing some essentials like tea, coffee, sugar, and washing or dishwasher tablets, can save you quite a bit of cash. Buying these things when you get there is often more expensive and then left behind.

Travelling with Kids suggest the best things to take on self catering holidays when travelling as a family.

6. Check the WiFi

If you’re the kind of person who can’t wait to post your holiday photos, keep an eye on WiFi costs and availability. Look for accommodation that offers free WiFi before, or make the most of free WiFi in the lobby areas of hotels. Some mobile networks now provide free roaming in a lot of countries. But don’t get caught out. If you really want internet access on your phone when you’re out and about, call your network provider to see what your best options are.

Three, Vodafone and EE allow you to have everything you are contracted to in certain locations, they also have £5 per day internet passes for other destinations.

7. You don’t need a new wardrobe

It’s always tempting to buy yourself a whole new holiday wardrobe. In reality, it’s no catwalk. We end up wearing our swimming costume and what’s comfortable most of the time. When it comes to packing for your kids, the same rules apply. Plus they simply won’t remember what clothes they wore on holiday, they’ll just remember the good times with you.

8. Skyscanner.net

This is the best tool for comparing flights and a must use if you are looking for a deal, rather than buying a package holiday. You can look at all the flight providers, from all the airports for any time of year in a quick and easy way. You could save money by including connecting flights rather than going direct- although these can be inconvenient when travelling with children, so you’ll want to weigh up whether it’s worth the hassle or not.

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9. Try to Save on Airport Spending

Airports are expensive, so plan to save where you can. You can bring your own water bottles- they need to be empty to get through security, but most airports have water machines/fountains that are free to use. There are no security rules against bringing packed lunches through. So pack as many snacks (that keep at room temperature) as you can e.g. bananas, apples, granola bars, hummus veggie wraps, hard boiled eggs, crisps and sweets.

10. Don’t get your Currency from the Airport

It may seem convenient to get your travel money from the airport, but you’ll get a much better exchange rate if you shop around for the best deal beforehand. The Post Office says that £21m is wasted annually on buying currency last minute at UK airports due to poor exchange rates and commission charges on lower value transactions. Some alternatives include:

A WeSwap card. It can be used for 18 different currencies. All you need to do is load the card from your bank account, and WeSwap does the rest. They get the
best rates because they simply swap your travel money with other travellers. Download the app here. Revolut offers a similar service, where you can spend fee free in 130 different currencies and track your real-time spending via it’s mobile app.

Torfx offer exchanges worth up to £2000 with fast transfers and no fees.

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TransferWise allows you to send money to accounts abroad with a real exchange rate and no hidden costs.

When you’re there:

1. Think like a ‘Local’

Sometimes it’s best to look at things through someone else’s eyes. Thinking and behaving like you’re are a local can save you money, for example:

  • Swap pricey airport transfers for public transport
  •  Find the local supermarket and shop for the essentials, e.g. bottles of water that will be much more expensive elsewhere
  •  Go to places of interest, rather than obvious tourist spots, to explore without paying tourist prices.

It’s a good idea to research this before you go. Travel blogs often give the best unbiased view. A few good ones for families include:

Mummydaddyandmemakesthree – Started by Katie when she was on maternity leave with her eldest daughter. Her family has grown from three to five, and her blog along with it. Katie gives great travel tips and little hacks for making it easier along the way. The blog is also filled with photos to inspire you when making your next next travel decision.

Mini Travellers – With the tagline ‘Travelling with kids can be fun…honestly’ and being a self confessed holiday addict, Karen (mum) brings a fresh honest take on travelling with kids. This blog is good if you are interested in family travel to a wide range of destinations.

Onetinyleap – Maria’s blog is unique. Her family took a year-long trip around the world, so they are seasoned travellers, and definitely a good family to take pointers from.

2. Take a Walk

Save on taxis and transport once you are there. Embrace a 20-30 minute walk and save your pennies for a round of ice-creams on the way. Install Google Maps and make them available offline to avoid the panic of getting lost. And if you’re really into family walks, most major cities offer walking tours for free. Check New Europe Tours for daily tours in eighteen cities around the world.

3. Walk that little bit further…

The shops that are closer to tourist accommodation are usually more expensive, so go that little bit further and bag yourself some bargains. Scope out your destination on Google Maps before you go, and look for nearby retail outlets that are a little further from your hotel.

4. All-in Travel Cards and Passes

These are more common than you might think. Membership cards and passes can entitle you to entry to multiple attractions for a one off payment. Some include public transport too, which can save even more money. They are destination based. You can find these by searching on Google, or tripadvisor offers good insider information. 501places has
also looked at the best ones out there, if you are looking for a particular recommendation.

5. Drink local

Try swapping bottled beer for draft beer and sample the local wines. It will save you quite a bit and you might find a new favourite in the process. Also try steer clear of the mini bar in your hotel room, the markup on those little bottles is often astronomical.

If you’re Staying at Home:

Staying close to home for your family holiday is becoming increasingly affordable and popular. It’s a great way to get away with less hassle and less expense. If you are planning a staycation here are some additional tips.

1. Beware of the Cost of Camping

Pitching a tent in a field for a few days can’t cost that much, right? Well, there are arguments for and against. Remember to include everything in your budget to have a clear picture of what you could end up spending. Include camping equipment, site charges, food, water, activities and travel costs, including the petrol it takes to get you there and back. A great tool to use is the Roadtrip Calculator provided by outdoorblueprint. It covers everything, so gives you a realistic total cost, and breaks it down per person for you. For extra inspiration take a look at:

2. Leaflets

If you are hitting the tourist spots, look out for the marketing leaflets at your accommodation. They usually include a voucher or discount code to take advantage of.

3. Take Advantage of Memberships you can use Anywhere

If you’re holidaying in the UK for example, a National Trust membership is a great cost saver. It can get you into some really interesting places and you can use it all year round – not just on your ‘holiday’. So before you get to your destination, research which National Trust sites are nearby and discover new places at no extra cost.

When you get home:

Don’t forget to look at what your holiday cost when you get home. See where most of your money went and how you might be able to better save for the next one.

Do you have any holiday money saving tips or tricks? We’d love to hear them in the comments below 🙂

If you are looking for more tips for when you are going away with your little one, check our blog post: Holiday hindsights: weaning and feeding your kids.

Find out more about Lifecake’s baby photo app to securely save these most precious memories.