Today’s Culture with Travel post is by Alana Downer
Traveling as a family can be a great way to spend meaningful time together as a whole group, exploring new places and seeing things you’ve always dreamed of. At the same time, getting the whole clan on a plane and into a hotel room can quickly become very expensive. This shouldn’t discourage you, there are ways a family can have a budget-friendly holiday.
Here’s how I organize budget-friendly family travel:
The first step to organizing any holiday is to pick your destination. For budget-friendly travels, it’s obviously important to consider the cheapest locations. This includes how much it will cost to get there, as well as accommodation and food prices. If you can pick somewhere that is cheap in general, your budget will be much happier.
One week last year, my whole family found themselves with a week off, and with a bit of luck, we found a very cheap last-minute flight. If you can be flexible with your destination and/or timing, you can make huge savings by capitalizing on last minute flights and accommodation deals. On the other hand, if you’re not in the position where your family can drop everything and hop on the next plane out of town, it’s best to research as early as possible.
Where do you want to go? What places are most realistic and are there other places that are similar but much cheaper?
An often-overlooked holiday destination is our own backyard. Planes and foreign locations can be exciting, but your own country can have its own hidden gems and save you a lot of cash. Alternatively, holidays in some areas of SouthEast Asia for example can be very cheap, but may not always be child friendly.
Planes, trains and cars
Once you have your destination, the next logical step is to consider how you and your family will be getting there. Now, if you have chosen somewhere domestic, this is where you must capitalize on your decision.
Trains are often the cheapest option and you may be able to find family passes with big discounts. If you’re really focused on saving as much as you can, having the foresight to pick a destination that you know a train can get you too can save you a lot. Alternatively, my family and I have had lots of great holidays by driving to our destination. It’s simple and cheap and you can even pack your own food.
If you’re going overseas, you will obviously need to book a flight. Again, if you can be flexible with your destination, you could look for last minute deals but this can be risky. If there’s no good last minute deals, you could be left paying a higher fare, unless you have the luxury of waiting for a good last minute deal to roll around.
Without such flexibility, your best option is to book as far in advance as you can. The day you fly, and even the time of your flight can save you some money if you play your cards right. The Middle of the week, in the middle of the day will usually be your cheapest option. Even so flights can be expensive, so my husband has taken to trading Forex during his down time as a way to create some extra holiday income. If you want to start trading, you can be taught by great coaches at places like Learn to Trade.
Hotels, apartments and hostels
As with flights, similar approaches can be used for accommodation. If you’re flexible with your times and destinations, you can find some great deals online.
With a whole family, it can be difficult to find a hotel room big enough for everyone. I have found the most success by choosing to stay in apartments. Check comparison websites like Booking.com but if you’re looking for enough space for you and the kids, it’s likely you will find the best value on Airbnb.
Food, restaurants and supermarkets
Airbnb comes in handy when it comes to food. While some hotels have small kitchenettes, most Airbnbs will have a full kitchen that’s available for you to use. While on holidays shop and eat like the locals.
Find a supermarket and buy a bunch of ingredients and cook your own meals. Even if you do this for just one or two meals a day, the savings can be huge. Granted, you’re on holidays and don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen. The easiest thing I do is buy a box of cereal and milk. Breakfast sorted at a very low cost.
Sights, activities and attractions
Because you’re on holidays it can be easy to fall into a trap of thinking you need to fork out large amounts of money to visit tourist attractions. For sure, visit the sites you and your family are really interested in, and look for good deals in tourist brochures.
There’s sure to be a lot you can do for free or cheap. Instead of getting a taxi everywhere, or taking a guided tour, hire some pushbikes and get around by your own power. Days out at the beach or a park with a picnic can make for a good vacation day, at a very budget-friendly cost.
Holidaying on a tight budget might seem impossible but this isn’t the case. If you’re prepared to do the research and come up with some creative solutions, you and your family can enjoy a budget-friendly holiday without sacrificing much at all.
Alana Downer works at Businesscheck.co.nz and she is an experienced blogger whose main interest lie in finances and new technologies. She might often be found online, sharing her insights into technology trends which shape the way both businesses and individuals function.