Traveling is expensive for anyone, but when you have kids tagging along it can quickly double or triple. You’ll need to book more flights, rent more rooms and backpacking on a shoestring no longer applies.
Luckily, there are a lot of ways you can save money when planning a trip away with the family. Here are 10 tips that are sure to save you money on your next family getaway.
- Make Use of Family Passes: No matter where you go, there is bound to be a point in your trip where you have to choose between purchasing individual tickets or buying a family pass. It’s worth doing the math, but it is almost always cheaper to take the family pass route. From theme parks to concerts and even group tours, this applies to all sorts of attractions and activities, Also, do your research before purchasing expensive tickets. Sometimes the family pass isn’t advertised everywhere you look. You may even find that a different promotional offer that isn’t just for families works out to be even cheaper. Make sure to do the math!
- Avoid Major Tourist Traps: Every destination has its typical tourist activities. Whether it’s going to a cultural show in New Zealand or visiting Disneyland in California. It seems crazy to avoid these “must-do” activities, especially when every blogger out there highly recommends them! The truth is, you can experience a new destination a lot better by avoiding these activities. Try to immerse yourself into new cultures naturally without visiting shows that are put on for commercial purposes. On top of getting to know a destination more like a local, you’ll walk away with your wallet a bit heavier.
- Find the Cheapest Flights: One of the biggest expenses of any trip is purchasing flights. This is even more true for families than solo travelers as you need to purchase extra tickets for your children. Plus you definitely need to bring checked luggage—you need to keep the toys somewhere and without them, you’ll have nothing to keep the kids entertained! There’s a number of ways to save money on flights, here are a few: Use the best search engines. My favorite is Skyscanner because it researches the cheapest days to fly, uses loyalty schemes and points-based credit cards, and makes the most of budget airlines
- Spend on Experiences, Not on Gifts & Souvenirs: It’s far too easy to purchase souvenirs everywhere you go. Before you do, stop and ask yourself, “Do I really need this plastic keyring?” If you already have a keyring, the answer is probably no. If you’re on a budget, it pays to spend it wisely. I always recommend spending your money on creating memories yourself and your kids will remember and cherish for the rest of your lives.
- Rent an Apartment Instead of Hotel Rooms: Hotel rooms are expensive so look for cheaper alternatives. A lot of people don’t realize that hostels often have private rooms and sometimes suites. I’ve stayed in a lot of very nice hostels (sometimes called “poshtels”). if you avoid the bottom of the barrel ones, then you can often find nice, family-friendly accommodation at a budget. Another great alternative is booking a small apartment or house for your family. Travel apps like AirBnb are perfect for this.
- Consider Visiting Budget Destinations: Heading to Hawaii is always a treat, but there are equally beautiful places in cheaper regions around the world. In Southeast Asia, for example, accommodation can be found for a fraction of the price of a hotel room in a first-world country. Everything else tends to be cheaper as well, including eating out and booking tours.
- Eat Out Less: Eating out can burn through your budget, especially when you have little ones to bring along. If you’re at a destination where dining out is expensive, consider paying a visit to a grocery store (or even a local market). You can pick up some local ingredients and cook up something delicious for a lot less than it would cost to go to a restaurant.
- Book Well in Advance: When planning a holiday, it’s very rare for things to get cheaper the longer you wait. If you’ve made a decision to go, get planning and book as soon as possible. This is especially true when booking flights and accommodation. Waiting until a week out from the school holidays is going to make your trip significantly pricier. Try to book a year ahead.
- Consider Alternative Transport Options: Make a spreadsheet and compare the prices, pros, and cons of every transport option. Perhaps taking the train instead of flying will save you 50 percent of the price of your flights. Maybe it’s cheaper to rent a car at the airport than taking taxis everywhere you want to go. There is never one right way to book transport, and it’s usually best to mix-and-match to find the cheapest option. Do bear in mind, that there is more to this decision than just price. A 14-hour bus ride might be significantly cheaper than flying, but keeping your kids still for 14 hours may be well and truly impossible.
- Travel With Another Family: A great way to reduce travel expenses is to share them with other people (and no, your kids don’t count, unless they’re paying)! Find some friends or another family to tag along with you on your trip. You won’t be able to split the cost of airfares, but things like car rentals and accommodation can be shared to save money. On top of the cost-saving, you’ll have other adults there to give you the occasional break if there’s somewhere you really want to visit that your kids wouldn’t be interested in.