Travel, even as a couple can be an expensive hobby – yet when travelling as a family, expenses can double (if not quadruple) and whilst you might be happy to go for a nice walk, watch the sunset and curl up with a good book… kids are less easily satisfied, and require a lot more activity within their holiday, which, of course, means even more money.
This article uncovers five fundamental tips on how to save money on your next family holiday so that you can squeeze the most out of your trip. It’s not so much a budget travel guide but more a way to get the best trip for the budget you have available… whether that’s a few hundred pound or a few thousand.
- PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP
There are many things you’ll need to consider before taking a trip with your family; such as travel insurance and making sure that you have any medication you require – as it’s not always available abroad (particularly if you require a subscription). One of the cheapest ways to obtain pharmaceutical products, particularly in terms of items such as malaria tablets that always require a private (rather than a reduced cost NHS prescription) is to use an online pharmacy that can deliver products to your door, often with next day delivery.
There are, of course, home maintenance issues to consider if you’re going to be going away for a while but the major preparation is with regard to ensuring decent travel insurance and vaccinations against specific diseases depending on which country you’re going to. Be mindful that some of these treatments require several weeks if not months before travelling to be effective.
The other aspect to consider is packing light as whilst you may be able to find cheap flights, particularly with airlines such as Ryanair, the cost of baggage might be more expensive than the flight itself.
In short, you can save a substantial amount of money that can be better spent having fun with just a little bit of preparation and not leaving things to the last minute.
- FIND CHEAP HOTELS
There are many comparison sites like travelsupermarket.com that compare hotel listings from multiple providers, in a similar way to how car insurance price comparison sites find quotes on different insurance policies. The best thing about these sites is that they search through hundreds of properties on multiple websites. As an example, let’s say the ABC Hotel is $89 on Expedia but only $64 on Hotels.com – it will show you the price difference, meaning you can quickly and easily get the same hotel at the lowest possible price.
- FIND CHEAP CAR HIRE
Similar to the above, there are a number of car hire comparison websites that will search for the best deal on car hire… and many offer the additional benefit of free cancellation which can be very helpful in the event of a change of plans.
The one thing to consider here is that many car hire companies won’t accept debit cards – they require credit cards to secure the deposit, and often times, particularly with the cheaper car hire companies, such as Goldcar in Italy and Spain the deposit will be upward of £1,000. If you don’t have the funds available then the car hire company will most likely decline the hire but you will still have to pay for the car.
For this reason, it can sometimes be a safer bet to go with a company like Avis, who tend to require just a £200 deposit and have a more reliable reputation in terms of customer service than some of their cheaper competitors. They also tend to provide cars that are less than six months old, which is something many families consider to be important given the safety and reliability aspect.
- FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS
If you’re looking to travel internationally, then flights can take a large chunk of money from your travel fund. However, if you can be flexible with your flight dates then searching for cheap flights via comparison engines such as skyscanner or momondo that compare hundreds of flights by almost every airline in the world to present you with the cheapest deals for the dates and destinations you are looking for can save you a heap of cash.
SkyScanner allows for more flexibility, for example, you can search for the whole month rather than on a specific date, and you can search for broad destinations such as “France” rather than “Paris”… whilst the big benefit of Momondo is that they pull up results from every area of the world. To better explain this, consider the fact that a ticket on a UK airline from London to New York might be £350 with a UK IP address but could be just $285 from a US IP address.
The other thing to consider, on the topic of IP address, is to refresh your cookies, as sometimes flight prices will go up if a website knows you keep coming back to a particular flight – so refresh your cookies or consider browsing in an incognito window. This is a rare practice nowadays, given its questionable ethics, but it has been known to happen.
Another factor to consider when searching for cheap flights is being flexible with your departure and arrival airports; as an example for people visiting the UK from abroad, many will be searching for flights to London, but it can often be cheaper to fly to Manchester and then hop on an advance train down to London. The same applies if you are travelling abroad; consider flying into a cheaper hub then getting a low cost domestic flight to your final destination. This can be much cheaper.
In summary, the more flexible you can be in terms of time and location, the cheaper the flights you will be able to find. The challenge, when travelling with a family is that prices tend to hike up in the school holidays… which is where having a little flexibility, even if it’s just a day or two, can make a significant difference if you’re on a budget.
- LEVERAGE TRAVEL TRENDS
The weakness of the pound is making travel considerably more expensive than a few years ago, but there are still some fantastic deals to be had… it’s important to keep up to date with travel and financial trends. As an example, many people consider Thailand and Laos to be “cheap destinations” and whilst in many ways they are, at the moment the Laos currency is particularly strong meaning what was once a very cheap destination has now become quite cheap… and whilst this might not be significant enough to seriously affect your wallet, it’s important to manage expectations.
Indeed, many budget travellers found that Turkey was a lot cheaper than travelling around Thailand, Malaysia and even India!
To offer an example, Turkey has unfortunately received a lot of bad press in recent years, with terrorist attacks, political instability and social unrest bombarding the headlines.
The truth however is that whilst there are pockets of unrest, Turkey remains a fantastic place to go on holiday. It’s a place where locals tend to get along with each other very well and there is a sense of genuine hospitality that instantly makes you feel welcomed into the local culture – when you step outside of the main tourist resorts.
Whilst there are the occasional demonstrations, on the whole places such as Istanbul and coastal resorts are incredibly safe due to the increased police presence and security measures that are now in place.
Turkey has seen a rapid decline in tourism which means there is low demand and a huge surplus of supply – resulting in hotels practically giving away rooms at rock bottom prices. The majority of the country is an incredibly safe, calm and peaceful place and Turkish people are some of the most sincerely hospitable people around.
Istanbul is the clear capital of tourism and is famous for being one of the most culturally rich places for city break within a few hours flight from the UK. Then, there are the mystical lands filled with natural “fairy chimneys” in the Cappadocia region – or hidden away seaside coves such as Olympos, just a couple of hours from Antalya.
In reality, the package holiday tourist resorts leave much to be desired, and it is best to explore the real Turkey – particularly as a family – due to the authentic level of hospitality… but, if you are interested in more of a traditional tourist resort, the greatest thing about Turkey, at the moment, is that due to the lull in tourism, you’ll be able to reap huge cost savings, particularly on hotels, as Turkey’s tourism infrastructure has always catered for package holidays – meaning there’s a huge supply of hotels with depleted demand. There are currently 4* self catering apartments in places such as Marmaris for just £5 per night. The best place to find these deals are TravelSupermarket and Teletext Holidays.
In summary, Turkey is just one example of places where travel trends can work in your favour. It’s important to ensure you’re taking your family somewhere safe, and a great source of information for safety advice can be found here.
In summary, preparing things such as vaccinations and prescription medications in advance plus searching around with as much flexibility as possible are the two core aspects of travelling cheaply – the other aspect to consider, depending on your personal preference is to consider stepping away from the beaten track and heading to cheaper destinations where our struggling sterling will go much further.