How To Save Money When Booking Your Family Holiday

Collaborative post. There is something special about getting away on holiday with your family. A break away from home means a break from the normal: no feeling that you should be sorting out that leaky tap or taking those old clothes to the charity shop. You get to pause normal life and enjoy a fresh atmosphere which encourages you to relax. On the downside family holidays can be expensive, especially when children reach school age as accommodation and flights are more expensive in school holidays. So how can you save money when booking your family holiday? The secret is in careful planning, being flexible and avoiding unnecessary costs.  

children at an airport looking out at a budget airline plane
There is more to saving money on booking your family holiday than budget airlines

How To Get A Cheaper Family Holiday

Plan Ahead

Generally you can get the best offers on holidays by booking early or late. If you are travelling alone you might be able to get a brilliant last minute deal, but when you are booking a holiday for your family and need larger accommodation a good last minute deal is harder to find so it's worth booking well in advance of when you want to go away. 

When shopping around and looking at prices it can be worth using a VPN. Have you ever looked at flights one day and then gone back to book the next day and discovered a sharp price hike? It’s not uncommon, and while it could be caused by a sudden rush of bookings, it can also be that the airline has intentionally raised the price based on your browsing history. Using a VPN will hide your IP Address, providing security, and if you clear your cache and cookies too it makes it harder for them to track repeat visits and inflate prices. A VPN also allows you to hide your location which can mean you get a better price booking a holiday, get more info here.

Of course booking early means there is more time for circumstances to change before you head off so make sure you book travel insurance at the same time. You might not be going away for a year or so, but buying the insurance now for the dates you travel means you are covered if anything happens between now and then.

Be Flexible With Days And Destinations

If you need to go away in school holidays it limits how flexible you can be with dates, but there are usually some days that are cheaper to travel than others. Flights on Fridays tend to be more expensive than Sundays for instance and if your school breaks up slightly earlier than other schools (due to an inset day or midday finish) then that can save you a lot on flights by flying then.

If you aren’t booking a package holiday be weary of buying one part of your holiday before the other. It's obvious, but the cost of the holiday is a combination of travel, accommodation and spend when you are out there so make sure you look at the whole cost before booking. There is no point getting bargain flights if accommodation and transfers are going to be a lot more expensive. 

Trendy destinations will normally be more expensive, but they aren’t always better than lesser known places. Be open to new places and do your research, you might be surprised what you discover.  If flying have a look at the cost from different airports too. If you are prepared to travel a little further you might find a good saving.

Consider Budget Friendly Accommodation

We might all love to stay in a 5 star hotel or condo on the beach, but is that always the best place to stay with children? Often more budget options work really well for families. Check out family friendly hostels, caravans or camping. Another option that might work for you is Home Exchanges, for a small annual fee you can arrange to temporarily swap homes with a families all over the world. This can provide the conveniences of a family home in a wide range of locations without paying for accommodation, and you have the bonus of knowing your house won’t be empty while you are away. 

Are Budget Travel Options Available?

When we think of a memorable family holiday we often thinking of jetting off on a plane, but there are lots of other ways to travel. For a start there are many places in the UK that are well worth visiting, which means you can travel in your own car, train or even coach with some brilliant low cost options. If travelling by rail look at a Family & Friend Railcard which can give you 1/3 off adult tickets and 60% off children’s train tickets for a whole year. 

Travelling by rail or car isn’t just limited to the UK, you can easily travel to, and around Europe without flying. Eurotunnel or car ferries can allow you to take your car across the Channel along with everything you need including your family tent. As a bonus there is no trying to stuff everything into one suitcase. European campsites often have brilliant facilities including pools making them a great option for a relaxed family holiday.  

If you want to go further afield have a good look at different airlines and make sure you factor in the time of the flights and the airport transfers. Budget airlines often fly to airports well outside cities which can mean you have to spend more time and money getting to your final location, but they can work really well if you plan to get a hire car and head to more rural locations. Make sure to check out the promotions from great hire car companies like Auto Europe to get the best prices.

The cheapest flights are often at unsociable times, which can be hard work with children and can make travel harder. If you are relying on public transport to get to or from the airport you need to make sure trains will actually be running when you need them. Premium airlines might provide free food, drink and more luggage allowance so it’s worth checking these out.

Pack Wisely

If you are flying one of the big avoidable costs is luggage. The lighter and more compact you can pack the more you can save, but you need to be confident about how much you will need, because buying your bag space at the same time as your flights is normally cheaper than adding more later. 

While children’s clothes might not take up much space, especially if you are heading somewhere sunny, all the extras you might be tempted to bring soon fill those suitcases. You need to do some careful advanced planning about what you really need. Check out what is available to hire from your accommodation and think about if there are items you might want to buy out there rather than take: nappies for example. If the prepaid cost on an extra suitcase isn’t very high it can be cheaper and less stress to bring everything you might think you need. You want to avoid the mistake some people make thinking they’ll pack light to save money and then actually spending more while on holiday. 

Plan To Save Money When You Are on Holiday

No one wants to spend their entire holiday budgeting, but the relaxed feeling can often mean holiday spending gets out of control. You can save money by shopping around and prebooking tickets for attractions, again a VPN might help you save money here as you can use local websites. 

Be wary of booking expensive meal plans as they don't aways work out good value.  When we go away on self catering holidays we normally buy some boxes of cereal and milk to have for breakfast. We tend to make packed lunches for days out too. This means it’s only dinner that we really eat out. For us the convenience of having our own food and flexibility on where and when we eat works well. If you prefer to have a sit down meal every time then prebuying a meal plan will mean you can eat what you want with in a fixed cost. 

The other big expense when on a family holiday is all those souvenirs children want to buy. We agree in advance with our children what their budget will be and normally encourage them to buy things at the end of the holiday. This helps them really consider what they want without us having to say "no".

For most of us family holidays require careful planning and saving. Even with all the different ways to save money it is a big expense, but absolutely worth it for the memories you will make. Spend time doing your research to find the most affordable options for you. Booking early can help you find great deals and will help you spread the cost of the holiday. 

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