This is a guest post written by Lynne who documents her family travels on Around the World in 18 Years. As a mum, travel agent and bargain hunter, Lynne is in a pretty good position to share her top 5 budget family travel hacks! Please do check out her blog for loads of other informative family travel posts and drop her a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! I’m just starting out my family travel journey as William was only a few months old when I started writing my blog, so I’ve found Lynne’s posts and advice extremely helpful.
Budget Travel Hack #1 – Book Early
Booking Early is so important. When you have children you are past the Last minute-allocation on Arrival type of bargain holiday. Many holiday makers know exactly where they want to go, by booking early you can get the pick of the hotel, the room etc. before the rest of the country does! For us, booking early is extremely important when it comes to booking your flights for DIY holidays. We generally find that you get the best flight price when flights are first released, especially for the budget airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair. We have been known to sit up until the early hours of the morning to be ready for flights being released, this is especially important when booking a popular destination and when flying during school holidays.
In 2016 we decided to spend Christmas in Lapland, so we spent weeks stalking Skyscanner and Norwegian Air for the release of flights. We’re fairly sure that we were one of the first to book Dublin to Helsinki with Norwegian Air in the early hours of that morning; albeit the return flight hadn’t been released…not for the fainthearted!
Budget Travel Hack #2 – Book Late
Okay, so this part is a little contradictory to point 1, but…sometime it pays to wait. If you’re not afraid to wait until the last minute, and be allocated your hotel upon arrival, then booking with just a few days to depart can have its advantages. There are lots of companies who offer last minute deals and you can pick up a real bargain, often costing less than a third for the same holiday as someone who booked months in advance. Be careful though…do your research first to ensure the 1p all-inclusive holiday isn’t a scam…and if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Budget Travel Hack #3 – School Holidays
We all have different views and opinions when it comes to taking children out of school during term time for a holiday, but by doing so, you can literally save hundreds, and quite often, thousands of pounds. We are of the opinion that when we travel our girls learn so much more than those 2/3 days that they missed in the classroom, heck, it’s end of term and it’s not as if they are doing much in the way of school work. Children can learn vital life skills on holidays, language, culture, geography etc. In all honesty, we could drop our 9 year old daughter at Oxford Circus and she could easily make it on her own to Notting Hill!
Over the years we have met so many people who have become friends, so our girls experience different languages and cultures; never mind being able to have free accommodation when they Interail around Europe in years to come.
So YES, we totally agree with taking them out of school early every now and then. If greedy travel agents didn’t hike up the prices during the school holidays, parents wouldn’t have to take their children out of school before term ends, and yes, we are aware of the term ‘supply and demand’. There are also other ways of saving money regarding school holidays, check out when other parts of the country have their school holidays. We live in Northern Ireland where children finish school at the end of June, so for us, we find flying via England, before the English schools break up, gives us decent savings. Option…don’t have your main holiday during the peak summer holidays; instead think about making the most of Halloween, Easter and May holidays.
Budget Travel Hack #4 – Pet Sitting
As pet lovers, we would love nothing more than to bring our fur-baby away with us on our holidays, but due to the distances, it is generally not possible. Luckily for us, Nana and Granda come to the rescue, babysitters and petsitters, what more could we ask for (they also do school taxi runs and gardening services). Some smart people came up with the perfect answer to pets and holidays, why not let people stay in your home, for free, while you go on holidays…brilliant idea and so Trusted House Sitters was born. Now, I have not managed to convince the powers to be (Daddy) to actually go ahead with a pet sitter, but when I find that perfect property in the Rocky Mountains or the Australian outback, I am sure there won’t be much convincing to do!
The company obviously does some form of background check on sitters and always remember, you will be looking after fellow travellers most beloved fur babies, so there will no heading out exploring for 12 hours a day. On the opposite side of the coin; use a free pet-sitter and you’re saving big money on kennels or catteries.
Budget Travel Hack #5 – Go Off the Beaten Track
Explore! Don’t go where everyone else in the country is going to. There is an abundance of beautiful countries, cities and resorts that are just waiting to be explored; and more often than not, with a much cheaper price tag. We love to explore hidden gems and now purposely don’t travel to the normal run of the mill destinations. This Easter we enjoyed our first ever family ski holiday; to a destination practically unknown to Brits, and we didn’t pay anywhere near as much as a package ski holiday. We found cheap flights to Milan, and booked direct accommodation in Alpe Cermis, a mere 5 minutes drive from the mountain.
After pricing the holiday with a well known ski tour operator, we booked everything DIY and saved just over £1100…and that’s why we prefer DIY to Package. We were the only British-Irish family to have stayed in the Resort the whole season!
A big thanks to Lynne from Around the World in 18 Years for writing up these 5 amazing budget family travel tips. I love the idea of heading off the beaten track – getting to experience something that most people don’t and saving money at the same time! What do you think?