I believe in the value of family holidays. In fact, my husband and I have made it a priority to have at least one family holiday a year. However, cost can be a big sticking point for us, and I’m sure for many other families. So today, I’m so glad to welcome fellow Aussie Bloggers Conference attendee, Kylie Ofiu to the blog today. Kylie is savvy, smart and knows how to make every cent count. Sh’e s sharing her tips on how to save money on your next family holiday.
Guest Post by Kylie Ofiu
How to Save Money on Family Holidays
Many families put off having a holiday because it is viewed as being too expensive. As I grew up, my parents took my siblings and I away every Easter, Christmas and sometimes for a week during the year. Our holidays were not expensive but we have great memories of them. Easter was always camping at Port Arthur, Tasmania with another family. Christmas was the same, but for a whole week in a different location. As we got a bit older, the father from the other family secured a regular location (a private school campground with cabins) for us and they still go to every year.
When looking at planning your holiday there are a few key areas you need to arrange that will generally determine your budget:
Location – Where do you want to go?
Time – When do you want to go?
Travel – How will you get there i.e. fly, drive, train?
Accommodation – Where will you stay?
Entertainment – What you will do whilst you are there?
When I was a child, our family holidays were generally within the state because I grew up in Tasmania, and it was expensive to travel off the island, especially with a family of 7. Our parents picked a location with another family that was not too far from us, and had a beach and fun things for the kids to do.
When choosing your location, look at what is available in your state. If you want to go further, the time you go can have a huge impact on the affordability of your holiday. Even tropical locations, like Hawaii or Fiji, can be reasonable if booked at the right time.
If you can travel during the off peak season of your desired location you can pay up to 75% less than travelling in peak periods. A particularly cheap time to travel is often the month after the summer break. Most people have to be back at work or school so not many people are travelling. If you can arrange with school teachers to have the necessary work or if your children are young enough that it will not affect school too much, a family holiday just after school has gone back can be wonderful.
Our family travelled to Queensland both during peak and non peak periods. Peak times meant 2 hour waits for the cool rides at theme parks, everything was packed and it was hard to get around in general no matter where we went. We still loved it but going off peak was so much better. As kids we were excited to get time off school, we only had to line up for a maximum of 10 minutes, often not at all and it was much cheaper for my parents.
Where and when you decide to travel can affect how you get there. If you are travelling within your own state the most economic way usually, is driving your own car. If you are travelling further it might work out cheaper to fly and hire a car, depending on how many family members you have and how cheap you can get tickets.
It’s a good idea to sign up to the various airline company sites (or webjet) and they will email you with sales and specials they are having which can help reduce the cost of travelling. Sometimes there are fly and drive specials; other times there are complete packages including accommodation and some sightseeing.
Depending on where you want to go, where you are travelling from and what you want to do once you get there, other travel options also include catching a bus or train. It does take longer, but can be quite economical if it works with your schedule and destination.
Accommodation for a family can often be expensive, especially if you have more than 2 children. Not everywhere caters for families that are larger than ‘average’. There are a few ways you can cut costs when looking for accommodation.
1. Stay with friends or family. Whilst at first you may think “I can’t do that” “No one would have the room” “Where would we sleep” etc…I can tell you, growing up, we often had other families stay with us or we stayed with others. We even had one family stay that has 9 children! We simply put up our camp stretchers or blow up mattresses, they bought sleeping bags and we just bunked in the same rooms. We loved it.
2. Camping. Whilst it does cost a bit initially to set your family up with camping equipment, if you plan on regular holidays, or even mini breaks, it can save you a lot. You don’t need all the fancy equipment you can buy these days. Much of what you would use you can take from home and you really only need buy a tent, camp beds and sleeping bags, which can all be bought cheaply online or at garage sales. Then you only need to pay for the camping ground, although there are many places to camp for free.
3. Caravan Parks. Even if you don’t want to camp in a tent you could look at caravan parks since most of them have cabins, with either just beds or completely self contained with a bathroom and kitchenette. You may be surprised at how nice some of them are.
4. Back packers. If you have a large family it can be cheaper to stay at back packers motel. Some of them have dorm style suites which you can book for the week with your own bathroom and kitchen. Do your research though as some of them are known party spots.
5. Rent a house for the week. Look at places like Rent a Home and see what is available where you want to go. Sometimes you can get a whole house for cheaper than a hotel room.
6. Hotels/motels. These are often the most expensive way to go but many people prefer them. There are a few sites such as wotif where you can check for cheap accommodation. When you find one you like, you can call the hotel directly and you may be able to get it even cheaper. I know of a few people this has worked for and they have saved hundreds.
Entertainment greatly depends on where you want to go and what is available. If you Google “free entertainment” in your chosen location, you may be surprised at what fun things you can do. Here are some examples: visit a museum, go to the beach, go bushwalking, shop at markets, find art exhibitions or festivals.
You could look into getting an entertainment book if you wanted to do specific attractions. The entertainment book has significant discounts for attractions, accommodation, food and more. Alternatively, look on sites such as eBay or GumTree and you can sometimes pick up gift cards or discount cards for attractions and accommodation where ever you are travelling for much less than their recommended retail price.
Focussing on how you can reduce costs in these key areas can make a family holiday much more affordable.
Do you have any money saving family holiday tips to share?
Kylie Ofiu is author of 365 Ways To Make Money. Her blog www.kylieofiu.com is all about ways to make and save money as well as what she is doing.