Budget holidays on your own is much easier than with kids. It’s like when you were young you would go to the wild camping trips with friends where there were no toilets and water facilities but now with kids you prefer the camping sites. You are still camping and living the great outdoors but it feels a bit more ‘civilised’. When budgeting with kids you need to weigh what is at stake! Here are a few tips to ponder on:
- The early flight
You might be on a budget and you might be just longing for that short break you drastically need but the flight you are seeing takes off at 4am. What does that entail? It means waking up at around 1.30 to get all the family prepared and out by 2am to get to the airport by 2.30 (depending how far away you are from the airport). That is only if you don’t have suitcases to check in because if you have a suitcase you need to be there earlier.
On the other hand the late flight is just as bad; arriving at your destination at midnight and then you have another 1 hour to settle in to your accommodation and I’m leaving out any other time needed if you are hiring a car or need to meet the owner of your accommodation. Choose the most decent flight, it might come a bit more expensive but in the long run you need a holiday not a quick fix.
- The cheapest transfers
Again what are we looking at here? Time versus money. The public transport is definitely cheaper than a taxi but how long will it take and how much time do you have. Check out my article Transfer Mistake to get to know the real story behind this decision. If the difference between bus ticket and taxi is like 10 or 15 euro than honestly all you want to do with your kids after travelling for 4 hours or so, is get to your accommodation. Kids get frustrated when they don’t know where they are going and how long it will take to get there. On the other hand if the difference between the bus fair and the taxi is like 100 euro then obviously think ahead and advise the kids while preparing their back pack with activities to do on the bus.
- Book online or not?
There are things that are cheaper when you book online instead of on the spot. Normally I would buy tickets on the spot as I wouldn’t know if my plans are going to change or not and with kids many things change. Yet, if you can buy tickets to open dates of entrances to parks, tours, museums etc you not only get them slightly cheaper but you don’t waste time in queues to buy the tickets. Day tickets for transports are found online and are a very good idea to buy for city holidays. So, when you can book online it’s worth it.
- Do your research
On point number 2 we mentioned transfers, we once had a problem with booking a taxi at midnight from the airport; we booked online before we travelled with a taxi company and it cost us some €45 to travel from airport to hotel (15min drive). It was way too expensive as when we asked the receptionist she said it would have costed half that price if we booked through her! So, before doing any bookings do your research, check with everyone you can, send emails, ask friends, and check with us! If there is something the locals know than that’s the best resource.
- Ask for menus
We were in Venice when we realised that hunger hides all logical thought; we had seen a tourist menu outside a restaurant and we decided it was better we eat, anything would do when kids are a mess! So, we sat down and just ordered the tourist menu which was very cheap. Then the waiter asked us what drinks we would like and here was the catch; one pint of beer was as much as the whole meal! So, lesson learnt even if the tourist menu is cheap it doesn’t mean the restaurant is cheap…ask for the menu to compare everything! If on a budget anywhere, look for a market or local grocery store and buy fruit, bread and snacks for those meltdown moments, we all get them! You can even do your favourite meal in your accommodation that’s the cheapest option when it comes to food… only possible if you are in a self-catering, check out what we think about hotels vrs self-catering.
- Do stay longer
Staying longer may sometimes turn out cheaper. Sure you might have only 7 days off work but the flight on the next day might be way cheaper and staying one extra night at your accommodation might even be free! Some places give you the option of stay 7 pay 6 nights or stay 8 pay 7nights. Flight companies know when school holidays start and finish – you can see it when you book your flights, the drop of prices is incredible. So, would it be such a problem if your kids get back to school a day later or start their holidays a day before the others? We always believe that being in a new and different country is education in itself anyway!
- The more the merrier
Travelling us 4 is fun but when in a group of 10 or 15 it’s cheaper! The bigger the group the more discounts you get. Yes, it means travelling with others…that’s ok right? Everybody likes traveling with others right? I travelled with family and it was a nightmare! So, if you do travel with friends and family make sure you know them well enough because it might be cheaper but it might even spoil a holiday altogether and that is definitely not worth any budget! Tour operators get great rates for groups but they don’t mind who they are and if the feeling between them is peaceful or not. Still, if you have a group of friends that click well enough, treasure it and go for it, as in the end I believe in the saying “the more the merrier”.
- Search for it!
Google it! Kids travel for free, Kids stay for free…you will be surprised how many hotels, tours, trains and restaurants put up this feature. Yes, you need to pay for your kids flight but many hotels, even all-inclusive resorts give kids free lodging and food if under 12 years. Your global price might end up cheaper than a family room elsewhere…but do check things out!
Budget holidays with kids is possible but some planning is needed. Venice 2017 was one of my successful budget mini holidays check it out on my blog. Still, planning can be stressful on us parents but that’s why we are a community here and we help each other get the best out of our holidays. Get in touch or leave a comment so we can help you out further.