Becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean your travel days are over. With some careful planning you can take the financial worry out of family travel so that once you are on holiday you can focus on fun.
As well as making sure you get the best deal from flight and hotel booking websites and avoid being ripped off by car hire companies – make the right choices when it comes to travel money, travel insurance, and using your debit or credit card overseas.
Consider utilising credit cards that offer frequent flyer points. Putting your monthly spend on a credit card can quickly rack up valuable flight miles.
When it comes to booking air or rail travel it is generally best to plan ahead. Book tickets as far ahead as possible to secure the best prices, especially if you are limited to peak school holiday times. Sign up for email alerts from scheduled airlines and comparison sites so you find out about their periodic sales.
Fly during the week to get the cheapest prices and use a flight comparison website to check out all the airlines going to your destination. Remember you don’t have to come back on the airline you go out with.
Think carefully about how much baggage you really need to take. As well as impacting on your holiday enjoyment, carrying too much luggage equals extra cost on some airlines. Children paying full fare tickets have the same baggage allowance as adults but you may need just one check-in bag between you, or none at all. It’s also useful to find out if your accommodation provides baby cots or high chairs.
As children grow it becomes more expensive to travel so don’t put off travelling until the kids are older. Take advantage of the easy ways to save money when traveling with babies, toddlers and young children. For a start you may be able to travel at off-peak times outside the school holidays and often hotels allow children to stay without any extra cost. The entrance fees to attractions such as amusement parks, zoos and museums are often free for young children.
Look out for discounts
Once you have settled in your destination think carefully about accommodation. Self-catering apartments can save money and take the pressure off tired kids. You can shop locally and organise your own breakfasts and other meals. Many hostels offer private family rooms with en-suite bathrooms these days. Again, you can prepare your own food in the hostel kitchen.
When looking for accommodation booking, websites will often show discounted rates but it is also worth approaching the accommodation directly to ask for a discount or special deal. Some may offer seven nights for the price of five, or a room upgrade just because you ask.
Travel money and spending
When travelling overseas never, ever change your money at the airport. Ignore “commission free” advertising as inevitably the exchange rate offered will be terrible. Banks usually offer the best rates and you can often pre-order travel money for pickup or delivery.
In many travel situations it is advisable not to carry too much cash, which is when a travel money card comes in handy. This is a secure, convenient way to carry multiple currencies while incurring lower fees than credit and debit cards. Every time you put your debit card in a cash machine overseas you will be charged a hefty percentage. This is because usually you’re charged an ATM fee, as well as a foreign currency conversion fee. Beware of shop assistants asking if you want to convert the price into your home currency, as this will incur further charges.
Best deals on insurance
If you are going overseas don’t skip the travel insurance. There are a number of travel insurance comparison sites but don’t always go for the lowest offer. You can also earn frequent flyer points on your credit card and receive complimentary travel insurance if you book your holiday with that card, so it’s a double-win. Read the fine print and if you are planning to travel more than once in the year, consider whether an annual multi-trip for your family will be cheaper.
Being smart with your travel planning and budget is the key to making travel with kids affordable and fun. Yes – travelling with children has its challenges, not least the financial one. But the satisfaction of introducing your kids to a wider and more confident perspective on the world is worth it.