Let’s face it, kids aren’t cheap – particularly when it comes to travel. As soon as you start multiplying airline fares and hotel rates by three or four, your budget can quickly spiral out of control. So, how do you travel more for less with the tribe in tow?
1. Do your mousework
A good start is to trawl the internet for bargains. With a budget of just £750 for a family of four, I found a week’s self-catering in Mallorca, including flights and car hire, or 12 nights in a holiday home at St Valery in France, including Channel ferry crossings. There are also online booking deals to be had ranging from free child places to extra days, and it’s cheaper to book flights direct on an airline’s website than through a travel agent. While you’re online, you can get some family travel insurance bargains, too.
2. Avoid high season
With pre-school children you can dodge the high-season premiums and take them on holiday whenever you choose. But even when you’re confined to school holidays, it is still worth being selective about when you travel. For example, the last week in August is usually cheaper than the first and you may also find that mid-week flights offer better value than weekend ones.
3. Do it yourself
For flexibility, you can’t beat the self-drive, self-catering option. Simply throw some camping and cooking gear into your car and mainland Europe is yours for a fraction of the cost of a package deal. Or you could rent a villa or farmhouse – and if you share the cost of a bigger property with another family it can work out even cheaper.
4. Find cheaper countries
Choose countries where the pound is strong and the cost of living is low. Turkey and Tunisia, for example, are cheaper than destinations such as Greece and Spain. For long haul, consider Brazil and Mexico, which have lots to offer families, and if you’re set on a safari, opt for Namibia or South Africa where ‘do it yourself’ options are easier and cheaper than all-inclusive deals in Botswana and Zambia. The USA is another good bargain bet, particularly the east coast.
5. Look after the pennies...
It’s the little expenses on holiday that often make a difference. You can save pounds by buying a bottle of squash and mixing that up rather than buying cans of drink throughout the day. It’s also cheaper to book a family room instead of two separate ones, hire a car instead of doing organised tours and make your own picnics rather than eat out.