Monday 13 August 2018

Top tips for family holidays on a budget

Ethan is five years old now and aside from a trip to Disneyland Paris in January (which was fantastic, but far from a budget holiday!), we have never been abroad together on a family holiday. Paris is as far as Ethan has gone so far, but at least it involved an aeroplane!

This is our first summer with Ethan being at school age, so we are getting used to the holiday time juggle between hubs and I, taking it in turns for annual leave, and with me being 23 weeks pregnant now and looking ahead to maternity leave, we knew we wouldn't be able to squeeze in a holiday this year. I guess the heatwave has meant we haven't missed out all that much...

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But you just can't beat a summer holiday, can you? Relaxed days, an inviting blue swimming pool, beaches to walk on, sleepy town streets to wander... I do hope we can book a family break somewhere sunny in the not too distant future. Hubs and I have been to a few places, including Tunisia, Egypt and Lanzerote, B.E. (before Ethan), and I have been to Benidorm and again for a girly mini break to Alicante, so I think somewhere in or around Spain would be a good option.

The Canaries are so family friendly from our experience, and from speaking to people we know, and they offer great value too, with some fab deals to be had.

If you're like us, you like to shop around and work out what's-what; which destinations are family friendly, what they have to offer, where you can get the best price, which transfers will work best and things to know before you go.

From my own travels, here are a few tips on travelling on a budget...

* Do your homework! There's so many holidays and providers out there, that you do have to put in a bit of time to look around and see what is on offer - somewhere like Holiday Gems has a huge selection of cheap holidays that could be right up your street (click here to have a look) so would be a good starting point to see where your next family break could take you.

* Pick up things as you go. Many of my friends shop for summer in autumn, when the sales are on, and Christmas in January, so they get the best prices around. It is worth thinking ahead and if you know you are going to be going away, keeping a suitcase handy and popping things into it as and when will help you feel prepared, like when you see a 3 for 2 on toilettries, and you can spread the cost and get yourself well on your way with packing too!

* Plan your trip. I am ALL about being prepared, so will always read up about the hotel, resort or town we will be staying in beforehand. I like to fit in as much as we can into our holidays, whilst also having a good amount of down time, so knowing what sights we might want to go and see and how much excursions, trips and activities are in advance helps me to plan those pennies. You can often  book things in advance, which saves you money while you are away.

* Make use of the meal plan you book. Going self-catered can save some money, if you shop wise at the local supermarket and don't eat out all day every day. When we have travelled self-catering, we've tended to eat breakfast at our apartment, then either lunch or dinner at a local restaurant, and if you try a couple, you can always find the one you really like, that has a good atmosphere and good prices too. If you are half board, fill up at breakfast! There's usually a fantastic spread, and if you sleep in, you can call it brunch and you might not even be hungry until later in the day!

* Switch airports. Quite often, you can bag a better deal if you look for an alternative airport to fly from than your usual. You do need to consider travel time, and whether you'd need a hotel room the night before or would need to pay parking, but I have travelled several times from an airport further away to get a better price, and booking hotel rooms and car parking in advance has saved me a ton of money too, so it is worth getting that calculator out and seeing what you could save. Plus, if you can fly a little later in the day, flights do tend to get cheaper.

These are just a few ideas on how you could save some money when planning your next family holiday, and I would love to hear yours. I think we all have a friend who seems to save hundreds every time they go away, or who squeezes in another spur of the moment break because they find a deal that is just too good to say no to. I want to know their secret!


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