How to Book a Cheap Family Holiday Without Being Fined

Booking a low cost family holiday

Do you like getting ripped off?

It is that time of year when you might be considering booking a last-minute summer holiday with the family. Pissed off by the high prices charged by travel companies during peak season? Wondering whether to risk the wrath of the school governors by taking your child out of school? Or simply considering leaving it until the last-minute in the hopes of your dream holiday suddenly being available for a fraction of the quoted brochure price? How are YOU going to bag yourself a cheap family holiday?

There’s been a lot of press recently dedicated to how expensive summer holidays have become, particularly the excessive price hikes during the school holidays, so if you really want a good quality holiday in a resort of your choice, but don’t want to get ripped off by astronomical summer package prices, then there is another alternative – that is to DIY your holiday. It need not take hours to organise, can save you a fortune, and although it may surprise you, can actually be fun!

My low cost holiday to Turkey

I have just booked a summer holiday for five in July to Turkey. We are taking our (almost) grown up children (step-children in my case!) away for 9 days and a quick look on package holiday sites reveals the cheapest price to be £428 per person for seven nights. That is a whopping £2,140 for a week’s holiday.

If I want something a little more upmarket than an apartment complex which looks ridiculously over-crowded, I am talking £500 plus and somehow five of us are supposed to fit into a one-bedroom apartment. No thanks! I would rather spend as little as possible on accommodation and flights so that we can enjoy our holiday when we arrive.

So here is my step by step guide showing you how we actually bagged our trip to Turkey, staying at a 4.5 star resort for just £1212.88, a whopping £927.12 cheaper than the cheapest package holiday and we are staying in a two-bedroom apartment.

Step by step guide to booking a low cost holiday

Step One – Book your flights

Use Skyscanner to search all available flights, including budget airlines, to identify the best price alternatives. Skyscanner allows you to check prices for multiple destinations in your chosen month of travel meaning you can narrow down your options for travel.

If you complete your search request leaving the destination field ‘Everywhere’ as follows then this will bring up search results showing the price for flights to that country for the dates you have selected.
Using Skyscanner to book a cheap family holiday
From the screenshot below, you can see that I can book flights to Belgium from £40, however you probably want some guaranteed sun for your summer holiday given we Brits can be a little sun deprived, in which case you could opt for flights to Spain from £86.

Booking a cheap holiday with Skyscanner step two
This is a really great feature as it allows you to rule out some countries immediately depending on your budget.

In my case, I want to book flights to Turkey so this screenshot shows you that current prices are from £180 each. The prices have obviously gone up a bit since I booked!!
Skyscanner step 3
I’m flying to Antalya so I click through to view my options and simply select which flights I want to book. Once I select my flights, I will then be directed to the relevant website to make my booking in the usual manner.
Skyscanner step 4
I have found Skyscanner to be the easiest to use flight search engine and like the fact that it includes budget airlines, which other search engines do not. This means you will always get the best price without having to check out deals on tons of different sites.

It is important that you book your flights first as this gives you the ultimate flexibility to get the best deals. If you book your hotels first, you then have to book flights to that destination and simply may not be able to find an attractive deal.

Step two – book your accommodation

Now this is where you may have to think outside the box. Your accommodation doesn’t have to be an hotel or even booked through an hotels booking site. You could also book private homes and this is often the way to get a really spectacular property for a very reasonable price.

Here’s two options. First you can use an hotel search engine, such as to search for well priced hotels in your chosen destination. This is how we found our apartment at the Melda Palace and the price quoted of £502.00 is even cheaper than booking directly on the Melda Palace website.

Booking hotels with
Alternatively, you can check out Airbnb to book apartments, villas and luxury mansions for as little as one night up to long-stay. Be sure to use the link above to get £14 off on your first booking.


Now you could be forgiven for thinking you will struggle to get between your hotel and the airport, but this is rarely the case. It is as easy as simply jumping in a cab when you arrive meaning no long transfers, no stops at multiple hotels before finally reaching your own and no turning up at the airport three hours before departure. You could alternatively use Uber and get your first ride on me. Just use this code (annes3529ue) and you will be good to go.

Be warned: if you are visiting a destination off the beaten track, it pays to do a quick Google search to determine transportation options otherwise you could come a cropper. We almost got stranded at Taba airport as it is only really used by charter airlines and package holiday companies.  No taxis to be seen but thankfully we managed to hitch a lift with a local tour operator!

The final cost

So our total holiday prices was comprised of £502 for accommodation and £710.88, a total of £1212.88. This gives us an extra £927.88 to spend when we are actually there. More ice creams for us (code word for wine!).

Over to you

So now it is your turn. Follow these steps to book your own trip and there will be no need for you to take your kids out of school and risk that £100 fine. You can simply DIY your trip and travel in peak season.

Have your say

What do you think? Are you up for the challenge? If so, I would love to hear how you get on and how much you manage to save. Just let me know in the comments below.

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Pinterest low cost family holisay


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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. Yes! Finally someone writes about halloween pumpkin patch.

  2. Good tips, also Tunisia due to last year shootings suffers decrease in tourism, packages for all inclusive week I found online are low as 200 eur for person, 5 star resorts.

    • Yes terrorist threats will tend to have that effect. I was in Tunisia last year when the soothing sounds occurred (thankfully in a different resort) so am definitely not averse to travelling to destinations which many see as risky however current FCO advice for Tunisia is to avoid going for anything but essential travel. I definitely recommend checking their site before booking if you are thinking of visiting such s destination as travelling to a country advised against by the FCO may impact on your travel insurance.FCO Tunisia travel advice

  3. That’s frustrating when you have a family and the only holiday travel you have is during school breaks. It seems unfair to hike the prices up during those times. I think many people will find this helpful, thanks for sharing. We have yet to try Skyscanner, we always use Kayak. Perhaps we will try it this time. Thanks!

  4. I’ve been using for our upcoming trip to Sri Lanka. Main reason being that after 10 nights I get 1 night free anywhere. So I like that. Agoda has hidden prices sometimes and, well I get no benefit in using it besides that sometimes prices are cheaper.
    Definitely use skyscanner now when I plan to travel.
    Great post btw and very detailed. Thanks for that!

    • Glad you’ve found Bugs me to think of how many free nights I must have missed out on and they are good value.

  5. Some great tips – there are always ways you can secure a cheap vacation even during peak periods if you’re willing to think outside the box. We’ve recently found a lot of success with renting private homes over hotel accommodation too 🙂

  6. This is a very detailed and clear how to. I’d actually been thinking about signing up for Air BnB so I used your link to do it. Other than that, I use many of the same steps that you use even as a solo traveler to save money. I would just add that a lot of airports have airport shuttles to downtown that can save money on a cab. (Might not have been the case in Turkey though!)

    • Thanks Stella. I’m glad you found it useful and that you took advantage of the AirBNB code. I admit when I was travelling solo frequently i used those shuttles a lot but I was reading about the shuttle into DC yesterday and how it now costs $30. Wow some of those shuttles got expensive. I remember the days when they were $8 to $15!!

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