Today’s post comes from a fellow travel blogger, Melissa, over at Thrifty Family Travels. She is a lifelong traveller who has figured out ways to make her travel money go further when travelling with both her partner and daughter. Isn’t her daughter a cutie? She is going to share some fabulous tips with you today on how to save money on family travel.
Say hello to Melissa
As our blog site name suggests, we are always on the lookout for ways to save money on our travels, so that we can travel more frequently. For every trip we take, whether its interstate or international, there are 5 travel hacks that we always implement. Keep reading so you can follow our tips and save money on your next trip.
Top tips for saving money on family travel
Unless you must take a flight on a certain date, be as flexible as you can be. Sometimes even leaving a day earlier or coming home a day later can save you hundreds of dollars!
Websites sites such as Skyscanner, Expedia and Google Flights are excellent ways to find the cheapest flights and also allow you to easily compare airfares. Read more Thrifty Family Travel tips: Save Money Booking Airfares.
You don’t need to stay in 5-star luxury to have a great time. In fact, if you are going to be spending most of your time exploring a city, you only need a comfortable and clean place to sleep and keep your belongings.
Even as a family we still regularly stay in hostels. Whilst most people think of rows and rows of bunk beds with rowdy backpackers, hostels often have great family sized private rooms with your own bathroom at great prices.
Hostels are usually in central locations and located close to transport, making them not only a cheap option but also a convenient option.
Regardless of whether you stay in a hostel or budget hotel, make use of websites such as Hotels combined or TripAdvisor where you will find which website is offering your accommodation of choice for the best price. Often people think booking directly with the hotel is the cheapest option, but this is rarely the case. Also, many websites these days allow you to make a booking and pay later with free cancellation which allows you to cancel if you find a better deal later.
Anne: of course, the other benefit of this approach is that it doesn’t over indulge your children. Be careful though, if you are collecting hotel loyalty points, you often will not qualify for these if you do not book rooms directly with the hotel.
Read more Thrifty Family travel tips: Save Money Booking Accommodation
Next to Airfares, food is often our biggest expense. Yes, even compared to accommodation we can sometimes spend more on food in a day than we do for accommodation, particularly when travelling in western countries.
To try and cut our food expenses down, we always try and eat breakfast in our rooms, or make them in the shared kitchen if there is one in the hostel. Other suggestions are to find restaurants away from the main tourist strips. Sometimes even a block or two back from the main tourist area will save you heaps.
We also go to a local supermarket and stock up with fruit and snacks, this way we are not purchasing expensive snacks throughout the day. Particularly when you have kids – they are always hungry! My other tip is to bring empty drink bottles with you – again particularly if you have children. Fill them up at the start of the day so you have free drinking water.
Just like accommodation, you don’t need the flashiest and latest car when taking an overseas road trip. My tip is to hire the smallest car that you need and one that is a few years old.
Always compare car hire on sites such as Skyscanner – yes, they do car hire too!
Car rental companies charge so much on additional options! We never book GPS – use your smart phone – and we rarely hire the child’s booster seat directly from the car rental company. In most cases, it will actually work out cheaper if you head to a local department store and buy a child’s seat there. If you don’t want to carry the seat around with you once you have finished with your car hire, just leave it behind.
Never scrimp on car insurance though! Ensure you are fully covered for accidents.
Taking Money Overseas
Before I tell you my last tip, I want to say don’t take financial advice from me – do your own research!
There are so many travel money cards on the market that appear to offer these great deals, but usually they have stacks of hidden fees. Even when they say they don’t have any fees, usually they have crappy conversion rates. Banks charge you stacks for using your ATM card in foreign destinations – it seems everyone wants to charge you for using your own money!!
The cheapest way to use your own money overseas is to take cash in your own currency and exchange it as you need it. Of course, you need to be comfortable taking cash and I do advise to do what makes you feel comfortable, because if you lose your cash, it’s gone! If you do decide to go this way, as I said only convert it as you need it, that way if you don’t spend it all there is no need to convert it when your return home and therefore save there as well.
Anne: one option if you are based in the UK is to use the Curve card which attracts no overseas charges and uses a standardised exchange rate. You can read my full Curve card review here.
What are your top tips for saving money on family travel?
Wow, those are some great tips from Melissa. It definitely is more challenging travelling with a family, as I know from family holidays with my step-kids. The things we take for granted when we travel as a couple, such as eating out and adventure activities, become things we have to really think about when we travel as five. So what tips do you have for travelling with your kids? I would love to know.
You may also like how to book a cheap family holiday without being fined.