Travel can be expensive. Paying for your own travel can be hard enough, but once kids come on the scene a whole new set of expenses appear. We are certainly finding that out. Now that Jacob has turned 2 he now costs the same as an adult when buying airline tickets. We have had to rethink a few of our travel strategies since his second birthday, but even with the extra expense, you can still afford that ultimate family holiday with a few simple tricks.
Expedia asked us to share some of our tips and tricks to save money when travelling with kids, and we came up with the ten travel hacks below.
Book off peak and avoid school holidays
Supply and demand. When the most people are free from work and on holiday, the prices will rise. You can easily pay double is you travel during the school holidays. Obviously, the way around this additional cost is to avoid school holidays. Another way to save money while travelling is to travel off peak. This means travelling to a destination while it is low season for that destination. Hotels are often heavily discounted during the off season, but you will need to be be careful, as sometimes attractions also shut down during this season.
Travel when they are little
As I mentioned earlier, now that Jacob has turned two we have to pay an adult fare for his flights. With most airlines, domestic fares are free for children under the age of two, and are only a fraction of an adult fare for international flights. If you want to go on a trip that includes a couple flights, it pays to plan to fly before your child turns two. Don’t be put off by travelling with a little one either, it’s not really that hard at all.
Book in advance
If you are travelling with the family, it makes sense to plan your travel in advance. There are a lot of theories out there about when is the best time to book a trip. I tend to get over excited when I am planning a trip, and I book well in advance. By starting to plan well in advance, I can take advantage of any flight sales that come up.
The fewer flights, the better
The biggest spend of your holiday will probably be on flights. If you are planning a longer trip, try to avoid multiple flights if possible. For example, if you are travelling around Europe, take advantage of the incredible rail network instead of hopping on several short distance flights. Not only will you save some money, but you will get to see more of the country as well. Luckily, if you fly with children under the age of two, their flights are often free or only for a small fee.
Travel carry on only
These days nothing comes for free. Almost every airline charges an additional fee for each piece of luggage. If you are only travelling for a short time, try to do it with carry on only. It may sound daunting, but how much of the stuff that you pack do you actually use when you travel? Travel with a carry on is definitely possible, even with a child under the age of two.
Plan to travel to a budget destination
Where you travel will have a huge impact on how much your family holiday will cost. If you are planning a budget family holiday, then you might want to avoid some of the more expensive destinations; like Australia or Scandinavia. Instead, plan your travels to a more budget destination. South East Asia is always a good option, especially if you live in Australia like we do. Latin America and Mexico are great if you are based in North America, and Eastern and Southern Europe are great options for European travellers.
Travel to a destination where the exchange rate works in your favour
It’s not all about picking a budget destination. There are some places where the exchange rate may be working more in your favour than others. For example, Western Europe isn’t really considered a budget travel destination, but recently as the Euro has weakened compared to some other currencies, it is actually becoming more and more of a budget option.
Consider a staycation, road trip, or camping trip
Flights will be your biggest expense, so why not eliminate that all together by going on a “staycation”, a family road trip, or a camping trip. Eliminating flights will give a boost to your budget, so you can do more, closer to home.
Bring your own car seat
If you are renting a car at your destination then consider bringing your own car or booster seat. Car and booster seats are allowed on the plane as checked luggage for free, so the only hassle is having to carry it around. Most car rental agencies charge a daily fee for renting a car or booster seat, and these costs can easily escalate out of control. For example, we spent two weeks road tripping in Bulgaria and the cost of renting the car seat was more than the entire car rental.
Book hotels that do not charge extra for children
One last tip. When researching hotels make sure to read the fine print. Some hotels charge extra for children. Some hotels are free for kids if they share existing beds. Some are free for kids all together. It pays to read the fine print.
For more tips about budget travel with children, check out our collection of top money savings tips from some of the top family travel bloggers.