Travelling with kids is more expensive than travelling alone or as a couple. Bigger or more rooms, more mouths to feed, more plane tickets, and more day to day needs are amongst a few of the things that can make your holiday costs skyrocket. Here are 10 tips on how to make the most of your holiday budget.
Take a Refillable Water Bottle
If you stop reading after this point, you will save at least 5€ a day per person and I put it at the top because it will keep coming up. Our babies only drink water so 5€ a day for the other 3 members of our family equals 105€ for a week. For reference, in a restaurant a soda, bottle of water, or beer will cost a minimum of 2-3€ whereas tap water normally costs nothing. That is the easiest way to save money that you won’t even notice. While away, do not pass up an opportunity to top up your bottle for free.
We are currently living in the U.K. and it is an offence to take your children out of school here. That means our travel is tied to the times that kids are out of school, as are all the other families looking to travel. As such, during these periods flight prices can skyrocket. The best way to combat this is to plan as early as possible if you will be flying. We recently left something until two months out and within a matter of a few days, the flight prices doubled.
Travel in the Low/Shoulder Season
When all the other parents are planning the same holidays and the same flights skyrocket, why not head somewhere that maybe is not the idyllic seasonal destination. This also has the benefit of all the sites you want to see being less crowded and hotels/apartment rentals being more available and cheaper. In October for example, flights to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco will cost a small fortune, but for a fraction of the cost, the weather is still nice enough in France, Netherlands, and Germany so long as you bring a light jacket and don’t mind skipping the beach.
Get To/From the Airport on the Cheap
There are lots of options here depending on where you are, how much you are bringing, and how many are in your group. Public transit can be a great alternative in places where it is available and efficient. If you will be driving your vehicle to the airport, pay in advance when it is possible. I will never forget returning from a few days in Rome and being stuck with a £200 parking bill at Stanstead Airport. If you search around, discounts for Park and Fly agencies are always around.
Avoid Airport Spending
Modern airports are designed like shopping malls for a reason, to get you to spend money while you pass time waiting for your flight. Ever wonder why the airport suggests you arrive 3 hours in advance, but the airline only usually states when baggage drop and check in begin? Nothing is a good deal here and almost all of it can be avoided. Your refillable water bottle will also be helpful here. The restaurants are overpriced, mediocre, and full of unhealthy giant portions that you just don’t need.
More and more airlines are charging more and more for luggage and if you are in Europe it can really add up. People get very excited when they see a flight on Easyjet for 30€, but that only gets you a seat and a small carry on. We decided that we didn’t want to pay more for more luggage, so at most we take 3 carry on sized bags and one of those bags generally contains an infant air mattress in case we end up somewhere without a travel cot. We spent two and a half weeks in Greece this spring with all the clothes and toiletries for five in two carry-on bags.
Don’t Shop on the Plane
No matter what airline you fly on, the food is either poor value or poor quality or both. If you can avoid eating on the plane do so. Take a small snack for everyone, even make it something that would be a treat for the kids like chips and take your refillable water bottle. For a three or four hour flight you only need more than that if you are eating out of boredom.
Rent an Apartment
AirBnB has changed the way we operate and made our type of travel more accessible. For the same rate as a hotel, we can generally find a 2 bedroom flat rental for the same price. This allows us not only more space, but also allows us to cook some of our own meals. It also has the added benefit of getting us away from the tourist trap area’s that only seem to offer “Special Best Friend” prices.
Shop as a Local
Your first stop for baby supplies should be the local market. It is here that you will stock up on groceries, snacks and diapers if you need them. A week or two supply of diapers for twins would take up an entire suitcase. We take enough to get us through a couple days then stock up once we are at our destination. If you want to save money, it is also a good idea to skip the cheesy souvenirs and find something more meaningful.
Be Restaurant Savvy
In addition to cooking some of your own food, you can save money by making smart decisions while out for the day. A picnic in the town square a couple times instead of a restaurant meal is a great way to not only save some money but relax a bit. This is also an excellent chance to pick up a bottle of wine for 5€ at the market vice 3-4€ a glass in a restaurant. Eating your big meals at lunch when restaurants are less busy and usually offer a less expensive menu is also a great choice.
As we are always willing to learn, share your money saving tips in the comments below.