My second child is about to turn two, meaning that when we fly I will need to cough up the cash for an extra plane ticket. In the next six months I have at least three trips planned – to attend a conference (when I travel for work I am a package deal – my two little boys always come with me), for my brother’s wedding, and to spend Christmas with family. Needless to say I have been doing some mental arithmetic, and am looking for ways to cut the cost of our travel expenditure. Having recently read Jan at Budget Travel Talk’s tips to save money when travelling, I thought I would share my own tips to cut costs. Please, please share with me any of your own tips to bring down the cost of travelling with your little people.
I have saved thousands of dollars in the past using vouchers. My favourites are the Entertainment Books, which can be purchased online. Once you have an Entertainment Book you are entitled to accommodation and car hire discounts around Australia and some International destinations. If you will be staying in a particular region for more than two weeks it is worth purchasing an Entertainment Book for their local dining vouchers (usually two meals for the price of one). Also look at Shop a Dockets and group buying websites.
Stay in self-contained accommodation.
Being able to self cater and do laundry saves loads of money when traveling. You sometimes need to think laterally in order to explore all the self-catering options in a particular destination. Caravan parks often have self-contained cabins and many motor-inns will have one or two rooms with a kitchenette if you are on the road. I have found some affordable accommodation gems at Take A Break, a website that lists holiday house accommodation.
In the interest of honesty I will admit that I am a house swap innocent. The idea of swapping homes with a family (free accommodation!) is incredibly appealing though and I have listed our home on Aussie House Swap. I have had some tempting offers from other families, but nothing that quite suited our needs yet.
Essential baby/child equipment – explore your options.
There are a number of items that are essentials when travelling with a baby. Our two essentials are a cot and stroller. Other items, you may not have at home but be necessary in alternate accommodation, such as a baby monitor or stair guard. The cost of transporting child extras varies between airlines, and budget airlines may slug parents with whopping fees to carry baby equipment such as a porta-cot. I do my research prior to travelling to work out what the most economical option is in regards to baby equipment. For example, at Easter we spent a week at Disneyland. For the cost of just one day of stroller hire at Disneyland we were able to purchase a cheap stroller at the local Target. At other times, particularly if the cost of transporting equipment is excessive, hiring equipment is the cheapest option (the company I have used in the past is Hire for Baby).
Factor in all variables.
When considering potential destinations for a vacation, don’ t just compare the cost of tickets and accommodation, but examine other factors. For example, ground transportation can be quite expensive in some destinations. If you are hoping for childcare at your destination, incorporate the cost of childcare into your budget. Many hotels offer kids clubs however the cost of these varies significantly. Just last week I was exploring options for a family vacation in 2013. I realized that it would cost $230 for one hotel’s kids club, compared to $40 at another.
Prioritize hotels that offer kids eat free, or other discounts for traveling families.
I get seriously peeved when my sons do not eat their $12 kids meal of nuggets and chips. You end up saving quite a bit of money, and resentment if your accommodation offers kids meals for free (many do). Alternatively, some hotel chains (I know Holiday Inn has in the past) offer discounted rates for interconnecting rooms if you are traveling with children.© Copyright 2012 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move