travel

5 family holiday hacks that’ll save you hundreds (without having to stay at a dodgy motel).

MyBudget
Thanks to our brand partner, MyBudget

We’ve all scrolled through social media and caught a serious case of holiday envy.

While we’re working to pay the endless bills, folding mountains of laundry and cooking food our kids refuse to eat, the cashed-up crew are sipping on mojitos and getting bloated at the buffet.

If you’re living pay to pay, a family holiday can seem like an unattainable luxury reserved for people who have that mythical thing called disposable income.

But there are ways you can join the holiday selfie brigade, minus the credit card debt.

Enter Tammy Barton from personal budgeting company MyBudget, a finance guru who knows a thing or two about helping families better manage their money and save for the fun stuff, like a family holiday.

We spoke to Tammy, along with a few frugal parents about how you can afford a break without breaking the bank.

 

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1. Be more savvy with your spending.

Tammy says you should kick off #OperationHoliday by setting up a separate savings account and depositing money into it every pay. Another good starting point is to create a detailed budget that includes all your income and expenses over the next 12 months then looking at what you can cut back on.

When it comes to reducing expenses, Tammy recommends starting with the big ones like insurance, which can help you save thousands a year.

Father of two Lachlan agrees. “Our family was complete, but we were still paying for obstetrics on our private health insurance,” he told Mamamia. “We saved nearly $200 a month by removing it.”

Once you’ve tackled the big expenses, look at the little ones. “Spending $15 a day on work lunches adds up to over $3500 over 12 months. Your holiday budget could be hiding in your daily spending habits,” advises Tammy.

My son's cruisy little holiday, funded by yours truly. Image: Supplied.
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2. Get app happy.

There’s an app for everything these days and that includes amazing holiday deals. Tammy’s favourites are Travel Zoo, which features travel and entertainment deals, as well as The Bali Bible, which has offers for meals and experiences at up to 70 percent off. With those rates you’d be donning a Bintang singlet and Bali braids in no time.

If a driving holiday is more your style, take the advice of Naomi who learned a thing or two about cost-saving apps while caravanning across Australia for 10 months with her three kids.

"The Fuel Map app can help keep petrol costs down by showing you fuel prices all over Australia," Naomi told us. "I also loved using the WikiCamps Australia app. It helped us find great locations to camp which were often free or low cost and featured info on fun activities near us, many of which were free."

Naomi had a tight budget while caravanning across Australia with her three kids but she made it work and they had a ball. Image: Caravan of Chaos.

3. Speak to the experts.

You can do lots of your own research, but Tammy says you should never discount insider info: "I highly recommend picking the brains of a travel agent. Give them your budget and they’ll usually be able to provide a great list of holiday ideas."

Naomi says you should also make the tourist information centre your first port of call in any new town because they often have the lowdown on free or cheap things to do with the kids.

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While we’re on the subject of deals, some insurance companies offer cheap rates to attractions like theme parks and national parks so be sure to ask them before you pay full price.

And if you're ever in doubt, just ask the hotel directly what deals they do for families. "Lots of hotels do joining rooms for half price," travel writer Nilu tells me. Ooohh.

4. Save by self-catering.

When Tammy checks into a hotel, she asks the staff to empty the mini-bar so she can stock the fridge with her own drinks and snacks purchased from the local supermarket.

Melbourne mum Jennifer goes one step further and always books accommodation with a kitchen.

"Buying all your meals definitely adds up. Having a kitchen means you can pack lunch and snacks for outings so you don’t get stuck paying 'tourist rates' for a toasted sandwich," Jennifer shares.

Just make sure everyone shares the cooking - yes, teenage kids that includes you!

5. Keep it simple.

If after all the above, you still can’t quite come up with the funds for the 14-day escape you’re been dreaming of, don’t despair. Opt for a simple weekend away instead.

"A holiday doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun and effective," Tammy says. "A weekend in a local caravan park can be the perfect antidote to routine and help you reconnect as a family. Our daily lives are so fast that we don’t have time to just be with each other. Holidays give us that time together, even if it’s just a few days."

Kids don’t need much to have a good time, so if funds are tight, keep it simple. Image: Supplied.

So there you have it, these are just five ways you can save enough money to fill your feed with sand, sun, theme parks, open roads and margaritas.

Go forth frazzled parents and enjoy some thrifty adventures with the kids.

If you need help saving for holidays and structuring your everyday budget, head to MyBudget for more info.

More tips? Tell us in the comments section.

MyBudget

No matter what your goal is—to save money, tackle debt, stop living week-to-week, sort out your finances or simply free up time—MyBudget is here to help. Visit mybudget.com.au to find out more.

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