'These are the 4 rules I follow when travelling with kids on a budget.'

Carnival Cruise Line
Thanks to our brand partner, Carnival Cruise Line

Apparently, you only get 18 summers with your kids. 18 cracks at curating holiday memories they'll one day tell their own children about. 

The koala they held on that holiday; the belly-laughs on bikes during that camping trip; the awe on their faces when they realise magicians do exist, after seeing one on their first Carnival cruise.

Like my sisters and friends, we often share different versions of the same story. Let me paint you a picture. 

You booked and paid off your ‘ocean view’ apartment months ago. The price made you wince, but you know you’ll keep costs low on holidays. Perfect. 

The groceries ‘past you’ ordered arrive on schedule because ‘past you’ – much like ‘current you’ – is a bloody legend. 

The kids hit the pool, followed by the beach, and the pool again. And for precisely one hour, everything is excellent; everyone is happy, and every part of you is smug.

But then… kids start innocuously enough, with a request for fish and chips on the beach. You have hundreds of dollars of groceries in the fridge buuuuuuut… Why not? It’s holidays after all. This is what we work hard for. Then you're chucking $54 worth of ice cream nobody finishes because they’re full from the $92 soggy calamari and chips with nowhere near enough chicken salt.  

You realise the groceries you ordered won’t magic themselves into a meal... which is how you end up at the surf club the following dinner, two (three) wines deep doling cash to the kids for the bloody claw machine. And the thing is, none of it is all that magical or meaningful. All this incidental spending leaves you even more stressed than what you were before the holiday. 


But don’t despair fellow ‘parent in charge of organising holidays’ (mums) – all is not lost. You can still have the dream with value and fun at the forefront. Here's actually how.

Four words: Bang for your buck.

Honestly, once you starting using this lens for any and all holidays involving kids, you can’t go back. Exactly the reason why the most value-for-money shenanigans can usually be found on cruises. And while these used to seem out of a middle-class price range – these days they work out to give you more magic for your money.

Carnival Cruise Line, for example, are bang-for-your-buck icons. They sail from Brisbane and Sydney, have over 45 fun activities (!!!) onboard, and deliver the best value for money for families given the quality, convenience and diversity of options across food, entertainment and activities.


Carnival's value is the real deal, with plenty of fun on tap with onboard activities. If you or your babes are after something chill, you can choose from poolside dive-in movies, one of the many other pools on board, mini golf, and arts and crafts. 

Your family come alive at a party? They’ll love the all ages '80s themed night, karaoke, lip sync battles, live music and dance parties. Partial to a show? Catch a professionally produced musical (options available for all ages) or watch the Dr Suess parade, story time and show. 

And, of course, there are the free kid’s clubs. Camp ocean (2-11 years) and Co2 for teens (12-14). While your kids are having fun with these legends, parents can duck off to Serenity Adults Only Retreat that features a pool and spa, play a round at the casino, pop into the nightclub and/or enjoy a cocktail. 


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the food. Food that you won’t be planning, cooking or cleaning up after. Parents would rate that as A+ fun. At your fingertips are meals from every kind of restaurant you or your kids could think of; burgers, sushi, pizza, pasta, Mongolian, teppanyaki, seafood, cold pressed juices, freshly brewed coffee, Indian – with so many of these options already included in the cost. Then there’s the breakfast place, the brunch place AND the ice cream place. A Carnival cruise will quickly become, your happy place. 

So cruising, honestly? It's where it’s at! 

Image: Carnival Cruise Line.


Finances? More like FUNances.

Involving your kids in the budgeting for holidays may sound incredibly lame, but you’d be surprised how empowered it can make them feel. Looking up food and activity prices with our kids, discussing value for money and making decisions accordingly keeps everyone accountable. 

Who said financial literacy can’t be fun? 

Go chase waterfalls…

Image: Supplied.


Many of us lucky people have access to arcades, cinemas, trampoline parks etc in our hometowns, so if your kids are up for an activity that isn’t beach or pool based – opt for adventure instead. Research the area you’re visiting beforehand (or ports you're exploring on your Carnival cruise) and choose the paths less travelled. Holiday destinations will most likely be brimming with nature at its finest. Carnival's shore excursions are a handy place to start. Go chase waterfalls, bush walk, fish, climb trees, bike ride or scoot along the coastline or fossick for treasure on the beach. 

Hot tip: Climbing a tree is free. Who knew? 

Wag school (kind of).

I’ve been a teacher for 15 years, and I’ll let you in on a little fact I’m sure you already suspect to be true. Very little curriculum learning takes place in the last week of the school year. Use this knowledge to your advantage and nab a nice little holiday spot for hundreds less than what you’ll be charged in ‘peak’ season – just one week later. 

Explore how Carnival offers families and couples fun, memorable holidays at great value

Feature Image: Supplied.

Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line®. Sailing from Sydney and Brisbane, Carnival is designed with fun in mind and featuring over 45 activities to enjoy each day, Carnival offers families and couples fun, memorable holidays at great value.