We all know that kids can be thrilling travel buddies and holidays are one of the most incredible ways for them to experience different geography, culture, and history up close. Often though, travelling with kids can easily become an expensive and challenging experience if you don't do your homework. These top tips from Mum Central will help you plan like a pro.
So how do you secure a great family deal and what are the best ways to save some hard earned cash?
1. Travel in the low season
Figure out where you’re going and check out the high and low seasons. While you may not always get perfect weather, everything is generally going to be cheaper – airfare, hotels, tours. You’ll also beat the crowds (and the two hour queues at the theme parks!) which is a huge bonus. If you don't ask, you don't get, and often during slow periods, you may be able to receive an upgrade on flights of accommodation.
2. Do your research
Pick up a guidebook written for budget travellers like Lonely Planet. There are loads of great tips in these along with everything you’ll need to know about how to get around, where to stay, how much it will cost and more. Chat to your friends, family, neighbours, or anyone who’s been on a recent trip, and get the lowdown.
3. Pack carefully
With a little careful planning, you can avoid a lot of headaches (and added expense)
- First aid first! Avoid expensive medical bills in a foreign land for small emergencies by packing a basic first aid kit. It can go a long way to help you (especially in a non-English speaking country).
- Don't forget your favourites! Don't be afraid to bring some of your favourite items from home. Some of the goodies I like to pack include Vegemite, my fave coffee (beats mini bar sachets!) washing powder (pending customs if you're heading overseas) and kids cutlery and plastic plates/bowls, making mealtimes so much easier. I also like to bring along a couple of empty drink bottles to fill up each day so I'm not having to buy drinks when we're out and also a couple of empty lunch boxes which are perfect for packing left over meals in!
- Wet Wipes & Zip Lock Bags: These are a life-saver! It's likely you may have them packed already if you've got little ones, but we all know how kids can get messy so quickly, especially when onthe run. Who else can wear a whole plate of food and still laugh about it? Wet wipes are sure to help you clean the mess and are great for refreshing yourself when in hot climates too!
- Reduce the Food Bill: Shop in advance and bring with you the types of snacks and drinks you'd ordinarily buy along the way, often at a much higher price. This can include some energy bars, dried fruit or whatever the kids like. When you’re trying to save money on the road, you’ll be happy you brought these along.
- Don't forget the Formula! If you're travelling overseas and formula feeding, be sure to bring a tin (or two) of your regular formula in a sealed tin (customs will inspect the seal). Don't expect to be able to buy the same type or risk baby not liking it.
- Pack Nappies: If you're heading overseas, bring a sleeve of your favourite nappies with you. Don't rely on finding the same quality and comfort you're used to at your destination (and at least you won't be bringing them home!)
- Need WiFi? I purchase the prepaid portable broadband modems from the supermarket and departments stores when on sale with 3Gb data for about $19. This can often get me through a whole trip and save a packet on hotel wifi at around $25 a day. Many hotels offer Free WiFI, if in doubt negotiate it into your package if you can!
How to Get the Best Flight Deals
- Sign up for email alerts: The quick and easy way to track airline sales and offers is through Virgin Australia’s V-Mail Sale Alerts and keeping an eye out for their weekly Happy Hour sale every Thursday with selected routes on sale. The Virgin Australia Flight App can help you quickly scan to see what's on sale across their network.
- Search often and jump when there’s a deal: Prices for flights vary regularly so keep your ear to the ground and pounce when the sales are announced. I sit on my travel plans and wait for the sales and special offers before I book. But you've got to be quick! Virgin Australia offer a 'Hold This Price' option for bookings more than 14 days in advance and for $10 will hold your booking tentatively for 48 hours, allowing you time to reconfirm everything and not lose the seats.
- Join the Velocity Frequent Flyer Program: Not only will you receive Points each time you travel, you can also gain valuable flight upgrades, shopping and travel privileges. You can earn Points to over 600 destinations worldwide with Virgin Australia and their partner airlines including Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, Delta and many more!