Benson Tait

Benson Tait

Feb 17, 2024. 3 mins read

Family Finance

Cheap Family Holidays: 11 Brilliant Planning Ideas

Family holidays are ideal for creating ever-lasting memories and spending quality time with your kids. Taking time away from the stress of home life can be rewarding for everyone and expose your kids to new experiences. However, finding a cheap family holiday with increasing travel and accommodation prices can be challenging, with Aussies spending 40% more on domestic travel in 2023 than in 2019. Whether planning a staycation or jetting off to an international destination, the cost of flights, accommodation, car rental, excursions, insurance and meals during your trip make even a short getaway pricey very quickly.

Young family with two children packing for holiday

However, with some careful planning and savvy thinking, you can enjoy your trip while saving money. In this guide, we share the 11 best practical tips for busy parents to help save some dosh and reduce stress on your next big family holiday.

Prepare and plan ahead

The tried and tested way to save money and enjoy a stress-free holiday is by being proactive and planning ahead. Research your location, book flights in advance, and spread payments over a longer period to make your holiday affordable.

1. Flexible dates

Research your destination to discover when the high and low seasons are expected. Being flexible when you travel might equate to thousands of dollars in savings.

  • A thrifty travel hack is to visit a destination during the off-peak season to save on cheaper flights and accommodation:
    However, the low season may mean less favourable weather, and some attractions may be closed or unavailable

  • High-season travel usually gives the best weather and experience for your trip:

    However, the high season also means higher prices for everything and there’ll be more crowds (i.e. queues). If you are planning a city break, take advantage of low season prices, as city attractions such as museums are open all year round

2. Mailing lists and reward schemes

Money-saving travel tip: Sign up for airline mailing lists and subscribe to newsletters in advance. We got lucky recently with return flights to Tokyo for our family of 4 for $4,500 by signing up for Qantas’ international flight mailing list.

  • Sign up for airline mailing lists and reward schemes for companies you know you will use during your family trip

  • Look at hotel websites for rewards when booking direct or any member reward schemes, even if you only plan to them once

3. Book in advance

We get that it's hard to juggle parenting, work and general life responsibilities, but if you can book in advance, you can save significantly on things such as flights, accommodation and activities.

  • The report also advised booking international flights no more than 4 months in advance for the cheapest fares.

  • Booking in advance will offer significant discounts and give you the chance to spread the cost of your holiday instead of paying for everything all at once

4. Kids travel accessories

Travelling with small kids? You’ll likely need a whole host of parenting accessories. Here are money-saving tips that will also reduce the ever-growing pile of things you need to take.

  • Take your car seat:
    If you’re flying, you can usually check your car seat into the hold with your bags

  • Look at what your airline allows you to take free of charge:

    Virgin Australia allows prams, car seats and cots to be checked free of charge as special items

    Qantas allows pre-approved baby car seats to be taken onboard for use during flights

  • Check what kid accessories your hotel offers:

    Many hotels are happy to provide porta cots or additional beds at no extra cost

  • Take a travel pram that folds small enough to be taken on as hand luggage:
    Ask to borrow one from a friend or look for a cheap second-hand pram to save money

Carefully pick your destination

5. Staycations

Australia is blessed with beautiful landscapes, picturesque coastal stretches, and vibrant cities. One great way to reduce costs is to consider a staycation in your home city or state. Consider travelling to an area of Australia you have never been to before or tick off a bucket-list destination

  • City escapes:

    Our larger cities are crammed with exciting museums, zoos and aquariums perfect for a family city break

6. Family-friendly travel locations

When choosing a destination, make sure you consider how easy it is to navigate with a young family. 

  • City breaks with lots of walking and sightseeing might not be appropriate for toddlers or young children:

    Destinations with lots of hills and steps will be difficult with a pram and little legs

  • A resort style family-friendly destination might be more relaxing for both parents and young kids:

    Bali and Fiji are known for their family services and amenities such as nanny services at dirt cheap prices 

    Look for plenty of fun facilities, such as waterparks, clean beaches, and public play areas

7. Prepare paperwork and vaccines

Reduce any last-minute worries by getting any passports, paperwork, and vaccines organised in advance.

  • Are your family’s vaccines and health checks up to date?

  • Do you need additional vaccines to travel to your destination?

  • Organise passports and any required visas before you travel:

    Passports for children under 5 only last for 5 years

    We were caught out with this at the airport when transiting through a Canadian airport to the USA. It was very stressful. Don’t be us!

  • Book travel insurance for your family travels as far in advance as possible for the cheapest prices.

Avoid packing stress

8. Pack lightly

Reduce your packing woes with these stress-busting family travel hacks.

  • Pack your luggage light:
    You don’t need 5 hats and 5 pairs of shoes each

  • Create a capsule wardrobe:
    Mix and match your kids outfits, reducing the number of items you need to take

  • Minimise the amount of luggage you need to check:
    Reduce the stress of taking multiple suitcases

9. Hand luggage tips

Ensure you pack a change of clothes for you and your kids in your hand luggage. In the event your luggage doesn't arrive with you, you’ll be prepared.

  • Include valuable essentials in your hand luggage, such as medications and a first aid kit:
    Remember to remove any sharps to avoid an embarrassing pat down at the airport

Holiday entertainment

When you are travelling with children, you must ensure they are entertained, including during your journey and at your destination. These helpful parenting tips can help to keep kids happy and give parents some much-needed me time!

10. Cheap toys for the trip

The novelty of a new toy will be far more interesting than something they have already played with 100 times over. However, you don't have to break the bank to give them something new, especially for a holiday.

  • A new toy only has to be new to your child, not new off the shelf:
    An excellent parenting hack is to check your local toy library before you travel. Your local toy library is a great tool for finding exciting travel toys

  • Swap some of their toys before your trip to provide your kids with the perfect travel toy:
    Look for local toy swap meets where you can exchange your kids' second-hand toys for a new, preloved toy that will keep your kids entertained on your trip

11. Toys that help soothe tired kids

Let's face it, travelling takes a toll on everyone, even your little ones. So consider taking toys to help your kids deal with difficult transitions.

  • Sensory toys are a great way to help kids relax and cope with new environments on holiday:
    They can be especially helpful in helping your kids wind down after an exciting day and will kick off boredom during the journey

  • Don’t forget the kid's favourite soft toy or comforter:
    The last thing you want to do is leave a beloved squishy friend behind. Otherwise, you may not hear the end of it all holiday long!

With some careful planning and a little bit of light juggling, it is possible to have a memorable and cheap family holiday. We hope that with the help of these family-friendly travel hacks and practical ideas, you can cut down on some pre-holiday stress and enjoy the experience of taking your little ones on a trip you’ll treasure for years to come.

Benson Tait

Benson Tait

Design . Digital . Fathering . Husbanding . Surviving . Founder

A man who loves design, technology, food and his family of two young girls and a smart gorgeous wife, who is on a mission to make parenting easier and help kids flourish for a happier home.

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