As the days get longer and the weather warmer, our thoughts turn to holidaying in 2021. But with restrictions still in place for overseas travel, and many of us watching our pennies, planning a budget friendly Aussie family getaway has never been more important.
Here are ten tips for saving money on a family holiday.
1. Do your research
From flights and hotels, to tours and car hire, most people believe you can usually get a better deal by shopping around online. Certainly check comparison websites – but beware of hidden service fees, inflexible terms and conditions, or distorted pricing that excludes necessary extras. Once you’ve done your research, contact the airline, hotel or tour operator directly and let them know the price you have found. They may be prepared to match it or even beat it. Booking direct is also a great way to assist local tourism operators in these tough times. Sign up for regular emails or newsletters from travel providers that you like. Many announce discounts and special offers this way before anywhere else.
2. Hit the road
For a typical family of four, flying anywhere can mean sky-high prices to match the views. Hop on the highway instead. A road trip is more affordable and allows you to ‘choose your own adventures’. Make sure your car is serviced beforehand and research where the cheapest petrol prices are. In New South Wales, you can access FuelCheck (a free online service) to find the cheapest and closest fuel anywhere in the state.
3. Bring your own food and drink
While you’re on the road, save cash with pre-prepared snacks. Stock up at the supermarket beforehand and pack refillable bottles of water and reusable containers of healthy treats. You won’t have to pay a premium for refreshments at convenience stores and petrol stations on the way.
4. Eat in, or outside!
Eating out can get expensive, especially with a family in tow. Try and self-cater for at least two meals a day by shopping locally and making breakfast at your accommodation along with sandwiches for lunch. Picnics are always a hit with littlies. In the evening, look for restaurants promoting ‘kids eat free’ or ‘early bird’ menus (which tend to be at family-friendly dining times anyway).
5. Travel off-peak if possible
School holidays, public holidays, long weekends, seasonal festivals, and major sporting events – travel during these periods is always going to be more expensive than usual. Travel off-peak instead. It usually means cheaper flights and stays, fewer crowds and shorter queues. If you must travel during popular timeframes, try and be flexible with dates. Sometimes simply adjusting your schedule by just a few days can result in big savings.
6. Go regional
Go where big tourist crowds aren’t and you’re going to save money. Regional destinations like Albury and Dubbo in New South Wales and Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria offer plenty of family-friendly fun, but they attract fewer holidaymakers than coastal hotspots. It will mean more bang for your holiday buck, and you’ll enjoy some unique experiences as part of the deal.
7. Do DIY tours
Excursions with commercial tour operators are a great option for exploring a new destination, but they often come with a hefty price tag for families. Arrange your own excursions instead! Different family members can take charge of mapping out an itinerary for different days. Check out local tourism websites and reputable travel blogs for ideas.
8. Look for family and multi-attraction passes
Thinking of ticking off several tourist attractions on your trip? Check which ones offer a family pass, as the savings can be significant. Some destinations also offer multi-attraction passes. They’re available in Sydney and Melbourne, and it usually works out a lot less expensive than paying for separate admissions.
9. Remember that the best things in life are free
You don’t always have to spend money to entertain the kids. Depending on their ages, playgrounds and gardens can be more fun than theme parks. Bush walks and the beach are generally all-age winners. Many museums and galleries offer free entry, and often have family friendly activities on offer.
10. Take home only memories
Most tourist attractions have gift shops and it can be hard to resist buying souvenirs. Instead, get the kids to draw something related to the experience or keep a diary about their holiday highlights. And of course, take lots of photos. When you get home, everything can go into a memory book, which you’ll treasure for years.
Need a place to stay? Choice Hotels offers a fabulous range of more than 150 centrally located affordable accommodation options across Australia. Search online and save!
About the writer
Cindy Bingley-Pullin considers herself a writer, wanderluster, corporate bee and happy homemaker. In between analysing spreadsheets in the office, she pursues her combined passions of travel and freelance writing. Her work has appeared in Virgin Australia’s Voyeur, International Traveller, Fitness First magazine and the Sydney Morning Herald.