The travel industry’s school holiday price hikes combined with the government’s clampdown on term time holidays mean that a trip away is out of the question for many families. But there are ways to have a family holiday even if you’re on a tight budget. Here are some money-saving ideas for family holidays from Gretta Schifano, founder of mumsdotravel.com.
Plus Parental Choice, together with Gretta, have put together a list of websites which we recommend you check out when planning your family holiday.
Avoid the school holidays
If your children haven’t started school yet then make sure that you avoid travelling during the school holidays. You can find some great travel deals in June and September when destinations are less crowded and less hot than they are during the peak summer months.
Book your travel arrangements as far in advance as possible as prices tend to rise the closer you get to your departure date.
Take time to explore different options for your holiday. Use several different flight comparison websites to find the best price before booking a flight.
It’s often cheaper to rent a holiday apartment rather than staying in a hotel. Apartments work well for families as they usually offer more space than hotel rooms and also allow you to cook for yourself if you want to.
You need a decent sized car for this, but if you have your own tent and equipment (which you can use again and again) all you have to pay for is pitch rental and travel costs. There are some fantastic campsites in France with great facilities for families.
Home swapping holidays can work really well for families. You register with a home-swapping agency and then exchange your home with another family for your holiday. This means that you can stay somewhere for free and that your house isn’t empty while you’re away. If you swap with someone who has kids of similar ages to yours then they’ll probably have some toys and equipment which you can use.
Many hostels now offer private family rooms and some even have en-suite bathrooms. Some hostels allow you to save money by cooking your own food in the hostel kitchen. YHA and Generator are two leading hostel brands which welcome families.
How about taking your family to work on a farm? WWOOF offers volunteers the chance to work at farms in exchange for food and accommodation – and some of the farms will take families with children. For a joining fee of £25 you can access the details of the host farms.
Stay with relatives or friends
I think that there’s truth in the saying that ‘a change is as good as a rest’. Staying with friends or relatives who don’t live near you can be great for the whole family. The local playgrounds, parks, attractions and walks will be different to the ones where you live. You can return the favour for your hosts when they feel like a change of scene.
Gretta Schifano is a professional travel writer specialising in family travel. Her website Mums do travel won the 2014 BritMums BiB award for the best travel blog. Gretta’s children are 16 and 12 years old and she pines for the days when they were officially allowed miss school in order to go on family holidays.
Recommended Websites for you to check out:
Parental Choice’s suggestions:
http://www.takethefamily.com/ – this multi-faceted website covers pretty much every base for family travels. If you want to book a holiday, use the Family Holidays Finder, and you will be presented with escapes to most parts of the world, covering most types of holiday (eg active, luxury, summer sun). It also set out the accommodation, majoring on childcare and facilities. Discounts are also available.
http://www.awaywiththekids.co.uk/ – a great resource for finding top-notch family-friendly places to stay in the UK – not just hotels, but self-catering complexes, B&Bs, youth hostels, glamping options and conventional campsites.
https://www.onthebeach.co.uk/ – good for low-cost holidays and kids go free on certain holiday packages.
http://www.totstoo.com/ – for luxury family holidays, you can’t go wrong with this website. Their team actually handpicks, visits and reviews each and every luxury holiday destination listed on their website. They know the places inside and out, and having kids themselves they can offer excellent advice on what will (and won’t) work for your family. They’ll also take care of everything for you in advance, including a very handy “before you go” checklist.
http://www.jamesvillas.co.uk/ – James Villa Holidays is the leading villa tour operator in the UK with everything arranged for you and on-hand help when you get there when you need it. They have high standards and are friendly and helpful as well. They have villas across 50 destinations for both summer and winter.
http://www.exclusiveescapes.co.uk/ – Exclusive Escapes has some amazing villas and hotels and provide luxury at value for money. They received the award for the bets travel operator in 2014.
https://www.scottdunn.com/ – Scott Dunn are a luxury tour operator which cater for families so whether you want private childcare, a children’s club or simply a family-friendly environment, they can arrange this for you.
http://www.sovereign.com/ – Sovereign is good tour operator with good offers for children this summer such free child flights, stays and more.
http://www.housetrip.com/ – House Trip are good for apartment bookings and promises you the cost of a whole home for the price of a hotel room.