You have one opportunity as a parent to raise your children well and to give them a childhood that they love and cherish. Ask a person what they’ve been up to and they will usually identify the work they have been doing, any noteworthy events such as marriages or births and then talk about the places they have travelled to.
Travelling can be an incredibly expensive cost on the family budget.
I know people who save and save and save their entire lives and never travelled. It was a luxury they could not afford. Instead their house was filled with spare coin jars, adorned in 70’s furniture and they wore each t-shirt till each thread finally evaporated. When they retired I observed the wallets suddenly loosen. Their dreams could now finally be realised! Two weeks on a spectacular cruise down the Rhine River and a hefty $20,000 for the privilege. If that was their notion of travel, I can completely understand why it took so long for them to save.
Travel does not need to be like that. You do not need to forsake travel because you have children.
My parents raised me well on a diet of travel. By the time I was 20 I had been to nearly 50 countries. I, in turn, have always been determined to give my kids the same experience. Don’t let budgeting spoil an opportunity to go on a holiday with your kids. Who wants to miss out on those amazing years because of money?
But what kind of travel is reasonable?
When I was a young traveller I used to live on the smell of an oily rag. Eating a can of cold stew, sleeping on benches and walking EVERYWHERE! It gave me a great perspective of how others lived and eroded the fear I had of not having enough. Would I suggest this standard of living for a group of family travellers? No way!
How do you then travel on a budget?
Here are 5 tips that might make your dreams a reality:
#1 Consider a road trip instead of a plane flight
Recently we decided on a road trip instead of a flight. It was an 18 hour drive there and back, but would have cost over $1200 as we booked late. We worked out that it would have been a 1 hour trip to the airport, 3 hours early check in, 2 ½ hour flight, 30 minute check out, 30 minutes to car rental, 1 hour later at hotel. We figured that the cost of the flights, parking, plus the car rental for the sake of 9 ½ hours was not a price we were willing to pay. Instead we drove and had a lot more family time as we stopped along the way.
#2 Focus on the experience
Dollars spent to not necessarily equate to a better experience. Spending $500 on a fancy hotel that you check into at 2pm, then depart from to explore around, sleep in and then vacate at 10am is a sure way to blow your money fast. My wife and I travelled around with our 2 year old daughter for 4 months and had a budget of no more than $100 Aussie dollar per night. Believe me, this was more than enough.
#3 Avoid overpriced attractions
I’ve always found that some of the real big tourist attractions where big money was spent, often left me feeling disappointed. Paying a huge amount as an entrance fee for each member of the family can sometimes be better spent. You won’t be able to brag about saying “Oh yeah, I saw that!” as it pops up on a travel show. Instead you will be able to talk about the experience you had with the people you met and the natural beauty you saw along the way.
#4 Eat where the locals eat
When you visit a hotel, ask the person at the front desk where they would recommend to eat. They will often suggest various fancy restaurants because that is what they think you would want to hear. Ask again and say that you want places where they would eat. This should take you to places that you otherwise might not have found. Places filled with locals, great food and fabulous prices. Much better than some starchy tourist restaurant!
#5 Plan and book early
The earlier you book, the cheaper the prices usually are. Plan your trip well in advance and book things early.
Never skimp on the things that matter most. Family holidays are a something you and your children will treasure forever. They don’t need to break the bank. Spend your travelling money wisely and you will have memories that will last forever.