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11 tips to book a cheap family holiday

11 tips to book a cheap family holiday

Is there ever any way to have a cheap family holiday? I often think I’ve found a bargain but when I start adding it all together it still works out really expensive!

I have three children so family holidays are rarely ‘cheap’ but I do have some travel hacks to cut costs and keep it as affordable as possible.

Here are 11 tips to book a cheap family holiday…

1. Book six months in advance

If you want a cheap family holiday, book it around six months in advance.

Admittedly, you can sometimes find a bargain if you book last minute but it’s rare and it’s risky. You’re much better off booking as far in advance as possible and slowly paying it off.

I also like booking holidays in advance because each month you can pay for something different. Maybe it’s your flights and hotel one month, then your airport parking the next, then your hire car, then new clothes, then any pre-holiday beauty treatments and then your final month is your holiday spends.

2. Try using an online travel agent

I often find that it works out much cheaper to book your flights and hotel as part of a package with an online travel agent such as Destinia. They can get flights and hotel rooms so much cheaper than you can because they buy them in bulk, so make sure you take a look.

3. Skip the last few days of school term

I know this is a controversial one and I’m not suggesting you take your children out of school for an entire two-week holiday (although if you do I’m not here to judge!)

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking your kids out of school for the last few days of term and it could save you hundreds of pounds.

One of my close friends is a teacher and she reassures me that kids don’t miss much if they skip those last few days because the kids are all too tired and excited to do much work anyway.

4. You usually don’t save much on sales

Sales are generally a scam and they often don’t actually offer much of a discount. There might be a discount on that one hotel no one ever books but it’s usually just a lot of noise and flashy banners that makes you feel pressured into booking a holiday quickly.

Travel Hack Tip: The best way to know if it’s a good ‘sale’ price or not is to simply check holiday prices often. If you know what the average price is, you’ll know when you’re getting a bargain.

5. Go self-catering

I know that all-inclusive usually seems like great value but I personally find it much cheaper to go self-catering. We tend to make our own breakfasts and lunches because, realistically, my kids only want toast, cereal and fruit for breakfast (all super cheap!) and sandwiches and snacks for lunch (again, really cheap!)

This then gives you the freedom to go wherever you want for dinner and kid’s meals don’t really cost a lot in restaurants anyway.

If you’re the kind of family who eat big and drink a lot of alcohol then maybe all-inclusive is for you but I often don’t find it to be great value.

6. Consider a different destination

We Brits love Spain for our cheap family holidays but have you considered visiting a cheaper destination? Turkey is much better value, especially if you’re going for an all-inclusive package.

Read more: Holiday destination swaps to save money

7. Make sure you have access to facilities and amenities (aka – water slides!)

If your accommodation has things to keep the kids entertained then you’re ultimately going to spend less when you arrive. Look out for things like play parks, football fields, kid’s clubs, kid’s pools and splash parks. 

For my family, if we’re staying at a hotel with water slides, all three of my kids are happy. They will never be bored when there’s a water slide! So I won’t’ be spending money on additional things to keep them happy. And what do waterslides attract? More kids! The more kids there are, the less likely they are to get bored and you won’t need to spend money to entertain them.

8. Don’t forget about the non-holiday costs

If you’re trying to book a cheap family holiday, don’t forget to save money in other areas too. It’s all well and good saving £100 on your holiday but it’s a bit pointless if you’re then spending £300 on pre-holiday beautiful treatments and bikinis.

Other costs include things like getting to the airport, airport parking, putting your dog into kennels etc. These all add up so don’t forget them.

9. Pack light

If you’re flying with a budget airline then you’ll need to pay for your luggage as an extra. It’s often about £20-£25 each way for a suitcase so for a family of four it could be an extra £200! You can save that money simply by packing light. I promise, you really don’t need all that stuff.

10. You don’t need to buy currency

If you’re booking a cheap family holiday it’s unlikely you’re going somewhere you’ll need cash. In fact, there are very few places left in the world now where you need cash at all.

Don’t exchange any currency because you usually lose money changing it back and to.

Just use something like a Monzo Card! Pay in the local currency using a travel card and you’ll avoid fees and hefty exchange rates.

11. Consider ‘cheap’ vs ‘good value’

Lots of things are cheap but they might not necessarily be good value.

You might find a hotel that’s cheap but if it’s 10 miles from anything and you end up spending a small fortune on taxis, it isn’t good value.

For example, I went on a Mark Warner sun holiday to Turkey a few years ago and while it wasn’t cheap, it was great value and there was no need to spend anything extra once we arrived. 

Phokaia Beach Resort review Mark Warner