Holiday season is just around the corner. It can be an expensive time, especially for those with children who can only book to go abroad in the price rocketing school holidays.
Natalie Cooper, who has been named Online Bargain Hunter of the Year 2014 by money saving experts PromotionalCodes.org.uk, knows how to find a good deal.
The 24-year-old mum of one used to work overseas for a well-known tour operator, where she learnt a few sneaky travel tips and she has put together her top seven tips on how to save money on family holidays.
Ditch the travel agent
Book your holiday yourself. Avoiding travel agents will save you money because it means that you won’t have to pay them commission. Researching holidays online has never been easier and doing it yourself gives you the comfort of knowing that you have found the best possible deal and the best facilities for your family to enjoy. You can book your own holiday in just a few clicks or a phone call. Also, don’t be afraid to call up travel shops and ask them for the best prices. In many cases if you mention that you were offered a better deal elsewhere they might reduce their initial offer.
Use discount codes
Voucher code websites are great for saving money on holidays and can make a real difference to your overall holiday cost. Visit voucher code websites likePromotionalCodes.org.uk for some great discount codes. Sites liketravelsupermarket.com allow you to compare prices across lots of companies meaning that you can find the best prices by visiting just one website. Saving money by using these websites means that you will have more money to spend on fun with the family when you get there.
Ignore star ratings
Ignore the star ratings in holiday brochures as most of them are independently created by the tourist operator with different requirements and are not governed by an independent body such as the AA ratings. A hotel may be four stars because it has disabled access, two pools, kids clubs and air conditioning in the rooms but the food and cleanliness standards may be very low. So you could get excellent quality food at a one star hotel or lots of facilities and poor food at a four star, it just depends where your priorities lie.
Read customer reviews on websites such as tripadvisor.co.ukto find out the strengths and weaknesses of hotels.
Consider all methods of transport
Think carefully about your travel options before you book your holiday. Traveling with children on the train can work out cheaper if you get a family rail card. A family rail card will save you a third on train prices and allows children under the age of five to travel for free. Visit different ticket websites to find the best price. Redspottedhanky.com often sells train tickets for a cheaper fare and offers a loyalty point scheme that can earn you discounts from future tickets. Also, children often find traveling by trains an exciting experience so you might find that they do not complain as much as when traveling by car.
Don’t rely on hand held games
When going on long car journeys and holidays don’t just rely on hand held games consoles to keep the children entertained. Games consoles cause many arguments about batteries running out, the noise they make and who gets to play on it if you have more than one child sharing one console.
Instead, buy a linen shoe organiser from the pound shop and clip it to back of the car seat. You can fill it with sticker books, travel toys and free magazines (there are many available, my daughter’s favourite is Lego magazine). There are also lots of free colouring sheets that can be printed from websites. Visit crayola.co.uk for a variety of pictures to print off.
If you’re feeling creative, make a travel tray. I made my daughter a travel tray that cost just £3. Buy a small baking tray, a double-sided velcro roll and magnetic shapes. I bought all these from a pound shop. Drill slots in to the right and left hand side of the baking tray and thread through a long strip of velcro so that it can comfortably sit under your child’s legs while traveling. Finally, put the magnetic shapes on the tray and hey presto!
Pack a picnic
Packing a picnic or getting yourself a BITE card for traveling via train will stop you from wasting money on eating out. Signing up for a BITE card will entitle you to discount offers at food and drink outlets across UK railway stations including Millie’s Cookies, Upper Crust and Burger King. Children will always want sweets and other treats while on days out so be prepared and have a few packs of treats in your handbag so that you don’t end up paying ridiculous prices. Also, bringing your own sweets means that you can also choose a healthier alternative such as yoghurt covered raisins.
Save on suntan lotion
- Also remember your loyalty points for Boots and don’t forget to check the in-store machines as you can get up to 50% off some products. Other retailers like Superdrug run a similar loyalty scheme – worth collecting up the points to treat yourself to something nice when you have enough.
- Buying suntan lotion when it is on offer can save you a fortune and shops often offer huge discounts. You can currently save half price on selected sun protection and aftercare products at Boots. I love the Boots SPF50+ Stick for kids. It is £3 at the moment and pops nicely in your backpack.
- You should also apply suntan lotion every two hours, which means it will quickly run out.
- Suntan lotion can be expensive and you may need a few bottles if you’re going with the family. Children are constantly going in and out of the pool so you need to apply suntan lotion to them regularly.