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How to plan for an affordable holiday on a budget

Are you dreaming of going on a holiday or vacation, but worried about breaking the bank? Planning and budgeting for a trip can seem overwhelming, but with a few simple steps, you can make it more affordable and enjoyable. In this article, we will guide you through the process of planning and budgeting for an affordable vacation, ensuring that you have a memorable experience without emptying your wallet. Check out these tips on how to plan for an affordable holiday on a budget that everyone will, we hope, be happy with; even the kids!

This is a collaborative post.

This image is providing tips for budgeting for a family holiday, as well as providing resources to learn more about budgeting.

1. Determine your destination  

To plan an affordable vacation, and to get that perfect holiday on a budget, start by picking a destination that aligns with your interests, preferences, and desired experiences. Research multiple locations and choose one that fits your budget while also offering activities you enjoy. Look for destinations that strike a good balance between affordability and the experiences you and your family want.

Don’t be surprised if this take time, and input from multiple sources either. Research is one of the most important stages of sticking to that budget holiday. Don’t be put off if it takes a while.

Have patience.

2. Research and compare prices  

Selecting your dream travel destination is the first and most exciting step in planning your trip. However, it’s important to do your research and compare prices before finalising any bookings. With the abundance of travel websites available, it can be overwhelming to choose the best option for your needs. What has the right activities for the kids? Are those included within costs? What about eating options for your family?

That’s why it’s important to take your time and carefully review all of your options, ensuring you aren’t hit with any hidden costs or additional fees. Reading reviews from fellow travellers can also provide valuable insight into the best deals and experiences. Remember, a little extra effort upfront can lead to big savings and an unforgettable trip.

A person is sitting on a pile of coins.

3. Set a realistic budget  

Faris Khatib from Ideal Tax, a tax relief firm, says that planning a budget for a vacation may not be the most glamorous part of planning a trip, but it’s an essential step in ensuring your travels remain financially affordable. When it comes to setting a budget, it’s important to calculate all of your expenses from transportation and accommodation to activities and souvenirs. Once you’ve added up all your costs, it’s time to allocate a specific amount for each category and stick to it.

Unexpected expenses and emergencies can arise at any moment, so be sure to include a bit of extra cash in your budget.

As a family, we never travel without contingency money! You never really know what’s going to happen when there are kids involved, so it is always worth taking and budgeting for that little bit extra. Just. In. Case.

By setting a realistic budget, you can enjoy your vacation without the stress of overspending.

4. Choose the right time to travel  

When it comes to planning the perfect vacation, timing is everything. It could be the difference between an affordable trip or one that blows your budget out of the water. By avoiding peak seasons and holidays when prices tend to skyrocket, you can save a significant amount of money.

This is easier when the kids are not of school age, but can become really hard when they are older and at school. Consider travelling are inset days, or the start or ends of holidays when some other schools, and locations don’t have holidays. We have found that travel from midweek to midweek at the last stage of the summer holidays can create lots of savings as inset days eat into the first days in September when prices come down.

Instead, opt for off-peak times when rates are generally lower. Trying to be as flexible with your travel dates is key to taking advantage of the best deals available. While it may require some extra research, the savings you’ll receive in return will make it all worth it in the end. So, choose wisely and plan your trip at the right time to travel!

A child is using Winsor Water Colour Markers to draw a picture on a Kiddy Charts coloring page.

5. Look for deals and discounts  

Search for deals and discounts on flights, accommodations, and attractions. Many websites offer promotional codes, flash sales, and package deals. Sign up for newsletters and follow the social media accounts of travel companies to stay updated on the latest offers.

Consider using travel rewards programs or credit cards that offer travel benefits to save even more. Finally, there are some kids cards, such as Kids Pass, which offer big savings on attractions while you are away, so consider using these as well. Sometimes popping into the local tourist information centres give you access to special deal cards too, particularly if you have kids.

It is always worth saying hi to the local tourism support, just for these deals in resort alone. If you are away with a rep, and a specific travel company, don’t forget to ask them too.

6. Save money on accommodation  

When planning a vacation, one of the main expenses to consider is accommodation. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to traditional hotels that can help you save money and still enjoy a comfortable stay. Vacation rentals, hostels, and staying with locals through platforms like Airbnb are great options to explore.

Camping is fun for families too, so why not check out local camping sites, and maybe even do our camping photography challenge or camping scavenger hunt while you are out and about?

Additionally, look for accommodations with kitchen facilities, which will allow you to prepare some of your meals and save on dining out expenses. By being mindful of these alternatives and facilities, you can enjoy a budget-friendly yet enriching vacation.

Finally, how about travelling in a caravan – over a long period of time – these can be a good investment for some families?

The building displays a sign.

7. Plan your meals wisely  

Eating out can quickly add up and strain your budget. Plan your meals wisely by researching affordable local eateries, food markets, and street vendors. Consider packing snacks and reusable water bottles to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Additionally, try to experience the local cuisine without always dining at high-end restaurants.

8. Optimise transportation costs  

Transportation costs can vary greatly depending on your destination. Look for affordable transportation options such as public transportation, rideshares, or biking. Compare prices for car rentals and consider sharing the cost with fellow travelers.

Walk whenever possible to explore the city and save on transportation fees.

A train station platform is bustling with public transport, as a metro train pulls into the empty outdoor track of the transport hub.

9. Explore free and low-cost activities  

Not every activity during your vacation needs to break the bank. Research free or low-cost attractions, museums with discounted admission days, or outdoor activities like hiking and exploring local parks. Take advantage of city passes or tourist cards that offer discounts on multiple attractions.

10. Create an itinerary  

Having a well-planned itinerary can help you maximize your time and money. Prioritize the activities and sights you want to experience and organize them in a logical order. Group nearby attractions to minimize transportation costs and avoid backtracking. Leave some room for spontaneous exploration and relaxation.

11. Pack smart and save on luggage fees  

Packing smart can save you from additional luggage fees and make your travel experience smoother. Pack light, bringing only the essentials. Check the baggage policies of your airline to avoid any surprise fees. Consider packing versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched, reducing the need for excessive luggage.

A person is holding a receipt and a fashionable sun hat in their hand, while a bag with a text from Kiddy Charts hangs from their shoulder.

12.Stay flexible and open-minded  

While planning is essential, staying flexible and open-minded can lead to unexpected savings. Be open to changing your plans if a better opportunity arises. Flexibility in your travel dates or destination can help you find better deals. Embrace new experiences and be willing to try something different.

Note: your kids may not need all those inflatables which are taking up an entire case after all…?

13. Track your expenses  

Make sure to record all of your expenses during your trip to make sure you don’t go over your budget. Use budgeting apps or simply keep a notebook with you to jot down all your expenses.

Review your spending regularly and make adjustments if necessary. Maintaining control over your finances and avoiding overspending can be achieved with this. 

A cell phone sits on the table.

Planning and budgeting for an affordable vacation is a skill that can save you money while ensuring an enjoyable experience. By determining your destination, researching prices, setting a realistic budget, and making smart choices throughout your trip, you can have a memorable vacation without breaking the bank. We hope this ideas on how to do a family holiday on a budget is helpful for you. Why not sign up to us if it is?

You can also check out some of our other budgeting tips here too:

Money saving printables on KiddyCharts

Here are some more ideas and printables for saving money on KiddyCharts - we hope that these help you out a little bit more with those money worries.

And more ideas from other sites too:

Budgeting ideas from outside KiddyCharts

Here are some more ideas for budgeting that we hope that you will find useful.

We really would love to see you again, and happy holidays too! Check out some of our other travel ideas and tips too.

Take care,

In this image, a family is being taught how to save money on travel through the website Kiddy Charts.

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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