Budget Travel – 7 Tips on How to See the World With Your Family in Tow

Budget travel and family travel are usually considered as two polar opposites. And in some instances, this can be considered as the Bible truth. However, there are ways you can enjoy a family vacation on a shoestring budget. There are certain things you would need in order to pull this off: 1) your proposed budget, 2) a plan, and 3) each and every family member’s utmost cooperation. If you have all three, you can budget travel to almost any part of the world with your family in tow, have a grand time and still save some money on the side. Here are some tips on how you can pull this off.

1. Set aside a certain amount of money for your travels. This is necessary especially if you are planning to fly into your proposed destination spot. Aside from transportation costs, you would also need money for food, incidental expenses and of course, emergency money. The key here is to actually work within your budget, so setting up your budget proposal for the entire trip should really be first and foremost on your list. Once you have a proposed budget, it is easier to narrow down your choices of destination spots to go to, what kind of lodging establishments you can afford, the length of time you will be on this trip and modes of transportation you will use.

2. Even on a shoestring budget, you can take your family out of the country. You just need to research extensively the places where you can take them that you know for certain will not break the bank. More importantly, you will find things to do within that particular place that you know everyone can enjoy. Airplane fares are usually cheaper during the off tourist seasons, but there are some airlines that do offer discounted rates for group travelers. Book your airline seats several weeks in advance, if possible. The same goes when it comes to lodgings. Lodging establishments in various countries usually offer more than affordable rates when it comes to family or group packages after the tourist seasons end. Again, the key here is to book or reserve rooms early. Fortunately, many global airlines and lodging establishments can be accessed to from the web.

3. One of the best ways of getting family friendly travel and vacation discounts is to ask a travel agent to help you with your getaway plans. Although you can probably do most of the online research on your own, there are just some budget travel deals that only professional travel agents have access to. If you can find someone you can trust, tell him or her your proposed budget, and the location where you intend to take your family to. You can compare notes later on when it comes to budget constraints and destinations. However, it is important that you should have the last say in the matter. Try not to feel obligated to reserve or book seats or lodgings, especially when you do not like the area, price or locations that the travel agent is recommending.

4. You might also want to include the rest of your family when it comes to budget allocation. You might propose a vacation savings plan where you ask every member of the family to regularly contribute a little something to the pot. Or, you can ask your older kids to save up on their own incidental expenses (to buy souvenirs, trinkets or what-nots) during the entirety of the trip. Older members of the family (sister, uncle, grandparent, etc.) can pitch in by paying for food for at least one meal (or more!) or pay for entrance tickets to some of the locations you all want to go to. Allocate a small amount of money for your younger kids and tell them what their spending budget is. This is a good way of teaching them the value of money while keeping the purse strings tightly knotted.

5. Try to find lodgings that will allow you to store, prepare and cook your family’s own food. We all know how overpriced hotel meals are and dining out may not always be better or cheaper. Fortunately, there are some family resorts and inns that let their clients prepare their own meals. Make sure the rooms you will get have a refrigerator, a stove and a microwave that you can use. Once you have everyone settled in, go shopping for groceries. Not only is this a far healthier option, but you can also save a lot of money by closely monitoring your food expenses too.

6. Plan where you will take your family once you have chosen your destination. You do not have to set up a strict schedule as to where you should go and how many minutes you should stay in one venue. However, for the sake of shaving off a few dollars from your traveling expenses, you may want to know beforehand just how much you are bound to spend in one place, and stick to that budget. Some of the things you need to consider are traveling expenses; rates of entrance tickets; incidental expenses like money for snacks, sweets or water; and even shopping money for trinkets and souvenirs. You would need additional spending money if you are taking your kids on carnival rides or similar forms of entertainment. Naturally enough, there are various tourist spots that you can take your family in for free, but some of them may not exactly be that appealing to the kids or the grown ups, for that matter.

7. Encourage everyone to pack lightly. Traveling light has many advantages. First, this gives your family more mobility. This is great especially if the lodging accommodations are not exactly what you signed up for and you would rather find someplace else nicer or cheaper to stay. The same goes when it comes to finding a tourist spot to visit. Secondly, you do not have to worry about excess baggage if your family is indeed flying in or flying out of the country. Lastly, traveling light means you and the rest of your family members can take public modes of transportation, aside from taking the cab, or hiring a car. Cab fares may not seem much per ride, but expenses can pile up in a hurry especially if you are visiting several spots in one a day. Also, you need to contend with gasoline prices when it comes to hiring a car.

Budget Travelling: The Do’s and Don’ts

One of the privileges of living in this day and age is that almost anyone can travel to almost anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. No longer is it a privilege reserved for the rich and famous as airlines continue lowering their prices to maintain their competitive edge. Nonetheless travelling can often be highly stressful as we are making a leap out of our comfort zones and into the unknown. Questions race through our mind. Will anyone there understand me? Have I planned enough? Can I afford it?

This article shall go over some of the main things you should and should not do if you intend to travel on a budget. This list is not meant to be definitive, but rather to outline some basic steps that one can take to make their budget travel as stress free as possible. We shall be focusing mainly within the context of international travel, though many of these tips could readily apply to shorter day trips.

Do plan a daily budget.

This one is simple really, yet it is amazing how many people don’t do it. For me, the easiest way to plan a daily budget is to first ask how much you are planning to spend overall. From this deduct the transportation costs and accommodation (more on this later). Then divide what is left by the number of days you are planning on going away.

For example, lets say I was going to London for 10 days. I planned to do it with £2500 overall. My airfare costs £600, while my accommodation will cost £120 per night (London isn’t cheap). So for nine nights my accommodation equals £1080. Therefore airfare plus accommodation equals £1680. Take that away from the overall budget of £2500 and we are left with £820. Simply divide that by 10(the number of days I am in London) and you have £82 as your daily budget. For a single person this is substantial. For two or more people the same rule applies if you are budgeting together, except you need to allow for roughly twice as much for your daily budget, not to mention your other expenses will be roughly twice as high.

Do keep track of your daily spending.

So you have a daily budget. Well a budget is absolutely useless if you don’t apply it. Simply take a notebook and pen with you wherever you go and write down every expense that you incur, no matter how small. The fact that while you are travelling, you will often use a credit card or cash, means that your spending can quickly get away on you. By recording your spending by hand you can easily avoid this. It will soon become a habit so do not go anywhere without your notebook.

Another excellent thing about such a recording system is you can carry what you don’t spend onto later days. Say for example, on my first day in London I am £36 under my budget. Then with nine days left it means I have an extra £4 a day (£36/9 days = £4). On the other hand, if I go £36 over budget on the first day, I can work out that I will have £4 less a day.

Do book all your accommodation well in advance.

This one ties into the budget once again, however there are even more practical reasons to this. Once you get to your destination, as a budget traveler the last thing you want is to run around trying to find vacant accommodation that fits your budget requirements. By booking in advance online, not only can you guarantee a place to stay upon your arrival, you can also research, find and book accommodation that suits your needs and requirements.

Do book all your major trips in advance.

By major trips I mean any intercity trips by aircraft, train, bus or boat. Basically any trip that isn’t part of your destinations regional transport system. By booking in advance you can add the expenses to your transportation costs, as such large single expenses would quickly exceed your daily budget. The fact remains that buying tickets at a ticket stand may be cheaper. However, take note of the word “may” as they are often not. When travelling on a budget, you cannot afford such a gamble. Therefore get these costs dealt with as soon as possible so you know what you are getting in to.

Do research your destination.

There are many websites on the internet, where you can get information about your destination. Things that you may want to research include, what are cheap attractions, top attractions, good affordable restaurants, tourist traps, and local scams. Take special note of the last one as many major cities have running scams that, by knowing about in advance, you can easily avoid. For example, Paris has an issue with Roma asking for handouts, then snatching your wallet or camera while you are looking for change to give them.

Do not necessarily go for the cheapest option.

This ties into research. Sometimes it is better to spend that extra £20 on accommodation, when the alternative is a rat infested hell hole. Look around online for reviews of the accommodation you are considering staying at. A single exceptionally atrocious hotel is enough to put a major dent in your holiday enjoyment. Of course, don’t expect 5-star hotels on a budget either.

Do not EVER avoid getting travel insurance to save money.

As was mentioned at the start of this article, when overseas you are a lot more isolated than you would be at home. Likewise, if something does go wrong, if you do not have travel insurance nobody will be there to help you. Your embassy will not fly you home free of charge if you are ill and miss your flight. At the very most your embassy, assuming there is one, will offer advice and allow you to call home. If you cannot afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel. It’s as simple as that.

Overall plan, plan and plan some more, and have fun while you are there.

The key element in all these points is planning. If you deal with anything that will likely be stressful while you are travelling well in advance, then your trip will be far more stress free, and you will spend less time worrying and more time doing the things you want to do.