So as I'm going on my holidays on Sunday I thought I'd do a few 'going away' themed posts for you today! So this is the first and probably the most serious, I present to you my top tips of holiday budgeting when you've got children.
- Budget yourselves as parents.
You know how much money you have, in cash or card so sit down before you set out or on your first evening and divide it up over how many days you are away for. Sometimes things crop up, especially whenever children are travelling too, however take this into account for future days, you will have to reduce your budget over multiple days OR from one, depending on how much has eaten into your budgets. I usually carry an extra $20/€ on top of my daily cash allowance plus we carry cards (as an example).
- Budget the children.
It sounds so, so cruel but children honestly do not need everything. They are no less of a person if they don't have things and you are no less of a parent by denying them. Their eyes can get very big when away, especially in attractions such as Disney and other theme parks. Give them spending money at the beginning of the day so that they know how much they have. This is better for older children, younger children obviously don't understand that value of money but it is still a nice experience for them to have their own cash in their own purse to spend. I'm a firm believer that children should not share adult concerns and never tell my child that we cannot afford something (even if we can't), I would like her to be young and enjoy it for as long as possible.
- Get them involved early.
A piggy bank/jar/tin is a wonderful thing. By getting them to save early and put money towards their own holiday spending money you will feel incredibly grown up and excited as they watch their balance grow over the weeks before you go away. I typically give Moo 50p pocket money a week and everything 20p and smaller from my purse at the end of the week. Even if its just a few pence, it all adds up and she's at the age where she's just excited to put the money in! Just before you go, take them to have the money changed (lots of supermarkets have those CoinStar machines), then to have it converted into currency. It's a big adventure for them and kills a morning successfully.
- Buy in bulk where you can.
If you're self-catering (even if you're not) try to go to a local supermarket and stock up on things that you think you will get through a lot of. An ideal example for this is bottled water. You will always need to have drinks throughout the day. You will save money by taking your own bottled water out with you.
- Avoid excess luggage charges.
If you're flying, watch out for excess luggage charges when travelling with a baby. Unless you're going to outer-Mongolia, chances are the will be nappies on sale near you. Buy them when you get to your destination and only take enough for your journey to save space and weight in your luggage.
- Exchange your currency early.
I know everyone knows this but I'm going to say it anyway. It's important. NEVER BUY YOUR CURRENCY AT THE AIRPORT/FERRY/YOUR DESTINATION it is notoriously bad value. Everyone and their dog does currency now so there really is no excuse. Research rates online in advance, I find that the Post Office and Marks and Spencer are the best though my mother-in-law swears byThomas Cook. If you live in a large or destination city/town there will be independent currency shops dotted about also that often have very competitive rates.
- Get a pre-paid travel card.
This is my husband's thing and he swears by it. We hold one for dollars and one for euros with Fairfx. There are a lot of different ones out there, this is just the company that we happen to use. You usually have to pay a small fee when they issue the card, then you load up your money and use it as you would your regular credit and debit cards. You get a slightly worse exchange rate on your money on a pre-paid card than you would cash currency, however you do not have to pay a fee for every time you use it like you do with your regular credit and debit cards, you also have the security of not carrying all your money in cash. You can have second cards issued so you and your partner have one each though we just carry one. If you have a credit card, take that also in case of emergencies. If you had planned to use your credit card for your spending money, you can load up the pre-paid from your credit card without facing any charges for using it abroad. Avoid using your debit card abroad wherever possible. They are incredibly expensive to use; you will be charged heavily per transaction.
- Going to a resort? Make it work for YOU!
All inclusive? Got meal vouchers? Get the full 'bang for your buck'. If your resort offers unlimited cold drinks/snacks/food etc make sure you get your money's worth and minimise dining out. If you're staying at a resort such as Disney that offers a meal voucher scheme and you buy into it, make sure you are getting full value. They are usually charge at one flat rate and offer dining at a variety of venues. Do your research, the only restaurants that they're actually worth buying for are usually the highest rated two or three. Most do not offer great value for money and it would be cheaper to 'pay as you go' so look up the menus before purchasing and ensure that the more expensive food is cuisine that your family are likely to eat. If not, it's probably cheaper to just budget for your meals out of your money rather than paying in advance
- Check your bank.
It's not said often, but banks are great! By upgrading your account you can usually save big time on things like home insurance, break-down cover, gadget-cover and yes, travel insurance! We are with Lloyds TSB and have the basic upgrade of silver on our joint account. It is £10 a month and we use all of the previously mentioned services. It saves us money on our gadget cover alone. Because we are paying it anyway, it meant that we didn't have to take out travel insurance, we are already covered and only need notify them should we need to make a claim. Most bank upgrades offer travel insurance as basic though be sure to call them if you're travelling with children, it usually only covers two of you and you will need to pay an excess to add your children (ours is £25 to add Moo for the year). Do it at the last minute so that you get the maximum usage out of it (you might be able to squeeze a second trip out of it if you plan your holidays accordingly).
- Buy in advance.
If you have an idea of what you're going to do whilst away, you can often by tickets for events and attractions cheaper online in advance before you go. It's usually around 20% off of the gate price.
So there we are, just a few little things that we use when travelling. I'm sure there're other things that I've missed or forgotten, if you know of any handy hints yourself, please comment to help others!
Labels: budget, family, Holiday, travel