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My 11 Top Tips For Budget-Friendly Family Travel

Fat Mum Slim /

Brought to you by American Express.

travel-tips

It’s funny how life ends up. I didn’t travel much as a kid, besides one local camping trip, one trip to the Gold Coast in a Tarago, and multiple trips to Sydney to visit my nanna… but apart from that I only had my first flight when I was 18.

My kids on the other hand, they have loads of stamps in their passports and have had so many unique and beautiful life experiences already, and we’re so grateful that they’ve had these experiences. A lot of the travel we do is because of the work I do, blogging. From the outside looking in, it might look like it’s all fancy and fund-free… the reality is I plan a lot, budget a fair bit, and a lot of the travel only my costs are covered so I have to make it work for the rest of my family.

Today I wanted to share some budget trips that I use for traveling as a family, but also how to really maximise points as well. In the past I thought points were only for business people who flew on the regular for work, but I soon came to realise that they’re beneficial for EVERYONE. I totally suggest jumping on the point bandwagon, but more on that later.

lahaina

MY 11 TOP TIPS FOR BUDGET-FRIENDLY TRAVEL

1. BE ORGANISED

This is going to save you money and headaches, for real. It’s as simple as this; the more organised you are, the less money you waste. This goes for organising your flights ahead of time, the closer you buy to the date you leave the more likely you are to pay more. It also relates to packing too. If you’re going to be a last-minute haphazard packer, there’s a good chance you’re going to forget something… and then pay triple for it at the airport {like the time I forgot to pack extra clothes for Lulu, and after an accident I had to buy her a whole outfit from an airport shop – cha ching!}. Use lists. Plan ahead. Be as organised as possible.

2. PRIORTISE YOUR PREFERENCES

For us a family, we want to explore a place as if we potentially may never return. I want to not leave any stone unturned {as much as possible} and I also want the kids to walk away with learning something as well. I invest money on hiring a local tour guide when we travel so they can show us the best of the area in a day. It’s some of the best money I’ve spent. For others they might want to relax and spend their money on cocktails. Chat together as a family before you leave, and work our what’s important to you all – and then know that you’re going to be putting money towards that {and maybe sacrificing other things}.

3. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH

If you’re going to popular tourist destination, they’re sure to have lots of free activities for tourists to enjoy. Talk to locals. Read guides and make use of what’s on offer. In Hawaii you can find free fireworks, hula lessons and so much just by asking around or reading guides. Make the most of what is on offer for FREE.

waikiki

4. GO NATURAL

No, I don’t mean go nude and save money on clothes… but instead of spending money on the manmade attractions around the world, instead make an effort to check out local natural attractions like hikes, waterfalls, beaches, watering holes and other beautiful sites. These are my favourite things to explore when I travel. In Hawaii you can see turtles right on the beach, and it doesn’t cost a cent… and it might be the best experience you’ve ever had.

5. FORGO THE VIEW

I know waking up to a view is a beautiful thing, but honestly how much time do you spend in your room when you’re on holidays? Choosing a room without a view can be so much cheaper {sometimes around 30% or more}. I did this on a recent trip to Hawaii – we moved hotels a bit, so I picked the rooms that were the cheapest, and then at our last hotel I treated the family to a room with a balcony and a view. The rooms without the view didn’t feel like we were missing out, it just meant that we headed out and to the beach a lot more {which isn’t a bad thing}.

6. WORK TOWARDS YOUR TRIP DURING THE YEAR

Families always need groceries and petrol, right? So why not make these purchases work for you throughout the year. By simply using your American Express Credit Card you can earn points as you shop. For every $1 you spend at major supermarkets in Australia you’ll earn 3 points. For every $1 you spend at major petrol stations, you’ll earn 2 points. For every $1 you spend everywhere else you’ll earn 1 point. This is money you’re going to spend anyway, so why not make it work for you for that much-needed trip you’re planning later in the year.

7. JOIN UP TO THE POINTS PROGRAM

Most airline points programs are free to join, or have free sign-up periods throughout the year. JOIN THEM ALL. I joined the Virgin program last year and by being smart about spending and travel, I’m now a platinum member {free upgrades, lounge access and more}. Visit the airline sites for more information, and make sure you connect your credit card too so they can all work together for you and your family.

8. TAKE SNACKS

In most places you visit, you can take commercially packaged foods with you. I take snacks from home when we travel, because kids will get hungry in the most inconvenient places. But also I found that I go to a shop for a $2 snack and then get excited about the knick-knacks and end up walking out $80 lighter. TAKE THE SNACKS. And a water bottle – you can save so much just by refilling the same bottle.

9. SHOP AROUND

Don’t just grab the first flight and hotel you stumble across, shop around. I generally use two browsers on my computer to compare prices for flights and hotels. Be sure to always clear your cache too, because it will know that you’re coming back and sometimes jack the price up!

10. USE YOUR POINTS

American Express always has some offer going. At the moment with selected hotels you can get your fourth night free, or various discounts. There’s potential to save major dollars. Check out their travel site here. Make sure you use your points, take advantage of the discounts, and save yourself a pretty penny. {I’ll have more details on how to exactly use the points you’ve collected in the coming months, that’s the fun bit!}.

If you have a Platinum Edge Card {like me!} you get a free flight annually, so be sure to check for these bonuses so you can take advantage of them and save some dollars.

jump

11. TAKE THE CHEAP TRANSPORT

Being new to an area, you can pay a truckload just getting taxis and transfers from one place to another. Waikiki has carts that cost just a few dollars and can take you all over, or there’s also a cheap bus that can take you from one side of the island to the other. A quick Google before you go, can have you traveling on the cheap and not wasting money on boring things like taxis.

Over to you, what’s your tips for budget-friendly travel?

  • Dee

    What great ideas! I especially like the checking out of non man made attractions. I definitely like checking out the history of a place, even though sipping cocktails by a pool is fun! And never heard of prices being hiked up because they can tell you’ve returned to a site. Thanks for the tip on clearing caches!

  • michelle barrington

    Snap! We have the same Amex card with the free flights – their travel insurance is good too! I agree with the local guide. We did this in Greece and we walked away with a stack more information than others. With trip advisor people think they can find out everything before they go but we also prefer to support local business and people and use guides.

  • Justine Bennett

    Great tips – and can I add one more? As a single mum travelling with a tweenager I’ve found it incredibly useful to set expectations from the start. Our first trip overseas she thought the trip was all about her and had a massive tantrum when I wanted to do something different than sit by the pool all day watching her play water polo. I had to spell out that this was my holiday too and we needed to do things that made us both happy. Our second trip I spelt it out before we even left home that after three days in Disneyland, I needed a day of outlet shopping and a day of mooching around the new town we were moving to. It was so much better once she got it! And she enjoyed my days almost as much as hers!

  • My parents love their American Express card so they can travel overseas every year. It’s such a great way to make travelling more affordable. Love all your tips here. 🙂

@Fatmumslim