17 July 2008 - Holidays for families can be expensive, particularly in the current economic climate. Even if you’ve managed to save for the holiday, it’s the little extras that can end up putting a strain on your bank balance. Tots to Travel, experts in family-friendly travel, have these tips on how to cut costs when travelling with children.
1. Passports. Check your passport is valid and make sure you have them for your children too. Last minute passport applications are stressful and more expensive. Check them now and put a reminder in your calendar 6 months before they expire.
2. Parking. Parking for a week at an airport can cost just about as much as the holiday! Use the internet to find cheap airport car parking, ferries, flights and car hire.
3. Packing. When packing try to plan as carefully as you can. It will be cheaper to buy sun cream, hats and other provisions at home rather than at your resort. However, also be aware of your luggage allowance and weigh your bags before you leave home. Children’s kit can easily weigh 38kgs on it’s own – much more than most allowances - so try to find accommodation that provides as much of it as possible for you.
4. Picnics. Think ahead to what meals you are likely to need en-route and pack a picnic, snacks and drinks. Your children will love eating in an unusual place and it will save you a lot in roadstops, airport cafes and on the plane.
5. Foreign exchange. Don't leave purchasing your foreign exchange until you get to the airport. It is worth hunting around for the best exchange rate. WHICH recently investigated foreign currency vendors and revealed that there is marked difference between the high street and the airports, with a difference of almost £35 between the highest and the lowest foreign currency providers.
6. Self cater. With self catering you are not dependent on expensive restaurants. Buy food from the local supermarkets or markets and plan picnics rather than eating out at expensive restaurants. It also gives you a better feel for local culture doing this and you can find things your children will want to eat. If you are staying in a hotel, use the mini-bar fridge for your own drinks. Particularly do not use the mini-bar.
7. Free fun. You don’t need expensive outings as plenty of fun can be had within your destination. Young children in particular prefer to spend time in one spot instead of going on lots of trips. Buy some good stories and colouring books or play games in the pool (woggle horse races anyone?). Pack an inflatable beach ball or for small children, just use some empty water bottles and different size containers for pouring activities. A beach, bucket and spade can make for hours of entertainment or you can find out where the local playground, donkeys or farmyard animals are for cheap yet fun outings.
8. Fuel for thought. If driving, remember that petrol is scarily expensive so try to limit your journeys and look for fun that is closer to home. Try to combine your outings so you are making fewer journeys and perhaps plan to have some relaxing time at your resort or in your holiday cottage rather than undertaking numerous lengthy car journeys. Remember that you have to leave your hire car full of petrol so ask where the nearest petrol station is when you pick up the car and ensure that it will be open at the time of your departure. Car hire firms will sting you for leaving a less than full tank.
9. Turn off your mobile. Using your mobile phone abroad can cost a bomb. Look at your provider’s tariffs before you go so that you know what you’re in for. According to Moneysupermarket.com, if you’re a leisure traveller rather than a frequent flyer, you’re better off using a network like your normal pay monthly or pay-as-you-go plan rather than a local/global SIM card. See this article on how the tariffs compare. And remember, you’re meant to be on holiday enjoying some time with your children, so the most cost effective and best approach is to simply switch off.
10. Treats. Try to plan your holiday so that you space out your 'treats' - eating out or enjoying some form of paid for entertainment like canoeing - with simple pleasures like walking around the market, playing in the pool or eating ice cream. Remember, children do not need expensive treats. They will just love having quality time with you.
For more information on what travelling with young children, go to www.totstotravel.co.uk
About Tots to Travel
Tots to Travel is the parent company of Tots to France and Tots to Italy.
Tots to France was set up by Wendy Shand, mum of two, in April 2006 as a holiday lettings agency with a range of family friendly properties throughout France. The company specialises in providing accommodation to meet the very specific needs of families with babies and young children. All properties are fully equipped with a range of child-related equipment and safety features. The company also provides English-speaking babysitters and home cooked meals.
The concept proved enormously successful, with the company now offering over 50 French properties. Building on this success, the award-winning formula has been replicated in Italy with the launch of Tots to Italy in January 2008. Roll outs for other countries like the UK, Spain, Ireland and the Balearic Islands are currently being planned.
Wendy Shand won the Mother@work Best Mumpreneur Award 2007, the Enterprisenation Home Business of the Year Award 2007 and the BT Essence of the Entrepreneur Award 2007. She was a regional finalist in the HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards 2008.
Notes for editors
If you would like to speak to Wendy or get more information about Tots to France, Tots to Italy or travelling with children, please contact:
01635 248 496
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