The following post was originally published in May, and updated in August 2015.
When you ask people what stops them from travelling as a family, either one of two answers are given: lack of time or lack of money.
For some people, it can be difficult to get the time off from work to be able to take a nice, long vacation.
Lack of finances is also understandable, as travelling with a family is far more expensive than travelling alone or as a couple.
While planning our European trip, I was shocked by the cost of flying my family of 5 to Europe. I remember thinking, the money we spent on flights is the total amount of money my husband and I spent on a 6 week backpacking trip 12 years ago!
But once the shock was over, and I did more research, I found that there were many options available to us for various travel items.
Here is a list of the top 7 expenses you need to take into consideration when travelling with your family:
1. Flights- The bigger the family, the bigger the cost to reach your destination. But the good news is that competition is fierce among the airlines, and you can study prices months in advance. There are also daily alerts that can be sent to your mobile every time the price changes for your preferred airline and route. Remember that child airfares are usually a few hundred dollars less than adult airfares.
2. Travel Insurance
Insurance is a necessary expense, as it gives you peace of mind in case of any unfortunate incidents. Do your research online- there are many travel insurance companies and lots of consumer reviews available to help you make the best choice.
3. Accommodation- The bulk of our travel budget has been allocated to accommodation. And the challenge of being a family of 5 means that standard hotel rooms are not an option. Families with more than 4 members will need to book two hotel rooms- this becomes very expensive! Fortunately, with websites such as homeaway.com and airbnb.com, there are many more family friendly options available at reasonable prices. Here are some more tips for booking with Airbnb.
4. Passports- Yes every child must have a passport when travelling internationally. In Australia, child passports are valid for five years. Before filling in passport application forms, enquire with the passport office in your city to find out which forms you need to complete and what the process is. For example, in Australia, if you are simply renewing a passport that has expired, you do not need to complete as much paperwork as someone applying for a new passport. And it is slightly cheaper!
5. Food- Your food budget will depend on a number of factors: do you want to experience local cuisine and eat out, or are you happy to shop at local markets and stores and cook your own meals? Do you have fussy children? Do you have children with special dietary requirements or allergies? Will you bring your own food with you when visiting certain tourist attractions or are you happy to purchase food at outlets at these places?
6. Entertainment- Are any free or cheap entertainment options at your destination? Many cities offer free or discounted museum entry for children, while parks and gardens are usually free. Sometimes it is cheaper to book tickets online for certain attractions, and it also saves you time queuing.
7. Transport- If you are going to be moving around your destination, you will need to consider the cost of transport. Plane, bus, train, car or bike? While our family was in Croatia, it was more cost effective for us to rent a car than to purchase 5 bus or train tickets. Plus there is the added flexibility of being able to stop for toilet or lunch breaks when we feel like it (or when the kids dictate!).
These are just some of the main travel expenses that are common to most destinations worldwide. The key to budgeting and then sticking to your budget is to do your research, plan ahead and make the best decision for your family’s needs. Everyone is different, and cheapest is not always the best if it means you need to sacrifice other things that are important to you and your kids.
But that’s the beauty and joy of travelling: you get to do it your way!