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Recession-busting family travel tips

Introduction

Online travel tools, practical tips and ideas to save your family £'s on flights, hotels, transport, meals and calling home so you can plan, book and budget for a cheaper holiday this year.
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02/06/2009
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Top 5 recession-busting family travel tips

Small adjustments to how you plan, book and budget for your holiday can make a huge difference to your wallet. Besides, you might just find that the simple pleasures can be great fun, so use our belt-tightening travel tips to have a ball on a shoestring!

  1. Research using online travel tools
    If you’re looking to fly, make sure you do your research thoroughly, in advance of booking. Make use of the travel aggregator sites like kayak and cheapflights as these sites check through thousands of airline databases, and earn their money from the airline when you click through to book, not from a service fee from you (which is how sites like expedia work). Yapta tracks airfares and hotel rates so they can tell you when it’s cheapest to buy a particular route, and may even help you get credit issued from your airline, if the price drops below what you paid for it.

    Road trips are still the cheapest way to get where you’re going, and this is the year to visit places you’ve always meant to, within a few hours’ drive of your own home. But fuel can crank up your overheads. Use Petrolprices to find the lowest UK petrol prices in the areas you’re driving through or Gasprices in the US.
  2. Work backwards
    Let your destination pick itself, from the special offers available when you’re ready to travel: set up an ‘offers’ freemail account and then go on a signing up spree to every travel site you can think of! The Eurostar/ Eurotunnel and ferry company newsletters, the rail companies and all the holiday companies are looking for ways to attract back the customers this summer, and you should see big last-minute savings coming through on their cross channel offers with the family car.
  3. Midweek and mid-season
    If your kids are not in school, make the most of the cheaper offers available outside school holiday dates. This isn’t just accommodation, often theme parks and other family destinations will have special offers in the summer outside of school holidays. Make sure you check their websites and plan in advance around any offers.

    If you can help it, don’t start your holiday on a Saturday, go for midweek and call the hotel to check whether they have any offers or can add any extras at the time of your stay.
  4. Let the kids go alone
    If you’re looking at a whole summer around the house because it’s too expensive to go on a family holiday in July and August, consider sending the kids away for a few days by themselves. Companies like PGL have excellent track records in caring for – and entertaining – kids aged 7 to 17, and their full-board adventure holidays start from £99 for four days. Then you can get cracking on that list of stuff to do at home (or just enjoy the peace and quiet!).
  5. Budget for the hidden costs of your holiday
    With just a little preparation you can save yourself some serious money by just thinking ahead with your holiday budget.

    phoning home
     if this is what's going to cost you, it’s quick and easy to set up your laptop with SkypeOut so you can make landline calls from your computer, or to buy the right international calling card, which you can use from your mobile or any payphone.

    transport if this is where you’ll take the biggest hit, research the cheapest local car hire and make sure you’ve got a feel for local bus and train travel networks: if in doubt, ask the locals!

    Dining out do a search for hotels and restaurants in the area where kids eat free, and sign up for any vouchers which will be valid for local eateries at the time you travel. Sandwich bags and few Tupperware items will be indispensible and even a small fridge in your hotel will mean you’re able to prepare daily sandwiches, saving your lunch bill. And again, as the locals about cheap family eateries.
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