HOW TO TRAVEL & LOVE BUDGET HOLIDAYS
With or without kids in tow, saving money for budget travel is all about organisation and preparation. Plan well, pack well and make the effort while on holiday – it will save you loads of money!
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WAYS TO SAVE ON MEALS AND SNACKS
One of the things we love most about travelling is eating out and trying local cuisines. We always ensure we do those things; however, we also travel on a strict budget so most of our meals are self-catered.
The longer we stay in a place, the more space we want and look for when booking accommodation. If we are spending several nights in the one location, we will always look for accommodation where we can self-cater, Airbnb is a great one for that.
Typically, we will always eat breakfast in-house. If you’re lucky enough to get breakfast included in your accommodation, that is a great bonus. In most cases, however, it is not worth the additional money as an optional extra.
We take cereal for the kids with us – Weetbix and sultanas for one, porridge for the other. They are easy to pack into containers and store and as they are eaten, we use the containers for other things. We would pack enough breakfast cereal for the kids for 1-2 weeks, anything beyond that, we just buy while we are away (or top up as required).
We also throw in some dried noodles, which can act as snacks for the kids, or a meal (as required). While they are far from a meal favourite of mine, they are easy to prepare on the night of arrival. All you need is a kettle – most places you will stay, will have that available for use. If your accommodation doesn’t have bowls, grab one of your containers that you have packed. This is quick and easy and after a long haul flight, or late arrival, it is nice to have something easy and not have to rush out and spend money on something else.
We always pack spreads – whatever your favourites are, pack them – vegemite, peanut butter and honey are the ones we normally carry. Sandwiches make a quick, easy and affordable lunch. While it’s not an interesting meal, it is a great choice when travelling on a budget.
Discount meals or kids eat free
Keep an eye out for dining-out deals, like ‘kids-eat-free’. They are popular and are often found in tourist towns. When you arrive in a town, type in ‘kids-eat-free near me’ and see what comes up. The other one to look out for is pubs which often have $10 lunches or $15 parmigiana and pot nights. Do some quick research and some planning when you arrive in a new place. Work out where you want to go and try to plan what day and time is the best to go, based on the daily offers.
We take salt, pepper and turmeric – they are things we add to our not so exciting easy meals, to make them a little more interesting! Eggs, sandwiches, BBQ, salads, pasta. If we are holidaying where I think we’ll have lots of BBQ’s, I will also take an unopened small bottle of tomato sauce and either leave it in the fridge at our Air BNB or throw it away at the end of the trip. Nobody needs tomato sauce through their suitcase!
Snack foods for the kids are essential items. These are much easier if you are in the car, or have the space to carry them; however, I’ll never leave the house without them. Snacks are also referred to as ‘sanity-savers’ in our household – they save us from the “I’m hungry” and “I’m thirsty”, when you’re just 15 minutes down the road!
Think of your kids’ pre-packaged favourites like muesli bars, dried fruit, biscuits, bake some homemade goodness for the first couple of days. Taking snacks, will alleviate those unwanted desperate stops at a petrol station or convenience store, where you’ll spend way more money than you’d like to.
Having a picnic in a new location is a great way to ‘people watch’, as well as see what goes on in a city. You can be immersed in cities so much by just sitting and watching. Picnics are also an affordable meal option. Find a local supermarket and get yourself some bits and pieces and put together a great meal for your family.
Think wraps, roast chicken and ready-made salads, BBQ, cold meats and salad, antipasto platters. Lots of supermarkets also have meal options ready to be served, or those that simply require a microwave to warm up. We are known to whip up a cheap pasta dish or cook a pizza in the oven and then take it for a picnic by the beach or in a park somewhere. Just don’t forget your plastic containers!
Plastic containers and cutlery
Take plastic containers that can be washed and re-used multiple times. They are also great for storing half-eaten things in the fridge, keep fruit fresh and so many more things. Containers are a great alternative to Glad Wrap and enable you to buy things like blocks of cheese which are far more economical than already sliced cheese or individually wrapped items.
It always pays to have a set of cutlery and a solid plastic plate in your bag too. Makes your picnic so much easier and you don’t have to rely on your accommodation having their own. A serrated knife is very handy too, great for cutting vegetables and cheese – just make sure you pack it in your luggage appropriately, especially if you are flying!
Lots of countries do coffee really well and we love to experience a local coffee, particularly when there is a cultural experience to go with it. However, we don’t need to pay for them every day; also, there are countries that do not do a great coffee.
We are self-confessed coffee snobs…it’s unfortunate because we love our daily coffee but won’t drink instant coffee. We have trialled several coffee options along the way and often go between them, depending on the mode of travel.
My least favourite option, but can be tolerated, is a coffee bag. Robert Timms do a reasonable coffee bag, they will tie us over until we get somewhere with good coffee. They are easily packed and very light weight.
Plunger and ground coffee
This was a long time favourite of ours and worked really well on all trips, until our plunger smashed in transit. I hear you saying “Really? Glass coffee plunger?” Well yes, that is what we had so that is what we took.
Honestly, it lasted several trips and really saved us a lot of money. We worked out that even buying a new one was cheaper than buying coffees every day for us – so we saved despite the need for replacement. We still like the plunger and still take a glass plunger despite our history. It really is effortless and it is nice that we can both sit down and enjoy a coffee together with ease.
Mini-press and pods
A more recent device that we have been trialling on our travels, is a mini-press, which is a manual coffee pod device. If you are looking for something more solid, this is a great option. Pre-order your pods before you leave, they are light weight and they fill in all the gaps in your luggage (there is always enough room for a coffee pod or two). We typically pack enough pods for us to have a coffee per day and a handful extra.
ESSENTIAL HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
If you’re in an Air BnB or Holiday Stay, some of the everyday essential items, are not always provided. We once stayed in a holiday house that literally had the furniture required, towels and bed sheets – that was it. We had to supply toilet paper, dish washing liquid, washing powder, kitchen cloth, all toiletries and even rubbish bags.
Since then, I have been meticulous in my packing to ensure we have the essentials for our next holiday, at least to get us started. By taking these items, we have saved money while on holidays – after all, who wants to spend holiday money on these boring everyday items?
See our Holiday Packing List, so you don’t forget anything on your next trip.
ENTERTAINMENT FOR KIDS
Most holidays are filled with excitement, new activities, new adventures and fun things for the whole family. However, the reality is, there are ‘down-times’ and “this is boring” times too. It is great to have some things for the kids to do that are slow and quiet activities, that do not include a screen.
We create an activity pack for our kids. We surprise them with it on day one of the trip. Despite receiving one every time we go away now, they are still by the ‘surprise’ and so excited to see what’s in it – if you pack the right things, it can be absolute gold!
Buy an A4 sized pencil case, with a zip to fit everything into. What to put in them is a little age and interest dependent. Our kids love their Travel Journals, which has plenty of space for them to write about their adventures, space for drawings and activities.
We are compiling an ‘Activity Pack For Kids’ post with age appropriate ideas – this is a growing document and we’d love your input! Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below.
ACTIVITIES, EXCURSIONS AND TOURS
Do your research, shop around, look for the best deal and book early! There are lots of sites these days that offer great deals and discounts. Do your research and find the best price. Be careful to read the terms and conditions, so that you know you are getting exactly what you are after.
Sometimes you can buy tickets to attractions online which offer ‘skip the queue’, at the same rate you can buy an ordinary entry ticket. It is worth looking around.
Keep an eye out for local tourist magazines, you can sometimes get yourself 10% off by using a coupon from a free brochure. We were lucky enough to access this in Coffs Harbour when we went to the Dolphin Marine Centre – that was a nice little bonus and has certainly prompted us to keep an eye out for more of them!
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