How to save money on a family holiday 

Travelling with your kids can get very pricey. If you’re wondering how to save money on a family holiday it means you are already on the right track to avoid unnecessary spending.
Amabel Polglase
July 12, 2023
min read

The amount you set aside for holiday spending will depend on a bunch of factors including how many are in your family, where you’re off to, how many day trips you’re going to make, whether you’re at an all-inclusive hotel and so on. But with a little bit of planning and some smart decisions you can plan a lovely holiday without going into the red! 

Budget breakdown 

To maximise your chances of staying on track, start with the big stuff first – anything that’s not included in what you’ve paid for already. If you’ve booked all-inclusive, the added costs are likely to be for things like day trips, taxis and souvenirs.  

Building the trip yourself? You’ll need a budget for accommodation, flights and transport and then meals if not included where you’re staying. Here are a couple of tips for saving on the major expenses:   

1. Accommodation 

If you’re a family of four or more the cost of meals can come with a huge holiday price tag. Consider opting for an all-inclusive resort where food and drink are included in the price, especially if you’re going somewhere remote or where the restaurants are likely to be expensive (think Caribbean). If you’re going somewhere where the food and drink are super cheap then you may have to do a bit of comparison shopping – Google and TripAdvisor are your friends here, giving you an idea of local prices for meals out.  

Look at alternatives to hotels, like villas and self-catering apartments, where you will be able to keep a much firmer control on your budget. Although it might not feel like much of a holiday away from food shopping and cooking! There’s something about buying in local food markets that’s a bit more interesting than your typical weekend haul and it can be fun and educational if you’re travelling with kids. But only you can weigh up what the extra convenience of having someone do all the holiday cooking is worth.  

2. Flights and transportation  

A good holiday doesn’t have to be outside the UK, but often abroad can be cheaper than staying put. If you're looking for a real budget experience and you’re not that bothered about sun-worshipping, there are plenty of beautiful bargain campsites around the UK. If you’re on a driving and camping tour, your main added cost will be petrol – unless you want to hire a motorhome, in which case you can add on several hundred pounds a week at peak times for a family-friendly vehicle.    

If you’re travelling in Europe, look at train and ferry options which may be cheaper than flying at peak times. When you take your own car, you won’t be hit by those annoying extras for luggage and seat bookings that can sometimes double the cost of a bargain flight.   

3. Activities and Day trips  

Look for free or low-cost activities at your destination if you want to keep a tight hold on the purse strings. Check ahead of arriving for ‘all in one’ tickets, which include several activities or destinations for one price – it can be much more economical than booking them separately. And see whether you can get public transport rather than taxis wherever you can.    

Make sure you’re likely to get value for money for any day trip you book: a £100 water park ticket isn’t too bad if you’re there all day but is eye-watering for a 45 minute-and-then-out session.  

And remember that younger kids usually find the simplest, cheapest things the most fun – building sandcastles, an ice-cream on the beach, rock pooling, a walk in the woods. They usually just want to be with you.   

4. Eating out  

While it's nice to experience local cuisine, eating out for every meal can quickly add up. Most of us can’t face three blow-out meals a day, even on holiday, so you can always bring your catering costs down by buying ingredients for sandwiches or even a BBQ on the beach at a local market.  

Other great savings hacks  

In addition to budgeting out your big expenses, there are lots of other ways to save money on family holidays.   

Check your mobile plan 

Head to your mobile service provider to check how much you’ll be charged for calls, texts and data while you’re away – it could save you a nasty surprise bill when you return. 

Let the destination choose you and be flexible! 

Instead of fixating on popular and often expensive tourist destinations, be open to exploring the lesser-known places. Many European countries offer beautiful and family-friendly destinations that are also budget-friendly. Consider countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, or Portugal, which offer stunning landscapes, cultural experiences, and affordable prices. 

Find the freebies  

Research your destination before your trip to find free outings. Many cities have free museums, galleries, and attractions. Look for public parks, beaches, or hiking trails that offer no-cost entertainment for the whole family.   

Buy tickets before you go  

To get the best prices on attractions, buy tickets before you leave. This way, you can avoid long queues and hopefully save on entry fees. Especially when traveling with kids, you’re always aiming for a smooth and hassle-free experience.   

Think like a local  

Instead of falling into tourist traps, try to blend in and live like a local. Use public transport, which will certainly be cheaper than taxis or rental cars and with almost no rip-off risks (no bus driver is going to take you on the ‘scenic route’ to get another €30 off you). Asking locals for recommendations on affordable eateries or hidden gems away from the main tourist drags is a way to find authentic expediencies in the place you're visiting.   

How HyperJar can help you save money on your family holiday  

Zero fees abroad  

The average spending money for a family of four taking a two-week break to Spain is around £1700.   \

Many banks in the UK, such as Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, NatWest, Santander and Nationwide, charge between 2.75% to 2.99% on foreign currency transaction fees. This means that you could be paying over £45 in foreign transaction fees, just for the privilege of spending your own money! 

Even some neo banks, like Revolut, that boast zero foreign currency transaction fees, charge a weekend surcharge of 1%, which means that all weekend spending in a currency other than pounds will incur a £1 fee for every £100 you spend.  

Use your HyperJar card abroad and there are no fees for spending abroad on weekdays or weekends, and we pass on Mastercard’s best exchange rate to you directly with nothing added on top. 

TUI 4.8% growth on vouchers  

If you’re planning your next family holiday in advance – which most families do the moment the school holiday timetables drop for the year ahead – our TUI vouchers can make your holiday budget go further. For every penny you commit to spend with TUI in future, you’ll get a 4.8% ‘annual growth rate’. It means that you can start budgeting for next year’s break, knowing that every penny is attracting a growth rate until it’s spent (for up to 12 months).  

However much you’re spending on your next trip – and whether it’s an around the world blow-out or a budget stay in the UK – there are always way to make your money go further. Bon voyage and happy saving! 

Amabel Polglase

Chief Marketing Officer

Amabel has diverse experience in business, marketing and entrepreneurship, including founding her own successful startup. She served in several senior leadership roles prior to joining HyperJar including Zilch and Curve Card where she led brand, marketing and communications. Before joining the fintech revolution, Amabel was a managing global client partner at Facebook and prior to that at McCann-Erickson, the world’s largest ad network. She volunteers at Girls Out Loud, a charity created to empower and inspire teenage girls, and is also a mentor at The Girls’ Network. She received her MA in history and international relations from the University of St Andrews.

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