Travel hacks for families on a budget

Is there anything more revitalising than a holiday? Ask a parent who has travelled with kids and they may be quick to offer a few alternate options! They are all too familiar with the inflated expense of travelling with little ones in tow, and how this makes stress levels rise. But before you discount the idea of holidaying altogether now that you have kids, reading up on travel hacks can help your family holiday dream into a reality.

Quick tips to save on family holidays

The early bird gets the worm, and it’s no different when it comes to family travel – get in early to catch the best bargains. Book at least six months in advance for domestic travel, and 12 months in advance for the best international deals. And never be embarrassed about asking for “family rates” and “free meals for kids” when booking transportation and accommodation.

Get savvy with comparison sites such as Skyscanner that compare hundreds of airlines, hotels, and car hire to hunt down the right price for you. And sign up to the mailing list of airlines and hotels to receive their latest deals and price alerts straight to your inbox.

Why travel as a family is important

Australian parents estimate on average that taking the kids on holidays with them adds around $1,518 per year to their holiday expenses. So, why travel if the budget is going to be uncomfortably stretched? Because it’s not just about the sun and surf when it comes to kids on vacation, there’s fascinating science behind its benefits, too.

According to world-leading neuroscientist, Professor Jaak Panksepp, travel is a great way to exercise the “play” and “seeking” system in children’s brains, which don’t get as good a workout at home. The wellbeing neurochemicals released by having your feet in the sand or venturing off the beaten track reduce stress and activate warm, generous feelings towards family members.

New experiences found in enriched environments can also make your child smarter. Stress regulation, attention, concentration, and improved mental and physical wellbeing are all attributed to the executive functions of the brain that fire when you’re out and about exploring new surroundings.

Here are some travel tips for travelling with kids:

  • Put together a checklist of all the things you may need during your flight.
  • Be patient! Make sure every day is a "new day".
  • Talk to airline staff and ask them for a child, toddler or baby meal when booking flights.
  • Know that it's OK to have "different rules" on holidays.
  • Consider a night flight, this way the kids can sleep.
  • Learn the local customs where you are travelling and teach your children to be aware.
  • Reserve an infant bassinet (some airlines may not allow this).
  • Have a good think about the sleeping arrangements and children's facilities before booking accommodation.