Money saving hacks for planning your family holiday

Do you fondly recall your younger days traversing from one side of the globe to the other on little coin? You knew not everything about the world could be learnt in a book, and now you want to pass that same wisdom on to your kids. The only problem is schlepping a family backpack around on an Incan citadel in the Andes Mountains with a tired child and moody teen in tow doesn’t seem like the best idea.

You need comfort, kid's entertainment, and a lot more money to make a family holiday happen. So, how do you make this financial commitment fit into the family budget? With smart planning and a few handy tips, the dream of an affordable family holiday may be closer than you think.

Australian families are spending more than $34 billion on holidays each year.

Know the best times to book

Australian families are spending more than $34 billion on holidays each year, so knowing the best times to book won’t hurt the hip pocket. Try to stick to the general rule of six months in advance for domestic travel, and 12 months in advance for international holidays.

Want to spend Christmas anywhere in the world other than in front of a hot oven checking if the ham is cooked? Strike at the right time to save. In 2017, October 16–22 was the best time to book a Christmas escape flight from Sydney to London (saving 37%), with October 2–8 the best time to book flights to Singapore from Brisbane (saving 28%).

Set up flight price alerts

You may be committed to where and when you want to go, but it may not be the best time to buy. If you’ve allowed plenty of time to plan your holiday, you can set up alerts to track flight prices to your destination. Google Flights is a free service that features a flexible dates calendar, tip bar, and pricing tracker to help you find the lowest airfare possible.

Stay in the loop with email

Make it easy to scan the latest deals on flights and accommodation by signing up to the mailing list of airlines and hotels you want to experience. You’ll be first to know about discounts and new holiday packages with alerts sent straight to your inbox.

How to work with school holiday prices

No doubt a big chunk of the aforementioned $34 billion spent on family travel is spent during winter school holidays, which along with Christmas is one of the most popular times to travel.It could help to compare school holiday flight and accommodation dates with those that fall on the latest possible days during the holidays, or those immediately before school breaks up for the term, to save some money.

It’s also advised to check in with your kids’ school to let them know your holiday plans. The rules for taking kids out of school during term differs from state to state. In New South Wales and Queensland, families are discouraged from taking holidays mid-term. In Victoria, it’s said to be acceptable when there’s advance notice.

Other tips to balance out the budget during this period include searching for “kids stay and eat free packages” at resorts, and choosing destinations under the school holiday radar. According to, the most in demand July school holiday local destinations include Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane; with Vietnam proving the new popular search destination for international school holiday travel – no doubt in part because of its affordability.

Think outside the hotel

Gone are the days of saving on accommodation with last-minute couch surfing. Instead, consider recreating a home-like experience on holidays to save. Airbnb and house-swap sites such as Home Exchange allow you to stay in entire homes and apartments around Australia and the world. They encourage experiencing a city like a local by connecting people with unique travel experiences at a variety of price points to suit their budget.

Choosing a home or apartment to stay in means you will often have more space than a hotel for kids to entertain themselves, access to a kitchen to cook in to save on eating out, and added benefits from hosts such as free bike hire for example. Holiday with family friends and save by renting out a large home and splitting the cost.

Book as early as you can

When it comes to saving on family holidays, experts suggest getting in early is your best bet.⁴ This will give you a chance to snag the cheaper first-round flight tickets, have your pick of off-peak times to travel, and give you plenty of time to compare quotes and find the right fit for your budget. There is also ample time to save for costs that may crop up during your holiday (e.g. admission tickets, souvenir shopping, food prep), ensuring the financial commitment to your family holiday doesn’t turn into an inconvenient hole in the budget.