Holidaying on a budget – yes, it is possible

There is so much focus on the state of our economy – bills are going up and many families are struggling. Can the average ‘Australian working family’ still afford a holiday?

I know I am lucky. My husband has a job that pays the bills, which means my part-time wage can be spent on other incidentals, including family holidays. But what would I do if money got tight?

I believe holidays are an important part of the ties that bind families together. Getting away from the humdrum of daily life can help us focus on each other and bond again.

Relaxing by the river, looking for fish.

And as an adult, there is nothing better than seeing the pure and innocent joy on your children’s faces as they discover new and wonderful things and places. I could not bear to miss out on these things.

So, how can you have a cheap holiday?

One way is to stay just outside the popular places that attract the dearer prices. I use Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula as an example. With just a quick look on a booking website, I found a standard family room at a caravan park in Carrum Downs for $124 a night (no minimum stay), compared to Dromana, which was $160 a night with a 2 night minimum.

Staying somewhere with a kitchenette so you do not need to go out for meals all the time can also save you money. Often it is the extra costs that make the holiday that much more expensive.

Another option is to stay in older style motels, such as those offered through the well-known Budget Motels chain. Yes, the decor may not have the latest, ultra-modern look, but most are still comfortable and clean.

Older style motels can offer comfort without a high price tag

Using a website, such as travel auctions is another way to save money, particularly if you can travel out of peak seasons (which you should definitely do so until your children are at school) These properties are usually 3-star rated and you can score some cheap deals by bidding what you are prepared to pay for your stay.

You can also try older style holiday houses or apartments through real estate agents or websites such as rent-a-home – again, older houses with more dated decor can sometimes be available at quite cheap rates.

It may not have sleek modern fittings, but this kitchen does the job just fine.

Websites such as Scoopon also offer great travel deals for families. And there are always people trying to sell holiday accommodation on sales websites, such as ebay.

In essence, it is probably cheaper to travel now than it has ever been because we have so many more options.

If you can, try and create a family holiday fund – even if you can only get away for a couple of nights and can’t travel far, it will be worth it. The joy it can bring you and your children will remain with you for many years to come.


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