How to spend less and have more fun on family holidays

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By Wendy Shand of

According to a recent survey, around a third of people going on holiday reckon they will spend more this year than last year (on average an extra £365). A collective tightening of the purses means that rising prices and – depending on where you’re travelling to – a lousy exchange rate can have a big impact on your spending. So, here are some top tips for stretching your money further when you’re on holiday.

1. Drinks and snacks
Shop for little treats like ice creams in the supermarket rather than the parlours, where they’ll be twice the price. ‘Tube’ yogurts also make great ice lollies if you keep a few in the freezer for when you’re hanging out at your villa.

2. Don’t ‘phone home’
Calls cost a fortune when you’re away but it’s free to receive a text in the EU. If you need to reply, ‘lrn 2 spk txt’. If you’ve got a laptop or internet access, you can go one better and use an ‘internet to phone’ calling system like Skype (provided the person you’re calling also has Skype of course!)

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: You can read all about the cost of phoning home from EU countries, as well as the price of downloading photos or emails in this article.

3. Parking
It’s easy to forget about how you’re actually going to get to the airport (I speak from experience!?) The earlier you book your airport parking, the more you’ll save; booking well in advance could cut the cost by up to 50%.

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: Go to the website of the airport you’re going to be flying from or try a site such as to compare airport parking costs.

4. Annual travel insurance
If you expect to take the family away for a couple of holidays per year, annual travel policies are almost always cheaper. Remember to take a copy of the policy with you and leave one at home with someone else, just in case.

5. Essential EHIC card
A must have for any foreign travel is the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to any necessary medical treatment, during a visit to another European Economic Area country (you and the children all need one each).

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: An EHIC card isn’t a replacement for travel insurance as it only covers some medical costs. Several travel insurers won’t impose an excess if you make a medical claim (for costs not covered) but have used your EHIC to get treatment free of charge.

6. Go local for car hire
If you’re heading to an English speaking country, or are fluent in the lingo, Google the country’s car hire sites as they may be cheaper. It will usually be priced in Euros though, so double check the exchange rate to be sure of the exact cost.

SAVVYWOMAN TIP: Don’t get stung by sneaky car hire charges. There’s a guide to Getting a good deal on car hire elsewhere in this section.

7. Words and pictures
Download and print out colouring pictures from children’s websites, such as CBeebies, rather than buying colouring books. You could also take a trip to the library the week before you go for everyone to choose their favourite bedtime reads — the return date won’t usually be until well after you get back.

8. Cheap tickets
Look out for discounts at family attractions in the area during term time. Once the older children return to school, they’re keen to attract younger families to make up the numbers.

9. Take a picnic!
It saves you money and the little people can get back to playing much more quickly! They can help you choose the contents (a shopping list with pictures works a treat in our house), carry some in a backpack and may even eat more — a winner all round!

10. Weigh your luggage
It’s far better to know before you leave home than be faced with steep charges when you check in – and let’s face it, how much time are you really going to have for reading that stockpile of books with the tiny tearaways to contend with?!

Useful info
Totstotravel specialises in family friendly holidays. All properties are vetted to make sure they are family friendly, before they are listed.

Related articles:

If you’re taking your car on holiday, make sure it’s insured

If you fancy saving money, is a house swap worth considering?

How to choose a travel insurance policy

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