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Fantasising about your dream vacation is often the perfect escape when work, family, and social obligations get overwhelming. Tranquil daydreams of swaying palm trees and white sandy beaches are often what prompt us to start planning our next getaway.
As beautiful as the fantasy might be, the reality is often completely different, particularly when preparing for a family vacation. Before even thinking about the logistical concerns of travelling with kids, the sheer cost is enough to stall even the most well-intentioned of parents.
However, the perfect vacation doesn’t have to cost a bomb. There are several ways to cut unnecessary costs and still plan a wonderful family escape without breaking the bank.
1. Always be prepared
Any parent who has experienced the perils of leaving the house without a packet of wet tissues understands the importance of being prepared. This catchy Boy Scout motto becomes even more vital when travelling. When packing your bags, make sure to bring everything your child could possibly need, including medicine, a thermometer, snacks, a refillable bottle, and books and toys to amuse your child with during long journeys.
There are several recommended packing lists that you can consult online to ensure that you don’t leave anything out. Being equipped with these items will limit any unnecessary purchases that you may otherwise be forced to make on-the-go.
2. Travel like a local
Once you arrive at your destination, it’s cost-effective and often enlightening to eschew private transport in favour of taking the local buses or trains. Not only do you save a fortune on cab fares, you’ll also get to see parts of the country that you ordinarily wouldn’t as a tourist, allowing your family to engage more directly with the place you’re visiting.
3. Stay in an apartment
Aside from airfare, accommodation is often one of the priciest parts of travel, but it doesn’t have to be. With vacation rental sites like Airbnb flooding the market, it’s easier than ever to find a reasonably-priced apartment for your family, where you can cook and do laundry at no extra cost. If you’re adventurous, you might even want to consider Couchsurfing. Not only is it free, it’ll also give your family a more culturally immersive experience as you get the chance to stay and chat with a local family. As with everything else, make sure to do your research and take proper precautions to ensure your family’s safety.
4. Eat home-cooked meals
“Eating out for every meal can get super expensive, especially if you’re feeding a family,” shares Karmila Sanat, a mother of four girls who recently travelled to New Zealand.
Upon arrival, visit the local food markets and get basic provisions like bread, cereal, and eggs for your daily breakfast. Also, make it a point to end every other day with a familiar, home-cooked meal in the comfort of your own apartment. Both your wallet and your stomach will thank you for it.
5. Find free activities
When travelling, there are certain iconic landmarks that you simply shouldn’t skimp on paying to visit. The good news is there are also plenty of free activities to balance them out with. Bring your children for a picnic in the park; find free, locally-organised events; or go for a walk around the city to soak in the sights.
Remember, at the end of the day, what matters most is that you’re spending quality time with the people you love. The rest are simply details.