When it comes to travel bloggers, there are many solo travellers or couples who write about how easy it is to keep costs low when it comes to long-term travelling. However, as anyone with kids knows, adding children to the mix means that not only do you have less flexibility, but it also costs a lot more.
Having children doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank when it comes to travel. One of our most popular posts is this one titled How We Afford Long-Term Travel with Kids and, though it was written a couple of years ago now, the content still applies. We are about to hit the road once more and this usually leads onto a few emails from readers asking how they can cut costs of travel, or lamenting at how they think long term travel with kids is out for them. I thought it would be a good time to have a recap over the old points and add a few new ones too.
In the post linked to above, I use the example of that year’s trip to calculate the costs of travelling for six weeks. The total came to €5720.90. That worked out to approximately £4,061 using the exchange rate at the time. That’s just over £4,000 for two adults and eleven, yes 11, children between the ages of 16 and one-years-old.
For six weeks.
Broken down, that comes to €10.47 or £7.43 per person, per day or €73.34 or £52.00 per person, per week from the beginning of June to the end of July, which completely blows out the ‘How to Travel the World on $50 a Day’ advice out of the water!
Eagle-eyed readers will note that the example in the previous post mentions travelling with eleven kids while the title of this one mentions only (only!) ten. That’s because Cait now is considered a grown-up and has commitments like work to deal with, so she’s no longer part of our travels. Yes folks, lucky me only has to organise travel plans for 12 of us now! However, we don’t get rid of her completely as, as you can see in the photo above, she now gets on the plane during the school holidays (she works in a school office), and flies out to wherever we are.
Anyway, I digress…
Really speaking, if I were to give a complete and thorough breakdown on how-tos of travelling with a large family for less, it would take dozens of posts or a book’s worth to write so, for now, I’m going to try to keep it brief by touching on a few of the main points, some of which I covered before. So here we go…
Don’t assume anything
Don’t assume that your trip will cost you an arm and a leg.
Don’t assume that a package deal works out cheaper.
Don’t assume that camping or a holiday park will cost less than a villa.
Don’t assume that you will need more money to spend while travelling than you would by staying home.
Don’t assume it’s not even worth considering because you won’t be able to do it anyway.
Don’t assume anything at all. Do your homework instead.
With the internet the information is out there. All you have to do is find it. So first thing is first: don’t assume anything.
Don’t go on holiday
Huh? What? But this post is about how to travel, isn’t it?
Yes, it is. It’s exactly that.
How to travel.
Which means essentially living your life as you would but doing it in a different place to where your usual home is. Not as you would on a one or two week blow-out a year. This means cooking for yourself rather than eating out all the time. It means shopping at the markets or supermarket. It means not splurging every, single day.
It means living like a local.
It also means finding a way of earning an income while you’re on the road.
Work while you travel
If the amount of money coming in doesn’t at least equal the amount of money going out, sooner or later you’re going to run into trouble. What you definitely don’t want to do is find yourself miles from home, with no way of getting back and no money to do so. Especially if you have children that you’re responsible for.
For some families that travel long-term with their children, that means finding temporary jobs wherever they happen to be staying at any time. This does mean staying put for a few weeks or so, so does not offer as much flexibility as working remotely offers. Which is what we do. Thankfully, our online business has been established for several years now, so we are able to work from anywhere that we can get an internet connection, so we can continue to earn as we go. The recent drop of data charges within the EU now means I can also take advantage of the long drives and work from my laptop as Mike drives us from one place to another, so that’s all good. The more we earn, the more we can do, after all.
Ideally, the best way to get a remote income stream in place is well before you set off and preferably during the planning stages of your trip. Having said that, don’t self impose any deadlines at all otherwise you’ll always find an excuse and it will be something you will never get done. The best advice to creating another income stream? Just start.
You can always get a better price than the one you have
Following on from my first point, Don’t Assume Anything, do not assume that booking a package deal through a travel agent will automatically give you the best price on hotels or accommodation. To begin with, hotels are generally for the short term and it will work out much cheaper to book a home from home. A lot of people are huge fans of Airbnb but personally, my two go-tos are Booking.com for short-term stops and Homeaway.co.uk for arranging accommodation on our longer stays.
The former has daily deals offering huge discounts on usual rates of stays. What I then do when I find somewhere suitable for a good price is to search for the place’s own website, if it has one. In many cases, you can find better prices than those advertised on a third party site (as they don’t have to pay any commission), and extras are offered if you book directly which helps bring down costs even further. For example, booking the Hotel Dolomit directly for our recent stay in Munich worked out much cheaper than the daily rate advertised, plus we also had the wifi thrown in for free as well as a complimentary kettle provided to us on asking (which weren’t provided as standard). It’s the little things, after all!
In either case, whatever the accommodation or whoever you are dealing with, it’s always worth asking if the price they are offering is the best they can do. You will often find that you can get a little discount at least, or a significantly higher one if you are booking for a long-term stay. It’s always, always worth asking.
Road Tripping? Check the costs of your route
This includes transport costs including fuel and tolls. When we planned our very first road trip around France and Italy we completely overlooked the cost of the French tolls which turned out to be quite substantial! It wasn’t until our third drive to Italy that we decided to bypass France completely and get there via Germany instead. What a revelation! Not only did we save a small fortune (not an exaggeration) on the cost of tolls in France but we far preferred the roads in Germany. Here’s more information on driving from England to Italy, which contains some useful tips if this is something you’re planning on doing any time soon.
Join email lists for travel deals
Sometimes those emails are useful – honest! Signing up to email lists for Easyjet, Ryanir, Eurotunnel and Eurostar means we have saved a lot of money by hearing about the newest deals first through their emails. These work out particularly well if you have some flexibility as to when and where you want to go.
Other recommendations of email lists to join in order to grab some great deals are Groupon, Travelzoo and Wowcher. I’ve managed to get some marvellous deals not only on our travels further afield but also on trips and days out closer to home too, so well worth taking a few seconds to sign up, I think.
You don’t have to spend a lot to make valuable memories
If there is one thing I have learnt over the last few years, particularly the last one, it’s that it isn’t how much something costs to do that puts value on it. My most precious, precious memories I have of my dad and brother are those where we just spent time together. We could have been anywhere and it might have been free or it might have cost money. Either way, that isn’t what I remember. It’s being with them that I recall. So don’t fall into the trap of feeling that your kids will remember more/better/be happier if you spend more. They will remember a picnic and a game of rounders with you as much as they’ll remember that day in the expensive theme park. Making wonderful memories is not dependent on budget.
Most of the things we do when we travel (or even when we don’t) are free or very cheap. Saving in one place means we can then afford to splurge out a little if we really want to do something special or a little more out of budget, or even means saving the money so we can have another trip in a few months, for a few months more. We are comfortable in knowing that we don’t need to splash the cash every day we are on the road. In fact, it’d be pretty exhausting if we didn’t have some down-time and just chill out at our home from home every few days.
Tripadvisor is really invaluable when it comes to seeing what’s near, what is recommended and what kind of budget you are looking at. Again, if you can find the websites directly you can track usually down some pretty good deals and if you don’t, email them and ask what they can offer!
Another way of saving money on attractions, days out and even transport is with city or tourist cards. A quick Google search of the place you are visiting will bring up results if this is something they offer. For example, a search of ”Padua City Card” brings you to this site which offers 48 or 72 hours free entrance to main attractions within Padua, as well as free parking and free bus travel for a one-off fee. Try it out and see what Google throws up. Alternatively, you can try the local government websites which also often publish offers in the area, as well as details of any festivals or public events you can attend – more often than not for free.
Do you have any tips on making long-term travel with kids a reality that doesn’t break the bank? We’d love to hear your thoughts so please do leave us a comment!