Budget, cost and the balancing act of supply and demand
Destination, location, location, location
Location influences the daily cost of food, outings and activities. Balance the thought of Great Barrier Reef experience against snorkelling Turquoise Bay (Western Australia) where costs are substantially cheaper than tourist hot spot Great Barrier. Of course you have to get there, that’s another balancing act. Transport versus daily cost.
How to make the dollar go further?
Self-catering is the catch cry here for people with families. Snacks, drinks (in reusable containers), fruit, pastries and muesli bars all go a long way to resisting the lures of more expensive cafes alongside activities. Save the treats for one delicious beach side ice cream. This is where AirBNB comes into its own with the usual option of laundry facilities.
If you are staying in a hotel check out the breakfast plus room option. There is nothing like the family laying down the energy reserves for a day’s activities with a full buffet breakfast. Remember though it is not considered honest to ‘borrow’ food from the buffet for the rest of the day.
TIP: A hot tourist spot activity such as a zoo or entertainment centre usually has more expensive eating options due to their proximity to the visitor experience. Carry snacks to avoid “I’m hungry …” moments.
Getting around with a family needs research beforehand. Usually public transport such ferries, buses and trains are cheaper if they are booked online with several days worth of transport loaded up. Ensure you have an offline version of your tickets just in case your local mobile service decides to not cooperate while you are trying to board the boat.
Being connected for yourself as well as other members of your family is a necessity. It keeps everyone sane when we can quietly read our downloaded book or check the local weather forecast or ensure our family and friends are in touch. Local SIM cards, roaming services offered by your mobile provider all need checking before you depart.
When to travel and the cost of travelling during the school holidays
School holidays are busier, they are often more expensive and the adults can feel they are surrounded by a school bus trip. I am not encouraging caregivers to wrench school age children out of school, rather to avoid high season. It is just a given that while younger people are tied to an educational timetable you will have limited travel dates available.
Budgets and all those expensive entrance fees with children in tow
The good news is the entrance fees are not a shock. You can easily check out the entrance fees and total up the potential cost for the family. And then you have younger people with various interests. Compromise definitely as it is not solo travel rather it is shared experiences. Perhaps you could allocate one or two paid activities per person. Each person gets a choice which can easily be expanded around a trip to a park (free entry), walks to explore, mapping a city with interactive guides. A week of holiday entertainment sorted. And I know gift shops can be placed in the path of the exit. You have to negotiate your way through talk of … ‘Mum look at this …
How to minimise the impact of gift purchases, souvenirs and the detritus of holiday memories?
Encourage sustainable practices this should minimise the purchase of that plastic trinket. Younger people can have a notebook for memories and notes, either electronic or physical. Collecting entrance tickets, visitor centre brochures for images, complimentary maps for locations, receipts, ribbons and string around objects all contribute to the journey of building a picture of the holiday that is not simply paid for.
Pressed flowers and leaves will need to be checked by customs if you are entering both Australia and New Zealand however for domestic holidays it is a great way of remembering the walk, the day at the beach or the exploration of a new playground.
Local supermarkets are a great holiday experience
For younger people the favourite muesli bar is available, the yogurt for breakfast looks different. A food adventure in the Brisbane or Christchurch supermarket awaits all parents who travel. Encourage those less adventurous, with their food choices, it is an exploration to search and locate stuff they like. You can always stash in your carry on pack a favourite nut bar, remember to carry commercially wrapped food only and declare at customs.
Escape, enjoy and explore.
The journey is worth it.