Booking your family holiday can be pretty exciting stuff; planning gorgeous places to visit, fun in the sun and just getting away from all the daily stuff..
But as much as your head might be in the clouds, your feet need to be firmly on the ground when it comes to getting your trip all booked up.
With this in mind, we’ve put together 5 hacks to make sure you get the most for your money and have peace of mind when heading off to your amazing holiday destination.
5 ways to book your family holiday and keep costs down…
1. All-inclusive will save you money – as long as you do it right
All-inclusive holidays can be an excellent way to save you money, especially if your idea of a holiday does not include cooking. Even more so, if your family includes some big eaters. Dining out each day becomes a huge expense, and you can find yourself spending ages traipsing around trying to find cheap eats.
Now, what should be said is that all-inclusive does mean you’ll probably want to be at your resort, or at least fairly near it, for the majority of your holiday.
If you’re out on excursion every day, missing the meals and getting back late you’ll be paying for food (and drinks) twice over.
But if you’re looking for a holiday where you’re all happy to chill by the pool and hang out at the resort rather than explore a bit further afield, it can be a money-saving choice. While some may think it is a bit limiting to eat in the same place everyday, our experience at MFM is that most kids think the all-inclusive buffet is simply food heaven – and these days, there tends to be lots of choice.
“Ever since having a baby we’ve gone for all-inclusive,” says Kellfie on our forum. “Just think how much you would spend on drinks, ice creams and snacks throughout the day. If you are like us, we can spend an average of about 50 euros per day.
“Then you’ve got breakfast and lunch, if you stay around about the complex, another 50 euros. So I reckon that is saving us 1,000 euros for a couple of hundred quid more.
“We always have dinner out a few times as well. Well worth it IMO. There is always kids entertainment as well.”
Kellfie adds that it’s worth booking a room with a fridge if possible, so you can have cold drinks and food to hand, for beach snacks for example.
2. Don’t skip the insurance – or spend too much on it
No one likes buying insurance. But it is really important (and could save you big money) if an accident or illness happens when you’re away (and we all know that it can, and does). Plus it could cover you if have to cancel your trip or return early – which is why you should always buy holiday insurance as soon as you’ve booked your holiday. Otherwise you may not be covered if something happens before you leave.
The key to getting a good deal on holiday insurance is to shop around. Don’t simply buy the ‘add-on’ insurance you often get offered as a last step to booking your break. Search for the best deals for family holiday insurance on comparison websites.
If you think you might be going away more than once in a year, it’s worth considering annual insurance which is often cheaper than a one-off, and you’ll find some great deals for family annual insurance.
Just be sure to check the small print though to check exactly what it covers, and also what you need to do when making a claim.
And if you’re pregnant – it might be worth a phone call rather than just booking online, because, as Becks2907 on our forum says, if you’re expecting, “insurance will vary from woman to woman, there won’t be a set package suitable for all”.
Finally, remember to pack a copy of your insurance details and schedule in your luggage.
3. How to spot a holiday scam
The best line to bear in mind here is that if sounds too good to be true – it probably is. If you’re being offered 5-star luxury in an A-list celeb destination for the price of a tin of beans, it’s probably not genuine.
With the rise of online booking, there are increasing stories of holiday scammers using marketplace platforms to try to get money out of you.
Holidays are big purchases and you need to be vigilant and not get swept up by the romance of gorgeous pictures of beaches and apartments. Trust your instincts, ask lots of questions and don’t let yourself be pressurised into paying.
One of the mums on our team, Dani G, told us of her experience of nearly getting caught out this way.
“I found the perfect place for a group visit to Amsterdam. The apartment was sublime, it was affordable and perfect location. After several emails back and forth with the host, they asked me to make payment via bank transfer within the next 24 hours or I’d lose the booking. This felt totally off to me and it turned out to be a scam.”
If you want to be really sure your’e not being scammed, look for holiday companies that carry a travel association logo.
You may be protected financially if the holiday company goes out of business and the companies sign up to a Code of Conduct, so the holiday you get should look like the one you booked!
4. Book your flight for a Tuesday or Wednesday
Research has shown that the most expensive days to fly are generally Fridays and Sundays, with Saturdays and Mondays not far behind. Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the cheapest, with Thursday also a little less expensive than weekend days.
But the best tip we can give is to be flexible about dates. That’s because the price of a return flight will depend on the day you’re flying out, and prices vary from day to day. For example, a flight on Tuesday may cost you, say, £200, if your return flight is on the following Tuesday. But if your return flight is on Wednesday, the same outgoing flight on Tuesday might now be only £175, or may be £250.
Therefore, talk to your travel agent and let them know that you’re super flexible about your dates and see what deals they can come up with. Or, if you’re booking online, check the ‘flexible dates’ options.
5. Check that your holiday really is family-friendly – and isn’t full of hidden costs
This might seem a bit obvious, but it’s a very good idea to check before you book that a holiday calling itself family friendly really is – without the addition of lots of hidden costs.
Some questions you may want to ask are:
- Are there any free on-site kids’ activities?
- Are there any charges for swimming pools, games rooms, bikes, pitches or courts?
- Is there a fridge in your room – useful for storing baby food
- Does it mention that staff may be happy to warm up milk or food?
- Is there an additional charge for cots?
While you can’t expect to get everything included in the booking price, work out how much your final bill could be – for example, check how much a kids’ club will cost per child per day before you’re swayed by how amazing it looks or sounds.
Poppygirl1 shared her advice with other mums on the MFM forum about how she books her family holidays.
“Have you tried looking at the ‘family friendly’ package holiday brochures? I used to work as an entertainer in a superfamily hotel in Mallorca… It’s not too far to fly, and it’s a family-friendly place.
“The superfamily hotels are very family friendly too, and can provide cots, bottle warmers and essentials like nappies so you don’t have to use your luggage allowance packing so many.”
Pics: Getty/ Danann Breathnach