How to travel for free or super cheap as a family

How you can have a family holiday on any budget!

Think you can’t have a family holiday? Think again! In the last post, we shared ways to make money from travel as a family. Here are 10 tips and tricks to help you keep the cost down!

1.) Decide on your budget

Work out where you want to go, set a budget. Having a budget in mind means you know what you have to spend for the holiday and can help prevent you overspending. Say you decide on $2,500 for flights, accommodation and attractions for a holiday in 12 months. Divide $2,500 by 52 for the weeks of the year and you need to save $48 a week to have the $2,500. Whilst you save, you can keep an eye out for discounts and bargains for your holiday to help you keep it under budget.

2.) Use incognito mode and clear your history

Every site you go is tracked. Once you start researching, if you look at flights or accommodation, the site knows it. By going back to the same site or checking the same flights, you are telling the site you’re really interested which sometimes can result in higher prices because they know you are likely to book either way. If you use incognito mode on Google you can hide this. Clearing your history before you book removes the cookies and makes you look like a new customer to the site so you get the best deal.

When searching, Skyscanner is my preferred site for discounted international airfares. I’ve been using them for a few years now and always get a great deal.

3.) Enter Competitions

If you know where you want to travel, look for competitions and giveaways relating to the area. Sometimes bloggers have free tickets to local attractions or the tourism board is offering various giveaways. Enter them all because you never know your luck! I have won a few passes to attractions this way. While it’s not strictly a money maker, it does save you money!

4.) Travel in the off-peak season

Peak season is when everything costs more, usually, because it’s either school holidays so people can travel or something specific happens in the place at that time. Travelling during school time is often frowned upon at schools, but it can be so much cheaper. My personal view and the view of many teachers and principals we’ve been involved with over the years is that kids learn so much from travel. We travel when the opportunity arises, it’s not budget based. But if you are sticking to a budget, going to Queensland in February when school has gone back can see you score some deep discounts (plus no lines for the theme parks)! Check the off-peak season times for wherever you want to travel and see if you will miss out on anything major.

The exception to this sort of thing is if you are going to a particular place for a specific purpose e.g. Cherry blossoms in Japan. You won’t see them in the offseason!

5.) Groupon and other discounts

Check Groupon for wherever you want to travel as well as attractions and restaurants at that location. It is incredible the deals you can pick up. Make sure you read the fine print though! Theme parks, restaurants and spa treatments are the main things I have used, but I have considered the all-inclusive travel packages they have at times. For other discounts, check out this post.

6.) Travel longer

Longer stays at places have better rates if you can manage it. Deals such as stay 3 nights, pay for 2 or stay for 7 pay for 5 aren’t uncommon. Usually, a week or a month long stay will get a much better rate per night than one night on its own.

7.) Split costs

Do you know anyone else you can travel with to split the costs? This is something I have done with a few single mums, we either travelled together or for local attractions we got family passes and split it instead of paying individually. These savings can add up quickly.

8.) Travel hack

Use points, credit cards, reward systems and any other loyalty programs to get your travel for free. I do not recommend applying for various credit cards to collect points if you plan on getting a home loan, refinancing or anything like that. The reason being all those applications on your credit report can hurt your credit score. However, if that isn’t something you’re planning, getting credit cards and accruing the points can be a great way to get free travel IF (and it’s a big IF), you are disciplined. Most people get credit cards with reward programs like this and end up spending more than they would if they didn’t have it.

Credit cards aren’t the only way to get loyalty points though. Check out the frequent flyer programs (such as Qantas and Velocity for Virgin) to see other ways you can collect points. Groceries, online shopping, hotels and petrol are just a few options. It isn’t as fast as a credit card sign up bonus, but it isn’t putting you in debt either.

9.) Use free accommodation

Accommodation doesn’t have to be expensive. There are free options such as couchsurfing, camping (find free camping sites here), house swapping or staying with friends and family. I often have friends and family stay here. Think about it, accommodation can be one of the biggest expenses with a holiday. If you can get it for free, how much more could you travel?

10.) Refer friends

When you refer friends to certain programs, you can get a discount or payment. For example, try Airbnb with my link and you get $50 off plus I get a $25 credit. Once you’ve used it, you can refer friends too and get $25 credit each time one of them joins. If a few friends use it, you could have a free holiday! Personally, I’ve been using Airbnb as a guest and host for years and love it. Find out more about making money with Airbnb here.

For more options to save money on travel and everything else, check out our freebies section.

Where do you want to travel to? 

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