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How to holiday on a budget

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Bucket and spadeMums reveal their favourite low-cost family holiday tips. Read, book and enjoy!

Deals and steals

The days of hopping on a plane on the spur of the moment with a cheap deal from the internet are pretty much over once the kids arrive. Who will take the hamsters? What will the school say if it's term time? But getting a break from the routine is still important (somehow chocolate on the bedcovers doesn't matter so much on holiday). The question is, with the average two-week holiday for a family of four to Spain costing as much as £2,464 1, how do you keep the costs down? Seasoned holidaying mums share their price-slashing tricks.

1. Steer clear of package holidays and do it yourself

"Find no-frills flights such as Ryanair, EasyJet or bmibaby. Yes, you do have to search and it is time consuming but if you’re flexible on dates it's possible to get flights for a family of five for well under £100 per person. Of course, they charge extra for hold baggage but if there are four or five of you, each with a small suitcase which can be taken as hand luggage, you can reduce the number of hold bags you have to pay for." Rosie

2. Go to Centerparcs abroad

"Like lots of people we love Centerparcs but it can be very expensive in the school holidays. We found it much cheaper to book on Centerparcs sites abroad, even with the cost of travelling there. Their peak times are often different so prices aren't as steep (we found Easter loads cheaper this year) and activities always cost less than in the UK, even with a poor exchange rate. We've been back several times to a site in Holland. My teenage children enjoyed it so much when they were younger, they begged to come again this year now they're grown up! We had a great time. Check out Centerparcs for more details." Kassi

3. Share the costs

"This year, 12 of us stayed in a house near the beach in Torbay for a week and we delegated one person to research and book it. Not only does it work out cheaper than just going as one family, but someone else does all the hard work and it saves a lot of toing and froing! This autumn, we're going glamping at a Feather Down farm which is meant to be amazing for kids. We'll be staying in a yurt so there’ll be no worries about camping in the chillier weather and we've hired a chicken coop so the kids can get eggs for breakfast!" Jo

4. Stay in a spare room

"London and other big cities have so many free museums and sights but staying over often costs a fortune. Head to Crashpadder - a site families use to rent out their spare rooms. It could be that their children's rooms are empty during university term time or they haven't downsized since they've flown the nest. It covers the whole of the UK and could be good if you are lucky enough to get Olympic tickets for next year!" Charlie

5. Get a ski package

"Skiing is supposed to be an expensive sport but it's one of the times I'd say it was good value to book a package holiday. Companies such as Ski Esprit and Club Med often throw in all food and childcare, which gives you great savings when you hit the slopes. Ski Esprit even has a loyalty scheme which means it gets cheaper the more often you go." Natasha

6. Stay in a field

"Even cheap campsites can be relatively expensive. If you want to cut the cost completely, just ask a farmer if you can stay in their field! There are certain sacrifices – you very quickly learn to pee in a bush and hang on for anything else until you're in a cafe or museum. It's one of the few times you view children in nappies as a bonus because there's no rushing out of the tent in the middle of the night. And don't worry about the unwanted attentions of a prize bull. Farmers will often have a secure field or paddock with no animals in it, although we did enjoy the attentions of some curious horses once." Victoria

7. Check out relocation rentals

"If you want to go further afield and have a cheap holiday on another continent, have a look for Winnebago hire relocation specials. In Australia and America they're all over the place. They need the vehicle driving back to base so you get a really cheap rental, a fixed period to drive between the two points and sometimes a contribution to fuel." Lynne

8. Tot up your loyalty points

"Tesco and similar supermarket loyalty point vouchers are great for holidays and even day trips or tourist attractions in the UK. We saved loads on visiting the London Eye using Tesco vouchers. My friend got £650 off a holiday to Dubai too. They're worth a lot more against travel, experiences and admissions than off your groceries!" Carla

9. Book early

If you're traveling somewhere in the UK and know your dates way in advance, websites such as Megabus and Megatrain have extremely cheap fares – as little as a pound sometimes. And through experience I’ve discovered they go on sale exactly six weeks and two days in advance." Kate


Related page

Check out the travel help section at Barclays, written by travel experts Lonely Planet


Head to
Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:

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1© The Co-Operative Group 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© Centerparcs 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© Featherdown Farms 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© Crashpadder 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© standbycars.com 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© Tesco.com 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© Stagecoach Group 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source
© Stagecoach Group 2011. Sourced June 2011. Source 

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