>  Advice   >  How to save money when you travel with kids

Travelling with kids can be expensive, especially if you have more than one child, but it doesn’t have to be. There are myriad ways to cut the cost of a family holiday without cutting the fun factor. Here are eight ways to save money when you are travelling with kids.

Start ‘em young

Kids aged under two fly free (or at a very minimal cost with some budget carriers) so enjoy it while you can. Just remember to bring a change of clothes and your sense of humour. If you are flying with older children consider leaving a few days early, especially around school holidays, as being flexible with dates can save hundreds on airfares.

Hit the road

Driving to your destination might have you asking “Are we there yet?” more than the kids. However, car travel can be a real money saver, particularly for larger families. If you are worried about everyone getting bored, playing audio books (available for free at the library) on the car stereo helps the kilometres fly by.

Self-cater and save

Staying in an apartment might be slightly more expensive per night than a hotel room, but it offers excellent value once you take the savings from self catering and convenience of being able to do your own laundry into account.

Skip the extra room

While an apartment can save you money, staying in a hotel room is not out of the question, particularly for families with only one child. Keep an eye out for studio style accommodation with a sliding partition between the bedroom and living area. This allows for extra flexibility and can save the cost of an adjoining room. It also means you won’t have to hide out in the bathroom or sit in the dark waiting for your child to go to sleep.

Go out for lunch, not dinner

If you want to treat the family to a special meal, lunch is almost always cheaper than dinner, especially at upmarket restaurants with a strong evening trade. Keep an eye out for blackboard specials designed to get customers through the door for this traditionally quieter sitting.

Play for free

If you are going to stay at a hotel or resort, look for ones with free on-site activities that will keep kids entertained without any additional cost. For example, Hamilton Island offers unlimited use of catamarans, kayaks, paddleboards, windsurfers and snorkelling equipment at no extra charge.

Cook up a storm

Not many people think ‘cooking class’ when it comes to saving money but these provide a surprisingly cost effective way to enjoy a fun family activity and a delicious meal. Look for classes that cater for children if your kids are younger. If you’re travelling with teens, they should be able to handle the regular adult class with ease.

Beat boredom

Unfortunately parents cannot control the weather but they can plan ahead. Wet weather eats into a holiday budget faster than you can say ‘tropical low’ so pack some board games or consider buying a couple of new ones while you’re away. Games are much cheaper than tourist attraction entry fees if the weather takes a turn for the worse plus you can take the games home.

Disclosure: As the writer’s love of travel is much larger than her family’s holiday budget, she is an expert at finding ways to save money when she travels with her husband and son.

Want some tips that save time, money and your sanity when you’re flying or at the airport? Check out our suggestions for how to pass the time at an airport with kids, how to access airline lounges (even if you’re not a member), and how to make the most of a stopover.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.