10 ways to save money on your next family holiday

Family travel UAE

It’s often the biggest expense of the year, but with some savvy saving and some really good research, you can make that family trip out of the UAE a lot more affordable, as Helen Farmer of parenting blog The Mothership explains.

Kids and accommodation

Though you can get good rates through the likes of, often when you add in infants the quoted price will shoot up, even though all you require is a cot in the room. Best to contact the hotel direct and explain your requirements, and ask them to match the best rate you can find online.

RELATED: Get organised: UAE websites to save your money (and sanity)

Try to avoid school breaks

If possible, travel outside of school holidays, when flights are considerably cheaper. And be prepared to be flexible with dates and routes. While a direct flight might seem preferable, sometimes a short stopover gives kids the chance to run around before the second leg.

Don’t worry about luxury

It might sound obvious, but go somewhere inexpensive. Kids don’t care about five-star surroundings or exotic destinations, so save your money for these trips without them. A hidden gem using a low-cost airline might have more to offer than you first think.

Food costs can add up

Think about the cost of food and drink when you get there. It’s all very well getting a deal on accommodation, but if you’re paying a fortune to eat at a resort or on an island that you can’t escape, then the final bill will soon add up. An all-inclusive package might end up being more cost effective for a family – and you won’t begrudge kids a mid-afternoon ice-cream that they won’t eat if you don’t have to open your wallet.

Try a ‘kids eat free’ resort and cash in

Look for deals where kids eat free – then order big meals for them at lunchtime and share. Yes, little Johnny might be three years old, but you’re confident he can take down a double burger and fries. And an ice-cream… Ahem.

Think beyond hotels

Consider doing a house swap, or go with AirBnB. Even better, go with friends and share the cost – the kids will have instant friends too, leaving you more time to enjoy yourselves. Villas in destinations like Bali and Thailand often have their own pool, as well as staff, so you won’t be compromising on luxury.

Get the kids earning miles

Sign the kids up to loyalty schemes. As soon as your children are old enough to be eligible, get them signed up to earn their own air miles so they can contribute too. They’ll often get more child-friendly perks for being a member too, such as toys and entertainment on-board.

Look for early bird prices

Do some research into the attractions you’re going to visit, and if they offer discounts for buying tickets in advance, get organised and get booking. Also plan your itinerary around places that offer free or reduced prices for children, such as museums and parks.

Don’t overpack

Save space (and money for excess luggage) by ordering bulky or heavy items like nappies, toiletries and sun cream for delivery to the hotel. And don’t forget that children get an allowance too.

SEE ALSO: Family days out in the UAE (when you’re on a budget)

Skip the souvenirs

Yes, the children might be wailing for a toy or T-shirt that they absolutely can’t live without, but it will soon be forgotten when the next shiny thing comes along. Better to give them some local currency that they can use to buy something of their choice, rather than asking you for the whole trip. Or have a family game where you’re each given a paltry sum (around AED 50 usually works) to find the tackiest gifts for each other.

Helen Farmer is founder of The Mothership, a blog that takes an honest look at living, working and parenting in the UAE, covering everything from family-friendly activities to real issues facing mums. She has been in the Middle East for 10 years, working in publishing and broadcasting, and has one daughter – and another baby on the way. The Mothership won the Time Out Dubai Kids award for Parent Blog of 2016.

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