Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tips for an affordable family holiday (Guest Post)

You've trawled the web looking for the best deals, packed the dog off to kennels and little Laura's already looking forward to writing a story all about it when she gets back to school. Yep, you guessed it, we're talking family holidays.

Despite the leaner times, a healthy number of people are expected to get away from it all this year. Explore Research found that 82%  were 'very likely' or 'quite likely' to holiday overseas in 2013. Unsurprisingly, the study revealed that 55% of respondents were most concerned about the costs associated.

So, how can you make holidays more frugal?

Here are a few tips:

Where to go
Whether you're seeking a relaxing sun-filled break, or a city trip bursting with family activities, it is certainly possible to plan to an enjoyable holiday and keep within budget.
Check out this list of budget family locations for 2013:
·         Some Eastern European destinations, such as those in the Euro could be more appealing, including Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovakia
·         For skiing, how about Slovenia, a trendy destination for winter fun? The Slovenia Tourist Board has a list of resorts in different price ranges.
·         After a beach holiday? Then good auld Spain is recommended by The Lonely Planet. It may not be off the beaten path, but over the years it’s remained affordable and enjoyable for British families seeking sunshine. The Costa del Sol is top of the list for bargain resorts.
·         Think about going long haul? If you kids are a little older and you can tackle a longer flight, places like Cancun, Bali, Vietnam or Sri Lanka may command expensive flights, though dining and accommodation costs are usually great value.

Have plans, will travel?
Arrange your flights as soon as possible as most budget airlines don’t discount their flights at the last minute. Book accommodation either very early, or very late, as prices are often discounted at these times.
Check out the dates you're travelling and make sure they aren't during a big festival or event, when accommodation is likely to be more expensive. Prices can rocket during the school holidays, when most other families like to make a great escape
Shop around for the travel money rate. Rates across providers can vary considerably, so it could be worthwhile doing your research.
How you will get there? Can you take the train or drive instead of flying? Check out Eurostar andRaileurope to try and find some competitive fares. You could also make a ferry journey part of your trip, or choose your holiday based on the cheapest flight available. It pays to be flexible!

Where to stay?
Rather than splash out on a hotel, where you have to pay for expensive ‘extras’ and meals, hire a villa which can accommodate more than one family. By splitting the cost, this approach could work out much cheaper. If you're a small group, then why not camp, home swap or rent an apartment rather than book a hotel? Try Airbnb for accommodation all over the world and for those on a budget.

Spending wisely….
You'll want to spend your hard-earned travel money as economically as you can. When in ‘holiday mode’, it’s easy for expenses to pile up. Many of us like to splash out on holidays, which is why planning parts of your trip in advance could help you cut back on unexpected expenses.
Here are a few money saving tips to keep in mind during when you travel.
·         Research free attractions and museums, or visit the smaller venues that might charge less.
·         Buy a city pass, like the Copenhagen card, that gets you inclusive travel and entrance fees.
·         Can you buy restaurant vouchers in advance? Many restaurants are signed up to daily deal websites and you can book your dates before you go.
·         Limit the number of meals out. Take a picnic so you can enjoy food in novel places, whilst enjoying the views.
·         Try walking, cycling or public transport rather than a hire car.

A family holiday on a budget does not have to be a ‘budget holiday’. As you can see, there are many ways to save money and still do all the things you and your family love.

This guest post was written on behalf of Sainsbury's Bank’s Money Matters blog. The views expressed here are of the author and not of Sainsbury's Bank. Though it may include tips and information on affordable family holidays, it does not constitute advice and should not be used to make any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions of external contributors or any external websites included in this piece. All information provided was correct at date of publication.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Learning to ride a bike

I've been struggling a lot with my blog lately.  I've got about ten posts in draft but I can't seem to finish one.  I feel a bit envious of bloggers who appear to find it easy to write and manage to get posts published every day.  I've thought about giving up because it's just something else to add to my seemingly never ending list of things to do.

Then today, something happened that made me want to write.  Ethan, my 5 year old, rode his bike for the first time.  He can only go in a straight line, and can't stop without falling off, but he rode it.

It reminded me that I originally started my blog as a diary of their childhood.  Something to remind me of these stressful, tiring and utterly amazing days of them learning and growing.

I'm joining in with this weeks #CountryKids post over on Coombe Mill

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall