Thursday, 13 November 2014

Travel Tips 6: Saving Money

Even with two kids in tow, I was still able to travel to 6 countries this year! People ask me if I'm very rich, well, of course not! We make it happen by prioritising our travels above other things. With a little planning and a lot of research, you too can save a significant amount of money on your travels!

As usual, I've invited fellow mummy and daddy bloggers who love travelling to share their secrets to bringing their whole family (some as big as 6 people, with only one income) on vacations overseas (I've managed to include the daddy bloggers this time as dads are usually the ones paying for the trip!).


How to Save Money on:

1) FLIGHT TICKETS


"For flights longer than 3 hours, the hubby and I prefer to fly on full service flights rather than budget airlines. This is because:
  1. Food and drinks are provided (we do not have to starve for 3 hours)
  2. Larger baggage allowance
  3. If we're bringing a baby, there's priority boarding, a bassinet for me to put my baby in and the luxury of bigger leg space (for free!)
The hubby patrols the internet regularly waiting for Singapore Airlines (our favourite carrier) to release their promotions and when they do, that's when we snap them up!"
~~ Madeline (that's me!)

"Fly on weekdays so that you can secure the best price for the tickets, especially if you are travelling on a budget carrier."
~~ Dominique of Dominique's Desk, Mum of three (ages 10, 7 and 4 years)

"For flights:
  • Try to book flights mid-week instead of on Fridays to Sundays for cheaper rates. We have also been told prices deviate depending if you are using a Mac or PC to book.
  • Clear your cache regularly as some websites capture your search results and adjust pricing upwards.
  • It is best to book your flights at least 6 months in advance for greater savings.
  • For flights shorter than 6 hours (e.g. to Taiwan, Phuket or Bali), we have flown with reputable budget airlines such as Jetstar and Scoot with much satisfaction.
  • For longer flights (e.g. to Melbourne and New York City), we have flown with Middle-Eastern airlines such as Emirates and Qatar, which edge out our national carrier (Singapore Airlines) in terms of pricing, comfort and service."
~~ Angeline of Life's Tiny MiraclesMum of two (ages 6 years and 3 months)

"Because our family is big, we always take budget airlines, especially when there are special promotions like 50% off or 1-for-1 sale which happens quite often. But that also means that you have to plan months ahead. Do note though, that any rescheduling is going to cost a lot more! If you have a few kids, buying the base 15kg or 20kg check-in luggage for everyone (including the kids) from the start might be cheaper than adding on 20kg or 30kg for just one individual."
~~ Steven of The 'Perfect' Father, Dad of four (ages 6, 5, 3 years and 7 months)


2) ACCOMMODATION


"Book your hotels through one website so that you can accumulate points. We usually book our hotels via Agoda using my credit card so that we can accumulate points for both and redeem our next hotel stay and  vouchers respectively. We had gotten a number of hotel stays for free from all the points we had accumulated from all our hotel bookings."
~~ Madeline (that's me!)

"Never forget to check out the hotel's main website for room booking promotions. Sometimes the price is even better than those on 3rd party sites such as Agoda and Hotels.com."
~~ Collin of Daddy Chow & the Spunky Kids, Dad of one (age 8 months)

"For hotels:
  • Always compare the prices listed on the hotels’ own websites versus third party sites like 'Hotels.com' and 'Hotelclub.com' as you may chance upon seasonal promotions resulting in sizeable savings.
  • ‘Hotels.com’ has a loyalty scheme where you'll get 1 free nights’ stay for every 10 nights’ booking. We are only 3 nights short of our 1st redemption.
  • ‘Hotelclub.com’ occasionally has Visa promotions where they’ll take S$50 off your total bill if you book over the phone and tell them you are paying by Visa. ‘Hotelclub.com’ also gives members up to 7% back on our bookings, which we can use to offset the next stay.
  • If possible, we try to book from sites which have a flexible cancellation policy to avoid incurring penalties should the travel plans change later.
  • If you are celebrating a special occasion (e.g. birthday or wedding anniversary), request for a complimentary upgrade upon check-in. If the hotel is not running at full occupancy, the team will usually be happy to make your day.
  • For longer stays (i.e. more than 3 nights) or in more expensive cities (e.g. New York and Australia), we will always book serviced apartments and homestays (try AirBnB) instead of hotels and channel the savings on accommodation to sight-seeing instead."
~~ Angeline of Life's Tiny MiraclesMum of two (ages 6 years and 3 months)

"For us, our accommodation are usually sourced from AirBnB and we are happy with our choices to date. We had booked apartments in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan. The pricing is usually great and you get a taste of how the locals live!"
~~ Steven of The 'Perfect' Father, Dad of four (ages 6, 5, 3 years and 7 months)

"Families with more than 4 members normally need to book two rooms. We try to negotiate for extra beds and squeeze into one room. We also like to skip the breakfast package, preferring to research and eat like a local (cheaper meals, richer experiences)."
~~ Andy of Sengkang Babies, Dad of four (ages 11, 9, 7 and 5 years)

"My hotel tips:
  1. While many hotels are offering better rates these days directly rather than through travel agents, sometimes agents have better package deals which might include meals and airport transfers. Once I've decided on a destination, I will usually do more research just to check what the agents are offering.
  2. Get yourself on the mailing lists or Facebook pages of airlines and hotel groups so that you know of the latest deals.
  3. Knowing the peak and off-peak seasons will help you predict when air fares and room rates will be at the lowest. Also, the weather used to be more predictable but these days with El Nino, you could end up having great weather in a low season and vice versa."
~~ Edlyn of Mummy Ed, Mum of three (ages 6, 4 and 2 years)


3) INSURANCE

"Buy your travel insurance a few weeks before or during the NATAS fair as various credit card and insurance companies often have special promotions and offer very good discounts. We almost always pay only 50% of the full price for insurance."
~~ Madeline (that's me!)


4) ATTRACTIONS

Everland in Seoul, South Korea

"Purchase tickets for major attractions online to save money. Remember to bring the passport of your children to prove that they are below the minimum age so that they can get free entry."
~~ Madeline (that's me!)

"For themepark and attractions, book your tickets online to enjoy savings, and avoid long queues."
~~ Andy of Sengkang Babies, Dad of four (ages 11, 9, 7 and 5 years)

"Do your research and look up blogs and/or review sites to check out potential savings before heading to that place."
~~ Dominique of Dominique's Desk, Mum of three (ages 10, 7 and 4 years)

"For Sydney, one high cost is car parking - and especially if you travel around the city area, the car park prices can be astronomical. If you do intend to travel to the city area, try weekends - where you can find a flat $10/day parking, or if you must drive, use "Book A Bay" under Wilson Parking to reserve a lot and get a better rate. For theme parks etc, buying tickets online is generally cheaper (as opposed to on the spot). You can try Living Social for some deals. I bought their Vivid Sydney cruise tickets from there before, and it was pretty enjoyable."
~~ Sandra of Sanses, Mum of three (ages 6, 3 and 1 years) currently living in Sydney


5) GENERAL

"My kids love spaghetti, and can eat an adult portion of spaghetti per child. We use this trick in Singapore and places like Australia and other western countries. Most restaurants would allow you to order a spaghetti, and an extra portion of plain spaghetti noodles at just an extra $1 or $2. So we would pay full price for one plate of spaghetti, which usually comes with ample spaghetti sauce and we would just take approximately half of it to mix into the plain extra noodles. This way, we don't have to pay full price for 2 adult portions of spaghetti."
~~ Pamela of Tan Family Chronicles, Mum of three (ages 7 and 4 year old twins)

"If you're travelling to a destination which is popular with Mainland China tourists, do check when the China Golden Week is, because they DO have 1 billion people. I learnt this the hard way!"
~~ Edlyn of Mummy Ed, Mum of three (ages 6, 4 and 2 years)

"The best time to go travelling is when your kids have not started primary school education, because this means that you are able to holiday during non-peak periods where airfares and hotels will be at its cheapest! Please refer to my financial tips on planning family vacations for other tips."
~~ Kelvin of Cheekiemonkies, Dad of three (ages 9, 8 and 4 years)


What are your money-saving secrets?


This post is part of my series on Travel Tips for the Wanderlust Parent.
Follow me as I share my tips for planning your next family vacation


Head on over to My Travel Page for a whole list of our travel itineraries!
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