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Summer Holidays On A Budget - Getting The Best For Less

Updated on October 11, 2018
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I tutor students in the English Language and English Literature at A Levels. I also help students with their college applications.


It Is Time For Some Summer Fun

The summer holidays are around the corner and the kids are getting restless. Over here in Malaysia, where more and more kids are going to international schools, the idea of ‘summer holidays’, as absurd as it sounds, is catching on. For those not in the know, the temperature in Malaysia is about 30°C all year long!

Anyway the kids are going to be out of school for a month and it is time for some good family fun. With the cost of everything on the rise, parents are looking for ways to give their kids a really good holiday without having to spend an arm and a leg in the process.

To stretch your dollar without sacrificing on the quality of your holiday, try the following tips.

It Does Not Take Much To Make A Kid Happy


1. Planning

Hotel rates always depend on supply and demand. At the peak of the holiday season hotel rates are the highest. When the kids are having holidays, parents who are working will try to take days off to combine and have a longer stretch with the weekends. This makes days like Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays a ‘high demand days’ while Tuesdays and Wednesdays being ‘low demand days’. The Internet allows us to check and compare hotel rates. Use this facility and spend some time checking these rates. Set a spreadsheet and make the comparisons.

Keep a look out for local holidays if you are planning to go out of state. This can work both ways, a local holiday could mean a surge in demand but a holiday for a religious occasion could also mean that more people would be spending time in their own homes with their family and relatives.

Are the locals having holidays the same time that you are? Holidays somehow revolve around the kid’s school calendar and if you are going for a holiday while the local kids are still in school, you will be getting better hotel rates. Check the local school calendar. It is easily available on the Internet.

Usually the very beginning or the very end of the holidays is when the demand is the lowest and you will be able to get the best rates. Many folks also love to spend some time in their own homes before leaving for a holiday and return a few days before the new term begins to avoid the kids being too exhausted.

If your kids are done with their exams and are not doing anything in school during the last three days of the term, you might also consider taking off before the holidays begin to grab the best rates.

Apart from this, check to see if online booking rates are cheaper than booking by phone. Many hotels offer different rates if you book online and some even have wonderful packages for online booking.

If you are planning to book a flight, keep these things in mind:

Flights are generally cheaper when you book:

  1. Mid week
  2. Are willing to arrive or depart at odd hours of the day.
  3. Involves a stopover in another city.

Depending on the ages of your children, you might be able to get the best deals. Teenagers are quite resilient and will be able to look at this as an adventure. Get them involved in helping you secure the best deals based on the supply and demand theory. Once the whole family is involved, they will not complain so much. In fact, it would seem like a game that you are all playing to win!


2. Register With Online Websites

There are so many websites online that offers you fabulous deals. Sites like Groupon and Airfarewatchdogs are examples of sites that offer fantastic vacation deals. Signing up with these websites and you will enable you to receive periodic mails informing you of really good holiday.

Certain hotel chains also offers member rates that is worth considering. These hotels do offer special discounts for their members and will constantly send you newsletters informing you of the ‘specials’ that they are having. Here, you would have to do the math. If you are required to pay an annual fee, decide if it is worth being a member. If it is free, sign up. If your favorite airline has a similar facility or any kind of alert notification system, sign up for this too. You can easily cut costs this way.

Every time you get a notification about a good deal, move it into a special folder on your desktop. In this way you will be able to monitor the deals as they come and immediately seize the best and make a booking. Most of these deals must be exercised within a limited time frame or for a specific number of coupons, so speed in decision-making is crucial.


3. Alternative Accommodation

Hotels are generally expensive but they are not the only place to stay. For big families, apartments many be the better choice. Booking three rooms is much more expensive than getting one large apartment. It is also more fun when everyone is a single space together instead of three different rooms on three different floors. It is not easy getting adjoining rooms!

Private homes and apartments is another alternative. These may not have the hotel facilities of towels and free toiletries but would definitely be a cheaper alternative. If your holiday is going to involve a lot of time spent outdoors, don’t waste too much money on accommodation. Private homes and rooms are often advertised on the Internet. Go to the local forum pages and search, search and search.

Have you ever heard of Home Exchange programs? There are websites where you get to stay in a home belonging to another family in the city of your choice in exchange of allowing others to stay in your home when you are away. Although many may feel uncomfortable with this arrangement, the rising cost of accommodation has changed many people’s mindsets


4. With Meals Or Without Meals

Everyone is happy when his/her stomach is full. Holidays to kids mean breaking from the daily routine and having fun. They want to eat better food and eat a lot more food! If yours is a family of five and each of you needs at least three meals a day, the amount of money spent on food alone can be substantial. From my experience I found that when it came to teenagers, it is best when food is included in the holiday packages. Although it may be slightly more expensive but it was way cheaper that making stops to feed my constantly hungry teens.

Accommodation with food included, accommodation without food, buying your own food or cooking your own meals will depend on your own family. Families with toddlers might be better off seeking their own meals. The little ones hardly eat a proper meals and will prefer many snacks along the way instead. Some hotels state a time range within which the meals must be taken. If you like to sleep in and find it inconvenient to wake up early just for breakfast, ask for rates without the breakfast or look for cheaper hotels that don’t offer breakfast. There are many options out there and you should look for the one that works best for you and your family. Some folks find it cheaper to rent a home by the beach where you can prepare your own meals and use their laundry facilities a better option.

For Those With A Hearty Appetite, Hotel Buffets Are The Best


It Is In The Mindset

Going for a holiday does not have to be an expensive exercise. There are many ways to have a good time without having to cough up a lot of money. The trick is to think out of the box and look for alternative options. Get the family involved, especially the teenagers. They are good with the computers and are usually most willing to show you their skills as long as you tell them what you are looking for. Get them involved in the budgeting and decision making exercise. Look out for hidden costs especially at hotels. Always do your research and you will have a truly memorable holiday with your family.


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