How to budget for a family holiday and save $$$



Planning a holiday?


You are planning the year-end holiday and the bills are piling up. With kids in tow ( some with parents too), planning an overseas vacation can be a costly affair. You could opt to pay a travel agency to do all the work and end up with a hefty bill, or take the smart route and plan your own holidays.



From our experiences, a self customised holiday is the way to go. To help you plan for that getaway, these are the costs to consider for the trips plus hacks on how to save a pretty penny on them.

1 Airfares


Unless you are heading to a cruise or planning a trip to nearby areas such as Bintan or Malaysia, the usual mode of transport to get to your destination is the aeroplane. When it comes to choosing for budget vs full-fare flight, you can use this checklist to decide.

How to save?
Consider budget airlines
We always consider budget airlines for flights that are under 3 hours. That would probably bring us as far as Vietnam. Considering the shorter flight time, you probably would not enjoy the full fare flight benefits ( onboard meals and inflight entertainment), so you probably are not missing much. The savings could be as much as thousands of dollars for a family of 4.USe the savings for better accommodations or activities instead.

Book early and look for deals
The other thing is to make your holiday plans early so you can book your flights early. The earlier you book, the cheaper the fares as you can get the early bird specials. Look out for the occasional airline deals too for a great deal. We managed to snag Premium Economy flights to the USA at an economy price with this strategy of booking 6 months in advance!


2 Accommodation


The next big-budget expense will be accommodation. Generally, this and the airfares would form the bulk of your expense.

How to save

Use Travel aggregator website like Booking.com to book your hotels. 
You can use this to compare the rates between the similar category of hotels. Besides, the rates are usually much better compared to booking directly from the hotel.

Choose Apartment over hotels
If you are travelling with 4, it may be tough booking a hotel to fit everyone in. On such cases, especially when you are in Australia, book apartments instead. It's bigger and cheaper compared to booking 2 hotel rooms!

Be adventurous - Try a Campervan
If this Singapore couple can do it for 6 months travelling in a Campervan, so can you!


If you are heading to Australia or New Zealand, try a champer van. The advantage is that you would cover both accommodation and transportation, saving both time and money. Besides, you get to go where ever you choose on your pace. A Triple win in our books. You can book your campervan from sites like Camper Champ.

3 Travel Insurance


Never leave home with travel insurance. There were occasions when our flights were delayed or even baggage missing. Once we were even robbed during the holiday. Thank goodness we had travel insurance to compensate for the unfortunate incidents.


How to save
Buy annual Insurance (worldwide) instead of single insurance.

If you are travelling with your family, buy the family instead of individual coverage. Compared to single trip insurance, if you take at least  2 trips a year with the family, it will be much cheaper when you get an annual family travel insurance.

4 Activities

Unless you are headed to a resort, you would have to budget for activities at your destination. This could be a visit to the theme park, a UNESCO site or even a cooking class. Do leave at least a quarter of your expenses for this part of the budget.

How to Save
Book your activities online before you head out for the trip.
You could use this to plan the itinerary and save when you book online at cheaper rates.


Our Go-to website for holidays would be Klook. From our travel experiences, Klook usually provides cheaper online rates compared to buying tickets on site. Also, they have occasional promotions such as rebates for the year-end sale.


5 Transportation

Getting around a city destination is easy. Usually, you could hop on the bus or subways and just go. However, to travel cross country might be a tad more expensive. There are times you might even need to take a flight for it.

How to Save
Check out the individual country transportation pass. 
For example in Japan, an economical way to travel would be the JR pass. In Taiwan, you use the THSR to travel between cities. Get passes instead of paying for individual trips if you are planning to explore more than 1 city.

You can check out the passes at Klook

Choose Self Drive
Alternatively, choose the self drive route. With self drive, you get to create your own itinerary, saving money from choosing organised tours. You could check out our Self Drive Holidays here




Create your own tour with Car + Local Travel
If you prefer, you could also get a car with a driver for day trips. It will be much cheaper to DIY than going on a tour if you are travelling in a group of 4 or more.


6 Food


Budget for food as well. Eating out in most developed countries tend to be more expensive compared to Singapore ( You cannot find $3 chicken rice). Food could be costly and might even cost more than the activities if you choose to splurge. On the flip side, street food are a treat if cities have them!

How to Save
Choose a hotel with breakfast
When possible choose hotels with breakfast in the option. Usually, it will be a nominally increase in price. However, given that most of the breakfast are buffet style, it tends to be worth it.  Also, most hotels will incorporate local cuisines in the menu so you get to experience local food too.

Buy your food in the supermarket.
Sometimes, eating out might not be the most economical option. If you are staying in apartments, you could make your own meal and save a pretty penny.


7 Shopping


Singaporeans love to shop. It is a given. It would be hardly surprising to see travellers returning with bags of new clothes, bags and toys. Do note the GST relief  (current at $500 for trips >48 hours )for travellers and do not overspend!

How to Save
Factory Outlet
Mention factory outlet and you would have eyes enlarging in anticipation. Factory outlets are a great place to snag a good deal. Most factory outlets are located near the airport, so plan for a stopover either at the start or end of the trip

Have a list and compare Price
Not everything is cheap so it is necessary to compare prices before purchasing. Sometimes it might even be better to purchase the same item online!

Take advantage of the strong SGD. 
With the SGD strengthening, it might make more sense to travel to countries with a weaker exchange rate. Australia, New Zealand, UK and Malaysia are great destinations to explore in 2019. You could buy more stuff for the same dollar at these places.

8 Local Sim Card  / Wifi


Let's face it, even if we are getting away, we still want to stay connected. Instead of using our own SIM card, we would usually get a local sim card or pocket Wifi. Add these to your expenses.

How to save
Pocket Wifi
Get pocket wifi instead of the SIM Card. With Whatsapp, you probably do not need a SIM card to stay in touch. A Pocket Wifi tends to provide multiple connections and would be cheaper too in terms of data usage.

9 Payment mode


The choice of payment could affect your budget. Paying in cash vs paying in credit could make a difference of 3-10%!

How to Save
Always pay in cash if possible. 
Credit Card would add an additional 2-3 % more due to Foreign Exchange Fee, cross-border transaction fee, credit card transactions fee and more. Besides, the exchange rate is always much higher than the money changer.

If using a credit card, do not charge in local currency!
Never charge your credit card in your local currency on the spot. The exchange rate is usually doubly worse than what credit card charges you.

Prebook  Hotels / Activities
Prebook  Hotels and activities before your trip. That way, you don't need to bring wads of cash and avoid the overseas credit card fees.  Instead, use credit cards for pre-book activities to enjoy the card's rebates or points for a better deal!


10 Others


Always have an others column in your expenses. You might never know if you need one. This could include a trip off the beaten tracks, medication for the unexpected illness, tipping the tour guide, etc. As a rule, we usually set aside 10% for others.

How to Save
If you do not use it, you would have to save whatever is unused but budgeted for. That is considered to be a bonus in your budget!


You might also like

Tips on Planning a holiday with kids


10 Favourite Family Holiday Destinations



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