A small Brisbane family, travelling, homeschooling and doing it on a budget!
Broaden your horizons and your mind, and follow our journey!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

10 Tips to Save Money Before You Travel

There are many ways you can save money before you leave on your trip.  The more money you save before you leave, the more affordable and achievable, your holiday will be.

1.  Google is your friend.   You will find most travel websites will either match or provide cheaper air fares than what you will find in a retail travel store.  We prefer to use Expedia for our trips.  Not only did we find the cheapest fares there, you can call and talk to a real person!

2.  Book flights early!  Yes the early you book, the cheaper the fares, almost always.  Watch out for airline sales and when you see cheap, buy.  The closer to the date, generally the higher the fare.

3. Travel in non-peak times.  We always travel to Europe in winter.  We do have snow fetish, but in all seriousness (and I was being serious), airfares are just cheaper in winter.  Car hire and accommodation costs are also lower.  Just avoid the Christmas week and New Year's Eve if you can.  I won't even go into our horrendous few nights in Prague in the most horrid hotel, paying 5 star prices.  Peak periods are not only more expensive, all the good and reasonably priced accommodation sells out quickly.  PS you also avoid the crowds!

4.  Book accommodation in advance.  We use booking.com a lot for this purpose.  Most of the time you do not have to leave a deposit and if you cancel within the guidelines, it doesn't cost a cent if you change your mind, destination or plans.   You can sometimes grab last minute deals, but it doesn't hurt to reserve a place, well ahead of time, for just in case!  We once booked with booking.com well in advance only to watch prices fall in New Caledonia.  No problems though, booking.com promise to price match the lowest price even after you have booked.

5.  Shop around for travel insurance.  There are some great deals to be had online.  Do not purchase travel insurance through a travel agency, you will be paying twice the price.  Choose travel insurance that covers your excess in the case of an accident with car hire and you can then save on car hire insurance. We recommend and use 1Cover Insurance.

6.  Choose accommodation with cooking facilities. Even if you pay slightly more at the time of booking, this will save you a fortune whilst travelling. You can still enjoy the local cuisine by shopping in foreign supermarkets and visiting local markets. It is a fabulous way to mingle with the locals and feel part of the community.  Shopping for food is one of my favourite things to do in foreign lands.

7.  Stay longer periods in one place.  Longer stays mean cheaper rates.  Weekly rates often mean at least a night's free accommodation and a month stay can mean a week or two free!  Less travelling also saves on rail passes and fuel and/or car hire.

8.  Choose central locations for accommodation.  If you are hiring a car ensure there is free car parking or if travelling by public transport, stay within walking distance to bus stops and metro stations.   In places like Europe, small towns can be found only a small train ride away from bigger cities, and you will save a fortune on accommodation costs.

9.  Pack a lunch and snacks. If, like me, you like to get to the airport really early, take food!  Yes pack a lunch (or dinner) and buy all plane snacks before entering the airport.  There is nothing worse than spending $100 before you even take off.  That money could be better spent on your holiday.

10.  Always check luggage allowances.  If you need more, it is often cheaper to purchase online before you leave.  We have a travel bag weighing device to ensure we never pay excess baggage fees and we take it with us on our trip.

Happy travels!  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Europe is Calling!

We have been home some 4 months, since our New Zealand stint and we are itching to go again.  We have done some camping in this time, but no major trips, and we have itchy feet!

A few years ago we managed to spend our summer in Europe, in the lovely cold, for 3 years in a row. Business was thriving then, it was easy to do.  We did not really budget, just went and enjoyed ourselves.  Not to excess, but with little financial concerns.

Things are different now, small retail businesses in Australia are not doing too well and things are tight. We are not complaining, we still feed our children and have a house, a car and still go camping, but our budget leaves very little room for an overseas trip.  That would stop most people, but not us.  I remember hearing Rick Steves say once, if you have to drive a bomb of a car, if you have to do without every other thing in your life, still travel!

Why?  Because there is no better experience in the world.  There is no better way to appreciate what you have, to understand other people and to really learn.  The world is a wondrous, amazing place, waiting to be explored.  Unfortunately once have you been bitten by the bug, it is hard to shake.

We homeschool our son, so I cannot think of a single better way to educate him.  We are not talking about history and geography education, we are talking about real learning.  Learning about people, what makes them tick, what rituals and cultures drive them, what the world is really about.  Travel awakes the soul and broadens the mind.  It might sound cliche, but it does.

This is how Rick says it, and I so wholeheartedly agree.

Follow us as we show you how we shrimped and saved to get to Europe and how we will manage a small tight budget while travelling around the UK and Europe for 60 days!

It won't be easy, but it will be fun!  It will be worth all the sacrifices and cans of baked beans on toast!

In the process, we will be de-cluttering our house and our lives!  A bonus we think!

Stay tuned!