Travel hacks to save money on your next trip
Travelling with kids can be so rewarding — for both parents and children. But it can be tricky squeezing a lot of travel time into your schedule and especially your budget.
I’ve polled a bunch of globetrotting mums and dads from our Taxi Baby Community (plus dropped in my own tips!) to find out what their best money saving travel hacks are so that you can plan and go on your next vacay ASAP!
Tip #1: Getting there for less
The advent of low-cost carriers forces full service airlines to be more competitive when it comes to pricing, allowing everyone to fly for less, regardless of which airline you choose. But when you’re paying for tickets as a family of three to six, that cost quickly stacks up, even with a budget airline on promo. Expensive.
One great way to fly for less is utilising air miles (yes, even on some budget airlines!) so make sure you do your research when it comes to which credit card to sign up for. Pick one that gives you the best earn rates along with no expiry of air miles. Consolidate all your expenditure on the card that offers you the quickest way to chock up points and book well in advance to secure seats - especially if you intend to travel during school holidays, peak festive seasons or over a weekend.
Watch out for hidden charges such as taxes, fuel surcharges and admin costs when you convert from points to miles. Also, while some airlines still offer discounted tickets for babies and children, note that air miles redemption rate is usually the same, regardless of whether your blowing miles on an adult or child ticket.
Pro-level hack: Especially if you don’t have enough miles for all, check if the airline allows for using air miles to book the adult tickets then contact the ticketing office once the redemption has been made to add and pay for baby or child tickets.
Tip #2: Free or discounted ways to explore a city
Some of our favourite destinations are also the most expensive cities, and when it comes to exploring the city or taking a taxi, it isn’t always practical to rent a car for city commutes. This is why we love pre-purchased tourist attraction tickets and travel passes. Arming ourselves with them allows us to save on entry tickets, make easy transfers travelling on public transport and it also eliminates the hassle of having to dig up spare change while queuing up for tickets.
Purchase tourist attraction tickets and travel passes in advance on discount websites such as Klook and Go City. If your holiday includes multiple cities within a country, look into purchasing a rail pass as some of these passes like the JR Tokyo Wide Pass also includes access to metro rail and bus services within Tokyo in addition to destinations within the areas these passes cover.
Pro-level hack: Did you know that some cities provide FREE public transport? Check this website when planning your next holiday to see if you’ll be going out and about for nothing. It is quite possible to spend a whole day exploring a city without spending much. Look out for free entry to museums on certain days or an hour before closing. We like joining free walks conducted by history enthusiasts who often do not charge for their time and knowledge but appreciate a small tip in return.
Museums often offer free entry on certain days or towards the end of day!
Tip #3: How to dine like a king
We are foodies and often plan our trip itineraries around mealtimes so that we can maximise opportunities to eat our way through our holiday. Eating out in some cities is pricey so we often look out for the best cheap eats a city has to offer.
Farmers markets, food courts, street food and cafes with lunch specials are some of our favourite places to sample local delights. Find out if your destination has discount dining apps so that you can splurge on a restaurant meal for less. If you’re travelling to somewhere like Australia, consider raiding the supermarkets for breakfast essentials and things you can pack as a picnic to enjoy the many open spaces and awesome playgrounds all over the country.
Pro-level hack: Farmers markets and supermarkets often offer a massive discount on fresh food and baked goods towards the end of the day. Examples of our best finds to date include eight cinnamon donuts for $1 or three punnets of strawberries for $5. Keep your eyes peeled for special price tags indicating a cut-price item, they may have a sell-by date today but still good for consuming tomorrow.
Tip #4: Hotel Hacks
Outside of air tickets, accommodation will be your next biggest expenditure. Gone are the days of slumming it in a backpacker joint because you will want greater comfort, cleanliness, convenience and security when travelling as a family.
Aside from sticking with a single hotel brand and being part of a hotel loyalty programme, you can save money on sleeps by comparing prices between booking direct with the hotel and a third-party booking website such as agoda or booking.com. Alternative, look at serviced apartment chains and accommodation rental sites (God bless AirBnB!) that list rooms or whole apartments for short-term rental. Quite often, in cities like Hong Kong or Tokyo where you are paying a premium for smaller but centrally located hotel rooms, you can rent an entire apartment nearby for the same price per night or less.
Pro-level hack: On a multiple city holiday, consider travelling overnight travel by train between cities. By booking a berth on sleeper trains, you save on one night’s accommodation. The experience offers children a sense of adventure and I guarantee they’ll still be talking about it fondly for years to come.
A serviced apartment offers active kids way more space to play.
Tip #5: Covering the unforeseen
Buying travel insurance is a must now that we travel as a family and book trips in advance (we book them waaaaay early to get the best deals!). It offers us some peace of mind should the unforeseen happen.
If you have several holidays planned and locked-in, it is worth considering buying an annual travel insurance instead of one for each trip as the savings can be significant. Shop around and read carefully what each insurer offers with different tiers. I love the offering from Direct Asia - they’re just sensible about it, and luckily for you, Taxi Baby customers can enjoy a 10% discount on new annual travel insurance by including the code ‘TAXIBABY’ before buying online.
Pro-level hack: Travelling can take its toll on everyone’s immunity and the air quality on board an aircraft may not always be ideal. If anyone in the travelling party falls ill during or shortly after the holiday, the medical bill may be covered by the travel insurance. Read the fine lines of your policy so you don’t end up out-of-pocket for something you can claim.
Don't leave home without travel insurance!
Last but not least, maximise annual leave by travelling over public holidays. There are seven long weekends in Singapore next year, where will you be travelling to next?