Holidays with kids – two of my most favourite things in the world. Putting them together can sometimes be a recipe for disaster, not to mention an expensive disaster at that.
Before we had children, we travelled the world freely, without a care in the world, not worrying if we had an 8-hour layover in some exotic location where we could duck out for a few hours and take in the sights and come back all refreshed sipping on our club lounge dirty martini, or not having to overly worry if the Qantas tickets cost $200 more than the Garuda tickets as we would always pick the Qantas ones even though they were pricier. Or never being restricted to travelling in school holiday time and being slugged 200% more for basically breathing through that time! Never used to happen…. Sob. Now it does. All. The. Bloody. Time….
Now we have two x little travelling companions (almost 7 and 3), we have to plan a little better, negotiate a little harder, and budget more wisely. If you look up the word Budget Queen in the dictionary or Wikipedia these days for those savvy ones, there will be my face, splashed proudly across it. With some leftover pasta or kids drool on my shirt no doubt. We have always taken our kids overseas – our eldest went on her first trip when she was 11 weeks old to Thailand. Basically it was our way of saying “up yours” to the naysayers who told us “Your life is over if you have kids – forget about travelling, won’t happen”. Well…. Happy to report Miss 7 is now onto her 2nd passport and her little brother is fast catching up to her.
There were adjustments of course – do we try to get in as many trips as we can before they turn two to avoid paying for a seat? Can we handle them being on our lap or in that pointless bassinet that really, is only good for storing empty chip packets, tissues, random plastic cutlery and nappies in for an excruciating 28 hours to Europe? Well HELL YEAH if it meant saving $1700!! I can handle being a deranged, sleep deprived mother who wanted to stab her husband with a fork because even him breathing annoyed her on the flight from hell! Saved us $1700 though! Would I do it again? Probably yes.
We are always looking for great travel bargains. I have joined that many travel mailing lists that my computer goes into overdrive every day, dinging every few hours with new potential travel bargains to be had. My excitement is palpable and I can’t wait to see what exciting new destinations await me. My favourite ones (including some UK/Europe ones) would have to be:
I don’t always book all my travel online. I know when I’m humble enough to call in the big guns and use a professional. I have a fantastic relationship with a travel consultant at Flight Centre who I have dealt with since I was pregnant with my first child travelling to Mexico and Cuba. That’s a seven-year relationship and I have never, ever cheated on her. We are soul mates, travelling the world together – well, her remotely and in spirit. But my point is she just knows what to do when I ring her, what I like and how I like things done, which is usually yesterday. She loves me as usually I do most of the ground work for her – researching and coming to her with a price which she will ALWAYS match and usually DISCOUNTS for me too. That’s repeat business and loyalty at its best. So I always recommend to my friends who constantly ask me “where do you get all your travel deals from, how do you do it” – is to find a good travel consultant who is just as passionate as you are. They need to listen well, make time for you, get back to you ASAP, think for you, suggest ideas, use their initiative and come up with amazing solutions to travel itineraries that can sometimes be immense and overwhelming. And they must be willing to match your prices and discount every time.
My Travel Agent also lets me in on when they are having flash sales, and tells me when to hold off, or when there is an Expo approaching. Recently in January this year, I was looking to book a holiday to Lapland, in Finland. To take the kids to see the wonderful and beautiful Santa Claus in the flesh and play with real life reindeers in the snow and build snowmen and rent a house backing onto a forest and sip Cloudberry liqueur by an open fire. Alright, alright so it really was for me (I love Christmas yay!) but the kids think it’s for them. Anyway we came up with some flights with Finnair for $7800 return for all 4 of us. Not bad I thought – or late November/December. Pretty darn reasonable. We still had to pay for some other internal flights to the UK and/or Paris Disneyland (other part of the trip) but I was willing to part with my money there and then until she said “Wait – we are having an expo in two weeks – just hold off. We may lose these seats yes, but I’m sure we can get cheaper. Catch is – if we get good, cheaper seats we have to book there and then on the day”. Took a gamble and said OK – let’s wait and see. When the Expo was on, she rang me from Homebush where it was being held, got us Etihad tickets, better airline, better seats, better layovers, better connections, better everything plus 30kg EACH in luggage WITH an inflight Nanny on board – yeeeha Grandma! All for…wait for it…. $5700….BOOM! Thank you very much.
So shop around people, plan your trips way in advance if you can – we sometimes plan for 2 years ahead – July 2017 will see us renting a Villa in Tuscany for a couple of weeks with fabulous ideas within budget, already in the works. We usually have 2 overseas trips booked at any one time, with more in the pipeline. Look online, keep a watch on prices, get on mailing lists, educate yourself in relation to high-low seasons and best times to go, look outside the square sometimes, compare, compare, compare and get yourself a good, trusted travel agent who will assist on those tricky things like Round the World fares or donkey trekking to Machu Pichu…. Get travelling people! We haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s certainly on our list!
Written by, Eva. Mum CFO member.
Eva is a Mum of 2, passionate travel lover and equally passionate recruiter extraordinaire, being the namesake of the successful husband and wife Recruitment Company Eva Wilson Consulting. www.evawilsonconsulting.com.au
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