Canna Campbell's budgeting tips for family holidays

With almost half of Australian families seeing cost of living pressures jump by more than 10 percent, financial planner, YouTube personality and single mum of one, Canna Campbell shares her top 10 tip on smart budgeting and saving for your next family getaway. 

Family holidays can be expensive, and the increased cost of living makes taking a holiday with the family so much harder. But holidays are so important, and personally I think worth the investment. This is where we create memories, connect and bond as a family and recharge our batteries. Most importantly, with a little bit of planning and the right tools, family holidays don’t have to add extra stress on the household budget.

I have put together 10 tips and ideas to help you create a fun family holiday within Australia, without breaking the bank.

1. Research and plan

Do as much research as possible and plan your days out so that you can then plan your budget out. Prioritise where you want to go and what to visit as a family so additional costs don’t creep in. Travel itineraries can act as great guides for planning how to break up your days and, in turn understanding accommodation, food, fuel and activity needs and estimating spend. 

2. Join a member benefits program like NRMA Blue

Subscribe to a member benefits program where you can make lots of savings, such as NRMA Blue, which gives Members access to everyday discounts on accommodation, transport, attractions nationwide, movie tickets, and even fuel. You can easily access your benefits in the palm of your hand with the my nrma app. Plus, you'll also find lots of road trip, local's guide, event and activity suggestions for family fun.

In fact, I use this not just for holidays but as an every day tool. Only this morning I saved money on petrol and took Rocco to the movies the other day, and we are off to the zoo on the weekend. All with the discount offers redeemed from NRMA Blue. 

3. Book online in advance

Some places offer discounts if you prepay your tickets by making your booking in advance online. Sometimes even up to 30 percent!

This also goes for pre-bundling entertainment passes that include transport. The Sydney Attractions Combo pass is a great example of this, where you can save up to 35 percent on attractions such as SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, the Featherdale Wildlife Park, and Madame Tussauds Sydney, or 15 percent off Taronga Zoo Sydney passes and 20 percent off My Fast Ferry tickets.

4. Consider free attractions

You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars each time you want to do something as a family. Join a walking tour, or make a visit to your local library, markets, museums, kids parks and outdoor rock pools. Learning about your city's history, looking at artwork, taking a bucket and spade for the sand pit, and playing in the ocean can cost $0. If you're looking for inspiration, the my nrma app can help you discover free attractions, both near and far. 

5. Always pack snacks when out and about

This is especially essential for long car trips. Hungry tummies can be expensive, so take water, snacks and even a packed lunch with you to help save money.

6. Consider staying in accommodation with kitchen and laundry facilities

Staying in accommodation that offers private or shared facilities means you can prepare meals for packed lunches or eat in before heading out for the day, and can easily do a load of washing without being charged a fortune. Through NRMA Blue benefits, you can access discounts on accommodation options offering self service facilities with NRMA Holiday Parks and Hotels and TFE Hotels.

7. House swap or rent your house out while away

Save on the cost of accommodation by joining a home exchange community or rent out your home while you're on your vacation. Plus, if you find a family with a similar set up to yours, you may not need to pack toys and travel cots, if required, meaning a lot less stress and a lot less luggage. 

8. Have a separate savings account

Set up a dedicated savings accounts purely to pay for your holiday. Add money to it every time you get paid, even if you can only afford to put a small amount in. It will help take some of the pressure off.

9. Camping

Camping is a fantastic way to connect with your loved ones and the great outdoors, and can also act as a good budget holiday option. You can hire equipment, buy it second hand online or even borrow from a friend. Create your own fun by packing board games, a frisbee, bat and ball, and music, and take food with you and eat at the campsite. NRMA Holiday Parks and Resorts have powered and unpowered campsites, some of which include BBQ and dining areas, throughout Australia. And through NRMA Blue, Members can access exclusive savings on accommodation.

10. Travel as a group

Travel with another family to access group discounts and share the expense. Plus, you'll get to share babysitting duties whilst your kids play together.

And, one extra tip for good luck...

11. Be a tourist in your own town

Taking a break with the family doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go away on a big family trip. There is something really special about discovering things in your own town and simply slowing down. Support your local community, and try new restaurants and cafes. There is so much you can do when you put your mind to it and get creative.

Canna Campbell is the founder of financial planning business, SASS Financial, and author of The $1000 Project. Campbell is also a single mother of one, and began SugarMamma.TV, an educational platform where she shares her knowledge on smart budgeting, saving and investment habits. 

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For 12 months or $60 annually to access exclusive everyday benefits and savings