Holidaying with baby could sound like an oxymoron – the effort required to care for a precious baby is increased when you relocate from home to vacation destination. That’s not to say it can’t or shouldn’t be done. Family holidays are a valuable time of reconnection and recreation. You may not necessarily get any more rest (sleep-ins take a holiday of their own during the baby years), but you do get a change of scenery and the chance to step away from the nagging to-do list of lawns that need mowing and bathrooms that need repainting. All of which will still be there when you get home, so why not – pack the bags and take a break! But what about the cost, you say? How can we go on holiday when the budget is already stretched? Read on for our five finance-friendly tips for holidaying with babies and young children.
Remember the goal of a holiday - time away together to reconnect. So as lovely as tropical islands may seem right now (actually, all the time!), you can have a great break without weighing down your credit card with flights, new passports and foreign currency. We are pretty spoilt in New Zealand with beaches, mountains and lakes within a reasonable drive for most of us. Exploring our home country not only offers convenience, but also a chance to discover the beauty and history of our nation – building a sense of identity in little Kiwi kids, too.
Budget and save
With a never-ending list of things urgently requiring cash, we need to be intentional about setting funds aside for the things that are important to family life. Work out how long it will take to meet your goal and then start saving!
Five stars for family-friendliness
While five-star luxury is a romantic treat, it is not necessary when booking accommodation with kids in tow. Accommodation that ticks boxes for family-friendliness will make your holiday both more manageable and more affordable. For example, kitchen facilities mean you can take your own food and save a bundle of money by not having to eat every meal out. Separate bedrooms are handy so you don’t have to sit silently in the dark all evening, trying not to disturb a sleeping baby. Accommodation within walking distance to beaches, parks and other attractions means you might be able to park the car for the duration of the stay, saving on fuel and burning off those holiday treats with lots of walking! And as kids get older, family holiday specialists, such as Top 10 Holiday Parks and thermal resorts, offer entertainment and activities for the kids included in the price of the stay.
While camping may seem like the ultimate in family holiday value for money, setting up camp with a young baby is not for the faint-hearted. Unless you already have all the necessary equipment for a comfortable stay under canvas, you might find it better value to book a bach nearby a campsite and make day visits to the tents of your friends to ‘test the waters’.
Nothing offers better value than free holiday accommodation. Perhaps you could arrange a house swap with friends in another town, allowing you to experience some place new without spending money on unknown accommodation.
There are also websites dedicated to house and bach swapping, for example houseswap.co.nz where members swap homes and baches for holidays free of charge.
Short-term fun and long-term dreams
As your family grows, dreams for an adventure further afield may stir – and why not? A Pacific island, a foreign city, Disneyland… But of course - the further you go, the greater the cost. Why not start saving now for that dream family trip and spread the cost over several years? By setting up a dedicated savings account for ‘the big trip’ along with regular payments your fund will grow in time to pay for the dream holiday.
Travelling with kids gets easier as they get older, so maybe a big trip could be the way to celebrate the milestone of all your children being at school, for example. Open that savings account today and start planning – a lot of the fun is in the anticipation. In fact, some say the journey is as important as the destination!