Father and daughter sitting on jetty

Once-in-a-lifetime holiday ideas that are budget-friendly

In Features, Stories, Travel by Nicole Fuge

Want to plan the ultimate trip for the entire fam bam these school holidays? And preferably without the hefty price tag?

​As any mama who’s tried to book a holiday will know all too well, anything that’s travel-related becomes a lot more expensive during the school holidays.

To help you beat the travel companies at their own game, here are five money-saving hacks that will keep more money right where you like it (in your bank account) while the family still enjoys the trip of a lifetime.

Wish you were here!

1 // Plan the ultimate staycation

Dad and baby walking on sand at beachSadly, the weak Aussie dollar is a good reason to keep things local these holidays rather than going overseas. And it’s not all doom and gloom with our shores offering some of the most beautiful locations in the world right in our own backyard.

Why not consider a day trip that can be as little as a half-an-hour’s drive away. If you’re in Sydney, consider Collins Beach (30-minute drive), Kangaroo Valley (two-hour drive) and Jervis Bay (three-hour drive). From Melbourne, there’s the Yarra Valley (one-hour drive), the Dandenong Ranges (one-hour drive) and Philip Island (two-hour drive).

2 // Ditch the rental car

Woman on road trip standing next to carSkip the traditional car rental companies – which always hike up the prices during school holidays and Christmas – and use a service like ​DriveMyCar​. This one rents cars out from private owners or direct from the manufacturers, which is why it can be up to 50% cheaper than traditional car rental companies, but you still get insurance cover in case of an accident, along with bonus roadside assistance.

3 //​ ​The transport and accommodation combo

Caravan at night with candles and fairy lightsIf you want to journey a little further afield and have an experience the entire fam bam will never forget, travelling by caravan can be lot of fun for the youngsters and a great way to cut costs.

Consider the Sydney to Brisbane trail if you’re coming from Sydney, which stretches 900km along the Pacific Coast corridor, passing through the Hunter Valley, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. From Melbourne, you can take a leisurely trip over to Adelaide, checking out the beautiful beaches along the Great Ocean Road, the spectacular coast along Apollo Bay, and the abundant birdlife in Coorong National Park.

You can save even more money – about 20% off the rental cost – by hiring a caravan through ​MyCaravan​. Customers also have the option of getting the caravan towed to and from the camping site, making it a great option for busy families and first-timers.

4 // ​​Sleep under the stars

Camping tent set up under starsThe warmer climate at this time of the year means it’s never been a better time to dust off your camping equipment. ​FindACamp​ is a website that shows you the nearest bush camping and caravan parks within a certain kilometre radius of your location, with details on the location, fees, and on-site facilities (toilets, shower, BBQ, etc).

5 // Think outside the box

Mother and children snorkellingGreat holidays often revolve around having new and fun experiences, but there’s no reason why you can only have those when you’re away from home. Websites like Groupon​, ​Spreets​ and ​Cudo​ offer fun activities for the kids that are deeply discounted off the regular price, including a two-hour trampoline park and ninja warrior course, a snorkelling tour along the coastline, a deep sea fishing experience, and whale watching.

You might also like: 6 easy (non-beauty) ways to indulge in self-care5 inspiring mamas to help you kickstart the week, and We’re throwing in the 9-to-5 for life on the road with a 1-year-old.