Keep These 8 Smart Money Tips In Mind When Planning For Your Family Vacation
Planning your next family adventure? Angeli Santillan shares 8 useful tips and tricks that could mean more savings for you.
One of the best gifts parents can give to children is the opportunity to travel. My son is crazy about all modes of transportation, so we took him and his baby sister to Hong Kong for a ride-all-you-can extravaganza. We also invited two of our household helpers to join as a thank you for their service. Having four adults and two kids in one trip, everything adds up.
Here are some smart money tips when planning your family vacation:
1. Book Early
The kids enjoyed their first plane ride and were even allowed to visit the cockpit after the flight!
It’s an overstated piece of advice because it’s true! The best deals for flights, accommodations and activities are often available a few months before your planned trip. We booked our family’s plane tickets to Hong Kong seven months in advance at a travel fair. For a peak season, long holiday weekend, our tickets were 60% cheaper than booking close to the travel date.
When traveling with kids, there are a lot of things that can happen. Since we bought nonrefundable, non-rebookable plane tickets, we purchased travel insurance to offset the risk of paying for everything in full and in advance. When you do the math, travel insurance is a bargain compared to the peace of mind it brings.
Travel insurance covers you not only during your travel, but also for unforeseen events that may occur before your trip. There was a time a family member got hospitalized two days before a trip, and we were able to redeem the cost of our prepaid hotel and airline bookings through travel insurance.
Ordinarily, a cable car ride would cost more than $100HKD per person, but we got it for free using our miles!
It was a last-minute decision for us to also invite our two household helpers to join us on our trip, and by that time the airline ticket prices already took off. We used our credit card points to convert to airline miles for our helpers, only paying for taxes. It’s also worth checking your existing airline loyalty program for unused, expiring miles. We
were able to redeem cable car vouchers for free for our entire group using Asia Miles’ travel redemption service.
One of the rooms we booked - racing theme room! No need to shuffle around, as there was plenty of space!
Check your local cash back sites for travel rebates. Cash-back sites such as Shopback coupled with hotel booking website’s price match offers are a great combination. Shopback gave us a 7% rebate on our Agoda booking. Agoda will also re-discount your booking if you find another deal lower than their offer. Do your research and you’ll be surprised to see the difference and savings.
Mati jamming on his keyboard at our music themed room at the Royal View Hotel.
Sometimes, it’s wise to go outside the city center, especially in a city as compact as Hong Kong. We purposely chose to book a hotel in the New Territories because of four main criteria - room size, air quality, crowd density, and proximity to our chosen activities. It was a great bonus that we got two huge rooms at the luxury Royal View Hotel for the price of one tiny hotel room in Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay.
The Royal View Hotel was almost fully booked when we arrived, but we still got upgraded to two themed rooms! It was a relief not to stress about space, as the kids just ran/crawled around freely. We enjoyed the clear air and scenic views of New Territories while still being one train line away from Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
We used KKDay to book our Peak Tram tour and Big Bus tour. It was a hands down great decision, not only from the cost aspect, but also because of the time saved. Booking through KKDay removed the need to queue, a great bonus for parents with sleepy, cranky toddlers! We got to ride Peak Tram up to the Sky Terrace almost as soon as we arrived at the peak terminal.
I like how KKDay also offers many choices for all preferences - their tours are bundled conveniently for those who want a quick bite-sized experience or those who can spend the whole day exploring. Multiplying the savings by four adults, it was also a great way to be money-smart. KKDay also offers discounts on airport transfers, wifi rentals and show tickets.
The AIA Vitality Park opened this year, and charges only 20HKD/adult for a fun, ferris wheel ride. You can also take the traditional Star Ferry for a more nostalgic experience for 2.7 HKD/adult.
In Hong Kong, kids aged 3 under get free admission on everything - MTR rides, bus fare, attraction tickets, etc. Cabs are often strict in accommodating a maximum of 5 passengers, but are more flexible when kids are included.
Rather than spending your hard-earned money on souvenirs and trinkets that are soon tossed
aside and gathered dust, consider booking a photoshoot as your family’s vacation souvenir.
We first learned about Sweet Escape because of a promotional discount offered with our credit card company. (The Sweet Escape website offers a great discount for first-time bookings). We booked our 2-hour session and time just flew by. Our kids had a great time just laughing and playing, all while our designated photographer snapped away. I
remember my husband and I once had a petty argument about photos (eg. I look so fat! It’s so blurry!) and having a photographer definitely took the stress of taking nice vacation photos away.
I consider this a wise investment, as our kids grow up so quickly that these precious moments are worthy to be captured in time.
Written by Angeli Santillan.
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