Just because you have children, it doesn't mean the holiday fun is over, writes Alexia Santamaria
Once you have a family, international travel changes in so many ways. Different food, different accommodation and often, a very different budget to play with.
It's a far cry from when it was just two of you lazing on a beach in Thailand in search of the next sunset and cocktail or having dinner in a swanky restaurant in New York.
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It also sometimes means being a bit more canny with your cash as you add one, two, three or more people to the total headcount. Though initially this can seem a bit depressing, it can actually lead to authentic, fun travel as you delve into more local experiences, which can often be more cost-effective.
Here are some of my top tips from travelling with our party of four for more than a decade:
Choose your destination carefully
You may find your money personality prefers an all-inclusive Pacific Island holiday package where you understand all your costs upfront, or you might alternatively like to go somewhere in Asia where the airfares might cost slightly more, but day-to-day expenses like accommodation and food are significantly less.
Go self-catering if you can
It's good to have the option of cooking where you're staying (it's also great for keeping up with the endless laundry children make). If a country has a reputation for being expensive on the hotel/apartment front, try Airbnb or the local equivalent. Often this gives you a much better peek into local life too.
Be breakfast smart
If you are staying in a hotel and can get a good deal including a breakfast buffet, grab it. Load the kids up for the day with bacon, eggs, fruit, pancakes and toast and they often they won't be hungry till later than usual.
If that's not cost-effective, hit up the local supermarket and buy cereal for a DIY job - or even better - go out together in search of a local bakery for a delicious, cheap local breakfast every morning.
Research transport beforehand
Getting around can suck up your budget, so look at your options carefully before you actually need them. For example, Japan has the JR Pass which you can buy before you leave the country (providing unlimited travel for a designated period of time) and other countries will often have tourist transport passes you can buy when you get there. Though taxis can be expensive in New Zealand, they can be much cheaper in other places, so make sure you are informed.
Plan some activities before you go
When we went to London I knew entry fees wouldn't be cheap so each child got to choose two major paid-entry activities (Legoland, Harry Potter Studio Tour, Emirates Flight Simulator, London Eye). Then we looked up all the free or low-cost entry activities and filled the rest of our time with those, plus delightful things we stumbled across spontaneously.
Many cities have great free museums, parks and sites you can visit for very little. There are also often multi-day passes for all the well-loved attractions in a city that are well worth looking into.
If you have older kids who are going to want to stay connected, look into all those options before you go (roaming, local SIM cards). Sometimes renting a pocket Wi-Fi unit between you all can be a really cost-efficient solution.
Play with timing
It's often cheaper to purchase airfares earlier rather than closer to the time; also play with departure dates, checking for options that are just before or after the high season. In those times everything will cost a bit less - but the weather will still be pleasant. This is easier when the kids are under 5 and less beholden to school holiday dates, of course.
Scope out local supermarkets and food options
I have found over the years that carrying snacks for kids has saved me a lot of money (I love having a nosey in local supermarket to see what locals eat, anyway). The main advantage of having a muesli bar or rice crackers with you is that it buys you time to find a reasonably priced place to eat when your kids are "staaaaaarving".
And of course, eat local when possible. It will often be cheaper and your kids will gain so much more culturally, than from having a burger and fries (unless you're in the States of course).