Spring is on the way and temperatures are slowly rising. For many of us, it’s the time when we start thinking about our summer holidays and what to do with the kids for six weeks. Does the thought of staying home for the duration of the school holidays make your heart sink a little? Let’s face it, the British summer is not the most reliable — especially if you’re hoping for lots of sun-filled days out at the park or beach, or playing in the garden.
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If you’re dreaming of warmer weather and new things to do with the family, you have plenty of options that won’t break the bank — and they don’t involve restricting yourself to a week at Butlins. If I were to mention Dubai, the Maldives and Barbados, you might think, “woah, that’s way out of my budget and those places aren’t for families.” Many people discount these luxury resorts because they don’t know what these places have to offer or how to visit them on a budget — but it’s easier than you think. Of course, you’ll need some savings and these aren’t cheap family holidays, but it is possible to manage on a reasonable budget and enjoy a stunning getaway. Here’s how.
How Can I Afford a Luxury Holiday?
If you’re savvy and plan ahead, you can afford to take your family to the beautiful white sands of the Maldives or to experience the excitement of a Dubai holiday.
Pick Your Season of Travel with Care
Obviously, if you have your heart set on taking the kids away during the school holidays, this one is a little trickier. However, booking an end-of-season break can be one of the best ways to slash the cost of your holiday. We all know that school holidays are a pricey time for a getaway. If you are able to avoid these times, great, but if not, there are still savings to be made by choosing your dates with care.
Peak season will depend on your chosen destination. Many people assume that going away during our summer months will prove most costly. However, if you’re heading to Barbados, you’ll probably get the best deals for holidays in between June and November as this is the stormy season, which puts off many sun-seeking beach lovers. Why would you want to go at a time everyone else avoids? People often avoid wet seasons because they think it will constant — a literal dampener on your holiday — and stop them from having the beach holiday they dream of. But in many holiday destinations, rain showers are short bursts and can actually be quite refreshing in warmer climes! If you head to Barbados in September, typically the cheapest time to visit, you can expect gorgeous sunshine and high temperatures. There will be rain, but tropical rain showers are nothing like British rain. There’s also no need to be put off by so-called “storm” or “hurricane” seasons. Barbados lies in the far east of the Caribbean and hurricanes are exceptionally rare — the last serious storm occurred in 1955. Temperatures can reach some dizzying heights, but there are plenty of options for family activities out of the heat. Why not check out the beautiful Harrison’s Cave or go on an underwater exploration on the Atlantis Submarine? When you do want some sun, visiting in low season means you’ll have fewer families to compete with for towel space on the beach.
Go All Inclusive
At first glance, all-inclusive family holidays can seem like the more expensive option. However, bear in mind that this higher price tag means that all of your travel, accommodation and food costs are included. The offers will vary between tour operators and it is important to make sure you understand exactly what is and isn’t included, but taking this option can save you a lot of money and stress. Think about all the food and drink you are likely to consume on a holiday — most of us take advantage of this time to eat and drink a lot more than we do at home — a week off won’t hurt! Certain types of food and drink can be far more pricey than you’d expect — imagine flying to your luxury destination only to find that your favourite tipple is double the price you pay at home. If you were paying for this separately, the costs would soon add up and exceed what you would have paid for an all-inclusive deal.
Many all-inclusive holidays will have extras thrown in too. On top of food and drink, you may be able to book some amazing experiences for your family at no extra cost. If you fancy windsurfing or the kids want to try kayaking, take a look at what is provided — some resorts will include such activities and more in a package.
When it comes to accommodation, you’re likely to get better value for money too. Self-catering holidays are seen as the budget choice, but on top of having to pay separately for food and drink, the standard of accommodation is often far less luxurious than that included in an all-inclusive package.
And knowing that it’s all paid for in advance is a recipe for a purely stress-free holiday! You won’t even have to think about your budget when you all head out for a delicious banquet in the evening.
Choose a Reliable Tour Operator
The choice of tour operators selling all-inclusive family holidays is overwhelming and it can be tempting to go with whatever seems cheapest at first glance. Taking the time to find a reputable accredited tour operator can save you plenty of pennies and headaches in the long run.
Check that your tour operator has ATOL or ABTA certifications — ideally both. An Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) covers package holidays that include flights (and some flight-only sales). If your travel company fails and your holiday is cancelled, you will be entitled to a refund, or flights home if you’re already abroad. ABTA is the Association of British Travel Agents and covers rail, cruise and self-drive holidays. Depending on your chosen holiday, either an ATOL or ABTA accreditation may be more important to you.
Your tour operator should also be able to offer a degree of customisation. Even if you are buying an all-inclusive package, you should be able to modify this in line with your needs. This could help you stick to your budget, as you’ll be able to decide what you spend on, and more importantly, where you make savings — if something’s on offer that you and your family aren’t particularly interested in, see if you slash it from your deal, cutting the cost in the process.
Your holiday provider should be totally transparent about all costs. You need to know exactly what is included and what isn’t. A reputable operator will not include “hidden” costs, which can come as a nasty surprise if you think you’ve budgeted and paid for everything.
Do your research and take the time to find a holiday provider that you can trust. It may seem like an effort now, but it could save you hundreds of pounds.
Look for Special Offers
Most tour operators will have a range of special offers. Some of these will vary throughout the year, such as late deals. Others may be a standing offer, for example, early-bird discounts, which offer a reduced fee for booking a specific duration of time in advance of your holiday. Depending on the age of your children, you will often be able to get a free or reduced rate, and you can take advantage of family packages, which often charge a lower combined fee for two adults and two children than the holiday would cost if booked separately.
Are you feeling inspired and dreaming of jetting off with the family for a fabulous Maldives holiday? Have you already started Googling “all-inclusive family holidays to Barbados”? If you take the time to do your research and plan ahead, you can afford a luxury family holiday on a budget. Happy holiday shopping!