Smart Saving for Smart Kids: How to Fund Your Next Family Holiday

A family holiday is a rather infrequent occurrence, with most households going on one only once or twice a year.

While it’s definitely a time of enjoyment and merriment for parents and children alike, it’s no secret that it can also be quite expensive. 

girl wearing black sweatshirt playing toy car

For minors who don’t hold a job, this is especially true. A lack of adequate funding may translate to a smaller allowance from your parents, limiting your ability to splurge on your holiday freely.

That said, travelling on a limited allowance doesn’t have to be an inevitable reality. Both parents and teens can plan ahead to craft a financially foolproof itinerary.

If you want your next family holiday to be both fun and financially viable, here are some smart saving tips for kids to help them enjoy their once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Let’s jump right into it!

1. Create a Budget Goal (and Spending Limit)

Just like any major activity, it’s best to come in with a plan in mind. A budget, for the most part, is this plan. 

More specifically, a budget tracks all the financial activities pertaining to the planned holiday. It accounts for not just the pre-planned and daily expenses, but also the income streams (like parents’ allowances and birthday gifts).

Ideally, the sum of the income must not exceed the sum of the expenses. This will ensure that you won’t stay in debt. 

Furthermore, you should also look into incorporating both a budget goal and a maximum spending limit. 

A budget goal refers to a specific figure that you (or your parents) intend to have for the sole purpose of the trip.

A maximum spending limit refers to a marked amount that you and other family members should not exceed. 

This may be the same figure as the budget goal, but you can account for emergency funds and spare funds of individual persons to increase this amount slightly.

pink pig figurine on white surface

2. Book Hotels and Flights Early

Another good way to save is by booking family-friendly hotels and flights early. 

Booking hotels and flights months in advance can save you costs since there may still be a lot of empty rooms or seats available this early on. If you book just days before you set out to travel, these rooms or seats may have already been filled up which can cause a surge in price.

Hence, it’s typically a good idea to book a few months ahead of the scheduled travel date. This is just as true whether you’re travelling as part of a tour group or organising the family holiday on your own.

Furthermore, planning ahead also gives you some liberty to adjust your travel plans as necessary. 

For instance, if you want to switch hotels or room types, then you can cancel your original booking and get a new one without a very high price increase. Just be sure to book a flight or hotel that’s cancellable if you find a need to be flexible.

3. Sell Your Secondhand Items

As a kid, you likely don’t have the liberty to enter the job market even as a casual or part-time worker. But if you want to pad up your savings before a journey, consider selling items you no longer need or use.

With your parents’ approval and guidance, you can host a garage sale or list your items on an online marketplace to earn some extra spending money. Books, toys, clothes, and other memorabilia are some items you can consider selling to the public.

This can have a double purpose: you can remove some of the old things that you no longer use while also helping you earn a quick buck. 

To top it off, you can also feel a sense of accomplishment in engaging in an entrepreneurial venture and involving yourself in funding activities that can enable you to spend on your own wants during your travel, making it feel more fulfilling overall. 

4. Go on Free Tourist Sites

Instead of looking at things from a funding perspective, consider replacing expensive activities with more budget-friendly activities instead.

For instance, you can get a close-to-complete tourist experience by going on free walking tours in destinations with these activities. 

You’ll typically be guided by a local who knows the ins and outs of the places you’re visiting, which can be a culturally enriching experience. Plus, the whole scheme is tip-based, so you don’t have to pay a middleman fee for booking the tour. 

If you’re only interested in one tourist site (or if you’re bringing more than seven people along, as that’s usually the maximum limit), you can even skip having a local guide altogether and just go to places yourself. 

5. Avoid Impulse Spending

When on holiday, it can be tempting to spend on non-essential purchases. While you shouldn’t kick yourself for every purchase, it’s key to spend mindfully if you have a limited budget to work with in the first place.

You can enforce this habit both before and during the trip. For the days leading up to the trip, encourage you and your family to keep a strict hold on the family wallet. During the trip itself, use only the maximum allocated budget for each member (or even less). 

By practising mindful spending, you can ensure that your holiday plans are not hindered by financial problems towards the later leg of the trip.

6. Open (or Put Money in) a Travel Bank Account

Another good way to practise intelligent saving is by opening a travel bank account. This bank account is a separate account from your personal one and is used solely for travel-related expenses.

Opening this type of bank account can help you gain better control of your travel funds. This reinforces a sense of discipline that can help you grow your money in the days leading up to the actual trip. It also reduces you from slipping into temptation since you’re not sharing the funds with your personal account.

Since you’re a minor, you can simply ask your parents to open one and make regular contributions to help out as necessary. It’s fairly simple since banks open a secondary account.

But if your parents have opened a bank account for you for this express purpose, then use it to store and grow your funds accordingly. 

 Learn more about financial literacy and financial management for kids here.

7. Don’t Spend Too Much on Souvenirs

If you have family and friends expecting goodies from your trip, you should uphold your promise of giving stuff to them. 

But you must not go overboard and buy souvenirs at every stop—instead, be strategic and mindful of your purchases and ensure they fit properly within your budget.

For instance, you can typically buy souvenir items for cheap when you’re away from a tourist zone. 

Even high-cost-of-living countries like Australia and Switzerland have cheap souvenir items like fridge magnets and pins when you look at the right places.  

You can also get stuff of more value if you buy in packages, like a buy one, get one deal.

Alternatively, you can also consider giving your family cost-free alternatives. For instance, you can bring home tourist maps of the places you visited. Get creative! 

By reducing your souvenir budget, you can save up and distribute your spending money for other things during the trip, which can make it more memorable.

8. Split Costs With Group Tours and Activities

Private tours can be expensive, especially if you’re just a few people. If you want to save on costs, consider booking public tours instead.

Many travel operators offer the best rates when you join larger group tour buses instead of having your own private vehicle. So scout around for those types of activities in GetYourGuide or Klook.

Furthermore, if you’re travelling with a large group, you can also consider splitting things like food and accommodation costs with them. This can help your family save more while still enjoying the full travel experience. 

It also allows you to have a more sociable experience during the trip, which can be a definite plus for the right family.