As our children grow older, things just seem to get more and more expensive. As a result, the perennial question of how to make our money go further is a concern for many family travellers. Whilst tailor-made trips are by their very nature not a rock-bottom budget holiday option, there are still ways to save, from choosing where you go, how you travel and where you stay.
Overall, the largest cost savings come down to the destination you travel to and, with Asia offering the lowest cost of living, it’s not surprising that four of our eight budget options are located here.
The next largest cost savings relate to where you stay. Just because a hotel or homestay isn’t five-star doesn’t mean you and your family won’t enjoy a thoroughly authentic or comfortable experience; sometimes it’s quite the reverse.
The same can be said for transport, another area where ‘going local’ can sometimes be not only cheaper, but sometimes more fun too.
Here’s our guide on how to find the best adventurous budget family holidays
1. Where? Morocco
It may be one of the most exotic short-haul destinations we offer but with a proliferation of budget flight carriers flying to various destinations in the country regularly, it’s also the cheapest too – and by some margin. It’s not just getting there that’s easy on the wallet. Thanks to a wide range of options, from homestays to budget riads and kasbahs we can secure accommodation for reasonable rates, whilst you and your family can further keep costs down by opting for street food stalls or local, not tourist, restaurants.
With small driving distances and zero jet lag, Morocco makes the perfect choice whether you’re wanting a long weekend or a week-long getaway. (For ideas on things you and your family can do here, check out our Morocco with kids post.)
Minimum price for a week away for a family of four: £3,500 plus flights
2. Where? Cuba
Whilst getting there might not be the cheapest flight you’ve ever taken, once there, you can keep costs down thanks to Cuba’s wonderful institution of ‘casas’ – characterful and comfortable family run B&Bs. Not only are they much cheaper than hotels, they’re also, from a practical and experience perspective, much better for family travellers, knowing your kids are just over the corridor less than a metre away or, with younger children, in the same room. Opting to self-drive around the compact island will also help keep costs down, and you won’t find cheaper seafood in the whole of the Caribbean. (See our Cuba with kids post and Postcards from Cuba for inspiration.)
Minimum price for a two-week holiday for a family of four: £4,800 plus flights
3. Where? Nepal
The world’s most famous mountain chain and the world’s highest mountain aren’t the only things which appeal to the family traveller: if you’re wanting to get the most bang for your buck, then Nepal will reward you richly. Given the terrain, uber luxe hotels are few and far between, which is all part and parcel of the Himalayan Kingdom’s charm.
What you can find here is a lovely network of characterful homestays, guesthouses and, when trekking, tea-houses, too. You can even stay in a monastery. The road network is relatively extensive too, and whilst private, air-conditioned transport might be costly, scheduled public transport is comparatively reliable and cheap. (See Nepal with kids and our Family trekking blog.)
Minimum price for a two week tour for a family of four: £4,400 excluding flights.
4. Where? Sri Lanka
Whilst visitor numbers aren’t back to pre-2019 levels (i.e. the most popular destination we offered), the great news is, confidence is returning and with it, bookings. To further incentivise family travellers, there’s some great offers on hotels and even flights to be had, whilst newly opened top tier hotels are having to keep costs much lower than they normally would, particularly in the tea plantation areas. For the budget traveller, we’re delighted that our favourite holiday hotspot is open for business once again. For more family-friendly activity ideas, take a look at our Sri Lanka with kids post.
Minimum price for a two-week tour for a family of four: £4,200 excluding flights.
5. Where? Cambodia
In terms of mainstream tourism, Cambodia remains an emerging destination which means that accommodation and transport are costed low to attract more people.
Not only that but Cambodia has a comparatively low cost of living, with only Nepal matching it when it comes to value for money. What does this mean for the family traveller? Inexpensive hotels (even those with pools, particularly in Siem Reap), wallet-friendly transport (even domestic flights!) and cheap as chips street food.
Even at Angkor Wat, the country’s star attraction, you can opt to have a guide for just one morning and explore the rest of the giant complex by bike on other days, although we’d recommend bringing a guide-book so you know what you’re looking at. (See our Cambodia with kids post for family-friendly ideas that blend its rich culture with tropical palm-fringed beaches.)
Minimum price for a two week tour for a family of four: £4,500 excluding flights.
6. Where? Namibia
Going on safari is notoriously expensive but opting for Namibia rather than its East Africa counterparts can save you £££’s. Why? Two words: self-drive. Not only can you hire a jeep and drive yourselves around Etosha, but there’s no need to shell out for those luxury lodges, either, instead sleeping on top of the jeep in double roof tents. So. Much. Fun! All camping equipment is provided and you can save further money by self-catering, too, although if camping in a lodge campsite, you can use their restaurant if you don’t feel like cooking every night. (Check out our Namibia with kids post for ideas on what to do and see with the family.)
Minimum price for a two week tour for a family of four: £5,200 excluding flights.
7. Where? Vietnam
Not only is Vietnam one of Stubborn Mule’s most popular destinations, it’s also one of the best value destinations too, offering a huge range of accommodation options from hotels, to guest houses to homestays and everything in between. Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean rock-bottom basic, either. Even homestays can offer private rooms.
In Hoi An, arguably one of the most popular (and most charming) coastal destinations, you can save simply by plumping for a guesthouse 3 kilometres from the beach, getting back and forth by borrowing free-to-use bicycles. It’s fun, too!
Vietnam’s geography also lends itself to easy cost savings as you can take the overnight sleeper train on long journeys, saving yourself the cost of a night’s accommodation as well as a domestic flight. And, of course, there’s the food. Street food comes incredibly cheap without having to compromise on taste. Our Vietnam with kids post is jam-packed with great ideas on family-friendly activities – take a look.
Minimum price for a two week tour for a family of four: £4,500 excluding flights
8. Where? Mexico
Already one of the cheapest countries to travel to in Latin America, further savings can be made depending on when you travel to Mexico. Whilst Easter and Christmas are peak holiday times, go during the British summer and flights and hotels will be significantly less expensive. There are other ways to save whilst there, too. Self-drive is easy, particularly in the Yucatan, whilst along the Caribbean coast, beach hotels which cater for the US and Canadian fly and flop traveller can offer discounts which appeal to the budget adventure traveller, too.
Most hotels also offer two rather than one double bed, so if you’re happy to share a room (and/or have no teenagers yet) that’s another way to curtail spend. And, like Asia, street food is as cheap as it is delicious, so load up on enchiladas and tacos without having to max out that credit card. See our Mexico with kids post to find out why it’s such a popular destination for families.
Minimum price for a two week tour for a family of four: £4,300 excluding flights
Get in touch for more ideas on budget family holidays abroad
If you’re wanting to know how we can save you money on your adventure holiday, just ask. As tailor-made specialists, we can help create the perfect budget family holidays, with an obligation-free quote, not just to these destinations but to any place we travel to. Want to know more? Call us on 01728 752751 or e-mail us using our contact page. You can also check out our handy guide, Family Adventure Holidays – Where, When, How.