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Holidays on a Budget

4 July, 2008

Holidays can be done on a budget with little hassle.

Unless you are flying, accommodation is potentially the largest cost you have, so it’s the first to tackle. Camping is an inexpensive option if you have the necessary equipment, but can be expensive if you spend a fortune on camping equipment and only use it twice! Unless you know you will get good use out of it, borrow or hire camping equipment for your first go – and practice putting up the tent before you leave, and allow twice as much time as you think it will take to put it up in daylight hours!

Other options for inexpensive accommodation include house-sitting, cabins at a caravan park, swapping houses with another family you know, borrowing a friend’s holiday house, or staying at home.

The next thing I like to think about is food. If your accommodation doesn’t have cooking facilities you either need to think outside the square or it will cost you a fortune! We generally go where we are able to cook. Some options for accommodation that has “tea and coffee making facilities” include:
*Bring your sandwich toaster and buy some bread and baked beans, spaghetti or other fillings. If you have a fridge in your room you could also buy cheese, cold meat etc. You can fry eggs and bacon in a sandwich toaster too!
*Bring a crockpot. Especially if you have a fridge to put meat in (unless you want to purchase it each day) you can put veggies and meat in the crockpot and serve it with bread or wraps. Or you could make crockpot porridge for breakfast!
*If you have a fridge, bring breakfast cereal and milk. You can eat it for dinner as well as breakfast if you like!

*Bring some bowls and some quick cooking noodles and heat them with the boiling water from the kettle. Not something you’d like to do every night but it’s fine for once in a while.

If you do have cooking facilities, you’ll want to make the most of them, without being tied to the kitchen – it is a holiday after all! Plan easy meals that are quick to prepare and require a minimum of ingredients. Use your holiday as an excuse to splurge on prepared desserts, snack bars and biscuits that you wouldn’t normally buy. Grab a frozen lasagne and let the oven do the cooking, having the night off one night. Allow twice your normal grocery budget – it will still be a lot less than what you’d spend on buying food out all the time!

How you get to your holiday can set the tone for the trip. With the price of petrol these days, you may want to consider a holiday close to home. Two to three hours drive away from your home is usually sufficient to be in a different environment from home, without driving too far. Limiting how far you travel also allows more time for a leisurely trip there. You can stop and look at landmarks, have half a dozen toilet breaks and spontaneously stop and anything interesting you find without having to stress about getting to your destination by a certain time.

Take advantage of any big fuel discounts you can get. If you’re living in the city, you may find that petrol is cheaper there so fill up before you go, rather than getting halfway there and putting in petrol 20c/litre more expensive that it was at home! Also consider how much luggage you are taking. Taking too much results in a drag due to the weight of the car. Requiring roof racks or a trailer will only add to this, so packing light can save you a lot in petrol!

Next on the list is entertainment. The best things in life are free, so try to find accommodation nearby some beautiful scenery. Think of beaches for free swimming and sand play, playgrounds for young children (which become more interesting because they are new) or national parks to go on bushwalks through. Also, in many tourist areas there are free attractions or portions of attractions that are free. Make those a priority and keep the pricey theme parks and the like to a minimum.

Enjoy a relaxing holiday spending time together. Buy a new board game and learn to play it together. Bring some books (but not too many) for some holiday reading. Hire a DVD or two that you’ve been meaning to see. Take some time to enjoy one another’s company and chat. Holidays don’t need to be so busy you return home needing a holiday!

Holidays can be done “on the cheap” and can be far more memorable than those filled with junk food and expensive attractions!

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