Caxton FX are asking for Parent Bloggers top budgeting tips when travelling, and given we’re about to have a huge journey across the other side of the world soon (and have done it before with H) I think we may have a few – so here goes…
1. Book a hotel if you’re travelling in wintertime and snow is forecast. When we went to Australia in 2010, South London saw a huge amount of snow – our train to Gatwick was delayed and ultimately the flight took off without us. We missed check-in and even though we got to Gatwick eventually, we were too late – even though our plane was delayed. It was an evening flight (8pm) and had I booked a day room in a hotel and headed up there earlier in the morning we would have been fine. Worth bearing in mind if you’re flying long-haul and bad weather is forecast. We couldn’t get a hotel room once we were there, or get a cab home so fortunately stayed with friends for two days until flights resumed.
2. Take the bus if you can! We live in Carshalton where the X26 bus stops – going from Croydon to Heathrow in an hour and a half. Sure, you have to lug your cases to the bus stop and from there, but when your travel costs can be paid on your Oyster cards (as London buses no longer accept cash), it’s a very cheap option. The X26 runs every 30 minutes as well and covers all the terminals. The downside, you’re on the bus with lots of suitcases and bags.
3. Freecycle is good for buggies or strollers. We didn’t want to take our Maclaren with us in case it got damaged, as we knew it would be kept in the hold. We were able to get a stroller (minus a footrest) so it didn’t matter if it broke in transit – most Airports provide strollers for little legs that can’t keep up. It didn’t break in transit anyway, so it meant we had a buggy with us the whole time.
4. Try to book things in advance. This time in Australia we’re planning on a trip to Sydney. If we book flights enough in advance from Perth we should get a good deal. This means we need to be organised and know what we’re doing, which of course is another matter altogether..!
5. Car Seats. Check the law in the country you’re travelling to. Most UK car seats are no longer legal in Australia, so see if you can rent a car seat when you arrive. This law can vary from country to country, but don’t get caught out!
6. When you have a mother in law who is crafty and pays for everything when you’re not looking, you try to find ways to spend your money. Get a prepaid Currency Card and load it up with cash, and distract her at the appropriate moment… 😉
7. Check the exchange rate when you’re buying in-store – I’ve been caught out before now and bought them overseas, to find that they’re cheaper in the UK. Download a good currency converter for your phone so you can check what you’re spending on the go – I spent £35 in Pumpkin Patch on a bag, for it to go on sale in the UK for £20. (sob!) If you’re anything like me, keeping on top of exchange rate calculation is quite a task – so find a reliable app. Mainly for the point when your husband says “can’t you work it out?” as he’s had enough of being asked!
8. Overseas phone tariffs. This is a tricky one. Often we just change networks and know we’ll be charged, relying instead on Wifi connections for our iPods. We’ve then had £80 phone bills for calls and texts, so make sure you overestimate what you’re going to use when you’re there. BUT! Even if you buy for overseas, don’t get caught out like we did – one call from Singapore cost us a lot as we’d only planned for Australia. Overestimate your data usage too so you don’t get hit with hefty fines. Shaun gets charged £5 for each chunk of data he goes over in the UK, so imagine that overseas – ouch!
9. Take an address book. Pen and paper rarely fail you, unlike a digital gadget which could get damaged in transit, or just wiped! Needing contact information from people you’re visiting, and having to wait for them to reply could be the difference between a cheap flight and a much more expensive one! Make a note of email addresses and mobile phone numbers too.
10. When booking your flights, find a site which will search across a range of dates. We found a site which gave us the best prices on the dates we want to fly, saving us a lot of money – £500 in fact.
This is our entry for the CaxtonFX giveaway to win a prepaid Currency Card