Slummy single mummy’s guide to cheap family holidays

This weekend, inspired by the budget, and a significant amount of time spent listening to all things financial on Radio 4, I’m having a money theme. Yesterday we talked savings and investments for families, and today I’ve written a little Slummy single mummy guide to saving money on family holidays – some top tips from the woman who, for about ten years, was too cheap to even own a passport.

Don’t do it – According to one survey, nearly 40% of us stayed home last summer, so the ultimate money saving holiday tip? Simply don’t go. You’ll save hundreds if not thousands of pounds in travel, accommodation and family travel insurance, have far less washing to do at the end of it, and probably feel a lot more relaxed than if you attempt to introduce small children to the delights of European architecture in sweltering heat. Believe me, I have tried, all they care about is when they can have a lolly.

They say a change is as good as a rest. They lie.

Stay in the UK – I was perhaps being a tad hyper-cynical with my last suggestion, as I do actually like going on holiday, I just don’t see the point of dragging small kids thousands of miles, knowing they’ll complain the whole way there about ‘feeling sick’ or being bored, when we have such a wealth of beautiful countryside and interesting cities in the UK. Staying in the UK means you cut out the hassle of foreign travel, save money on flights, and have a bit extra to spend on treating the family.

If you’re worried about looking cheap, tell the other parents at school you’re doing it on environmental grounds.

Camping for wimps – Hotels cost a bomb, and even caravans can set you back a fair bit, but seriously, who wants to spend a week with kids in a tent? Not me. I do like the idea of camping though, so for a low-cost, self-catering, back-to-nature option, we’ve spent several of our summer holidays in yurts. As a single parent, you can bring the cost down even further by bunking up with another single parent friend and splitting the bill. This year we’ll be spending a whole week yurting on the Cornish coast for just £300. Bargainorama.

Shop around – given that there are about 27 million price comparison websites nowadays, you really have no excuse for paying full price for anything, whether it be flights or flip-flops. It may feel like a bit of a faff, but shopping around really can save you loads. Just think of it as every few pounds you save meaning one extra gin and tonic in the hotel bar.

Don’t risk it – I have a very simple approach to insurance. If I could afford the consequences should anything go wrong, I don’t bother. With foreign travel though, you really don’t want to risk it. Think about how often you intend to travel during the year to work out whether a single trip or annual travel insurance gives you the best value for money, and if you’re travelling in Europe, don’t forget to apply for your European Health Insurance Card.

And there you go, that’s my indispensable family travel guide. Do let me know if you have any destination recommendations or holiday money saving tips.

This is also my entry for the BritMums Piggy Bank Tales competition, sponsored by Virgin Money



  1. Mummyjay
    25 March, 2012 / 3:39 pm

    You say camping don’t risk it with kids…. O thought the same until I booked just 3 days camping last year…. Came away after 3 days (not great weather) gutted we only camped for 3 days!!!! Try it…. You’ll be surprised, my two boys (3&4) absolutely loved it, no tv, no pepper pig or ben10, just good old fashioned mum & dad!!!! This year we are camping for a week on the IoW and at Sandy Balls for a week… Cheap as chips. The biggest money saving is using our tesco vouchers for days out, pizza express vouchers and meal palanning and a box of wine
    …. Bring on summer!!!

    • 26 March, 2012 / 12:33 pm

      Ooh, we went to Sandy Balls a couple of weeks ago, it was lovely! Do your boys play well together? My girls are 9 and 16, so it’s pretty hard to find things they BOTH like doing..

      • Lisa
        26 March, 2012 / 1:16 pm

        I am lucky they do play together, they want to do the same kind if things together, football, same role playing (ben10) but I think only because they are so close in age. But believe me they can also wind each other up a treat too!!!

  2. 25 February, 2014 / 10:15 pm

    Stylish and sophisticated in feel, the hotel is nevertheless
    well equipped and suitable for families. As I said, football in Cyprus is a big
    thing and the Cypriots take it very seriously. Most of us are all looking for those affordable cheap family holidays, but
    just exactly what.

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