Bargain Betty

Bargain Betty’s money savvy tips

Cheap holidays

January14

This blog first appeared on MSN at http://money.msn.co.nz/blog.aspx?blogentryid=684861&showcomments=true

Holidays are expensive. It’s something I build into my budget. But I’ve just read that a third of UK parents can’t afford to take their children on holiday this summer.

Many Kiwi parents will be planning their summer holidays at least six months in advance. So it’s time to start planning.

There are ways to keep the cost down and here are some of my favourites:

Staycations
These are about having a vacation at home. But don’t just sit at home — there’s no fun in that. Do touristy things in your own location. If I lived in Wairarapa, for instance, I might schedule in daytrips including a mooch down the main street of Greytown checking out the antique shops, take a trip on Featherston’s Fell locomotive engine and take the kids fishing at Ngawi.

Book a cheap bach or crib
Last year we booked a basic bach at Mangawhai heads for $60 a night. A friend of mine got one for $30 a night on a remote Northland beach. The advantage of a bach over other cheap accommodation is that they’re usually fully furnished, have cooking facilities to save you from eating out, and often come with toys. Our Mangawhai bach had a PlayStation for the kids and kayaks.

Go remote
If you book somewhere in the back of beyond, you’ll avoid spending anything other than accommodation costs and transport to get there and back. I’ve done this — checking into a farmstay hostel north of Kaeo.

Another option, which I often do, is to go on a multiday tramp. That way you’re often only paying to stay at Department of Conservation huts, at $15 a night. When you’re tramping, you can’t even carry an excess of expensive food and alcohol.

WWOOFing
That’s Working Weekends on Organic Farms. WWOOFing has been around for as long as I can remember. The idea is that you stay and sometimes eat free on an organic farm in return for a few hours labour each day.

If you’re cooped up in an office all week, the occasional WWOOFing weekend can be fun. You get to meet interesting hosts who’ve often given up the city life for their dream.

Camping
Away from home camping is one of the cheapest holidays you can have. Flash campsites such as the lovely Top 10 ones can cost more than $50 a night. DOC and local regional council campsites are much cheaper — although they usually don’t have many facilities, but they’re mighty cheap, lots of fun, and often in very beautiful locations.

I’ve even camped in the garden of a friend’s bach for free — with the use of cooking facilities inside.

Cabins and on site caravans
If you don’t like camping you can still rent cheap accommodation on campsites — which are great places for kids. I’ve rented both cabins and caravans at campsites. Cabins are usually cheaper than similar motel rooms — although they can be basic.

The last time we visited the lovely Te Aroha Holiday Park we rented a retro 1950s caravan for just $30 a night for three people.

Home exchanges
This is a great concept. You exchange houses with someone else in a location you want to visit. I’ve done one formal exchange, when I was in the UK, and that worked like clockwork. I’m also always trying to convince friends to swap houses with me.

That way we can have a holiday without accommodation costs. There are a couple of home exchange websites in New Zealand: HomeSwap and HomeLink, although I haven’t personally used either.

So try these out, or share your own stories of cheap holidays with other readers by having your say here.

More information

You must be logged in to post a comment.