Is it too late to book a January holiday that won’t break the bank?

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I think there are always times where you think you will stay home for the holidays but then change your mind and want to go somewhere. If this sounds like you this summer holidays, then you will love this post by Amanda from Family Friendly Accommodation.

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While some of you probably booked your summer holiday accommodation months ago and are just counting down the days, I am sure there are just as many of us who are flying by the seat of our pants and panicking about where to go and what it will cost.

It’s understandable. Some of the prices placed on Christmas/New Year holiday accommodation – particularly holiday houses in popular beachside locations – is pretty mind-blowing. By now, all the reasonably-priced accommodation is long-booked out.

Personally, I can’t afford $800 – $2000 per night – especially when there is a 14 night minimum stay. And I don’t want to pay $350 for a house that has not had a cent spent on maintenance since 1968.

So, is there any hope for those of us who have missed the boat and left our holiday organising to the last minute? Luckily, the answer is yes. So, let me tell you how.

Tip 1: Stay close to home

Don’t fly. If you have not yet organised flights, it is too late (unless you want to pay a hefty price for fares). With so many people flying back to their families at Christmas, cheap airfares are fairly non-existent. If you want to fly somewhere for your Christmas holiday, start planning for next year.

Instead, find somewhere you can easily drive to – how far depends on how well your family travels in the car. Work out far you want to drive, look at a map and then consider destinations within your preferred travelling distance.

Tip 2: Stay away from the beach

It is summer and the time when families flock to the beach – so, why don’t you do the opposite and head inland?

There are plenty of major regional centres – and even smaller country towns – which offer a range of activities for your family.

Before complaining that it will be too hot, remember that over Christmas/New Year, we can often experience cooler weather. But to be safe, make sure you book somewhere with a swimming pool – an essential for an inland summer holiday. Locals can also tell you about safe rivers and swimming holes.

Family Friendly Accommodation has a number of properties in regional Australia. If you can’t find what you are looking for, check out the tourist information centre website for the area you are interested in.

You will also be pleasantly surprised at how cheap some of the accommodation on offer is.

Note: If you book accommodation in a bushfire-prone area, do not forget to check their conditions relating to cancellations in the event of a bushfire danger being declared or if your travel is obstructed by fires or other natural disasters.

Tip 3: Share with another family

The fact is some of the more expensive holiday houses still available sleep a lot of people. So why not consider sharing a holiday house with a friend or extended family.

This can be a great way to save costs and stay in a style and type of accommodation you may not necessarily be able to afford on your own.

The only thing about sharing with another family is that there will be some limitations – seeing your best friend’s hubby streaking across the house in his underwear is probably not a sight you want to see.

However, with a bit of planning, staying with extended family and friends can have its rewards.

Tip 4: Camping

So, this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have a tent sitting in your shed or under the house, it might be time to get it out and let it see some light of day.

Many caravan parks still have availability to pitch a tent. You don’t need to go bush – if you are camping in or close to a town, you just need your bedding – and maybe some crockery, cutlery and a couple of pots and pans.

Most caravan parks have great camp kitchen facilities and there are always park bbqs to utilise too. Combine this with eating out and you will find you will get by and maybe even enjoy yourself.

Tip 5: Stay with family and friends

They say a change is as good as a holiday, so why not arrange a couple of sleep-overs with friends or relatives who might live further away and who you don’t see as often as you should.

I am lucky – my parents live on a lake, so my family can stay there and swim off the jetty and go canoeing. In return, my parents stay with us and do ‘city’ things they can’t do at home.

If you have friends stay, arrange for the kids to sleep in a tent in the back-yard – or smaller children can sleep in a small tent in the lounge-room. Put the kids to bed and sit back with a glass of wine and catch-up. It’s simple, but perfect.

Tip 6: Holiday in late January

If you can post-pone your holiday until late January, do it! Airfares tend to come down in price from mid-January (as do fares on the Spirit of Tasmania). A lot of holiday accommodation also comes down from peak rates.

This is the perfect time to holiday. In addition to saving money, it is generally quieter too.

What tips would you add to this list? 

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ffa_logoAmanda Woodward is a former journalist and Melbourne-based mother of two children who today combines her love of writing and family travel in her website, Family Friendly Accommodation.

Amanda is a self-confessed holiday research addict, which she put to use in creating her website, which is a mix of on-line promotion of quality family friendly properties, as well as reviews by Amanda and other families (if you have stayed somewhere great, you can let others know about it too).

She also writes a blog, Family Holiday Planner, in which she imparts information and tips based on more than 12 years’ experience of organising holidays with children