Many of us are seeking to avoid the grey days of January by planning our family summer break. Just the thought of warm sun and blue seas is enough to cheer anyone up.
But with January’s credit card bills about to plop onto the mat (or inbox), there’s Christmas to be paid for first.
It’s all a financial balancing act, isn’t it?
|Image credit: Cala de la Granadella|
But there are ways you can plan your family summer break now without breaking the bank.
Agree on a destination that suits everyone
There’s no point booking to tour the mountains if your teens prefer to lie on the beach listening to their iPods.
And older relatives probably won’t want to stay in a noisy resort.
Sit down with the whole family and agree on a destination that has something for everyone such as Spain.
Spain is the number one destination choice for family holidays in Europe and it’s easy to see why.
The country is renowned for its long sandy beaches and has over 300 days of sun a year.
There are many beautiful cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville and renowned cultural sites like the Moorish Alhambra Palace in Granada which is a Unesco World Heritage site or the Guggenheim Bilbao gallery designed by Frank Gehry.
|Image credit: Barcelona Cathedral|
Then, of course, there’s the food – tortilla, cured meats (jamon, chorizo, salchichón), Spain’s famous bean stews, paella, the seafood and the wine!
Create a budget
It’s easy to get carried away so create a budget which takes into account all the incidentals – airport taxes, transport to and from your resort, day trips, eating out, souvenirs, additional mobile phone charges…
That way you can prevent too many nasty shocks when you get home.
You may find that you need to compromise – say on the quality of your accommodation or on your airfares but there is plenty of great budget accommodation to be found, particularly if you are going self-catering.
Personally, I prefer to rent the best quality accommodation I can and then cut back on meals out or package day trips if need be.
|Image credit: The Alhambra Palace, Granada|
Interestingly, the latest figures from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (ine.es) show that British tourists to Spain spent an average of €130 per day on their holidays in 2016 (between January and November) with approximately one third of that being spent on travel (flights) and accommodation and another third being spent on food and activities.
That puts the cost of an average 10-day break at €1300 or £1128 according to the current exchange rate.
A great incentive to start seeing where you can cut some costs!
This is a huge bone of contention with parents of course and most of the time it is just not possible if you don’t want to risk the censure and possible fines of your local education authority!
All you can do is be as canny as possible with your budget and try to save as much as you can by booking well ahead and giving yourself plenty of time to save.
|Image credit: Spanish Paella|
Don’t forget travel insurance
If there’s one area you definitely shouldn’t scrimp on it is travel insurance. You hear so many horror stories about holidaymakers who have been taken seriously ill and left stranded because they do not have the money to pay for their medical care.
Make sure you have a valid European Health Medical Insurance Card which gives you the right to have state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.
The card covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.
Check your passports now
Are your passports in date? Do you have passports for the kids? We are all familiar with the logjams that tend to hit the passport office toward peak holiday season and the rush to either get to your local office or a hefty extra charge to get your renewal sorted out in time.
Personally, I am a huge fan of self-catering and it would always be my first choice where family accommodation is concerned.
You can come and go as you please. You don’t have to eat out or eat at times that don’t suit you and you don’t have to leave your room to let house-keeping in!
You also don’t have to worry about little ones making a noise and there’s no competition for sun-loungers around the pool.
Spain-Holiday.com is the leading holiday rental website for Spain and it has 1000s of family-friendly villas and apartments to choose from. You can even contact the owners directly with any special requirements you may have.
You can even refine your search for a holiday rental property according to the distance from the beach.
Join up with another family
You can save costs by booking a joint holiday with another family. I’d make sure that you really get on though, but you could take it in turns to babysit, cook or do the driving.
Shop locally and eat in
Experience authentic Spain by shopping at the local markets and trying some of the local produce.
For example, there’s Feria, Seville’s oldest food market which sells produce in two market buildings beside a beautiful 13th-century church.
Or then there’s Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, Barcelona where you can see hanging jamons and pass fresh fish stalls as you make your way to sample fresh tapas at one of the bars near the back of the Boqueria.
Whatever type of holiday you are looking for, Spain has loads to offer and there are plenty of opportunities to keep your budget on track.