Budgeting for a Family Vacation in the Alps

It is always exciting to be planning a family holiday. You can dream of the places you will see, the activities you might do together and the meals you will share. However on the down side is that money does not grow on trees and there are limits to family spending. So let’s have a look at how to set a reasonable budget for a family holiday in the Alps so you won’t have to send the following months paying off stressful credit card debt.

One of the first things you need to decide is how much you can actually afford to spend on your planned holiday. Set this as your absolute limit. Then consider all the unavoidable and possible travel costs you can think of that will need to be covered. These will include things like transport, accommodation, meals and drinks, activities, and insurance. Be realistic and search for current prices on the internet to give yourself a realistic target.

Consider a Package Holiday

One way you can be fairly sure of what your basic cost will be, is to opt for a package holiday. Some packages have deals are “all inclusive” with meals and accommodation and even some activities. These may not be the cheapest options however you will know exact expenditure before you leave home. The disadvantage of all inclusive deals is that you may not like all the choices offered and may feel you will waste money on things you don’t need. Always check exactly what is included or excluded in the deal.

To take advantage of package deals and get the cheapest option it usually pays, literally, to plan and book well in advance for your holiday. Regardless of the current season, take a look at what is on offer for the opposite season. For example, ski holidays are often cheapest when booked during midsummer so consider booking well in advance for great family deals for your next ski holiday.  Along with discounts of up to 50% for children there are other great deals for ski passes, ski lessons and accommodation of various types. There are some deals where the first child has free accommodation with discounts for other family members depending on which ski area and when the preferred dates.

Package deals are also usually cheaper in off peak season times and at the beginning and end of seasons. If your holiday times are flexible, book your holiday to the Alps when others are at work. Check dates on deals to make the most of the offers. Though, if you are looking for a winter holiday, be aware that early or late season dates may not have much snow cover depending on the ski area. For a young family this may not be a problem as children are happy to play around in whatever is on offer. You could spend time together doing alternative activities like ice skating, sledding and walking in the forests.

Look for Flight Deals

When it comes to transport search for resorts that can be quickly and easily accessed from where you live. Closer more direct options will usually cost less and be less stressful when traveling with a young family. Many ski resorts in the Alps can be easily accessed by public transport with buses, trains and shuttle services running very regularly. You can be on the slopes within a few hours of leaving home.

It may not be so easy to manage, but flights are often cheaper at unsociable hours. Make it an adventure for your children to rise early and catch the red eye flights. You could save a night’s accommodation and head straight for the slopes however this might be an option only for families with older children. Also for larger family groups search flights for two seats at a time as prices vary availability.

Remember to plan how to keep family members occupied if travel plans require some waiting or if there is unintended delay. Some of the latest video games are reviewed here on Tired Mummy of Two. There will be something to make sure your children are having fun on their holiday even if they have to sit quietly for a time.

Look for Family and Child Discounts

Look for deals that specifically relate to children or families. Some places will provide services free or discounted according to the ages of children. Others may offer discounts as a family group, so calculate which are best for your family. If you think the children may not want to ski every day, look for deals that give you 3 days out of 5 or even half day passes.  On non skiing days do other activities with the family. Here are some other options for alpine activities and in Chamonix especially that may suit your family to do on non skiing days.

Keep Daily Transport and Foods Costs Low

Consider staying in a resort in the Alps where you are staying on or very close to the ski area. This means with “ski in – ski out” of your door, you don’t have extra expense each day to get to the slopes.  If your accommodation has cooking facilities you could decide to make your family lunches and dinners to save on food costs. Staying in a close resort also means you can easily return to base at any time of the day for a break.

Food in resorts is usually very expensive even for staple foods so consider traveling to a larger town at the beginning of your holiday and stocking up on items for the week. This is especially useful if you will be self catering but can also make a huge budget difference for healthy snacks and drinks. Shop wisely at a supermarket rather than the resort.

Enjoy the Alps all Year Round

The Alps are not just a place to visit in winter of course. There are some great family holidays to be enjoyed at other times of the year from spring through to autumn. Many of the resorts cater for fun family activities with biking, hiking, swimming and climbing. Again there are package holidays available to keep your budget accounted for.

Summer alpine holidays often have lots of different organized activities for families groups and children especially to enjoy. Again consider off peak times and book as early as you can to keep costs low. When you have younger children you may even consider taking them out o school some days. Traveling can be as much an education experience as a classroom but you have to check your national regulations concerning this.

Regardless of which season you decide to take an alpine holiday make sure you have adequate travel insurance to cover any medical costs for the whole family. Medical emergencies with children are stressful enough without worrying about the bill at the end. It may also be wise to allow for travel changes that cannot be predicted when travelling with a family. That way you don’t end up paying for a holiday that you don’t have.

So once you have the outline for your budget, mull over it for a week or so to see if you have covered every possible cost. Then add some to cover emergencies or unforeseeable costs; there are always some! If the whole holiday comes within the limit you set at the beginning you are almost on your way and can look forward to a great family holiday in the Alps.