The cost of living crisis is hitting all of us. And if you’re going through divorce your financial and emotional burden is heavier than usual. But that doesn’t mean your holidays have to be a write-off. Holidays, when money is tight, can still happen. Here we explore how you can make your purse-strings stretch further when times are hard. Here are 7 ways to plan for the holidays when you’re feeling the pinch in divorce.
1. Explore your values
You might not be expecting me to talk about values on a blog about money-saving. But our values are the key to our sense of purpose and meaning. For children too, although they might not use those words!
Values are principles that can guide how we live. And we can explore them for all aspects of our life, including holidays. For example, values that might be related to holidays include:
So spend a moment and think about what it is that’s really important to you about a holiday this year. And ask your children the same question. Your children might come up with ‘destinations’ rather than a ‘values’ answer, so you can help them dig deeper:
“You want to go to Australia for our holiday?! What is it about Australia that’s so exciting? Ah, it’s where that cartoon is set – okay. What do you love about that cartoon?”
Once you’ve identified what your holiday values are, it becomes much easier to come up with holiday ideas that are in budget.
Am I saying that lack of money isn’t a problem? No. Often having a bigger budget gives us more choice, and means we can tick our holiday wish list more easily. But I am saying that when you know what’s important, deep down, it’s a roadmap to finding holiday solutions that meet your needs.
For example, let’s say your children really crave a sense of adventure, but you can’t afford the all inclusive white water rafting trip to France. You can offer that sense of adventure with a camping (or glamping) trip for a couple of nights. Or make sure you have some day trips to a forest where they can feel the call of the wild.
2. Plan your holiday early
If you want to take a holiday, and have the finances to do so, think about it now. Quite often the best deals are found in advance. Train tickets are released three months in advance, so now is a good time to look for August. Planning early means you can seek out the more affordable accommodation, especially if you have fixed dates to stick with. It also means you can book tickets for local attractions: in these covid-aware times many places with free entry are still operating an advance ticketing system.
On the other hand, if you can be flexible with dates, you may be able to pick up a last minute holiday bargain – though you might have to be flexible with where as well as when! Holidays, when money is tight can happen if you’re open and ready.
3. Check out free local resources
If you’ve got children you’re probably a dab hand at identifying the free events, workshops and activities on offer in your local area. Check websites or notice boards in your libraries and parks for news of holiday events coming up. Many businesses or council initiatives have ‘kids eat free’ food offers during the school holiday period – Google to see what’s available for you, and make the most of local parenting groups to get up to date information. Holidays, when money is tight can happen on your doorstep.
If you’re going away, you can do the same thing. Why not see what the local library is like in your holiday destination? And check out the parks. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s boring. Sometimes the best holiday days are unstructured, especially with children. You can explore the local area at your own pace, with a picnic in tow, rather than feel frazzled as you ‘make the most’ of an attraction you’ve paid over the odds for.
4. Enlist friends and family
The cost of living crisis is affecting most of us, to different degrees. It’s likely that friends and family are having to cut back and get creative too. They can be a great mutual help in making summer holidays fun and affordable. Next week’s blog is all about what to consider when going on holiday with your wider family, but you can also think about:
Childcare swaps so you get some time to yourself, or to work
Day trips together: a bus or train trip can be a great adventure, and feel much more manageable with another adult around
Days at home: you may have worn out your ‘fun things to do at home’ muscle through the various lockdowns, but Granny might have new tricks up her sleeve. And if your children have friends over, hopefully you can leave them to it (and deal with the mess later)!
Sleepovers at each other’s houses so the children can zone out in front of a film while you catch up over wine.
Holidays, when money is tight can be just as fun for all the family as those trips to more expensive destinations. Remember, children remember how experiences make them feel over what they did. Den building with friends or setting up an icecream stall can be just as thrilling as the fairground!
5. Choose less popular destinations
Summer 2021 was a scramble for UK holiday destinations, with limited overseas options. That’s likely to be true again, even as covid restrictions lift, with people cutting back on the cost of travel.
So if you are looking to get away from home, how can you find somewhere with availability? And that won’t be heaving with tourists or cost the earth?
The answer is to stay away from well-known destinations. Whether it’s the coast you’re after, or city breaks, the UK is filled with overlooked places, which tend to be cheaper as well as less crowded. You can read about ten less touristy UK holiday destinations here. Holidays, when money is tight can open your eyes to options and destinations you’d never have considered and this could be your greatest adventure yet.
6. Get creative
The thought of organising more garden/lounge sleepovers might make you shudder in memory of spring 2020’s long lockdown. But those days stand you in good stead for now – and this summer you have the benefit of being able to meet up with other people too.
Here are a few, low-cost, low effort activities you and friends could organise to entertain the small ones:
- A treasure hunt around the garden
- ‘Olympics’ or an old fashioned sports day in the park (think egg and spoon, sack races etc)
- Save all your cardboard and have a junk modelling day: set challenges such as who can build a robot, or a bridge for a toy car
- Paint rocks and leave them for others to find
- Buy chalks and let them decorate your drive or paving
- A baking or cooking challenge (with appropriate supervision of course!)
7. Consider home swaps
With accommodation one of the biggest barriers to getting away, home swaps can be an affordable solution. They do need planning well in advance though, and preparing your home for another family is a big commitment. There are a number of official home swap membership sites such as Love Home Swap which help you manage your swap for a membership fee.
If you have family or friends in another part of the UK, would staying or swapping with them be a more informal option? It gives you access to new places, with access to a kitchen and insider knowledge of where to go for fun trips out.
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Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com