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It happens to all of us, sooner or later…

You’re casually planning your next trip away. Fantasising about beautiful white sandy beaches, cocktails by the pool and lovely walks at sunset. It will be perfect. You head over to your favourite airline and wham! It hits you… your little baby will be TWO when you travel!

This is a game changer. You have all of a sudden gone from a casual 10% increase in pre-baby travel costs to a whopping 75-100% for an extra seat! The tiny human you love so much now has to occupy their own seat. Don’t get me wrong it will be a lot more comfortable for you on the actual flight but significantly less so for your wallet.

This is exactly where I found myself last weekend when planning a trip to Mauritius for a family celebration next year. I had done all my research, worked out exactly when the flights would open (we are travelling on Avios points so these seats are a bit like gold dust) and even stayed up until midnight when the flights were released. Of course, I knew that my darling daughter would need her own seat but what I wasn’t fully prepared for was exactly what this meant for my Avios balance (and how quickly it has happened!).

All of a sudden what used to be a reasonable amount of points needed for a trip away seemed almost impossible to fulfil. It got me thinking about how important it is to get the most out of the pre-two year holiday. And also how you can get the best deal if your little ones are nearing or older than two already.

All is not lost. While there is nothing we can do about the fact that our little ones eventually take up their own seats there are a few tips to help you keep costs in check….

1) Travel outside of school holidays

Of course, this is only possible if your children are not of school-going age as it is infinitely more difficult to take time out of school now, but it certainly is the way to go while school terms don’t dictate your travel plans. Both air tickets and hotels tend to be a lot cheaper than during term time and it is also normally a lot quieter – a bonus in my books.

2) Book early

This is a pretty basic concept but it’s true, particularly of airlines. As they work on a yield management system they allocate a few seats to each price category and sell the cheapest (with the most restrictive rules so be sure to have your plans firmed up when you do book) first. As the flight books up the seats in the same cabin become more expensive. Yes, occasionally you can get good deals on last-minute flights but I have found travelling with more than two people (let alone children) can make this more difficult.

3) Be flexible

If you are able to travel for a few days either side of your preferred dates you may be able to grab a great deal. Some days are more busy on certain routes than others (perhaps its a popular business route so Mondays and Friday are busier than the rest of the week, or it’s a route where people typically travel Saturday to Saturday) so being able to travel the day before or after will be less full and therefore a bit cheaper. Airline pricing, like most things, is all about supply and demand…

4) Sign up to the travel companies and airlines that you love

Both travel companies and airlines have regular newsletters that are full of great deals. These are often sent to subscribers first before the offer is made public, and occasionally you will get an exclusive offer that is only available to people who get the newsletter. Besides, it’s a great way to escape to wonderful destinations each month from your armchair, even if for only a few minutes.

5) Join a rewards programme

This is particularly useful if you or your partner are frequent business travellers where you can earn miles/points for trips you have to take for work anyway. I know families who haven’t paid for flights for a family holiday in years and they fly up front too! There are a number of airlines that offer these programmes and each have different affiliations with hotels, credit card companies*, car hire groups etc. Another way of boosting your airline miles is by seeing whether your credit card company* has an option for you to earn miles/points on the money you are spending anyway.

6) Travel with family or friends

While this may not always be desirable or possible it is something to consider depending on how big your travel party will be. If you are travelling for a special occasion with a large group of people inquire about group rates not only with airlines but with your hotel too. Every airline and hotel will have their own policy about whether they offer a special rate and for what party size, but it may be worth doing it all together rather than individually. And another bonus, friends and family make great babysitters!

And as for getting in that one last trip before your little one turns two – I think New York is on the cards.

Happy travels.

* PLEASE NOTE: Any reference to credit card companies and their products is for informational purposes only. We do not recommend any credit card company or services. Any decision to utilise or apply for a credit card is a personal one undertaken by the applicant and we take no responsibility for these actions. Please consult an authorised financial advisor for any advice.