Frugal Family Money & Travel Tips


A lot of places in Europe, especially smaller places will only take cash.  Some businesses only take their own countries cards, we found this a lot in Portugal where garages, supermarkets etc would only accept Portuguese cards so it’s always wise to keep some cash to hand. Stash some in your car and on your person for emergencies.


Travellers cheques seem to be resigned to the dark and distant past when you have a smart phone, there is an app for everything.  We use Revolut.  I can’t recommend it enough, when you are travelling long-term it is a fantastic and really simple way to move your money from the UK so you can spend it fee free.  Load the card up using your app (wifi/data connection needed) and then use the mastercard in cashpoints, ATM’s, multibancos, cajero automáticos,to withdraw cash at the latest, best, exchange rates without having to pay any fees (unless you withdraw over £500 p/m).  Revolut’s website link.

Halifax Clarity Mastercard:

Pay it off in full each month and again obtain a months grace on your payments and fee free Mastercard transactions at the current exchange rate.  We use the clarity card for supermarkets, fuel, restaurants and any bigger than normal purchases.  Halifax’s website link.

Nationwide FlexPlus Account:

Before leaving the UK we opened a joint Nationwide FlexPlus Account.  The account costs £10 a month but gives you a raft of benefits.  Benefits that we have already utilised and more than recouped the monthly cost of the account.  These include free European Breakdown cover (for 6months in a 12 month period), which we had to use when the Bongo bust a coolant pipe and broke down in the middle of nowhere!  Family Mobile phone insurance, which we have nearly had to use twice as I managed to drop my phone down the toilet and smash the screen to bits whilst trying to dry it out.  I nearly had to pay the £25 excess and claim again as I managed to put my mobile in the washing machine.  Miraculously it survived a 15 minute wash and a 10 minute spin cycle and was non the worse for it!!  You also get family travel insurance and commission free cash withdrawals abroad (beware you still get charged a  non-sterling transaction fee so the Revolut works out cheaper)as well as a few more extras.  Nationwide’s website link.

Chaos the money man
Chaos the money man

Mobile phones/phones:

Buy an unlocked mobile phone up front.  Don’t be hooked to a contract or service provider.  This is always by far the cheaper option.  Contracts will in the end charge you a lot more than the upfront cost of the phone.  We saved over £200 buying my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 upfront and using a £10p/m Giffgaff sim in the UK.  Whilst overseas, if you are in the same country for a long time, it generally always works out to buy that country’s own PAYG sim, look for the best deal.  If you want to leave phone calls behind and go off-grid for a little while, keep your UK phone number as a PAYG sim and only use in emergencies.

Take advantage of free wifi, which let’s face it getting to be everywhere, if you need to use the internet or connect with people.  We also use Skype loads to keep in touch with friends and family and for those who are still not Skype savvy, we have Skype credit and make phone calls via that when needed for a really cheap international call rate.

Here Sat Nav App:

Using data on your mobile is really easy to do if you use it for Sat Nav.  Here is a Sat Nav app that is totally free and works by GPS.  Download the countries’ maps whilst you are connected to free wifi then set the app to work offline.  It is best to double check your routes before you leave just in case the place where you want to go isn’t on the map, but as of yet we haven’t had any issues with it, works a treat and is free! Link for Here.

Google Translate App:

A fantastic translation app that allows you to download the dictionaries on wifi and use offline.  There is even the option to use your phone’s camera so you can point the camera at what you want to translate and the app simply translates your camera image text into your chosen language.  Amazing piece of tech to help you on your travels.  Link for android app & apple app.

Traveling with Toddlers


I can pretty much guarantee that your kids have too many clothes.  I know mine did.  When travelling light, it’s best to try to have as few clothes as necessary.  3 vests, 4 t-shirts, 4 long sleeved tops (thin), one jumper, 5 jeans, 2 joggers, 3 long johns/tights, 5 shorts and one zipped hoody top.  Our kids also have a thin fleece lined waterproof jacket and trousers each.  In Autumn, they can wear their jeans and long sleeved tops.  In winter, they wear layers, the summer vests double up as warm winter vests underneath t-shirts and long sleeved tops and they also wear long-johns/tights if it’s really cold.  They don’t have specific pyjamas, and just wear what they have done for the day with either just a nappy or long joggers/long johns if it is colder.  This makes their all-year-round wardrobe much more versatile.  We also have a size bigger than needed in some of their clothes so that they can grow into them.  Most trousers have adjustable waists and legs and sleeves can be slightly rolled or tacked up if needed.  Adjustable sun hats are also a great idea for growing heads!

We also try to reuse old clothing that the children no longer fit into, see my upcycling clothes post: Make Do & Mend.  Most places have charity shops where you can pick up a few odds and ends, we have also made friends with people who have either exchanged or given us clothes that their children no longer fit into.  In Portugal there are Loja Social (Social Shop) where, if you are in need, you can pick up clothes for very little, if any money.  One of our local markets also hosted a clothes exchange, where you could drop off or pick up any clothing you needed for all age groups, a great way to reuse!

Cloth Nappies & Wipes:

If you are contemplating longer term travel and have access to a washing machine consider using Cloth wipes, for both faces and bums and Cloth nappies (see more on my post here on reusable nappies and here on wipes).  Cloth nappies can be bulky, we store ours in a wet/dry bag when travelling and they don’t really take up too much room and squish down well.  Although you obviously need to wash a little bit more, in the long run, you save.  There are no ongoing costs once you have forked out the initial outlay, great for budgeting and it’s better for the environment.

 Reusable Cloth Nappies and Wetbag on our Washing Line

Wet Bags & Wet/Dry Bags:

We use wet bags (a waterproof inner and patterned cotton outer) and wet/dry bags (a dry compartment and a waterproof compartment) for everything!  They are sold by places that also sell cloth nappies as they’re great for keeping clean and dirty nappies in but they’re also fantastic for kids.  I love Planetwise, really well made and durable, you can buy cheapie alternatives from Ebay but the zips tend to break.  Wet bags are great for keeping clean and then wet swimmers in, to keep snacks and toys contained, any important documents like passports that you don’t want to get wet, to keep your tech in so it’s waterproof and they are much more durable and stylish than a plastic bag!


Always have plenty of snacks handy, we are travelling by road and to be honest, it seems like the only way to keep our two occupied is to feed them…pretty much constantly.  Our snacks range from healthy bananas, apples, grapes and other easy to eat fruit (that doesn’t make too much mess), to nuts and raisins, to junk food; crisps, biscuits and even a rare sweet or two.  Have snacks to hand, pre-prepare snack pots and dish them out, especially when driving through cities, so that you can concentrate on the driving not the kerfuffle in the back seat!

Travelling buddies
Travelling buddies, a rare moment without snacks!


We don’t have room for big toys.  Lego is fantastic, small, portable and keeps Chaos occupied for hours but the small pieces can get lost easily, so it only gets used as an inside toy.  Mayhem also loves Lego, but unfortunately his idea of playing with Lego is to pull the heads off Lego men, or to destroy the intricate construction that Chaos has spent hours constructing (whoops!!).  We have a small zipped bag full of toys that ‘do things’, wind up, open and close, have a function, connecting parts and aim to keep the boys occupied.  We also have an old beat up suitcase full of the slightly larger toys.  Not only is it a great toy box, but it also doubles up as a toy itself as the kids love to climb on it!  Most importantly, we try and rotate toys, keep a few hidden so that they have ‘new’ toys to play with every couple of weeks or so.  It really does surprise me how interested they are in the toys that come out of hibernation when they reappear again.  Magic!  Also it seems like the world is a toy, everything is fascinating and as we are in different places they have loads to explore!

Toys, Arrochela
Toybox suitcase


We download kid friendly films and series when connected to wifi as a treat for Chaos. He’s dropped his nap now,so when Mayhem is sleeping and we are in, he gets to watch something on the laptop and has some quiet time.  Watching a film or cartoon in the car is also the BEST way to distract Chaos, he is mesmerised!

Mobile phones also come in handy as distraction for Chaos the threenager. He loves the free Lego apps and anything nursery rhyme related. Mayhem can take our leave the phone or the laptop but sometimes joins in…It’s not a daily occurrence and a treat to have screen time…a great distraction and source of bribery,especially whilst waiting for food in restaurants! 

Getting Around:

We carry the kids, so that we can literally take them anywhere with us.  We love hiking and walking and keeping the kids close so babywearing is a must for us!  Chaos used to a have a pram in the UK but we left it in storage, no room to take it with us and we figured that prams just aren’t as versatile as carriers.  Mayhem has never been in a pram (except to play in it whilst it wasnt moving of course), as he is a total and utter velcro baby; demands to be breastfed everywhere and and would not be put down!   Mayhem has a Boba carrier, Chaos at 16kg and 3.5 years old still fits into his well worn and very well used Ergo carrier.


Topsy Turvy Tribe Babywearing

Post Author: Topsy Turvy Tribe

50 thoughts on “Frugal Family Money & Travel Tips


    (August 8, 2016 - 7:14 am)

    Some great tips for travelling. I’m going to check out the Revolut app before our next holiday. #KCACOLS


      (August 8, 2016 - 12:53 pm)

      Thank you. We really rate Revolut it’s so easy!

    Madeline Littlejohns

    (August 8, 2016 - 9:02 pm)

    Wow, fab post, so informative! Shame I don’t think we’ll be travelling anywhere far from home to be able to make use of all the tips, haha! Although, we have been using carriers since our buggy broke about a year ago, and I have to say I don’t really miss it, I like having my daughter close to me. x #KCACOLS


      (August 9, 2016 - 5:19 am)

      Thanks Madeline, we love our carriers too, being close to the boys is the best, even in hot sweaty climates they still love jumping up with Mummy and Daddy, being close and being able to see what’s going on!

    The Mama Nurse

    (August 9, 2016 - 2:33 am)

    Oh goodness, your family is adorable! When we were cloth diapering for a short while, my favourite kind were the ones your son has in the picture to the right! I forget what they’re called now jeez. Thanks so much for your tips, especially the part about packing light for kid’s clothes! I always end up packing too much for our small trips.
    Tori @ The Mama Nurse


      (August 9, 2016 - 5:21 am)

      Thank you so much Tori. Mayhem is wearing Tots Bots in that picture! It’s so easy to over pack, I used to be terrible for it too, but now we simply don’t have the room and need to be really militant with the packing!

    […] Frugal Family Money & Travel Tips […]

    Over Heaven's Hill

    (August 11, 2016 - 8:56 pm)

    Wow such a great post with so many brilliant in depth tips! Fantastick post #KCACOLS


      (August 18, 2016 - 8:03 pm)

      Thanks for your comment. Hope the tips come in handy x


    (August 12, 2016 - 12:00 am)

    Oh this is so useful as we are just about to head on our family holiday. Great tips! Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS hope you come back again next Sunday! x


      (August 12, 2016 - 5:44 am)

      Thank you,hope the tips help and thanks for hosting such a great linky x


    (August 12, 2016 - 1:26 pm)

    Great tips – We head off on holiday at the end of next months so I think i’ll be referring back to this before we go! #KCACOLS

    Someone's Mum

    (August 12, 2016 - 3:53 pm)

    Wow this is so jam packed with really useful information. We don’t travel too far for too long as Biggest’s autism means he really struggles with being out of a really clear routine for any length of time. But hiopefully we can use some of these useful tips in the future! Those wet and dry bags look so useful! #KCACOLS


      (August 12, 2016 - 6:46 pm)

      Autism must be a huge journey. I hope the tips help. We use the bags every day. “Pass the owl bag (snacks)” . “Where is the skull bag?(nappies)” etc etc 🙂

    Sarah - Arthurwears (@arthurwears)

    (August 12, 2016 - 9:34 pm)

    Some really great tips! we also have the halifax clarity card and it has been great – but last time we were in Holland none of the supermarkets would take anything but a debit card! so annoying. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday


      (August 13, 2016 - 5:09 am)

      That is really annoying! A little bit like Portugal where some places wouldn’t take any cards at all. You just have to be prepared. Thanks for your comment. Well definitely try to link up again!

    Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (August 13, 2016 - 5:05 pm)

    These are such, such excellent and practical tips!


      (August 13, 2016 - 6:28 pm)

      Thank you Emma. Hope they help on your next trip!

    Cydney Helsdown

    (August 18, 2016 - 7:17 am)

    this was really helpful! we’ve only got the one (3yo) but he can be quite a handful. i shouldn’t put off travelling any more, if you can do it so can i!


      (August 18, 2016 - 7:36 am)

      Or kids might whinge for a little bit once we’re at a new place they absolutely love it and have a great time making memories. Please give it a go and enjoy!

    Merlinda Little (Glimmer of Hope)

    (August 18, 2016 - 7:57 pm)

    Lovely lovely post to read! I am not in the near future will travel but I got so many tips here for when I will do! But I cant promise that I will pack light. This is always a problem to me hehe… just my everyday bag is massive I can only imagine the excess that I will bring on trips! #ablogginggoodtime

    Alana - Burnished Chaos

    (August 18, 2016 - 8:05 pm)

    Great tips. You’re right about kids having too many clothes, we always try to pack as light as possible when travelling. Looks like you’re all having an amazing time on your travels!


    (August 18, 2016 - 8:05 pm)

    Ha ha Merlinda. It is so very difficult to pack light but it does have lots of benefits…our you could just book a hold suitcase!!


    (August 20, 2016 - 10:41 pm)

    Will be checking out the SAT NAV app before we leave next week as I was only worrying earlier that the car we are highering doesn’t have one! Great tips! #KCACOLS

    Amanda Fulton

    (August 21, 2016 - 2:32 am)

    Oh definitely my fave tip is the packing light for clothes! I have got better at this over time but it’s still tempting to over-pack ‘just in case’ lol. Great tips #KCACOLS


      (August 21, 2016 - 4:49 am)

      I think there’s always something that doesn’t get used or worn…even when packing light..!

    Educating Roversi

    (August 21, 2016 - 10:27 am)

    Wow, i gave myself a pat on the back for taking one toddler to Oz, here you are travelling around with two. Amazing! #SuperParents Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday. x


      (August 21, 2016 - 10:33 am)

      Long haul flights are pretty full on though. Respect is due! Although long haul drives with two toddlers in the back are intense too! Thanks for commenting x


    (August 21, 2016 - 4:05 pm)

    Great post and lovely photos! #KCACOLS


    (August 21, 2016 - 8:14 pm)

    Fantastic tips, so much detail. Love the family pics, your little ones are adorable. #KCACOLS


      (August 21, 2016 - 8:30 pm)

      Thank you for such a lovely comment. Hope the tips come in handy!

    Mummy in a TuTu (@mummyinatutu)

    (August 24, 2016 - 9:45 pm)

    Some great tips there for the frugal mamma in me!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime


      (August 30, 2016 - 1:21 pm)

      Thanks. Hope the tips help you to save some money!


    (August 25, 2016 - 8:43 am)

    fab tips here! and what lovely photos 🙂 I often get clothes in charity shops too -and car boot sales! love them! #KCACOLS


      (August 25, 2016 - 2:00 pm)

      Thanks Emma,love them too and NOT nearly new sales! Kids clothes are sometimes never even worn so I totally agree that second hand clothes are a great bargain!

    Rebecca Taylor

    (August 30, 2016 - 12:26 pm)

    Fantastic tips – thank you so much. We’re going on holidya next week so will use some of these. I didn’t know about the money card!
    We love second-hand clothes and baby-wearing.
    Thank you for sharing. #KCACOLS


      (August 30, 2016 - 1:14 pm)

      Hope the tips come in handy Rebecca. Have a great holiday!

    Back With A Bump

    (September 6, 2016 - 2:15 pm)

    Some great tips there. Baby wearing definitely has its perks add no more finding the elusive lift in a shop either. #twinklytuesday


      (September 7, 2016 - 7:20 pm)

      Very true about the lift…escalators are so much more fun too. Thanks for your comment!


    (September 7, 2016 - 5:02 pm)

    Funny that I should come across this post. I was actually wondering how you coped with travelling around with two under two when we recently went to France. #twinklytuesday


      (September 7, 2016 - 7:16 pm)

      Thanks Helena. It’s great travelling with the kids. A challenge but as long as you’re organised is just like any other journey!


    (September 7, 2016 - 8:34 pm)

    Great, practical tips. We were big fans of cloth nappies and babywearing when I was smaller X #TwinklyTuesday

    […] Frugal Family Money & Travel Tips […]

    John @ The Wise Money Manager

    (November 2, 2016 - 11:38 pm)

    This is one of the most informative traveling posts that I have ever seen–bravo and well done! I will probably need to employ this information when we travel!

      Topsy Turvy Tribe

      (November 3, 2016 - 8:11 pm)

      Thanks for your lovely comment John, I hope our tips come in handy!

    […] Frugal Family Money & Travel Tips […]

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