Are you dreaming of a European holiday? Since moving to Austria my family has been on a mission to explore. Austria, Ireland, England, Croatia, Italy, anywhere. Living in Europe is a gift. Sophisticated networks of trains, buses and planes are woven throughout the continent, joining countries together. It’s easy to explore. Easy, but sometimes expensive. Thankfully, the Austrians are masters of the package deal. You can find lots of options for budget-conscious families. Here are seven sites I scour in my quest for family holiday deals.
Supermarket chains: Grab your veggies, your toilet paper and your family holiday deals
Supermarkets in Austria are not just for daily necessities. The major chains have entered the lucrative travel industry, delighting families with budget-friendly holiday options. Here are three that I routinely stalk in pursuit of a bargain.
Hofer is the home of no frills shopping. While in store you can find no-nonsense, bulk supplies of pantry staples, online you can browse family holiday deals. Fancy a holiday with the kids and the family dog? A golfing weekend? A camping trip? You can search by theme. The website also includes travel safety information.
Billa is not just for Haribo lollies, packed lunches and fruit of variable quality. It’s also a source of family holiday options. Family holiday deals are available online. Billa’s travel website even has information about country destinations. Additionally, travel booklets are available from many of the larger Billa supermarkets. Ladies, you can strategically place travel booklets around the house. Scribble on them subtle hints, such as ‘Our next holiday’ or ‘Mama’s gotta go to Greece’, and stand back and watch your husband come up with a brilliant idea for a family holiday. All’s fair in love and travel…
Tchibo is my go-to store for good quality everyday homewares and muck-around clothes for my daughter. The German chain store is also a source of family holiday deals. On their website you can find inspiration for wellness travel (a growing industry that focuses on physical and spiritual rest and rejuvenation), cruises and ‘bathing holidays’, which promise to whisk you away to the beach, the pool or the spa. The category ‘Urlaub in der Heimat’ (Google translated to ‘Holidays in the home’) provides options for Austrian getaways. There is even a category for families.
Kinder Hotels Europa
Let’s be honest. When was the last time you and your partner went away on a holiday and had ‘kid-free time’? A family holiday generally isn’t simpatico with romance. That is, unless you go to a kinder hotel. Think of the last hotel you went to (provided it was a good one). Now add a kids’ club, large and well-stocked play areas, swimming pools and spas. Combine this with family suites, outdoor activities, babysitting and buffets that serve delicious and child-friendly food and you have a kinder hotel.
First developed in 1989 in conjunction with the Austrian National Tourist Office, kinder hotels have one declared purpose: providing families with restful, child-focused holidays. I also like to think that secretly the developers were parents hoping for a kid-free weekend. The kids’ club and babysitting services provide opportunities for couples to … focus on their relationship. Kinder Hotels Europa provides information about accredited kinder hotels and even has links to early bird family holiday deals.
Austrian Weekends and Viennese staycations
WienXtra Kinderactiv card
WienXtra is an essential resource for families in Vienna. Operated in conjunction with the City of Vienna, WienXtra provides information about what’s on in Vienna for children and their families. The organisation also holds free kids’ events. The WienXtra Kinderactiv card gives you discounted or free entry to events in and around Vienna. The card is free and you can apply online or in person at Kinderinfo (their information point in the Museumsquartier).
Family Extra Card Wien
The Family Extra Card Wien offers families discounted access to events for kids across Vienna. The card even entitles you to discounts on participating trades and services, including car maintenance and repairs. Like the WienXtra card, the Family Extra Card Wien is free and can be ordered online.
Upper and Lower Austria tourism cards
The Niederoesterreich card provides discounted or free entry to 325 destinations in Lower Austria. However, there is a catch. The clever folks at the Lower Austria tourism board have embraced the consumer psychology of ‘buy one get one free’. Each card costs €61 per person 16 years or older and €31 for children 6 to 15 years of age. It’s free for children under six years. While it will cost you to purchase the card, the destination advice on the Niederoesterreich website is free. The related Offizielles Tourismus und Kulturportal des Landes Niederösterreich website also contains invaluable information about day trips and longer getaways in Lower Austria. Additionally, Niederoesterriech offers a family pass. While not strictly travel-related, the NÖ Familienpasses offers discounts on products and services in Lower Austria relevant to children and their families.
Not to be outdone, the tourism board for Upper Austria also offers discount cards. However, make room in your wallet. Each region of Upper Austria provides at least one discount card. Like the single card for Lower Austria, the Upper Austria discount cards are not free, costing €4.95 for the DONAU-Card, €18 for the one-day Linz card, €42–€65 for the Pyhrn-Priel SaisonCard and €4.90 for the Salzkammergut Erlebnis Card. Like the cost, the terms and conditions of the four cards differ.
I like to think of the ‘discounts for purchase’ cards in the same way that I think of a pair of Hogl high-heels: a little expensive but worth the investment if you use them.
What are your secrets for finding family holiday deals?
Disclaimer: This is not an affiliated or sponsored post. All opinions are my own. I wish you every success as you look for the family holiday that is right for you.