Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget

Whenever we travel we have a budget to try and stick to.  This is money we have saved specifically for that trip, plus we can add on what we would have allowed for food shopping if we were at home that week.

As well as keeping a travel spending log to stick to our budget (or at least try to), I also like to see exactly where we are spending money and how much things cost.  It means we can see where we can cut costs on travel, if we need to, and also helps me predict how much similar trips will cost in the future.

Hopefully it’s also useful for others to see how much family trips cost or can cost.

When planning our recent six night stay in Portugal, I had a rough budget in mind of £1000.  This all depended on how much we could get our flights and accommodation for as it was half term so prices were, of course, higher than usual.

£1200 was around our maximum and for six nights in Portugal as a family of four with all travel, food, accomodation and entertainment, I think this was a more reasonable amount as a budget.  £300 per person for almost a week’s stay, food and transport.

Read on to discover how close to our ideal budget of £1000, but maximum £1200 we managed to get.

Travel spending log: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget

Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget


Whilst my brother-in-law, who we were visiting in Portugal, had said he’s got return flights from Bristol for £40 in the past, we couldn’t find anything this cheap.  Probably as we are restricted to the school holidays.  We went in half term which really limits our flight options to only two weekends if we want to go for one week.

Without having flexibility on our flights and it being the school holidays, the cheapest we could find were return flights from Gatwick to Porto for £85 each.

I used Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights and then booked via BudgetAir on TopCashback to get £8.08 cashback.

To cut costs we decided to only take hand luggage and not pay extra for any cabin bags.  We’d have been looking at at least another £80 if we wanted to check in a suitcase!  Just for one!

We could take 8kg each anyway as hand luggage and this was plenty for a six night stay in warm weather.  Funnily enough, they checked our luggage in anyway as the plane was so full, so we didn’t need to lug it around the airport!

I booked car hire and damage waiver insurance at the same time as the flights for a total of £115.  We’d collect our car at the airport and drop it off before our return flight.  A great money saving tip is to get your car hire insurance elsewhere, but by this point I’d been searching for flights and accommodation for four hours and no longer cared about searching around for the best car hire insurance.  I’d had enough and just wanted it all booked!

It was still a cheaper insurance than getting it at TurisPrime who our car hire was with.  At the desk when collecting our car they were desperately trying to make us pay almost 140 euros to get their insurance instead!  No thank you!

Airport parking was a steal at £30 for the week and I got some money back by booking Purple Parking using this cashback site.

Fuel whilst in Portugal was really economical in our hire car.  It was three hours from the airport to our accomodation and the same driving back.  We drove for around another 8-10 hours during our stay and only spent £55 to fill up the car before returning it.  I felt like we drove a lot, yet the fuel light only came on as we were heading back to the airport at the end of our stay.

I also used just over half a tank of fuel to get to the airport and back at a cost of approximately £25.

We had to pay for tolls whilst in Portugal.  The main motorways have tolls the whole way down and we saw costs from 30 cents to almost 2 euros.  We had to pay a fee at the car hire place to use some sort of toll reader on the hire car and then pay for the tolls we had travelled through when we returned the hire car.  We spent just under £30 on all of this.

So total travel costs were £592:

Flights – £336

Car hire + damage waiver insurance – £115

Car parking – £31

Fuel in Portugal – £55

Fuel to the airport – £25

Tolls – £30

Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget


I love finding accommodation on Airbnb as you can usually find something within your budget, even if limited.

I managed to find a three bed flat in Castelo Branco town centre for just over £32 per night, so a total of under £200 for all four of use for six nights.  Plus we got to have a bedroom each!

It can be quite a pain if we have to stay in a hotel and the kids are in the same room as us.  Things are much easier travelling and sleeping when they get their own bedrooms.

It was called Erasmus house if you’re looking for the same on Airbnb.  It was basic, but fine for somewhere to sleep.  There is no living room, but three bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom.  The WiFi was really good, so perfect as I needed to work online every evening and morning.

Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget

FOOD £425

Food is always one of our biggest expenses!

It could be reduced greatly by shopping smart at the supermarket, cooking every evening and taking packed lunches everyday, but we always want to treat ourselves whilst on holiday both for pleasure and convenience!

We enjoyed two meals at Fast Vegan in Castelo Branco town centre.  These were only 7 euros per person and included a main vegan meal, green tea, soup and a pudding!

We spent lots at the supermarket on smoothies, fresh fruit and veg and we always buy as much organic produce as we can to invest in our health and the environment, so our food choices do cost more than they need to.  You can definitely spend a lot less on food for a week if you want to or need to.

We took picnics out with us for lunch of breadsticks, crackers, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, tinned pineapple, tinned sweetcorn and various other vegan snacks.

Very naughtily we ate three Mcdonalds whilst there.  They had a burger that was vegan with the mayo removed, so it was an easy choice to grab these on the way back from a long day out when we couldn’t be bothered to cook.  It was kind of a holiday after all!

We cooked a few times in the evenings at our accommodation making vegan burgers or vegan nuggets served with a fresh salad, vegan mayo and apple cider vinegar.  We found lots of supplies at Terra Bio, a natural grocery store in the centre of Castelo Branco.

We probably spent most of our food money at the airports!  We needed lunch and dinner both ways and airport prices are through the roof!  We had a Burger King (rebel burger without mayo), Pret a Manger, Boots meal deal and M&S plant kitchen food.

Another food expense was travel snacks for the airport and long car journeys.

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We didn’t spend anything on attractions or sightseeing, yet we had some great days out.

We saw the fossil mountains and castle at Penha Garcia, the rock village and castle of Monsanto, explored my brother-in-laws offgrid farm and extensive land, spent a day at a lake, and wandered around the centre of Castelo Branco for a day.

We only spent money on our transport and food, but explored historic attractions and wild areas for free.

Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget

Total spent: £1210

If we had been stricter with our food shopping and eating out, then we could have only spent £1000 which was our original aim.  We could easily half the food costs by not getting takeout or buying so much expensive food at the airports and natural grocery store.

We could also have shopped around for cheaper car damage waiver insurance to save even more.

I’m pleased we met our upper budget of £1200 though.  I’ve rounded most of the costs up, so we were pretty spot on £1200 really.  Plus I’ll get some cashback for the flights, car hire and parking, so we definitely didn’t go over £1200.

£300 per person for a jam packed week in sunny Portugal and lots of lovely treat food is a great price!

Related blog posts

The most Instagrammable locations in Castelo Branco, Portugal

The amazing rock village + castle of Monsanto, Portugal

Visiting Penha Garcia fossil mountains in Portugal with kids

Things to do with kids in Castelo Branco Portugal for one day


More travel spending diaries

Spending diary for our budget family holiday to London. 3 days, 4 people, only £350!

7 day Cornwall holiday costs for family of four in October

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Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget
Travel spending diary: 6 nights with kids in Portugal on a budget

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