Fun summer holiday ideas on the cheap
Enjoy the summer holidays on a shoestring budget. Nationwide's Rachel Jensen shares some of her top tips.
13 August 2012: School holidays are in full swing and you may have already found yourself spending a small fortune trying to keep the children entertained. But there are ways to do this without breaking the bank. With a bit of extra thought and planning, you can avoid spending lots of money this summer holiday. Follow my money saving suggestions below to have a stress-free summer break.
Cut the cost of visiting attractions
Save money on entry – Don’t pay full price for attraction tickets, visit attractions that offer money off deals at the time, such as two-for-one. Check the attraction’s official website to see if there are any offers beforehand and look at online deal sites such as www.daysoutguide.co.uk, www.hotukdeals.com and www.vouchercodes.co.uk before you go.
Ask friends and family whether they would like to come along with you, as some attractions offer discounts for group bookings. If you plan to visit the attraction several times during the year it may be worth taking an annual membership, where you can benefit from discounts, news and events.
Save money on food – Where possible take your own food to avoid paying a premium inside the attraction. If that’s not possible, plan to eat outside the park and take advantage of restaurant deal sites such as www.vouchercodes.co.uk and www.toptable.co.uk.
Save money on transport – Book your journey as early as possible to avoid paying a premium and if you travel more frequently it might be worth buying a railcard. To cut costs further you could also use a booking site such as www.raileasy.co.uk or www.mytrainticket.co.uk which shows you the cheapest day and times to travel to your destination.
Save money when drawing cash – Some cash machines at attractions may charge you for drawing money, you could avoid these charges by withdrawing money beforehand.
Entertain for free
Museums and art galleries – Don’t forget about the museums and art galleries in the local area, many of which are free. In summer months they tend to have activities and exhibitions, which kids will love.
Bus around town – A local bus ride is a great way to pass the time with your little ones and some offer free child fares. You can plan your journey in advance and visit local sites to make a whole day of it.
Library – Take the kids to the local library to choose some books and DVDs and sit and read a story in the children’s area. Many libraries also offer free activities such as story time and music sessions, although you may have to book in advance.
Have fun in the garden – If the weather is good, set up activities in the garden, such as a paddling pool, sandpit, water table and play house. You could also encourage your children to help with the gardening by planting some seeds and watering your existing flowers and plants. Don’t let bad weather deter you, put on coats and wellington boots and have some fun in the puddles.
Garden centre – Garden centres are a great way to entertain the kids at no cost. Many have children’s sections full of books and toys and pet sections with animals and fish to keep the children entertained for hours.
Indoor activities – If the weather is bad then organise indoor activities such as cooking, painting, drawing, completing sticker books and playing with Play Doh.
Educational interactive games – Just because schools are on a break doesn’t mean that children can’t spend some time learning something new. Visit www.NationwideEducation.co.uk, where you’ll find a variety of fun online games, quizzes, story books and factsheets. They are designed to help 4-18 year olds build important life skills, particularly in the areas of Financial Capability, Sustainable Living, Employability and Safety.
Organise a staycation
Why not go away for a couple of days for a change of scenery. There are plenty of ways to organise a UK break without spending a fortune.
Camping – Decide where you would like to visit and look at campsites in the local area. Many have a wide range of facilities and are cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Holiday parks – Save money by visiting a holiday park rather than a hotel and benefit from the endless activities and facilities they have to offer.
Hotel – Save money by searching online for hotel deals using sites such as www.lastminute.com and www.secrethotels.org. Use group buying discount websites such as www.groupon.co.uk and www.wowcher.co.uk to benefit from the latest offers and book hotels outside towns and cities to avoid paying a premium for city centre locations.
Stay with friends – If you have friends that live near a city or close to a beauty spot ask to visit or stay at their home while they are away on holiday.