Everyone loves a good family day out but sometimes a simple day out for an average sized family can cost in excess of £100 and when you are facing 6 whole weeks of summer holidays this can be stressful. I always try and be careful with our money when planning days out as I am currently working part time and so I thought I would share some of the things I do when I am planning cheap family days out.
1. Go for free
I am a big believer in accessing free events and free attractions. Check out your local area to see what places are free and also keep your eyes peeled for national events that make places free for certain days such as open farm Sunday.
2. Keep travel to a minimum
Find an attraction that is within approximately 80 miles of your home so that your petrol costs are no more than £20-30 for the day, depending on you car. If you don’t drive look for the cheapest transport method, could you go with a friend that does drive and split the petrol costs? Or could you visit by bus or train purchasing tickets in advance or using a discount rail card?
3. Use voucher sites
Sign up to the voucher sites like groupon and voucher cloud, that way you will receive daily or weekly emails with discounts on local attractions, restaurants and goods. For our one day holiday we purchased a family ticket for Apple Jacks Adventure park from living social in advance for £24 and saved ourselves a massive £20. Always check the expiry dates on vouchers as sometimes it is worth buying the voucher even if you haven’t set a date as it could be valid for a few months but in other cases it may be selected dates only, so always check.
4. Take a packed lunch
Lots of attractions, including Apple Jacks adventure playground, have restaurants and shops on site and often in a bid to increase their revenue the prices are high because lets face it, once inside you have very little option but to buy from them, unless you go prepared like we do. The majority of places usually have a designated picnic area set up but if not find a nice spot and set up anyway. We managed to do a picnic including sandwiches, fruit, crisps, biscuits, vegetable sticks with dips and additional drinks for the day for £15 for the 4 of us.
5. Budget for additional spends
Decide in advance if you have spending money for your trip and explain this to the kids in advance. The majority of places will try and entice you with photos, souvenirs, ride on toys and ice creams. I find that it helps if I have considered this in advance and if, like on our trip to Apple Jacks, you don’t have a lot of sending money that’s fine, remember you have already treated the children to a full day out they don’t need the extras. On this occasion I told the boys they could have £3 each to buy an ice cream/lolly/sweets/pocket money toy, both boys chose an ice lolly mid afternoon to cool down and were so busy having fun that they didn’t even ask to visit the shop.
6. Plan the whole day
Plan what time you want to leave, consider how that coincides with rush hour traffic and meal times, there is nothing worse than being stuck in the car with tired, over excited, hungry children in rush hour traffic when you are an half an hour away from home with no idea what to make for tea when you arrive. We sometimes prepare a meal in the slow cooker before we leave for the day or like on this occasion we factored in a meal out at our local harvester restaurant on the way home. If the kids are having a mini break then it’s only fair that mum gets one too and that means no cooking and cleaning.
7. Look for meal deals
The key to saving money is all in the planning and there is no point paying more than you need to for something. The Harvester have a children’s meal deal that includes a pudding and a drink which is fantastic value for money but better than that they also have an app that is full of vouchers and discount codes such as children eat for £1 or 33% off the overall bill. We used the children eat for £1 code which brought our meal, including desserts and drinks for four people, down to £38 and it was a lovely end to our one day holiday.
It really is possible to have cheap family days out for £100 or less, you just need to be organised and a little voucher savvy. I hope this has helped and I would love to hear all about your money saving days out.
If you are looking for more inspiration for cheap family days out in the North West then check out our A-Z of days out post.
(Ocean Loans collaborated with us on this post to show that you don’t need to pay a fortune to have fun with the family. All hints, tips and opinions are mine alone.)