As a mother of 6 children ages ranging from 24 to 5, I have organised a fair few days out and am always on the lookout for free or cheap things to do with my family on a weekend and school holidays. I have learned a few tips over the years from some money savvy friends that have saved us a fortune when taking our brood out.
- Take a picnic! Not only will this save you a fortune but it will be far more enjoyable than eating in a café or restaurant with young children.
- Take plenty snacks and drinks. One thing I know is that kids are always hungry and if you can avoid going into the gift shops while you are out this will save you money.
- Bring a flask. Investing in a flask or two really has saved us a lot of money. With the average cup of coffee or hot chocolate being about £2.50, stopping for a hot drink can cost a pretty packet when you are buying a few.
Free days out.
The beach or river
This has always been a favourite with our family, as long as we’ve got enough towels, a change of clothes, drinks, and suntan lotion we are set for a good few hours of totally free fun in the fresh air.
There are thousands of free parks that you can visit and spend a few hours entertaining your little ones in. Don’t forget to pack a picnic to get the most out of you trip.
This is an opportunity to get back to nature, learn about the wildflowers and birds that you might see on your way. My children never miss a chance to climb a tree or build a den. Den building in the woods can be lots of fun and a great opportunity for the whole family to work together.
If you are feeling creative you could make your own treasure hunt, there are plenty of ideas to inspire you on Pinterest. This could be an exciting and free day out for your little ones and will get the whole family working together. If you would prefer to do a ready-made trail there are a thousand Treasure hunts, Spy missions, and Murder mystery trails around the country with http://www.treasuretrails.co.uk
There are hundreds of free museums up and down the country that can keep the family entertained on a rainy day. Look up reviews on day out with the kids to work out what would best suit your family. Many museums will allow you to bring your own picnic and provide a separate area for you to eat it.
I have found Days out with the kids an absolutely brilliant resource for helping me find places to go near me. It covers the whole of the UK and lists all sorts of days out from parks and soft play to museums and Theme parks.
Cheap days out
Keep your eyes open for local bus trip days out. Often community groups and churches put on days out in the holidays at a very low cost. If there’s nothing going on in your area why not get together with a group of like-minded friends and share the cost of a minibus or coach.
National trust days out
If you have a large family like ours investing in a yearly subscription to the National Trust will save you a fortune in entry fees. A family ticket at £120 for a year will have paid itself off after 3 days out and will allow 2 adults and up to 6 kids under 5’s are free unlimited days out in one of the hundreds of locations across the UK.
Look out for community farms near you, many of these are listed on dayoutwiththekids.co.uk These farms are volunteer-run and often only charge a small donation to visit. They offer families an opportunity to get hands-on with the animals and learn about the work that it takes to care for them. I find that community farms tend to offer a more authentic experience of farm life than some of the larger farm attractions.
Cheap cinema trips
Family trips to the cinema can be an expensive day out when there are a few of you so here are a few ideas to make it a bit cheaper.
- Look out for cheap cinema deals on Groupon, they often do a family cinema deal for £10.
- The Vue holds Mini mornings which is a family friendly film on a Saturday and Sunday from 10 am for £2.49 per ticket
- Meerkat movies offer 2 for 1 deals in cinemas across the country. You can get the Meerkat movies discount for as little as £1 by purchasing insurance for a day trip with Compare the market. This will qualify you to receive 2 for 1 codes for cinema tickets for a whole year!
- If you want to save yourself a fortune in snacks, rather than buying at the cinema bring your own! you are perfectly within your rights to take your own popcorn, sweets, drinks and even takeaways into the cinema with you. This has saved us a lot of money over the years making cinema trips far more affordable.
For every 50p you save you could have £1.50 towards a day out of your choice. Tesco partners up with hundreds of venues and experience days to offer you cheap days out. You can also spend Tesco vouchers on cheaper National Heritage subscriptions and National railcards.
If you are a foster carer or have a child with additional needs you may be entitled to a Max card. This will offer you discounts into thousands of venues across the country. The discounts are dependent on the venue and can range from a free carer to a full family discount. This little card has saved us a lot of money over the years.
Friends and family railcard
If you don’t have a car or just don’t feel like driving all the time it is well worth investing in friends and family railcard. With a one-off payment of £30 for one year or £70 for three years, you can enjoy 1/3 off adult rail tickets and 60% off children’s rail tickets when travelling together. This card covers up to 4 adults and 4 children when travelling together making rail travel a lot more affordable for the whole family.