Thrifty Days Out: 6 ways to save money on your next day out
I love going out with my kids but oh my word, it can cost a fortune sometimes! Every year I tell myself that I’ll put some money aside for the summer holidays and every year I totally forget and then start to panic slightly about how I’ll keep two slightly crazy kids entertained for the whole six weeks. Of course in my head I tell myself that we don’t need to spend loads of money but then I also know that all I need to do is walk through the door of any supermarket to get a loaf of bread and somehow I’ve spent fifteen quid, by that reasoning a trip to a theme park is probably going to cost us about six grand. Fear not though as due to my super thrifty skills I’ve managed to come up with some ways to save money on your days out with the kids - if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them, after all, six weeks can seem to last about six months sometimes!
- Get a thermos flask
When my husband suggested buying a thermos flask I figured we’d finally moved into the inevitable world of old people complete with Radio 4 and lots of blankets (although in fairness I do rather like Radio 4 and I do own a lot of blankets?!) but actually a Thermos Flask is the thrifty parents weapon of choice. We’ve been blessed with two kids that don’t really believe in sleep so there’s no way I’m managing on a day out without coffee but with it normally costing over £3 a go it’s easy to spend £15 on two rounds. Buy yourself a Thermos flask for ten pounds and you have caffeine served just as you like it exactly when you need it and it’s normally a lot hotter than a takeaway one too!
- Can you get a membership card?
If you live near a venue then it’s worth looking to see if they have a members scheme or annual pass. When we lived in Essex we had an annual pass to Adventure Island; to visit normally would have worked out at nearly £20 but due to the fact that we would pop in so often on our annual pass, we got it down to something silly like £2.72 a visit. I think my son thought I was the best mum ever that year. Now we’re in Cornwall we have National Trust memberships, again the initial outlay can seem big but you can be sure that we’ll be visiting a lot of their properties this year to get our money’s worth!
- Make the most of the free places
Of course days out to the big venues are great but if you’re going to make your money last through the school holidays then it’s always good to mix these up with the free places to visit. We spend a lot of time at the beach as well as parks, walks in the woods and libraries. Lots of Children’s Centres hold free activities during the holidays and it’s always worth keeping an eye out for free events - be careful of ones though which have free entry but at which you’ll undoubtedly end up paying £15 for your kids to go on a bouncy castle again and again.
- More food!
If you’re being careful with cash (or just don’t want to spend crazy amounts) you’ve probably already planned to take a picnic on your day out but don’t forget to take extras for snacks as well. If your kids are active all day chances are they’ll be ravenous and it always helps to have a few treats up your sleeve (Check out Stephanie's picnic recipe blog for some ideas!)
- Get the ice cream
Ok so I know I just said about taking snacks with you but to me ice cream is an essential and no one wants to carry an ice box around with them all day just so they can save a few quid on a Cornetto - if nothing else you’ll probably have to spend out on physio after carting something that heavy around anyway. When we moved to Cornwall my kids made it their mission to try out a different ice cream flavour every time we went out which as well as doing my waistline no good (I didn’t want to miss out on that challenge) also kind of hurt my purse. What I did discover though was that loads of places will do you a ‘kids scoop’ which is normally about 50p cheaper than an adults scoop and yet often exactly the same size. With the amount of ice creams we got through I probably saved enough to pay off my mortgage through that trick alone. Ok maybe not, but kids scoops aren’t always on the board but they’re worth asking for!
- Go with friends
Some places offer reduced rates for groups of more than ten people so if you know another family or two that fancies a day out you could save money booking tickets. It also means both you and your kids have friends there for company which can make a really nice change.
What are your tips for not letting the summer holidays break the bank? Leave us a comment below! Don't forget to check out Penny's blog about days out under £5 too.