10 easy ways to save money on a family holiday in the UK
The uncertainty around overseas holidays has meant that more families than ever have chosen to holiday closer to home. And while we’re lucky to have some fantastic family-friendly destinations in the UK, a staycation can often prove to be expensive once you’ve factored in the price of attractions, meals out and transport.
To help you keep your costs down while holidaying closer to home, so you can pocket your savings for some extra treats, here are 10 simple money-saving tips for UK holidays.
1. Take food away with you
Many children have the amazing ability to eat all of the time and still be hungry, and the cost of snacks and meals when you’re away from home can quickly add up. If you’re self-catering this summer, consider pre-booking an online supermarket shop to your property when you arrive so you can plan meals in advance and shop around for bargains.
If you’re staying in a hotel, it’s still wise to take some snacks and drinks with you from home for both your journey there and to produce when hunger strikes while you’re exploring. Not only can you prevent tantrums quickly, but you’ll avoid hefty prices in motorway service stations and shops when you’re out and about.
2. Pack some treats too
If you have a long journey to reach your destination, pack a small bag with treats that you can pull out throughout the trip to prevent boredom and “are we nearly there yet?” on repeat. Forgotten party bag fillers, such as mini colouring books, small puzzles and toys will make younger children smile on a journey while a homemade I-spy spotting list will usually be a winner too.
And, if you’re going away on a UK beach holiday, pack your own bucket and spade from previous staycations. You’ll save money and will arrive ready to go.
3. Research free attractions
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun and all destinations will have free attractions, whether it’s a beach, a museum, a park or a forest to explore. So, do your research before you arrive, and plan some in to ensure you have days when you keep costs to a minimum.
4. Pre-book attraction tickets
Do the kids have their hearts set on visiting a particular attraction? If so, pre-book your tickets online in advance. Not only will this ensure that you’re guaranteed a slot to visit, it will potentially mean that you’ll save money on your ticket price and can skip the queue too.
For Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as an example, if you pre-book a weekday ticket in advance, you could save up to £9 per adult ticket bought online compared to the on-the-day price (£33 online compared to £42 on the day), and £8 for a ticket for children aged 11 and under (£28 online compared to £36 on the day). For a family of four with two primary-school aged children, that’s a hefty saving of £34.
5. Research visitor passes
If you’re planning on cramming a lot of attraction visits into a UK holiday, do some research on whether there are any visitor passes available for the area that you’re visiting.
Families travelling to London, as an example, could consider a Merlin Magical London Pass. Its 5-in-1 Pass allows entry to Madame Tussauds, the London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure! London and the London Dungeon, and promises to save you up to 45% when compared to buying tickets separately. You’ll have up to 90 days to visit all of the attractions.
However, before rushing to buy a pass, think realistically about how many of the attractions you’ll have time to visit on a trip to make sure it will actually save you money.
6. Take advantage of discounted meals
You can save a lot of money when eating out with the kids by taking advantage of promotions. Look out for kids eat free offers or kids eat for £1, or special set kids’ menus that include a drink and a dessert.
Another way to save money on family meals is to dine from set lunchtime menus, where you may get to try some of the dishes from the evening menu for less. An added bonus to eating your main meal at lunchtime with younger children is that they’re likely to be in better spirits for a sit-down meal than the evening when tiredness can create crankiness.
7. Keep rail fares low
Taking the train may be better for the environment than travelling by car but rail fares in the UK can be notoriously high. If you’re travelling by rail, book your tickets in advance to benefit from lower prices than on the day – tickets are, generally, released 12 weeks in advance so put this date in your diary to nab some of the best deals.
If you’re travelling with children aged five to 15, it may be worth buying a Family & Friends Railcard too which offers one third off rail fares for up to four adults and 60% off for up to four children aged between five and 15. It costs £30 for a year and gives you access to other, non-rail offers too. Find out more here.
8. Plan parking and petrol
Taking your own vehicle away with you on a UK family holiday often offers the greatest flexibility if you’d like to explore beyond larger cities. But wherever you are travelling to, it’s worth doing a little research into parking before you set off to avoid extortionate charges while you’re away.
Ask the owners of your hotel or self-catering property whether your property has dedicated parking in advance and, if not, where they would recommend leaving your car overnight.
Think about petrol stops before you set off too so you can avoid having to fill up in expensive motorway service stations or panicking when you’re in a rural location.
9. Make getting around part of your adventure
Pre-children, you may have hurtled around holiday destinations ticking off big sights. But, kids are not known for their ability to rush around. So, think differently and explore a destination slowly by foot or bike, rather than hopping in taxis or on buses.
Not only will you all get exercise, have a fun activity and enjoy some quality time together while out and about, but your transport won’t cost a penny. You may also spot details that you’d miss from inside a vehicle, getting to know an area better.
For ideas on walking and cycling routes while on holiday in the UK, take a look at our post on fun family activities.
10. Arrive like a local with free holiday activities
To engage your kids on a family holiday, teach them some fun facts about your destination before you set off and research some local dishes to try while you’re away. Try to involve them in the planning of your adventure, letting them choose which attractions they really want to visit.
When you book accommodation with tripAbrood, we will send fun – and free – Arrive Like a Local activity packs to you for your kids for selected destinations. Not only will these save you time and cash in the school holidays as you’ve got a whole host of free activities waiting for you, but they will help to build up excitement levels for everyone. You could even challenge older children to plan a mini tour for you to show off their knowledge.