Spending the day with your family, whether large or small can feel like a special treat. We’re all exceptionally busy, so finding the time to get out and spend a day together can be rare. It can also be expensive.
A day out often includes travel, food and a trip to the gift shop on top of any entry fees, and if it’s something you don’t get the chance to do very often, it can be tempting to spend far too much in an attempt to make the day perfect. However, don’t be put off arranging a day out for your family if you are on a budget and don’t shy away from trying to save a little extra cash even if you have got the spare money to do it. Just think, the more you save, the more often you can treat your family.
But, can you save? Even a simple trip to the cinema can end up costing a small fortune once everyone’s picked snacks and drinks and a full day away from home can be nothing short of crippling. Well, fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money while still having a brilliant day with your family. Here is a look at some of the best ways to manage it.
Take a Packed Lunch
One of the biggest costs of any day out can be food. Eating in cafes or restaurants at your destination can be very expensive. For a large family even eating at a nearby restaurant or fast food joint can be costly.
Fortunately, most family-friendly day out destinations and attractions have public picnic areas where you can sit and eat your own food. Take a packed lunch which will fill everyone up.
Remember to include a few treats and drinks, but also to keep some of the food separate in case you need to appease anyone during the journey or if you have to queue at any points. Small sweets like lollypops that last for a long time can be ideal in these situations.
If you are taking your own lunch, remember to also pack a carrier bag for rubbish and some baby wipes for any sticky fingers.
You can save money on travel and entrance to attractions by booking online. Many attractions offer 10% off advance online bookings as they are keen to sell tickets up front. Others offer early deals. Booking in advance also gives you a chance to budget and plan in a little more detail.
That said, if you are looking for a day out last minute, you may be able to find some great last-minute deals, as locations are keen to avoid empty seats.
Take Pocket Money
If you are working on a very tight budget, you probably dread the gift shop visit at the end of your trip and hate that you always seem to have to walk through them to reach the exit.
Encourage your children to save their pocket money or money they get for their birthdays for days out like this. It’ll help teach them the value of money, and they are more likely to get something really good and not just ask for something for the sake of it if it’s their own money.
Find Free Days Out
There are some fantastic, free ways to spend your time together as a family. Head to parks, on scavenger hunts or to free museums. Have fun packing picnics or baking together at home. You could even spend a weekend camping in your back garden.
Find Cheap Hotels
If you need to stay overnight for your perfect family trip, make sure you look at cheap hotel options and Airbnb’s. Remember, comparison sites are useful, but not all hotels will be included, so be thorough in your search.
Get a Railcard
Traveling on public transport can be hit and miss. If you’ve got a car, paying for petrol and parking can work out much more expensive than train or bus tickets. But, not always. Have a look at your options online before committing to a decision.
However, if you don’t have a car or find that using public transport is usually cheaper consider buying a railcard to save more money.
Many family attractions offer deals on their websites or their social media accounts, so it’s always worth checking before you book, and again on the day of your visit. Some may offer a discount if you join their mailing list or check in once you arrive. Digital marketing is huge now, and many large attractions are looking to use our obsessions with our screens to their advantage.
Use Voucher Sites
As well as checking the website of the place you are visiting, you should check voucher code sites and cashback apps to see what you can get.
If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, base your choice on what special offers you can get and how much money you can save. Just remember that traveling further afield for a cheaper entry fee may not be cost effective if it means you need to spend more on accommodation and travel.
Buy an Annual Pass
Destinations such as SeaQuest aquariums sell annual memberships. If you plan to visit often, or in some cases simply more than once, throughout the year this can work out as a huge saving.
It’s also worth looking to see if any of the destinations you plan to visit are members of an entertainment group. If they are you may be able to buy an annual pass which allows you to visit all of the destination for a reduced price.
Visit at the Right Time
Visiting a popular attraction during peak times like weekends and school holidays can be twice as expensive than visiting during quieter times. It can also be much more stressful, and you could find you waste a lot of your very expensive day out queuing. If your children are yet to reach school age, make the most of it by planning your days out on weekday mornings when everything is cheaper and quieter.
It’s important to remember that family days out aren’t about how much money you spend. They are about being together and having fun as a family.