The Easter holidays are in full swing and if you have children to entertain then this can result in a potentially expensive few weeks. There are however plenty of things you can do to keep children active and entertained and all for a reduced cost. Below are 10 simple tips for enjoying the holidays for less.
1. Check out Voucher code sites
There are a number of great sites dedicated to bringing you the very best deals and money off vouchers. www.vouchercodes.co.uk is a brilliant one. You can search for restaurant vouchers or money off days out and download codes or printable vouchers in advance. Don’t be too put off if asked to enter your email address in exchange for the voucher, you can always set up an email account specifically dedicated to these kinds of activities. Chances are you will be emailed further discount codes throughout the year, and you can simply login and check your email account for great deals when planning days out in the future.
2. Consider the cost of an Annual Pass
Many theme parks, zoos and even swimming centres offer some form of annual pass allowing you to enter as many times as you like throughout the year for a set price. These can be quite a costly investment at the time, but if you do the calculations then buying a pass could cost as little as paying entry to the venue just a few times over and you may even get additional benefits such as money off of refreshments or free parking. Plus when money is tight you always have access to a day out for ‘free’.
3. Pack your own food and snacks
It can be expensive to purchase food onsite when you are out for the day so packing your own food and refreshments will make a huge difference. Advise children that you have left your purse at home so they understand that there will be no extras and let them pick their own packed snacks if this will create more excitement. Make sure you take a refillable bottle and fill this from water fountains at every opportunity to avoid having to pay for bottled water.
4. Make the most of free apps
Magazines, colouring books and toys are disposable and often only keep children occupied for a matter of minutes. If you have invested in a Tablet device then there are a number of free apps available to download. If your child gets bored easily then there will usually be another app that will be new and exciting. Just make sure that you are investing in Tablet insurance so you don’t end up shelling out for a replacement if something happens to the device
5. Encourage children to budget
If you find yourself being pestered for toys, ice creams, additional drinks and more during a day out then set a budget at the start of the day. Giving your children a set amount and asking them to look after the money themselves will help teach them the value of money. If they only have a couple of pounds but are pestering for an ice cream then explain that they will have no money left for the rest of the day. If they are after something and short of money then you could even suggest they share with a sibling and both contribute. Make it very clear that when the money is gone, it’s gone.
6. Plan ahead
Anything from train journeys and hotels to attraction tickets often get more expensive closer to the time of travel. If you are booking a hotel try to do this more than a month ahead to get the best prices and always look for family deals or ‘kids stay and eat free’ offers. Many hotels let you cancel up to 24 hours before your stay, so if your plans are likely to change then check the cancellation policy carefully. If your plans are set in stone then booking train fares or attraction tickets in advance will often work out cheaper than paying when you turn up. If possible have the tickets sent to your home address or emailed to you to avoid lengthy queues on the day.
7. Ask for family travel deals
When booking tickets, always ask for deals for families and young people. A family travel card for example may reduce the cost of ordinary tickets by so much that it’s worth buying one even for a single trip. A family and friends railcard is a great way to save money on rail fares when travelling with children and you can use it all year round. You will just need to show identification for one or both parents.
8. Consider all inclusive for longer trips
If you are going to be staying in a hotel complex then paying for meals out and refreshments during the day can get pretty expensive. All inclusive will ensure that you are not paying for additional extras such as drinks by the pool or ice creams and some all inclusive hotels will allow you to take a packed lunch if you are away for the day. Just make sure you avoid using words like ‘free’ when around children. Set your own restrictions and never tell a child they can have as much as they like, it will be far too hard to explain why the same doesn’t apply when you are out and about or at home.
9. Choose self catering
The same meal expenses will apply even to a weekend away or a break in the country. Consider renting a small cottage or apartment or even participating in a home exchange. This can often work out cheaper than a stay in a hotel and you will have more space and freedom. Choosing self catering will save you a bundle on meals out especially if you make your own lunches for day trips. Of course, self catering can be a bit more hard work, but it’s a great way to teach children to clean up after themselves rather than relying on hotel staff during your break.
10. Choose free activities
Remember that not everything fun involves an admission price. There are plenty of cost effective things you can do with young children such as feeding the ducks, treasure hunts or even offering to walk the neighbour’s dog. If you are short on time then consider pre-organised events, there is likely to be plenty going on in your local area such as organised egg hunts or local fetes that you can enjoy for less than the price of admission to an expensive theme park.