While your kids might get excited for the holidays, it can be stressful keeping them occupied, especially when you’re on a budget.
Following this guide from our friends at https://www.creditfix.co.uk/ it should make it easier for you to entertain your children while still staying on track with your finances.
Always Plan Ahead!
This might seem like an obvious tip, but a planned day will often be cheaper (and more relaxed) than taking a more haphazard or risky approach to your schedule.
While actually planning out your day is an important part of this, there are several ways you might save money just by thinking ahead. For example, local theme parks may be significantly cheaper when tickets are booked online ahead of the trip, and if you collect coupons like the Grown-Ups Go Free vouchers from Kellogg’s cereals you could cut down even further. Using supermarket reward points could also get you a much cheaper deal than you would otherwise have access to, so you should look into attractions your weekly supermarket has partnered with.
Remembering to keep your children fed might seem obvious but planning those meals ahead of time can really cut down the price of an excursion. Taking a packed lunch and having some snacks from home on-hand can avert both a tantrum and a costly trip to the museum or theme park café.
If the weather is nice enough a cheap way of entertaining the kids can be to take them to a local park. While this might sound like something which could get boring quickly, there are a lot of free activities available on the Woodland Trust website. These range from colouring activities, which you could use even if the weather ruins your day, to guides for finding different types of birds and insects.
Going for trips outside of towns and cities can also limit your spending, as the absence of shops means you won’t have to reject your kids’ pleas for a souvenir. Combine this with a packed lunch and a mountain to climb, and you have a full day planned fairly cheaply.
A lot of large museums offer free entry, so if you live in a major city they can be a cheap way to fill a day. Checking the museum’s website beforehand can also clue you into whether the museum has any children’s activities going on during the day you visit.
While you might not want to go to a museum every day of your holidays, you can fill up at least some of your half-term with something educational and fun. This is especially true in larger cities with more than one museum, as the museums often have different themes, meaning your kids won’t get bored!
Some chain stores offer free activities during school holidays, for example, the Lego Store and Pets at Home both provide workshops for kids. This is a great plan for holidays when the weather is unlikely to be in your favour.
Again, planning is key to making sure you pick the right days for each of your activities, as some, like the Lego Store, operate their workshops on a strict cycle each month. While this can limit the amount of activities you can attend, especially if some activities are happening on the same day, it’s better than turning up for an activity that isn’t on.
If the weather’s good enough for you to be outside, a fun activity for slightly older kids can be finding the history in the local landscape. Whether this is a local castle or some standing stones, or even the mysteries of ‘cup and ring’ marks, giving a trip into the countryside an objective can keep kids focused.
Lots of these historical attractions will be free to the public, but if you’re planning on visiting a popular site, Historic Scotland, English Heritage or the National Trust might charge you a fee. A way to cut down on the cost of these visits, especially if you plan on visiting repeatedly, is to get a membership to one of these organisations. For example, a monthly membership fee to Historic Scotland for one adult (and up to 6 children under 16) is cheaper than the entrance fee for one adult to Caerlaverock Castle.
Loyalty to these organisations is also rewarding, as if you renew an English Heritage or Historic Scotland membership after the first year, you get free entry to the other organisation’s sites!
Take Your Own Activities!
While lots of places will have activities put on for the kids, they might create extra cost, or simply not be what your child is interested in. It’s always a good idea to have something on hand just in case that workshop costs too much or your toddler doesn’t feel like painting today.
This should be something simple, like a sticker or colouring book, that they can do without disturbing other people at the attraction.
Go as a Group!
Just having an extra pair of hands available is generally helpful when it comes to taking kids out and about, but there are lots of other benefits to asking if someone would like to bring their kids along. For one, a lot of sites and attractions will become cheaper per child if there are more of you, due to group deals.
Going as a group can also mean that your kids are more occupied, especially if they are friends with the other children. While this reduces the likelihood of them focusing on possibly expensive activities or souvenirs, it’s also important for your kids to socialise outside of school or playgroup, which can otherwise be difficult to arrange on a budget.