10 ways to save on school holidays
- Keep the kids happy on the cheap with our top 10 cost-cutting ideas
- The best discounts and freebies on museums, theme parks and events
- How to get cheap travel, hotel rooms and play schemes for kids
This article, 10 ways to save on school holidays, was last updated on 10 July 2008 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Money articles.
If you’re a working parent, try contacting your local children’s information centre through www.childcarelink.gov.uk, or call 0800 2346 346, for information on various kids’ clubs or holiday play schemes in your area.
Check for any local community events going on in your area – many are free for children. Websites such as www.kidsgofree.com list free events throughout the country. Many historic buildings are also free of charge at certain times of the year for children. For example, heritage open days, www.heritageopendays.org.uk, offer free entry to a range of historical attractions.
Look for government initiatives aimed at getting children into sport. Most are free or very cheap.
Look out for discounts, sign up for special offers by email and collect newspaper tokens with special offers. Magazines such as Days Out UK (01604 622445) contain vouchers for various family events worth up to £1,500. Both www.kidzango.com and www.whattodowiththekids.co.uk offer discounts for kids’ events.
5Mad about films
A film at a central London cinema can cost £11.75, but tickets from www.lastminute.com let you watch films at Vue cinemas for only £4.99 from Monday to Thursday (plus a 50p per ticket booking fee). You get unlimited access to films with a Cineworld card (£11.99 a month, £14.99 in Central London). Visit www.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/kids for more cheap school-holiday deals.
Coaches tend to be cheaper than trains. A National Express annual family coachcard costs £16 and allows two adults paying full fare to take two children free. For £8 a year one full-paying adult can take one child free. For details, see www.nationalexpress.com
When it comes to theme parks, go for advance bookings, special group bookings, or those offering discounts for family entry.
Lastminute.com also has discounts on tickets for various theme parks and kids’ attractions.
The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Museum of Childhood in London offer free entry (www.show.me.uk has a list of child-friendly museums). Joining an organisation such as the National Trust can save money, too. Family membership costs £77.50 a year (£65 in Scotland).
If you travel by train, book early for cheaper tickets. Buying a yearly Family Railcard (www.family-railcard.co.uk) for £20 saves adults one third and kids 60%. A return trip from Oxford to Legoland Windsor for two adults and two kids costs £23 (an £18 saving). Under-fives go free on National Rail and Virgin.
10Stay away for less
Low-cost hotel chains such as Travelodge offer rooms for as little as £15 a night at some locations. Package deals including accommodation can also save you money. Legoland offers three nights for the price of two for a family of four.