Ways to save on bank holiday days outFamily activities for bank holiday on a budget

24 August 2012

Many families are cutting back on days out as a result of rising costs and shrinking incomes. If you're keen to make the most of the bank holiday weekend by organising a family outing but don't want to spend a fortune, here are 10 ways to save on days out.

1. Enjoy the great outdoors

If the weather is on your side, why not make the most of it by exploring the countryside? Britain’s 15 National Parks are free to enter and boast some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Visit the National Parks website for more information about how to find your nearest park and what activities are on offer.

2. Bring a picnic

It might sound obvious, but taking your own food is a great way of reducing the amount you spend on a day out and it will also save you time and help you eat healthily. For tips on how to stretch your budget further, see our ways to save on food.

3. Dine out for less

However, if you still want to treat the family to a meal out after an action-packed day, the restaurant bill needn’t break the bank. You can make some sizeable savings by looking for discount vouchers online beforehand to print off and take with you, or to show on your mobile phone.

For more tips read our guide on ways to save on eating out.

4. Reduce your train fare

If you're travelling by train, it’s often cheaper to split your journey rather than buying one ticket for the full route, and you might want to consider buying a family railcard to make further savings. It costs £28 for a year and cuts your fares by a third. For more ideas take a look at our guide on cheap train tickets.

If you’re travelling with young children, check out our top 10 child and baby travel tips.

5. Drive down motoring costs

If you decide to take the car instead, don’t pay over the odds for petrol. Read the Which? guide on how to find the cheapest fuel, which includes tips on how to minimise fuel wastage.

6. Save on entry prices to top attractions

You can trade in your Tesco Clubcard points for reward vouchers to get reductions on a great selection of days out across the country, including Alton Towers, Legoland and Longleat Safari Park.

If you're in the capital, Transport for London (TfL) is currently offering 2-for-1 deals on a wide range of West End shows and London attractions, including the London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds and Kew Gardens. Some will simply require you to print off a voucher, whereas with others you'll need to book online or by phone. The offer is valid until 9 September 2012.

7. Visit free museums

A trip to a museum or gallery can make a great family day out, and what’s more, you’ll be able to visit many free of charge. London’s National Gallery, Natural History Museum and Science Museum are all free and offer special activities and workshops for children during the school holidays.

Beyond the capital, other free museums well worth a visit include the National Museum Cardiff, the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

8. Find cheap cinema tickets

A trip to the cinema is the perfect solution for rainy days, but can be a pricey outing when taking the whole family. Fortunately, many of the big chains offer special deals and discounts throughout the school holidays, meaning you can watch the latest blockbuster on the big screen without it leaving a hole in your wallet.

As part of its Kids AM offer, children and adults can see a film at Vue for just £1.50 each at weekends and during school holidays. Odeon also runs special screenings for kids, where ticket prices range from £1 to £4 and accompanying adults go free.

9. Get active this bank holiday weekend

A family walk or cycling trip can make excellent days out and won't cost you a penny. If you fancy learning or playing tennis you can get free coaching sessions and find free tennis courts by visiting tennisforfree.com. To cut the cost of a visit to your local pool, Kellogg’s is currently offering a free kids swim if you cut out a voucher from one of its cereal packs.

10. Keep it local

You don’t need to travel a long way or spend a lot to make the most of a bank holiday. A walk to the park can be a simple and enjoyable day out for the whole family, and many libraries provide storytelling and activity sessions for children. If bad weather puts you off going out altogether, you can always stay indoors and keep the children entertained with activities such as baking or painting. To keep younger children entertained, check out our 10 activities for babies and toddlers.

More on this...

  • Which? guide to budgeting - how to manage your money effectively
  • 10 activities for babies and toddlers - Which? suggests some stress-free activities for you and your child
  • Which? Best rate savings accounts - we help you to find the best deals in the savings market