Great money saving family days out…
And breathe! School holidays are over and life will now gradually begin to get back to normal. Whether you are a working parent who has had to juggle childcare during the holidays, or have been at home with the children for all or part of the time there is a sense of relief that you have all survived the summer!
But many of us have a few regrets as well. Particularly with the wonderful weather we have had this summer we would have liked to have been able to do more with the children and get out and about as a family more often. The problem is the cost!
A day out sounds great, but once you add up the cost of travel and admission to anything you are going to – not to mention food and drink – the bill can easily run into three figures even without any little extras on top. Most of us simply can’t afford to do that even once during the summer, let alone regularly throughout the holidays.
So we’ve been having a look around and come up with the following list of things that you can do with the kids for free. Yes free! Many of the ideas and attractions are available across the country so we hope that you can find things of interest near you, saving money on travelling costs.
Half term will soon be here: so next time you feel like having a family day out why not try one of these?
- London Museums
If you live within easy travelling distance of London there is lots for you to do. There are many famous museums and galleries that you can visit, including The Science Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Modern. Also a number of smaller, less-well known museums which you can check out here. Enough to keep everyone happy for hours!
- The National Railway Museum York
Not to be outdone, the National Railway Museum in York is a wonderful attraction and is also free. An absolute must for train lovers! As well as a fantastic collection of trains – including Queen Victoria’s railway carriage, Mallard – once the fastest steam train in the world – there is a model railway, outdoor play area and train-ride simulator. For more details check out their website National Railway Museum, York. There is also a sister site in Shildon – County Durham – which has a Stirling Single from 1870 and also family train rides.
- Stately homes
The UK has a wide variety of stately homes including country houses, castles and palaces. Whilst you do normally have to pay admission to the buildings, many sites have gardens that are free to enter. These often have activity areas where children can play, some have extra features such as a maze. Check out organisations such as The National Trust and English Heritage to find what is available near you.
- City farms
Many cities have farms and community gardens that are free to visit, though you are welcome to make a donation to their work. Many city farms provide opportunities for children to pet or feed the animals. Check out The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens to find farms, community gardens, and other green spaces near to you. There are many opportunities to visit farms and gardens and also to volunteer to help – or even get involved in setting up your own farm!
- Animal sanctuaries
Staying on the animal theme, there are also lots of animal activities outside city areas. For example there are many donkey sanctuaries around the country such as The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth in Devon. If your children prefer something smaller try animal sanctuaries such as Buttercup Goat Sanctuary in Kent or The Owl Sanctuary in Ebbw Vale. There are also many working farms in the UK that welcome visitors and offer the opportunity to help with the animals, such as Occombe Farm in Devon.
- National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
This exciting free museum aims to explore the science and culture of image and sound technologies and their impact on our lives. Its overall mission is to inspire the scientists and engineers of the future to see more, hear more, think more and do more. The museum features galleries, exhibition spaces, learning activities and three cinema screens. Find out more at https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/
- Get on TV!
A great idea for TV fans is to hunt down some free audience tickets. You can apply to be part of TV show audience via various websites including BBC, Applause Store and SRO Audiences. You need to check the age limits for your chosen show to make sure that under 18’s are allowed, but tickets will be free and you could all have a great time.
- National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is one of the Top 10 UK visitor attractions, and in the Top 20 of the most visited museums and galleries in the world. It contains over 20,000 fascinating artefacts that will take you on an inspirational journey through the history of Scotland, the wonders of nature, world cultures and the excitement of science and discovery. The museum is always running special events: at the moment these include Rip It Up – a history of Scottish pop music – and Science Saturdays. For more information check out their website https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/
Geocaching is rapidly growing in popularity and is great fun for all the family. Think of it as a real-life treasure hunt! You can geocache anywhere in the world: all you need is the Geocaching app and/or a GPS device. You then use one or both of these to navigate to cleverly hidden containers called geocaches. There are millions of geocaches in 190 countries waiting to be discovered. Anyone can create and hide a geocache as long as it is in a durable and waterproof container and clearly labelled as a geocache. The GPS coordinates are then registered on a geocaching website such as https://www.geocaching.com so that other geocachers can use them to look for the item. Geocaches should include a logbook for finders to add names and comments, and some interesting and fun items. Examples include coins, small toys, keyrings, guitar picks, gift cards or costume jewellery. You can take items from the geocache but it is also good to put something back in as well.
- Festivals, fairs and markets
In the UK there are special events going on all year round. Through spring and summer – and even into October – many towns and villages have their own events and festivals. Some may be arts-related – music, dance, comedy, drama or literature – others may focus on food and drink. As autumn turns into winter many places have Christmas markets or craft fairs. All these events provide the opportunity for a great day out and you don’t have to spend anything if you don’t want to: though Christmas markets can be a fun and economical way of doing your Christmas shopping whilst also supporting independent local businesses.
So even though summer is drawing to a close, there are still many things that you can look forward to as a family this autumn without breaking the bank. We hope that you can enjoy a few of the above ideas whilst still saving money.
Remember to check back here soon for more financial help and advice from LoanPig.