As you probably know, I like to make a fuss when I go out with my family. Whether it’s weekends or school holidays, I like to have a busy schedule full of activities to keep the whole family happy and having fun.
I have three energetic kids, and to be honest, they get on my nerves when I try to have a relaxing day at home. When we go out as a family, we want to keep everyone busy!
But you’ve probably noticed that family outings are becoming more and more expensive.
I often joke that it’s hard to leave the house without spending £50. And while it’s kind of a joke, it’s also true in a way.
After paying for gas, parking, admission tickets, and food, it becomes nearly impossible to go out as a family on a budget.
So, if you’re like me and want to keep your family holidays in the diary without spending a little money, keep reading for my hacks and tips for saving money on family holidays.
1. Get yourself a tastecard
Taste Cards are great for families because they give you discounts at all the places your kids love. While you won’t get discounts at Michelin-starred restaurants, you can get great discounts at family-friendly restaurants like Pizza Hut, Dominos, Cafe Rouge, Prezzo, Cafe Nero, and Krispy Kreme.
Get 2 for every meal and get 50% off food and 25% off food and drinks at thousands of restaurants. Plus, you’ll get great discounts on day trips and movie tickets.
Taste cards are perfect for rainy days, so they’re a great discount card to have on hand for the upcoming Easter holiday!
2. Get outdoors
The easiest and cheapest way to spend a day is to enjoy Mother Nature for free!
OK, I know this is a separate topic. That’s why I wrote a blog post about how to get your kids outdoors more!
3. Invite others
What instantly makes your family’s day more fun? Your family is growing!
Everything is more fun with a group. Free or inexpensive activities that you normally do, such as going to the park, going for a walk, having a picnic, or going to the beach, are always more fun when you have a lot of friends.
4. Get an annual pass
If you have local attractions that you’re happy to visit multiple times a year, consider the cost of an annual pass.
I live close to Chester Zoo and the annual pass is a great money saving option for me as I only need to visit three times a year to save money. My children happily visit once a month so each visit comes to £20.25. Not bad value considering you spend a whole day there!
5. Write your family day out wishlist
This may not be directly related to saving money on a family vacation, but knowing where you want to go is very important. If you don’t know where you want to go, you don’t know what sales, offers, or half-price tickets you’re looking for.
We’ve pinned the list to our family bulletin board so it’s always there when planning weekend activities or school holiday day outings.
6. Sign up to email lists
Once you have a list of places you want to go, you need to research all the websites that offer family fun with an admission fee. Sign up for emails during your stay to receive notifications of special offers and discounted tickets!
7. Visit all of your local national parks
Do this now… Open Google Maps and type in “national parks” to see all the national parks in your area. When we did this, we discovered that there are 16 national parks within about a 90-minute drive. Free for 16 days!
Read more: How to actually use Google Maps while traveling
8. Go to the beach
If the weather is nice, you can’t go wrong with spending the day at the beach.
I recommend saving this until a nice day. You can enjoy the beach even when it’s cold or raining, but the fun doesn’t last very long. So if you have to drive to the beach and have to pay for parking etc, it’s better to save it for a day when you can stay all day.
9. Join the National Trust
Not only does the National Trust have lots of great places for cheap family outings, but membership also gives you access to free parking in beautiful locations.
In addition to strolling through historic buildings, gorgeous gardens, and outdoor spaces, there are also seasonal events such as Easter egg hunts, Christmas displays, and harvest festivals. I live near Wrexham and the Erdich Apple Festival in early October is always fantastic.
Read more: 10 must-see National Trust places in North Wales
10. Encourage your children to make plans
I say this because when it’s my youngest daughter’s turn to go out for our family day out, she always chooses to go to the library, go to the park, feed the ducks, or go to McDonald’s is. For the price of a Happy Meal, you can enjoy an entire day.
11. Use Instagram for outdoor inspiration
Looking for a cheap local getaway with your family but completely out of ideas? Visit Instagram to start your search. Start by searching #YourLocation or look for local Instagram accounts sharing local holiday ideas.
It may take a little time to scroll, but it’s often the best way to find hidden gems and new ideas.
Many blogs and online listing sites only recommend paying admission and going out as a family, as they can earn a commission on ticket sales. Online sites often recommend expensive family activities, which is why it can be hard to find a day to go out for free!
12. Level up your picnic game
I don’t want to brag, but I often go on picnics!
Food and drinks are always one of the biggest expenses on a family outing, so I’ve learned to make sure the picnic is just as fun as eating out.
My latest hack for a great picnic is to bring a portable generator. I have a small generator that I use when camping, which I took out into the trunk of my car and hooked up to my toast machine!
Honestly, I’m so jealous when everyone else is eating plain old sandwiches and I’m making hot cheese toasties for my family!
13. Go off peak (and note your kid’s inset days!)
Activities and family outings are always cheaper when done during less popular times.
If you have children, make note of all school start dates and arrange family activities on those days. It’s unlikely that all schools in your area will have the same start date, so you can avoid peak prices!
If you live across a county line, be aware that schools on the other side of the county line may have different school holidays. I live on the border of Wrexham and Chester and school holidays are often different in Chester (England) than in Wrexham (Wales) so we can all take advantage of that!
14. Bowling is a surprisingly cheap activity
If you can avoid bars, bowling is a very inexpensive way to entertain your family, especially if you only play one game. This works great for us since my kids are young and usually get bored with one game!
15. Use TripAdvisor
Although it feels like people don’t trust TripAdvisor anymore due to too many dodgy reviews and ads, it’s actually still a great online resource. There you’ll find a wealth of information, including ideas for things to do and tips on how to make the most of your day.
Here are some of my favorite days out in North Wales as inspiration for cheap family fun…
Top 10 adventure activities to try in Snowdonia
A mini guide to Llangranog in Ceredigion, West Wales
Tips for finding hidden gems in Wales
Porth Iago: Is this the best beach in North Wales?
Visit Conwy Falls, a family-friendly, casual waterfall in North Wales
Is this really Wales? Portmeirion weekend
Aber Falls: 10 things to know when visiting Aber Falls waterfall in North Wales
Llanbedrog Beach + Hike to the Tin Man!
25 things to do in North Wales
20 of the best castles in Wales you must visit!
Visiting Harlech Castle in Wales
10 must-see National Trust attractions in North Wales
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