10 ways to save on family fun
A great day out doesn't need to cost top dollar - what kids love is being out all together and having a chilled-out, stress-free time. What parents love is having a chilled-out, stress-free time that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
- Plan what's going to happen - this is more important than how much you spend in terms of getting it right. So shop around because getting a bargain will put you all in a good mood before you even leave home. Two-for-one deals on entry to theme parks, or discount vouchers, abound: browse online before you go.
- Think about National Trust family membership - at under £65 for a year, it gives you entry to more than 300 historic houses and gardens, and many have special attractions for families such as adventure playgrounds.
- Check out what's on at major museums and art galleries, as they're usually free. If you're planning a day out at a museum, visit its website beforehand to see if there's an indoor, as well as an outdoor, picnic area.
- Theatre trips are wonderful family occasions - but don't pay full price for tickets, especially in the West End of London. There are plenty of ways to find cheaper seats - try lastminute.com, or the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square - and don't forget that, for children, a theatre experience can be just as magical away from central London. So check out suburban theatres, and theatres in other towns and cities (in some places, like Chichester and Wimbledon, the productions often move to the West End anyway).
- Invest in a restaurant discount deal, such as Tastecard. You pay an annual membership fee in return for discounts at thousands of restaurants across the country - two-for-ones, half-price food etc. Restaurants discounted with Tastecard include family chains such as Pizza Express, but read the small print about exclusions, which often include Mother's day and Christmas time.
- If you fancy a day out in London or another major city, look out for train deals that include discounted tickets to attractions once you arrive.
- And while we're on the subject of trains, don't forget to invest in a Family and Friends Railcard - 1/3 off adult fares, 60% off child fares.
- Big cinema chains such as Vue, Odeon and Cineworld offer cheaper kids' screenings at weekends and during school holidays - making a cinema visit a fraction of the usual price. See their websites for more details.
- Always, always take your own snacks and bottled drinks on days out. Also, picnic rather than cafes and restaurants at visitor attractions - an eaterie bill can easily double the cost of a family day out, and the food is never going to be the main draw as far as the kids are concerned.
- Clamp down on 'extras'. Explain to your children that it's already costing you a lot of money to have a day out (even with free entry, no day out is actually entirely without expense), and explain that add-ons - extra rides that aren't included in the entry fee, for example - add hugely to the overall cost. Agree in advance to one treat - an ice cream, perhaps.
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Disclaimer: Any content in our family money section is intended as general information only. For specific advice about your personal financial situation, get advice from qualified, independent, regulated professionals.