How to Save Money on Family Days Out in the UK

We love a proper big day out as a family, but when you're (trying!) to live on a budget they can be one of the first things that's cut back on. Cue fed up kids and being cooped up at home...

Not fun. Luckily we have picked up a few tips over the past decade and can now do some amazing family days out at a fraction of the cost.

Read on for our 13 favourite ways to save money on family days out.

Nobody wants to recreate lockdown in 2023, so follow our tips to make the most of fun days with your family, whatever your budget.

Never Pay Full Price

From Ayr to Zennor there are amazing places for family days out up and down the country so you will be spoilt for choice wherever you live.

Whether you want to stay local, you are prepared to drive for an hour or two, or you are on holiday somewhere else, with a bit of planning and our top tips you needn't spend a fortune for a cracking day out with the family.

But the first rule of Parenting Club is to never pay full entry price at any attraction.

Here's how to do it:

1. Book Ahead

Most places offer a discount for advance booking, even if you only book the day before.

Leaving it so late to book means you can be pretty sure bad weather or a sick child won't scupper your plans but you could still save up to 30% by booking your tickets in advance.

2. Visit Outside of Peak Times

Most places are quieter during the winter months, especially outdoor venues like farms or theme parks, so they offer cheaper prices. They may even offer specially discounted annual memberships at this time.

If you can, visit when everyone else is at school too for special prices and offers.

This is perfect if you have toddlers and preschoolers, but works on INSET days too - not every school has them on the same day so if you visit a different county you may get a cheaper price.

3. Sign up to Mailing Lists

If there's soemwhere you love and would definitely like to visit again, sign up to their mailing list. 

You'll likely get special offers and discount codes that the general public won't. It's worth keeping an eye on their social media for offers and codes too.

4. Use Your Clubcard Vouchers

Tesco has recently changed its offering but if you do most of your supermarket spend there you will still accumulate enouch points for at least one big free day out a year.

5. Look Out for 2 for 1 Deals

Collect the vouchers on cereal boxes or in newspapers for 2 for 1 day out deals.

These are usually along the lines of 'buy an adult ticket at full price and a child goes free' so do your research to make sure this is the best deal. It sounds good but may not always be the cheapest option.

6. Buy an Annual Pass

If you visit somewhere a lot or it's a great local spot, an annual pass is likely to be a good idea.

Work out how many times you would need to visit to save money and if it's only 2 or 3 you are likely to save a ton.

Make sure to use the ticket regularly and keep an eye on their events and happenings to see when is the best time to visit again.

7. Use Your Blue Peter Badges

Get the kids to apply for a Blue Peter badge each. They entitle the holder to free entry at more than 200 attractions around the UK including castles, thems parks and more.

8. Upgrade Your Tickets

Many attractions, especially museums, offer a ticket upgrade so you can make return visits over the next year. This can be good value if it's somewhere you know you would be happy to return to.

This can sometimes be free or a few pounds, for example Wonderlab at the Science Museum in London has an upgrade of £5 per ticket which allows you to come back as often as you want for a year. 

Save Money on Food

Whether you're at home or out and about food and drink expenditure is one of the biggest costs for families.

From car snacks, ice creams and extra drinks on hot days to lunch or dinner out, food and drink costs are sure to blow the budget fast.

Here's how to save money on food and drink costs when you're out:

1. Invest in Good Water Bottles

Using a refillable water bottle will save you a fortune as opposed to buying bottled water, not to mention the environmental benefit of cutting single use plastic.

But beware the cheap supermarket water bottle which will leave you with warm water and possibly a soggy backpack too. Invest in good quality insulated stainless steel water bottles instead.

2. Pack Car Snacks

Stock your car up with long life snacks that won't spoil so you always have food available on the go.

Flapjack, nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, crackers and cereal bars are all good options.

Pack a day out bag with suitable snacks too, that way you won't have to buy unhealthy foods at over the odds prices at attractions or motorway service stations. 

3. Pack a Picnic

Food outlets at theme parks and similar attractions are often expensive and lacking in choice.

Take a picnic with you, whether it's just a few sandwiches or a full on picnic buffet in a wheeled picnic bag, you'll save money and probably get better food too!

4. Eat Out on the Way Home

If a day out for you involves a delicious meal you don't have to cook or wash up after, go for it!

We prefer to eat out on the way home rather than during the day so we can maximise our daytime doing activities and then get a better choice of restaurants when we leave.

Family days out can be so expensive, but don't let that spoil the fun. Plan in advance and arm yourself with our tips so you can save money and still enjoy a fun day together.

Enjoy the time with your family!

More ideas for days out in the UK:

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