Family days out can be great fun and an opportunity to ‘catch up’ with each other without the stresses of work as a distraction.
Particularly for young or school-age children, they can be an occasion for spending valuable time together and learning together with parent(s) or other family members.
Walks, beaches, zoos, theme parks, can cost a family of three, four, or more an absolute fortune.
But they can cost much less depending upon what you choose to do. Here are some ideas for great days out for you and your children – and they shouldn’t break the bank!
Want to encourage your family to learn more about fruit and veg? Want to grab a few bargains along the way? Why not try picking your own? We all know that fruit and veg is good for our physical and mental well-being. It can also provide super ingredients for family meals for less.
What better than making a healthy meal and a lip-smacking dessert from food you have picked yourself? In addition, particularly for younger children, it will be a great learning experience where they will be able to harvest produce in its natural environment, they would only usually see in supermarket packaging.
Picking your own fruit and veg from can cost as little as half the price of ordinary farm shops, and often less than supermarkets. A quick internet search for ‘Pick your own fruit and veg’ will find you lots of options for local establishments offering self-picking activities.
Pack a picnic, throw in the waterproofs, grab sunscreen and a good set of walking shoes or wellies and head off to the great outdoors. There is a wide variety of national parks around the UK, providing fantastic days out for families for as little as the cost of a tank of petrol and a homemade picnic.
The majesty of sprawling moors, infinite access to amazing skies and some of the most superlative views in the UK are all possible and freely available, in up to 15 different wonderful parks across our four nations. Whether you want to explore as one family unit or join guided events, there really is something for everyone.
National parks are ideal for walking long distances or simply strolling with children; enjoying water activities and family biking routes. If you are not sure where to find the UK’s best national parks, search for www.nationalparks.uk .
There are some amazing beaches around the UK and, if you are within a relatively short drive away, they can be the location for a fantastic, fun-filled family day out. Opt for a low maintenance, low cost approach and spend the day on the beach having a good walk, getting some fresh air and family togetherness time.
Remember this is Britain so always take appropriate clothing and footwear for all kinds of weather. When the tide is out, beaches provide fantastic places to stretch the legs, explore the rock pools and spend some time with the dog (beaches allowing).
If you don’t want to spend hours of preparation in the morning, forget the picnic and treat yourselves to some beachside fish and chips for a traditional treat, and if you can persuade the kids to leave their gadgets at home, you might get to have a conversation with them too!
Museums across the UK, big and small, provide free or low-cost opportunities to explore, enjoy and learn together. Museums are no longer dusty and old-fashioned red brick buildings offering little of interest to little ones. Many are leading the way in scientific and interactive learning and attractions that your children will talk about for weeks.
Free, themed museums across the UK include Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall; V&A Museum of Childhood in London; Big Pit National Coal Museum in Torfaen, Wales; National Football Museum in Manchester and the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Free museums packed with thousands of exhibits of general interest include: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; National Museum of Cardiff, Wales; British Museum and the National Gallery in London and the Ulster Museum in Belfast. You could even go to the Steiff Museum in Germany and have a look at the Best Steiff Bears ever made.
They are amazing places to visit and many are based on a particular theme or genre. They can make a fantastic day out for families.
There are dozens of amazing city farms around the UK which offer free entry to families wanting to get hands-on experience with traditional and not so traditional farm animals. Farms may also ask for donations or make small donations a condition of entry to help them stay open and provide vital funding for routine costs.
Most city farms are about more than cute and cuddly animals – their main aims are often those of education, community support and providing vital opportunities for those who find it difficult to get out of the city. Many city farms host special events throughout the year including Easter Egg hunts, beer festivals, volunteer sessions and even Bee Keeping courses.
You may also be able to ‘own’ an animal for a day, join a young-farmers’ club there, attend a music session or enjoy a Halloween party. Many city farms also benefit from local public transport links.
If you can, plan ahead. There are ways to cut the costs of a family trip to an amusement park. Despite being often busy with long queues for popular attractions, large theme parks are exciting, thrilling and great family fun.
There are around 20 major theme parks across the UK packed with attractions aimed at all ages so there will always be something for everyone to enjoy. In addition, there are scores of smaller theme parks too.
To make your money go further, set a date for your visit months in advance and start looking for ticket entry special offers. Also, check for supermarket coupons or token deals and scour the wider internet.
Theme park cafes and restaurants often offer menus wide enough to suit all tastes and diets. If you want to save on food costs, make your own packed lunches but always check that they are permitted first.
As Brits, we really appreciate the occasional warm, dry and sunny weather that helps to make our family days out so special.
Of course, we can still enjoy theme parks, animal centres, national parks and beaches if we wake up to cloud and rain on the day of our planned visit. But it is always best to be prepared for all eventualities.
If you haven’t booked or paid for your day out in advance, then it is much easier to change your plans of course.
However, if you cannot change your dates, plan for the best and the worst weather the day before.
Pack bags for both eventualities: one for wet and/or chilly weather including waterproofs, wellies, walking books and hats; another with sunscreen, sun hats and change of clothes for the water attractions.
Remember, sensible preparation will save you a great deal of stress and time in the morning.