The sun is shining, the sky is blue (at least for the moment…) and now that school has broken up for kids around the country many of you will be entertaining them for the summer and looking forward to going away on holiday.
However, I know from many of my friends who are mums that the school holidays can be a stressful and expensive time, so I’ve put together some summery frugal tips on how to save money while you’re on holiday and on entertaining the family.
Saving cash on holiday:
– Your travel agent or package tour operator will try to sell you travel insurance when you buy your holiday, but you’re not obliged to buy it and it’s unlikely to be the most competitive deal on offer. Check prices online through a broker such as moneysupermarket.com – if you’re a regular traveller it may be cheaper to buy a yearly policy rather than an individual one.
– Save money on foreign currency by buying anything spare from friends or work colleagues or from the Post Office, which doesn’t charge commission.
– If you’re going on a big trip abroad, consider booking excursions when you get there instead of in advance. You may find the prices quoted by local tour operators are more reasonable than UK operators.
– Parking at the airport? Book your car parking space in advance online to save cash. If you’re travelling from London avoid using the extortionate Gatwick Express to get to the airport, too, and travel by a regular line train which stops there.
– Work out a holiday budget before you travel and decide roughly how much you will have to spend each day. If you’re staying in self catering accommodation, you can conserve cash by buying a few items from the local supermarket and eating a homemade breakfast and lunch instead of eating out all day.
– If you’re travelling anywhere by taxi abroad, don’t forget to agree the fare upfront before you hop in.
– Read up about the tipping customs in your chosen country. You may find that service is already included in the bill – as it is in France, according to a new tipping guide by Marks & Spencer.
– Unhappy with any aspect of your package tour? Don’t be shy – complain to your tour operator and demand a discount.
Entertaining the kids the frugal way:
– Steer clear of theme parks unless you have plenty of points on a supermarket loyalty card, such as Tesco or Nectar, which you can put towards the entrance fee. Voucher code websites also offer cut price deals on entry and, if you’re a regular visitor, it may work out cheaper to buy a season pass.
– Take a packed lunch with you when you go out and avoid expensive kiosks sited next to attractions. Fill up your own bottle of tap water and carry it with you.
– Don’t forget to make use of your Oyster card if you live in London or your Family Railcard. Also, if you’re travelling a long distance by train, check to see if it’s cheaper to buy two singles instead of a return ticket or to travel by coach.
– Visit your local library to see what children’s activities it is running for the summer. Check out details of the annual Summer Reading Challenge on the reading agency website www.readingagency.org.uk
– Look at your local council’s website to find out if it’s organising discounted sports courses/other activities for children.
– Local churches often run groups and activities in the school holidays which will take the kids off your hands for a few hours and you don’t have to be a regular church goer to attend.
– Many museums are free and are armed with worksheets to keep children occupied.
– Nature reserves and the beach are great places for kids and are generally free to visit, apart from the travel costs. Don’t forget to take a packed lunch, though, and some sun screen.
– Local walks can be interesting, cheap and something a bit different, so take a look around your local area and see what’s available.
– Have a few ideas on ice in case the weather is bad. Check out the kids’ club at your local cinema which is usually discounted.
– Get your kids to help you out! Set them to work around the house dusting, tidying, washing the car down or helping in the garden.
Got any other suggestions for summer moneysaving tips? Leave a comment and let me know.
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