How to enjoy a frugal summer

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 – 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

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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4 Responses to How to enjoy a frugal summer

  1. Bill says:

    Canoeing/Kayacking on the local canals is possibly free, & second hand boats should be cheap enough. Obviously they should be able to swim before they get too close to water, & rivers are much more dangerous than canals, as they have various currents. There are also First Aid classes to be had with the St. Johns, as also the Red Cross, not only fun, but also mostly free.

  2. Christine says:

    Some parents have to work in the school holidays and are reliant on either relatives or more costly child care in the holidays. That is a completely different situation to you, the parents, filling in the school holidays. Sometimes you meet the old bugbear of there being no free school meals and no extra cash to feed the children in the school holidays – happens if you are unemployed as many people are. Sometimes the only holiday activities available are those which the children and their friends arrange – games in the local park or on a school playing field. Summer holidays are very hard if you really have no money at all. With the unemployment figures so high, more families will be spending the holidays at home with the only entertainment being free holiday activities. And as children grow older and become teenagers, you can\’t really organise so many activities for them – they have their own ideas.

  3. piper says:

    Good point Bill about the first aid courses. Volunteering could be another thing to consider for older children. Very rewarding and free to do.

  4. Bill says:

    Working holidays on remote farms always appealed to me, at that age. All that clean fresh air, fresh home made/grown tucker, wildlife, & slumming it rough in tents or similar. Fantastic for bored kids craving some action & responsibility/independence & Freedom. At this time of year there should be plenty of fruit & veg picking, hay harvest with some measure of tractor driving for those who appear slightly more responsible. Even ploughing, at walking speed or less, can be extremely satisfying/therapeutic & financially rewarding. Ideal for shy, novice drivers. Possibly harrowing & rolling, at ca. 10 knots, for slightly more advanced/adventurous drivers. Minimum legal age limit on the road is 15, on the job only 13, for power-driven kit, rotavators etc., 18. Land-driven hay rakes/tedding, only 13.For disease/infection among pigs, the minimum age is 5 years, no minimum age for sheep or goats.The farm is a fantastic venue for first aid classes, & I would demand at least 3 days of 4 hours, from every 10 year old, as a prelude to any form of employment on farm. Those of 13+ could easily manage a full 4 dayx 6 hour (24 hr) first aid course, including full CPR & basic Midwifery. A 2hr visit to a Fire or Ambulance Station is also interesting, although pre-booking a maximum group of 12 is essential. I advise a group of 6 if possible, 12 is a large crowd in such places. Older, worn, casual dress, is best for this. Large city centre/regional Fire/Ambulance Stations have their own education facilities, & run evening or even day classes of ca 2hrs x 12 weeks, for young teenagers, minimum age 11. They do demand punctuality, but do occassionally find themselves postponing/delaying/aborting classes, due to operational commitments.Enjoy!

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