Bargain travel

Bargain days out and weekends away

…How to save your pennies in the UK

There’s no denying it, we absolutely love a little weekend away or day trip, it keeps us busy throughout the year and we love exploring new places. But they can really add up when it comes to paying entrance fees, petrol and hotels so here’s a few of my top tips to be able to get away on a regular basis.

The first thing that allows us to do this is by not doing a lot of expensive “home” activities. If we went to the cinema or shopping every weekend or I went out for drinks we couldn’t afford to do what we do, and personally we would rather spend a weekend away at theme park once a month than go bowling every week.

One of my top tips would be look into getting a Merlin Annual Pass (they are currently off sale due to Covid but are expected to be back soon and monthly passes previously started at just £8.99 a month per person), with so many activities to choose from you can base your travels and weekends away around them and you’re then only having to pay for travel costs, hotels and food. In 2018 we went on a 6 day road trip around England going to 10 different attractions and only spent £25 on activities because we didn’t have to pay entrance fees for 9 out of the 10 things we did. See more on that HERE. I wouldn’t be able to afford to go away as often as we do without ours and we definitely wouldn’t be able to afford to regularly go to theme parks without them.

If buying passes doesn’t work out for you but you want to try out a theme park keep an eye out for offers from big companies like Carex or Kellogs that give free or discounted entry to theme parks with promotional packs.

Another great way to save some money is to get your kids to apply for a Blue Peter badge. Luka wanted one and I was delighted to find out that with one your child gets free entry to over 200 different attractions around the UK (n.b. some of these attractions have currently put free entry on hold due to Covid) when an adult purchases a ticket. That could be some big savings across the years.

Some travel companies like National Express also give you discounted entry at different attractions when you book your travel through them so if you’re using public transport check that out.

Also check out sites like Wowcher or Groupon that do discounted entry to various attractions around the UK.

And don’t forget that days out don’t have to cost a fortune. If you’re going somewhere new it’s great to explore the area and see the sights for free. I’ve been to London hundreds of times yet still get a thrill at walking around and seeing Buckingham Palace or Big Ben. Or if doing is more important than seeing there are dozens of museums that you can get into for free all across the U.K. Try googling “Free/Cheap activities in” wherever you’re planning to go.

Another great way to save money is to go as a group! Grab your friends or family and plan a trip, other single parent friends may be particularly grateful to share the load. If you can all fit into one car, you’ll halve the petrol, many hotels offer family rooms so you can share that cost too and unfortunately many attractions still only count you as a family if you have two adults so there are savings to be had there too.

If trips to attractions mean a hotel stay too (ours generally do as we live in South Wales), then just remember you don’t have to pay a fortune for hotels. I think many people think a hotel stay will be at least £100 but I hardly ever pay more than £50/60 per night. If you’re only going to be in the room for a few hours to sleep then as long as it’s clean, safe and quiet it’s good enough for me. I use hotel booking sites like Booking.com or Expedia, and don’t forget to use Topcashback as hotels are one of the highest paying cashback deals (often between 8 – 12%).

Or to save even more cash how about camping?! Not everyone’s cup of tea I know but there are huge savings to be had when staying in a tent compared to a hotel, a campsite I use regularly costs just £8.50 a night for us both, that’s a big difference to even the most budget of hotels.

TOP TIP: If you’re a single parent with young children consider your tent type. Trust me, putting up a large 4 man tent on your own is basically impossible and an inflatable tent is a way better (though more expensive) option. If you don’t own a tent ask around your friends to see if they have one you can borrow.

Now this is a bit out of the box but if you prefer a bit more comfort to your trips, and most importantly have a bit of spare cash, consider buying a campervan. I have always wanted one and with all the Covid chaos over the summer I was less keen to book and stay in hotels so I finally took the plunge. Campers seem to hold their value very well (as long as nothing goes wrong! And on that note if you know nothing about cars like me make sure you take a mechanic with you to check it out before you buy), and I worked out that as I was saving at least 50% on hotel stays per night (often much more) I only needed to stay away around 15 nights a year to equal out the running costs and start to save. It’s also been amazing for us as we can just randomly pack up the van on a Friday night and find an adventure and it inspires us to go away much more than we usually would.

An unexpected bonus of being a single parent, your family fits into a microcamper!

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