If you don’t want to hear the phrase “I’m bored” during the school summer holidays or see your bank account Link opens in a new window being drained, then this one is for you.
Here are my eight insider tips for finding the best cheap deals for family days out:
1. Decide what you want to do and when
Before even scouring for deals, take a minute to do some planning.
- Write a wish list of everything you’d like to do this summer, from picnics in the park to hopping on rides at theme parks.
- Next, write down the amount of money you can afford to spend this summer. Work this out as a weekly amount and multiply by the number of weeks to get your total.
I know what you’re thinking, budgeting is boring, but you’ll be glad in a few months’ time when you’ve kept your finances on track. The key to budgeting is to be realistic and review regularly. Your budget is there to work for you - shuffle it about as needed.
To make budgeting even easier, try setting up a separate savings pots in your Virgin Money mobile banking app Link opens in a new window for your summer days out.
2. Sign up to newsletters to never miss a sale
One of the best ways to find deals is by signing up to email newsletters. If, like me, your inbox is bursting with promotional emails, you can easily miss the important ones.
Instead, create a separate email address to use when signing up to the newsletters of the companies on your wishlist. This will funnel all of their amazing special offers into one place without cluttering up your primary inbox, saving you time and money.
Of course, you could also sign up to my free newsletter Link opens in a new window to get some of the best deals and freebies delivered to your inbox each week. I’m on a mission to help you and tens of thousands of others to stop paying full price and start saving money.
3. Search for free or cheap local events
The most exciting and budget-friendly family day out activities are often right in front of you.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor cinemas, funfairs or kids clubs, you’re bound to find something on your doorstep.
Start by searching online for “free summer holiday activities in [enter your location]” to find event-listing websites and community forums. These often have impressive social calendars. Don’t forget to also check social media and join local Facebook groups to keep an eye out for events being shared. You’ll be surprised at the variety of activities and you’ll save on travel costs by staying local.
4. Last minute offers aren’t always the cheapest, so book early
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my years of deal hunting, it’s that brilliant deals and freebies never hang around for long, so it’s best to snap them up quickly.
Deciding whether to leave a booking until the last minute in the hope of a better deal popping up or booking right now can be a tricky decision. But from my experience, it’s best to book when you first find the deal if you’re happy with the price.
Many attractions, like amusement parks, bowling alleys and cinemas, offer advance booking discounts. You can find out about these offers on their website, via their social media or email newsletter (remember to utilise your separate email address)!
Booking in advance also helps you better manage your budget by having longer to set money aside for your visit.
5. Pay less with ‘kids eat free’ deals
During school holidays, many supermarkets and restaurants offer kids’ eat free or cheaper deals.
- IKEA Link opens in a new window: Tomato pasta with a drink for 95p, or a meal which includes fruit for £1.50 from 11am daily. If you’re an IKEA Family member Link opens in a new window (it’s free to join), you can grab yourself a free tea or filter coffee on weekdays too.
- ASDA Link opens in a new window: Children under 18 months old can get a free Ella’s baby food pouch with any purchase.
- Morrisons Link opens in a new window: Free meal from the kids menu when you purchase one adult meal for £4.49 or more.
- Bella Italia Link opens in a new window: Kids can get three courses and a drink for £1 with the purchase of every adult main from 4-6pm Monday-Thursday.
- Dobbies Link opens in a new window: Free child’s breakfast and drink with any adult traditional or full breakfast, or a free child’s hot meal and drink with any adult main course.
6. Plan free outdoor fun
It’s easy to get carried away over the holidays and think you need to be booking lots of paid-for activities to make memories. A five-minute scroll on social media can often make you feel like you’re not doing enough or having as much fun as others.
Remember, social media is only a highlight reel and most people only show the best parts, so don’t compare yourself to others.
Family days out don’t need to cost anything because there are so many options for free fun. Plan a trip to your local park for a picnic, go for a nature walk, set up a scavenger hunt or follow accounts like @FamilyDaysTriedAndTested Link opens in a new window and @BrummyMummyDiaries Link opens in a new window for inspiration. The possibilities are endless so get creative and make those lasting memories.
7. Always check for cashback before buying anything
Cashback is the ultimate win-win for savvy shoppers as you earn rewards for something you were already buying. Every year, you can easily pocket hundreds of pounds in cashback just for doing your everyday shopping.
If you’re a Virgin Money current account or credit card customer remember to check out the cashback Link opens in a new window offers available to you in your app before you purchase or book anything!
8. Take advantage of vouchers and discount sites to maximise savings
Gone are the days of trawling the internet to find discount codes. To make sure you’re always getting the best price, install the browser extension Honey Link opens in a new window to apply every discount code at the checkout in one simple click. It’s one of the most effortless ways to save money and I use it every time I shop online.
Discount sites like Groupon Link opens in a new window and Wowcher Link opens in a new window are also fantastic tools to find value for money deals. These platforms offer an array of discounted activities and now that you’ve got Honey installed, you can probably save even more with a promo code stacked on top.
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