Best value from annual passes - Bubbablue and me

Tips to get most value from a National Trust annual pass or passes for days out

Summer arrives and that means lots of days out for a lot of families.  Nowadays, many places offer an annual pass option, with some letting you upgrade your day ticket for free. It means it’s great for locals who can return time and time again.  But how can you get the most value from an annual pass for days out.

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Organisations like National Trust or English Heritage let you buy annual membership and visit sites all over the relevant country or the UK.  But have you ever got to the end of the year and realised you’ve not returned to visit a place again, or feel like you’ve not made the most of your annual pass?

Here’s tips on how to make the most of having an annual pass for days out.

How to get the best value from annual passes -

Getting value from annual passes for days out

1. Know where all your annual passes are

Keep all the return within a year passes in an envelope in your bag so you always have them with you.

2. Use your phone wallet

Some passes are now digital, so you can add them to your phone wallet. This makes it so easy to have it with you all the time (assuming you’ve got a charged phone). Why not take photos of paper passes, and save them into an album or email folder so they’re all in one place.

3. Look out for special events

Sometimes an annual pass will get you in for free, others you may just pay the event ticket price but not the additional entry fee.  Others, often externally run events will give early bird discounts for annual pass holders.

Feast at waddesdon manor

4. Set a challenge

How many places do you want to visit through the year – with National Trust you can buy a passport to get stamped at each location which encourages visits to different places.

Agree when you want to visit all of them in your county. Then move onto another county.

5. Book visits in your calendar

If you write an intended visit in the diary, then you’ll remember to make use of your pass. Or make sure that every school holiday you visit at least once using your pass.

6. Go for short trips

If you’re local to a few places, just drop in for an hour or so. Or arrange to have coffee and a walk with friends. Having an annual pass takes the pressure off, you don’t need to spend all day there, you can just drop in instead.

outside of the orangery restaurant at cliveden

7. Remember to take your pass on holiday

Make sure you take your pass on holiday with you (and ensure the car park sticker is on the car you’re taking with you – don’t make the mistake we made and go away with a car that doesn’t have the car sticker in). There’s usually locations all over the country so you might find you can stop off en route or while you’re at your destination.

8. Make the most of extra activities

During school holidays, many places put on activities and trails for children, so gives new reasons to visit and see new things.

finding painted easter eggs on the trail

9. Remember to look out for other locations to visit

With National Trust, don’t forget they have beaches and nature reserves, not just houses. You can park for free at coastal places they manage.

You might also find your pass gives you discounts in other UK nations, or other attractions. You can get a discount at Cotswold Outdoors with National Trust membership and English Heritage members get discounts at partner organisations too.

10. Plan before you visit

Use your annual membership book or website to plan where you want to visit, and check which places will best suit what you’re looking for.

11. Share your passes where possible

If there are no names tied to the ‘return’ passes, then why not share with other family members.

12. Put a reminder in your diary near the deadline for your renewal date

It might remind you to go back for another few visits before your pass finishes.

13. Visit nearby places on the same day

With National Trust, there’s often several locations that are near each other. Why not visit one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Especially if one is a house and the other is just gardens.

14. Plan to visit 1 location in all 4 seasons

It’s a shame I didn’t take note of many of these ideas for the various places I’ve visited and had a ‘return in a year’ pass. Obviously most of these are when we go on holiday, so it’s unlikely we’ll be back in the area again, but there are local ones we’ve just not gone back to.

Do you make sure you make the most of return passes?  Are you an annual pass holder for anywhere?

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  1. So many great ideas here. I like the challenge idea and I never remember to check for events at the NT’s around us. We do visit them regularly, though, we definitely use our membership.

    1. Thanks Jocelyn. We only have 1 National Trust really close and it’s not great for kids, so the events are the only time we use it.It’s always worth a look at the websites when you work out which weekend you have free

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