have a good value summer holiday - Bubbablue and me

Money-saving tips for summer holiday activities

School holidays are an expensive time for parents, so many are on the look out for money-saving tips for summer holiday activities and breaks.

The school holiday cost issue

Every year we hear about children who have been taken out of school during term time and parents being fined. I don’t know what happens in other countries or whether they just don’t go away in term time. Maybe they’re just in a country that has great holiday spots and great weather so there’s no need to go abroad. I think most parents in this country would rather get a cheap holiday and a fine then have to pay the extortionate amounts of money that is charged for holidays during school holiday time.

I don’t have a problem with this although some people think they’re entitled to take their children out of school for 2 weeks every year. Then just sit in a hotel complex by the pool for two weeks. Not really the ‘educational’ holiday they’ve requested from the school. In theory you could just take 2 weeks off and sit in a hotel in the UK and do it cheaper in the school holidays.

Maybe parents should be allowed to take children out for a week a year during term time as long as their children are working hard at school have a good attendance record and have good behaviour. And especially if they’ve got parents legitimately tied into set times of the year – farming is a particular issue because holidays were set up for the farming calendar, so many can never go on holiday as a family in those times.

Unless it’s exam year or they’re struggling, 1 week a year is the equivalent of most children being off ill. At primary school children seem to be given work to take away or catch up with afterwards. But whenever my son’s been ill from secondary, he’s never been given catch up work, so I think they should be expected to catch up if off on holiday.

Anyway this post isn’t meant to be about thoughts on school holiday being taken in term time but more about how to have a thrifty money-saving summer whether going on holiday or staying at home.

have a good value summer holiday - Bubbablue and me

Tips on getting best value for your summer holidays

The staycation

We know that the UK isn’t always the cheapest place to the holiday and prices obviously go up around school holiday times as well. But a staycation is a great way to make the most of a holiday get out and about and treat your local area as the tourist would.

And yes, I’m a big believe that a staycation is about being at home and treating it like a holiday. Eating out, day trips, treating home as a hotel or holiday home. A staycation isn’t staying away from home in your own country – that’s a holiday.

So stay at home, treat it like a bed and breakfast, go out for the day and have dinner somewhere. One of the best things about the UK is how much there is to do for free.

Try parks, playgrounds, visit local museums or churches. Look out for places like universities or science centres who put on holiday camps and holiday activities for families. Sometimes these are free, sometimes they incur a small cost, but it’s usually cheap.


If you don’t want to stay at home and want to get away to feel like you’ve had a proper break then why not try camping. If you don’t want to go for electric hook-up you can get campsites really cheap or if you go wild camping it would be cheaper still. Maybe not so great if you’ve got children and you still like a bit of luxury.

Even in July some of the luxury campsites we go to with really nice luxury bathrooms and showers plus electric hook-up we’re still only paying around £30 a night which is usually for two adults and sometimes children included as well. It gets more expensive the more you add on like gazebos picnic tables etc but if you like to be in the outdoors giving away camping for a few days is definitely much cheaper than visiting somewhere like Center Parcs.


Yes days out can be pricy especially if you have a big family but there are things you can do to keep costs down. If you’re staying close to home look out for places to visit where you can convert your day make it into an annual pass for free. There’s plenty of these around which means they’re really good value for locals. Less so if you’re never going to return again.

Use vouchers

Having the internet means it’s really easy to get hold of discount vouchers and codes. Supermarkets like Tesco Clubcard lets you convert loyalty card points into vouchers for days out cinema trips, hotels, restaurants or holidays.

You can also find 2 for 1 vouchers on cereal packs confectionery packets and other food items. Certain days out like those under the Merlin group safe theme parks and Warwick Castle and sea life centre etc just aren’t worth going to unless you can get two for one vouchers. Annoying because it’d be nice if they just took the put the general price down.

Just remember that quite often you can’t buy your tickets in advance if you’re paying with vouchers you often have to pay at the gate. So get there early with your print out where your mobile phone showing the discount voucher to make sure you get in.

If you’re away on holiday pick up leaflets because local area tourist leaflets or brochures often have seasonal vouchers in them for discounts 4 places that have featured in the brochure. And don’t forget to take them with you and use them which is always my failing.

If you’re travelling by train, look out for discounts when showing your train tickets. We’ve only done London attractions – these are often 2 for 1, but other train companies offer similar schemes. Some need booking in advance, others you just buy on the door of the attraction.

Save up during the year

There’s various ways you can save a bit of money so you’ve got some spending money over the holidays. Yes you can put money away every week or put your change away but you have to be dedicated in doing that religiously and not dipping into it through the year.

If you have the additional time and inclination look out for supplementary income streams like trying mystery shopping or online surveys. Sometimes they seem like a lot of work for not much money but in the past I paid for plenty of things with online survey money and if you’re just sitting in front of the TV each night why not do if you to their face every night and just make a little bit of cash.

Visit with friends

It annoys me when we go visiting places when you see really good bargain family tickets but there always for a family of four or two parents with three kids. Often as the only parent going with one child we’re not paying much less than those families. But if you head out and about with friends why not ask for a family ticket rather than both getting tickets separately. Most family passes don’t specify that you’re related it’s just for a group of x number of adults and X number of children.

Book online in advance

I’m really bad for this because we tend to be quite last minute and actually the discounts aren’t that great. But if you’re visiting a lot of places over the summer a 10% or 15% discount a few days a week does add up and could be the difference between a nice lunch and having to take sandwiches with you.

Use childcare vouchers for holiday camps

Not all holiday camps and children’s activities are Ofsted registered or will take childcare vouchers but a lot do for children all the way up to 16. So if you’re buying into childcare vouchers through your employment don’t forget to check your children’s holiday camps to see whether you can spend vouchers rather than paying direct me.

Make your own entertainment

Why not set the children challenges to either entertain you by putting on plays or doing there own sports tournament. Choose challenges that will take a couple of days to put together and get their friends involved and apart from feeding them you might find that they are easily entertained for not a lot of money. Plus they might learn some new skills at the end of it.

What kind of thing do you do in the school holidays to entertain the kids?

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