Fancy half-term on the cheap? We’ve rounded up a handful of the activities you can enjoy with your kids that won’t break the bank.
Half-term is nearly here. And whilst the weather is (hopefully) on the up, we still need plenty of indoor options should it take a turn for the worse.
That means it’s tougher than ever to find exciting things to do that don’t break the bank. And it's even more difficult when days out and attractions become more expensive during the school holidays. Keep reading to discover a range of things you can do that have no or minimal cost.
Join the National Trust
What do stunning stately homes, gigantic gardens and historic landmarks all have in common? They’re all examples of National Trust attractions that make up over 500 days out across the UK (search what’s near you). Many run family-specific events as well. These provide you and your kids with experiences to learn about all sorts, as well as absorb nature and the UK’s rich history.
Family membership is £126 a year, which can be paid out as a single annual payment or £10.50 monthly (head here to join). That gives two adults at the same address free entry to any site, along with up to 10 of their children or grandchildren. It’s £78 a year or £6.50 a month for a single adult. You can also pay on the day and per attraction as well, with the prices varying (check the website beforehand for individual costs).
The monthly payment could be cheaper than the one-off entrance fee for one adult and one kid to most attractions (saving you money on the day). So if two of you live at home with many children, there’s a good chance you will get your money’s worth if you visit three to four attractions across the year.
Make sure that before you go, you work out how much it will cost per visit for your family. Also, look at the prices of other attractions, and consider how often you would use a National Trust pass, to make sure the membership is worth it.
Plenty of restaurants run cheap offers for the kids (usually if an adult buys a meal), so capitalise on lower prices to grab a bargain bite to eat. If you’re prepared to buy something to eat for yourself, you can get free kids meals at Morrisons. Also, Brewers Fayre offers free breakfasts, and Las Iguanas lets kids eat free during the school holidays.
Cheap Cinema tickets
Weather-proof options that are cost-effective this time of year are few and far between. You can, however, take advantage of cheaper showings at your local cinema. It usually means going quite early in the day, but lots of cinemas run cheaper showings with schemes such as Cineworld’s Movies for Juniors and Odeon Kids.
Keep an eye out for community cinema projects at village halls and schools which often run during the holidays. These are usually a lot cheaper than their high street equivalents. And, of course, you can convert your own living room into a cinema for the day as well, cutting down costs even more.
Head to the park
Nothing beats good old-fashioned fun in a park, whether it’s 40 minutes on the swings and slides down the road or a full adventure showcase. Some parks are worth travelling a little further for. These include the sprawling Telford Town Park, Whin Park in Inverness and Bristol’s BMX and skateboard friendly Hengrove Park.
You can find your local park via this gov.uk link. While it’s likely you know your local parks well, is there another one slightly further afield which could be bigger or even just a refreshing change? If you tie it in with a visit to one of the aforementioned restaurants, you’ll make sure they work up an appetite.
Check out your library
Books are the ultimate all-round activity. They’re entertaining, help your children learn and are completely weather-proof (the art of reading anyway, don't leave your books out in the rain). Libraries also mean you can borrow for free or read in a quiet free-to-access environment, cutting costs down even further.
As well as an endless supply of books, many libraries capitalise on kids being off by running a series of events that showcase the power of children’s literature. If you’re in or heading to the capital the British Library runs a number of family-friendly options throughout the year, while Leeds Library will be combining Harry Potter and Lego. You can find your local service here and check what’s on.
Take a hike
If the weather permits, few activities are as rewarding as taking a walk (or even a cycle) up one of the UK’s many hills and mountains. Dependent on the fitness and adventurous spirit of your family, there are short ascents or hardy treks up the nation’s biggest summits. You can always go for a coastal walk or woodland adventure if you’re not feeling inclined for an incline.
Do some research into walks near your area as certain destinations boast extra benefits. Moel Famau in North Wales has a ruined castle at its summit (perfect for playground chants about dirty rascals) and views across Wales and the North West. Located in the south Ashdown Forest in East Sussex was the inspiration for AA Milne’s Hundred Acre forest in his Winnie the Pooh books.
Packing a picnic will also help keep costs down, and snacks and drinks are essential for any lengthy jaunt. Always remember to check the weather beforehand and make sure you have the right standard of equipment for the discipline of your activity.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.