The summer holidays can be costly. Days out, activities and trips to tourist attractions all make themselves known in your purse and wallet. And that’s without the annual family holiday to pay for. But there are ways to entertain the children for less money.
A recent survey by TravelSupermarket has revealed that more than a third of families are now actively seeking out free local attractions for summer holiday entertainment.
Walk this way: Walking is cheap and accessible to all ages and levels of fitness. With a pair of walking shoes or boots and a waterproof jacket for rainy days you can set off with the family on a vast network of urban and rural trails across the UK. There are a number of ways to make walking more inviting for youngsters, too:
* Race to the top of a hill: The first person in the family to reach the top of a hill is awarded a treat.
* Look for treasure: Compile a list of things to collect while walking. This could be five different types of leaves or a variety of stones/shells/rocks. Or you could try to collect as many different objects starting with all the letters of the alphabet.
* Count your steps: Give every member of the family a pedometer and see who walks the most steps during a week of the school holidays.
* Walk to an ice cream shop: Every child will be keen to follow a trail if it ends with an ice cream or a hot chocolate. Don’t be afraid to throw in a little walking bribery.
Sleepover under canvas: A growing trend for youngsters is to camp out in the garden with their pals. With a rise in the number of cheap tents and sleeping bags, spending time under canvas offers a great form of budget entertainment. If you don’t own a tent, borrow one, and ask your child’s pals to bring their own sleeping bags and pillows.
Free attractions: Many towns and cities have free entry to museums and galleries. For example, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, pictured left, in Glasgow is free to enter for all visitors. Take your own refreshments to keep the cost down further. And if it’s close enough, cycle to the attraction instead of paying to fill the car with petrol.
Discount vouchers: Check on-line for vouchers and codes to access cheaper tickets for a range of top attractions. You may find that booking in advance can also reap the rewards of cheaper entry costs.
Good old-fashioned beach days: A day at the beach doesn’t have to mean fun fairs and expensive meals out. Take a bucket and spade, a kite, a Frisbee and a picnic and show the kids how to have fun at the coast. Remember when you could while away an afternoon searching for creatures in rock pools or combing the beach for pretty shells?
Garden fun: You don’t need to spend lots of money on the latest toys for the garden. Here are a few ideas:
* If you have a large tree in your garden build a home-made swing for the kids.
* A corner space could be the ideal place for a DIY garden house. Look for old bits of wood and branches and create a make-do play hut.
* Sandpits can be a great place to sculpt an animal, such as a crocodile, rather than always relying on buckets and spades.
* Let the children take chairs, blankets and duvets outside and create their own “den”.
Sometimes it’s all too easy to be drawn into the idea that it’s only possible to have fun by spending money or playing with electronic gadgets but remember the sort of games you played as a child yourself – and all summer long. Now it's time to have fun with the kids!