Having the kids at home can be great fun, but it can also prove to be expensive.
Our latest survey with UK parents revealed that two-thirds (65%) worry about the cost of keeping their kids entertained during school breaks.
On average, parents told us that over the holidays, they typically spend around £15 more per day, per child, on extras such as food, treats and activities, versus a normal school day. We estimate that across an average year, the school holidays could cost parents £975 per child. This is based on the child having around 65 school holiday days a year (not including weekends). Households on lower incomes are typically more worried about this financial burden.
With this in mind, we’ve looked at some of the best value days out that all the family can enjoy, across the UK, along with tips to help you prepare your spending and budget around school holidays.
Take control of your school holiday budget
Here are our top five tips to help you make a plan to make the most of your money around school holidays:
1. Budget in advance
If you can afford to, set aside a little bit of extra money before school holidays come around, so the extra cost of lunches or little treats doesn’t come as a surprise. Our pots make it easier to set aside little bits of money regularly.
2. Know what you can spend
Be clear on your budget by reviewing incoming income and regular outgoings. You may find that you need to make compromises on things like takeaway meals and streaming service subscriptions to do other things with your kids on their days off.
3. Stick to your budget
Easier said than done but try your best to stick to your budget. With Monese, you get instant notifications whenever you spend making it easier to track how much money is going out. At the end of day, check the Spending Overview screen in your app to see exactly where your money went.
4. Search for free activities
Play dates, walks, trips to the park — they’re all free! You’ll be surprised just how much there is to do out there that doesn’t cost you a penny.
5. Watch out for special offers
Local magazines and newspapers, newsletters and social media are all good places to look out for on special offers on trips and activities with your family and can save you a lot of money.
Budget-friendly places to visit
At the time of research (April 2021), all of our suggestions came in at £25 or less for the admission of two adults and two children, although travel expenses and parking charges may be additional.
1. West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, Suffolk
One of England's great archaeological sites, featuring extensive indoor galleries and a stunning recreation of an Anglo-Saxon village surrounded by 125 acres of unspoilt countryside.
Price: £16 for a family ticket (up to 5 family members, maximum 2 adults)
2. Beaumaris Castle, Beaumaris, Wales
Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey is famous as the greatest castle never built. It was the last of the royal strongholds created by Edward I in Wales and his architect James of St George — this was to be their crowning glory, the castle to end all castles.
3. Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, Birmingham
From reptiles and birds to furry favourites like monkeys and red pandas, there are new friends to meet everywhere you turn at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park. You can even catch up with the keepers at feeding times to find out more about some of their animals and see them have their lunch!
Price: £21.80 for two adults and two children
4. Cambridge Museum of Technology, Cambridge
Cambridge Museum of Technology is the home of our industrial heritage. Children are free to explore and take part in activities while learning about Cambridge’s former industrial landscape.
Price: Families of two adults and up to four children — £13.00
5. Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley
One of the biggest farm attractions in the UK, it’s a world of animal magic where thousands of baby animals are born every year. Children can enjoy sheep and ferret racing or learn how milk is produced during cow and goat milking demonstrations.
Price: £23.70 for two adults and two children on a weekday
6. Canonteign Falls, Devon
Visit Canonteign Falls for peaceful walks among the waterfalls and lakes and family fun in the gardens and playgrounds. Experience the highest waterfall in Dartmoor National Park.
Price: £25 for a family of four
7. City of Caves, Nottingham
City of Caves is part of a hidden maze of over 500 original sandstone caves underneath the streets of Nottingham dating back to the dark ages.
Price: £24.50 for a family of four
8. Cotswold Sculpture Park, Gloucestershire
There are ten acres of lush, forested ground with dozens of sculptures from a variety of artists. The sculptures are also available to buy if you find one that you wish to have in your own garden.
Price: £20 for two adults and two children
9. Derby Ram Trail, Derby
Derby Museums in partnership with Wild in Art are bringing a flock of 30 colourful and unique 5ft rams on a trail around the city of Derby.
10. Free Harry Potter tour, Edinburgh, Scotland
Explore some of the real places in Edinburgh that inspired J K Rowling to create the Harry Potter series.
11. Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
Explore the timeline from the First World War to the present day, immerse yourself in the Big Picture Show, discover the forgotten histories of service personnel and civilians and see conflict through the eyes of artists.
12. Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, Yorkshire
This trail follows a well-defined footpath which runs as close to the edge of the two rivers as possible to provide spectacular views of the waterfalls. Walking boots or strong shoes are advised.
Price: £24 for two adults and two children
13. Kelburn Country Centre, Ayrshire, Scotland
The most popular attractions at Kelburn include the magical Secret Forest — a complex of woodland paths and raised walkways with fairy tale surprises at every turn, and the Waterfall Pool where the Kel burn drops 20ft into a spectacular grotto. There's also the Adventure Park, the Wild West Saloon, indoor soft play, gardens, surprising artwork throughout the glen and much more.
14. Macduff Marine Aquarium, Macduff, Scotland
Meet hundreds of local fishy characters at this fascinating aquarium. Enjoy daily feed shows, touch pool sessions and see divers feeding the fish!
Price: £22.40 for a family of four
15. Natural History Museum, London
Find answers to your big nature questions. Delve into stories about the Museum's collections, scientists and research. Uncover the history of life on Earth, from the smallest insects to the largest mammals.
16. Northern Ireland War Memorial, Belfast, Ireland
The Northern Ireland War Memorial tells the story of how Northern Ireland was affected by and contributed to the Second World War. The museum has an expanding collection and offers a range of family events and workshops for schools and community groups.
17. Northumberland College Zoo, Northumberland
Northumberland College Zoo is home to 150 species of animals. Children can watch animal feedings throughout the day and learn about conservation.
Price: £6.95 per adult, 4.95 per child
18. Puzzlewood Forest, Coleford
Experience twisted trees in an otherworldly woodland through a mile and a half of paths, bridges and lookout points.
Price: £25 for two adults and two children
19. Rabbit Farm, Gwynedd, Wales
Take a visit to this farm and interact with lots of animals. Children can handle different animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, even puppies. They can also hand feed many of the larger animals like pigs.
Price: £5 per adult, £4.50 per child (3–15yo)
20. Royal Victoria Country Park, Hampshire
The Royal Victoria Country Park is by the shores of Southampton Water. It comprises 200 acres of mature woodland and grassy parkland, as well as a small shingle beach. It has a fairy garden, playground and miniature railway.
21. Sandringham Garden, Norfolk
The 600-acre Royal Park has two waymarked trails winding through woodlands and parkland with further unmarked paths for you to explore.
Price: £12 per adult, free for under 17
22. Volcano Falls Adventure Golf, Yorkshire
Set on a mysterious island amid dense jungle, an exploding volcano, plunging waterfall and ferocious dinosaurs lay two challenging indoor 18-hole mini golf courses, waiting to be defeated. Enjoy some refreshments on your visit with a range of street food and two fully stocked Tiki Bars!
Price: £24 for a family of four
23. Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, Swansea, Wales
The sanctuary rescues and provides a home for many types of animals, especially primates, such as chimpanzees, baboons, spider monkeys and marmosets.
Price: £25 for a family of four
24. WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre, Moray, Scotland
The WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre is based at the mouth of the River Spey where the world's largest bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen feeding, hunting and breaching, wild and free along with seals, ospreys, the occasional otter and a whole host of other wildlife.
25. Wood Mills Nature Reserve, Sussex
Visitors can walk past the old ponds and lake, through the ancient woodland, alongside the streams and waterways into the unimproved meadows with their wild hedgerows — habitats all contained within its 47 acres. This variety of habitat attracts an impressive number of species including mammals, insects, amphibians and birds.
How are you planning your budget around school holidays and family days? Let us know your spending and savings tips on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Methodology Survey of 2,000 UK parents completed in April 2021.