Summer Holidays On A Budget

Summer Holidays On A Budget:

Summer’s here and parents with children in the school system all over the country are either pulling their hair out juggling work and children at home or celebrating at the thought of six weeks off with no more school runs, early morning starts, fixing pack ups and fights over homework.  Either way though most will probably admit that the next six weeks of school holidays bring an agenda of paediatric pastime, adolescent amusement and family fun to cajole with the normal timetable of work, chores and the humdrum of everyday life that goes on regardless of the school holidays.

Added into the mix for many will be the pressures of trawling through the holiday season with the financial pressures that prevail particularly at the present time.  This then is the RESET list of having fun this summer holiday on a budget from holiday ideas to days out:

Summer Holiday On A Budget – Getting Away:

There are lots of deals on the market at the moment!  Last minute deals are the ones to bag!  Particularly on the self-catering front, bargains can be grabbed especially if you leave them to the last minute.  For a self-catering cottage look the week before and phone the owner directly.  Make an offer and see if they’ll accept it.  If you’re reasonable and it’s a day or two before, they’d probably rather make a booking rather than have a week completely empty!  Websites to look at include owners direct and even ebay!  Watch out though that you’re paying for a week’s accommodation and not a night so read the small print and make sure you know what is included!  Are you paying for electricity and fuel etc?

Camping and Caravanning remains a cheap holiday particularly with children.  If you like the idea of sleeping under the stars, why not try it out.  Tents can be bought cheaply enough from reputable dealers.  Even second hand bargains can be snatched up online too although be careful to ensure they haven’t be locked up in the loft for years where the moths could have had a nibble or mould got the better of them!  Better to see them up and to check for holes and tears!  If you buy new, ask about waterproofing seams – if you’re camping in this country, waterproofing is a must!!!  Maybe also join an organisation like the camping and caravanning club who will provide good information and also suggest excellent sites.

Summer Holidays On A Budget – Days Out:

Days out don’t have to cost the earth.  If you’ve got a Tesco clubcard why not trade in some of your clubcard vouchers for deals!  There are hundreds of days out deals available ( for a whole host of free days out.

Alternatively look locally for free venues to visit.  Think about parks and open spaces (weather permitting).  Take a picnic, football, rounders or cricket bat and maybe suncream and head off for a an afternoon of lazy fun.  If you live near the sea, the beach is always a hit with bucket and spade in hand.  Or near a stream/pond with the good old fashioned fishing net and pair of wellies for a spot of pond dipping.  Some lakes/ponds may even allow you to take a rubber dingy on but you will have to get permission of the owner first.

Walks (the length that your child can cope with) are always good fun too.  Make it into a kind of eye spy!  Be almost one step ahead of the children looking ahead and getting them to find things that you can see first!  Or if you’re on a beach get one adult to head off first settitng a trail of arrows in the sand.  In a wood similarly with two adults, on adult can set a trail with stick arrows or bits of ribbons round trees which you can follow (and of course remove) afterwards.

Another woodland adventure can involve fungi hunting.  Make sure the children you’re with know not to put their fingers in their mouths if they’ve touched the fungi but they can count how many different varieties they can find and maybe photograph en route!  You could do that with different trees, wildlife, plants etc too as well!

Museums are another source of free entertainment for children.  A lot towns and cities have some museums that have interactive museums that allow free entry while others might well charge.  Be selective.  A charge does not necessarily mean that they are better!  You might also get reduced admission rates if you go as a group so maybe get together with a group of friends and their children and go en mass – you may have to pre-book!

Train rides – there are obviously the cute steam train rides available and the inevitable Thomas the Tank Engine tracks around but the communal garden train journeys for children that don’t normally go on trains and also buses can provide an afternoons adventure!  Whilst this isn’t completely free – a short train ride to a local town with a picnic in a park doesn’t cost and arm and a leg and I have a feeling that up to two children under 5 can travel free with a fare paying adult in the UK on a train (but you need to check this out).

The Library can be a haven of imagination for a young child.  OK it can be nightmare too for the adult who has to pay the fines when the books aren’t returned on time too (oh the memories, sigh!) but nowadays phones can be programmed with reminders.  Some libraries will sometimes have authors in to read stories and put on other events for children too so check on what’s on at your local library.  Other information will also be available there as to what’s on in the local area too!

Summer Holidays On A Budget – Days In:

And if you don’t want to go out and fancy a day at home with your little ones but don’t want to end up screaming at them, they will need a time to free play and a little bit of structure for a stress free day.  Free ideas for time at home can include:

A Night (well not necessarily night) at the movies:  Put on a DVD, cuddle up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn (you can buy popcorn maize that goes straight in the microwave and is as cheap as chips)!

A Bake-a-Thon:  Make homemade cupcakes:  250g self raising flour, 250 g sugar, 250 g margarine, 4 eggs and 100 ml milk.  Beat the margarine and sugar together.  Beat in eggs with a tablespoon or the floor.  Stir in the rest of the floor.  Add the milk.  Divide between 12 cupcake cases and bake in the oven (180 deg C for about 20 mins).  Decorate with buttercream (icing sugar and marg mixed).

Homemade Playdough:  Ingredients:  3 cups flour, 1.5 cups salt, 6 teaspoons cream of tartar, 3 tablespoons oil, 3 cups water, Colouring as required.  Method:  Stir play dough continuously over a low heat until mixture leaves the sides of the pan.  Remember this isn’t for eating but for modelling!

Painting and Drawing:  Scrapstores around the country are a great place to stock up on paper and arts and craft supplies.  I don’t know if you can go as an individual or if you need to be connected to a children’s organisation but find out and get connected to stock up for the summer!  They are there to help children and an afternoon letting your children create can be inspirational!  Might be an idea to cover everything in sight with newspaper first but well worth the investment and really good fun!  Go on let your hair down!  Hand painting, foot painting, potato painting, finger painting – messy but I promise with a bucket of suds ready to wash away the paint at hand beforehand and towels to the ready and the artwork will last for a lifetime!

Summer Holidays On A Budget – Are We Nearly There Yet:

If you need to entertain the troops in the car en route and fed up of hearing the inevitable “are we nearly there yet” the RESET car kit promises to help while away the hours without wearing you down.  We successfully used this kit for our four over the years long before in car DVD’s were invented and travelled all over Europe with it without an ipod, ipad, PSP or other contraption in sight!  All you need is a small bag and a laptray or clip board!

Pad of paper
Pencil case with 2 pencils, colouring pencils/felt pens/crayons, sharpener (one that collects the shavings), rubber
Quizz book
Reading Book
Simplified Map of the route
Homemade Tally Quizz (*)
Personal Music Listening Device (nowadays I guess this is an ipod, then it was a cassette player!!!)

(*)  The Homemade tally quiz had a list of certain things such as yellow cars, church spires, bridges, people in hats etc listed in the first column.  It could be anything.  So it would be in chart form with two columns.  The list in the first column leaving room for a tally in the second column.  The child can then tally each time they see the item in the second column.  You can plan ahead and make sure that you add in items of interest that will appear as the journey progresses – for instance you would put in a specific bridge that you knew you were going to cross to keep their attention fresh, or a monument you knew you would see not just random everyday items.  It’s worth the investment in time beforehand believe me!


So there you have it!  A few ideas for summer holidays on a budget!  It really doesn’t need to cost a fortune!  We hope you have a good break if you’re having one but above all a stress free, fun and enjoyable time with your children!


If you need more information or any other help with your finances we recommend Citrus Financial Management Ltd who can advise more.  They can be found on-line at or on facebook at

Summer Holidays on a budget

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