Take the financial pain out of the summer holidays

Thursday 30 July 2015, 11:24 AM

Sam Barratt
Financial Journalist , Freelance

  • Summer holiday finance

With schools closing for six or seven weeks, many parents dread the summer holidays. As well as logistics nightmares around childcare, with prices soaring during the break, keeping the kids entertained can cost a small fortune.

But the summer holidays don't have to break the bank. Here are some ways to cut the cost, without cutting back on the fun.    

Send them back to school
Summer schools and play schemes can be a great way to keep your kids busy during the long break, especially if childcare's an issue. Private schemes are available - and you can expect to pay anything from about £150 a week - but also look out for schemes run or supported by your local authority. These are usually subsidised so can cost much less.

Use your points
Whether you shop in Tesco or Sainsbury's, you can use your loyalty points to cut the cost of family days out. For example, at Tesco you can get a one day ticket to Thorpe Park for £12.50 of Clubcard vouchers, compared to the full peak price of £59.99, while at Sainsbury's, £5 worth of Nectar points gets you two cinema tickets.

Go surfing  
Whatever you're planning, spending some time surfing the internet can help you track down great deals on days out. Many tickets can be snapped up cheaper online - for instance book at least five days in advance and you can get an adult ticket to Chessington World of Adventure for £27 compared to £47 if you pay at the gate.
It's also smart to sign up to sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Wowcher as these list cheaper deals on all sorts of activities and days out.   

Get some culture

Many museums and art galleries charge an admission fee but there are plenty that are free. As well as the big London favourites such as the British Museum, Science Museum and the Tate Modern, there are plenty around the country that are totally free. These include the National Football Museum in Manchester, the Royal Armouries in Leeds and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. And look out for summer holiday events - many run activities for kids during the summer.  

Clip the coupons
It's also worth keeping an eye out for offers on your groceries and in the newspapers. For example, in exchange for one voucher from a promotional pack, Kellogg's will give you one free adult entry when you purchase a child or adult ticket to attractions including Alton Towers, Sea Life centres and Legoland.

Sign up
Whether it's National Trust properties, Sea Life centres or theme parks, if you and your family are regulars, consider membership or an annual pass. For example a Merlin standard pass is £169 for a year - or £129 per person if you buy a family pass - giving you access to loads of attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and the London Eye.

Make them a National Citizen

Teenagers aged 16 and 17 can take advantage of the National Citizen Scheme (NCS), helping them gain valuable skills and experience and improve their CV and UCAS application. Schemes last two to three weeks and include a week away getting stuck into outdoor activities such as canoeing and rock climbing; time developing life skills such as leadership and communication; and a team project to help their community.  It's low cost too. Thanks to government funding, the most you'll pay is £50.
More information can be found on the NCSyes website