UK family travel on a budget: 20 ways to have a cheap staycation holiday!

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Updated July 2023

Planning a staycation this year? Here’s how to save a ton on a UK holiday – you don’t need to leave the country to have the perfect family adventure…

1. Book slightly (or completely!) out of season

If you’re able to travel outside of peak times you could see some big savings – even a week or two can make a huge difference to prices. You can save hundreds of pounds by travelling off peak, and these big savings can be used to travel more frequently and for longer periods.

Haven Holidays offer fab savings if you avoid the peak school summer holiday period – this year they’ve offered breaks away from as little as £49 so it’s well worth a look. A while back, we stayed at Haven Hafan y Mor Holiday Park in Wales and had a blast – check out my review!

 

2. Self-cater

Food can be a huge expense when you’re travelling, particularly if you eat out regularly. To keep costs down, self-catering is really important – stock up at cheap supermarkets along your route, pack up picnics and cook at your accommodation when you can.

To save time, book a click and collect slot at a supermarket local to where you’ll be staying, or fill the car with shopping bags and cool bags before you set off.

 

3. Visit Butlins

Butlins can be a really cheap holiday – we booked a Mon-Fri break for just £88 last year. There’s so much included for free when you get there that, if you self-cater, you can get away with spending very little during your holiday too. So, you could get a fun week away for less than the cost of a day out!

Free activities include:

  • A fairground with loads of rides – my two love the bumper cars!
  • A fantastic pool complex with slides, flumes and a lazy river.
  • Craft activities
  • Puppet shows
  • Evening entertainment shows
  • Soft play
  • Indoor rides
  • Silent Cinema
  • Daytime shows for the younger ones

For more info, check out my posts:

Butlins Bognor Regis Family Review – and money saving tips! 

Butlins Minehead Family Review – and money saving tips!

How can I save money on my Butlins holiday?

 

4. Save with cashback

Before you book anything, always check cashback websites (such as Quidco and Top Cashback) to see what they could save you. Holidays can be expensive, so even a 5% cashback offer can be pretty significant – and small amounts soon add up too!

You could get cashback on holidays, travel insurance and hotels – Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Parkdean and lots of other companies are all on there. So, you can make a saving simply by clicking through the link before you book!

 

5. Get a Blue Peter Badge

With a Blue Peter Badge, children can gain free entry to over 200 Blue Peter Badge attractions around the country such as theme parks, zoos and castles – making days out a lot more affordable. It’s definitely worth the kiddies completing a task and sending off for a badge – there are lots of ways to earn one, check out my article on Blue Peter Badges for more info.

 

6. Slash accommodation costs

If you want to travel frequently, then your accommodation choices need to play a big part in keeping your costs to a minimum. By ditching luxury hotels (in exchange for campsites, caravans and budget hotel chains) you’ll be able to enjoy a longer trip.

Be pragmatic – your accommodation is a place to sleep in between fun excursions and adventures, and it’s likely to be one of your biggest expenses, so downgrade where you can to cut costs.

 

7. Book with Sun Newspaper Holidays

The Sun Holidays are a fantastic way to get away, even on the tightest of budgets. We booked two last year (2022) – one Norfolk break which was £66 for Mon-Fri in May (including a caravan upgrade) and another for £78 to the Isle of Wight in June. Both resorts were Parkdean and it cost us a fraction of the price it would have to book directly. We had two holidays for less than the price of one!

Holidays through the Sun are as little as £9.50pp – and you can book a break in the UK or abroad. For more info on how it works, check out my post on the Sun Newspaper Holidays.

 

8. Decant your toiletries

Decant your normal toiletries into smaller pots instead of paying over the odds for ‘mini’ versions of your favourite products. You can wash the pots out when you get home and re-use them year after year – better for your wallet and the planet. (Remember to do this for washing up liquid too if you’re self-catering!)

 

9. Travelodge £29 rooms

Cheap Travelodge rooms can be a great way to explore the UK – there are loads on offer all over for just £29 per night. This potentially means that you could have 10 days away for less than £300, which is a steal! Have a look at their current deals here > Travelodge Saver Rooms. We often use Travelodge to book cheap London mini-breaks so we can have a few days exploring the capital, and maybe see a show, without spending a fortune.

 

10. Enjoy freebies with Tesco Clubcard

If you’re a Tesco shopper, you can benefit from using your Tesco Clubcard points towards your holiday cost or for free meals and days out while you’re away. These points can be collected through Tesco services too – such as Tesco Mobile or through a Tesco Credit Card, so you can collect them even if you do your weekly shop elsewhere.

Points can be exchanged for theme parks, zoos, farms, castles and even trips to London. Read my post on Tesco Clubcard days out to make the most of your points. We always self-cater to save money on holiday – and then use our Tesco Vouchers for a freebie meal out as a treat!

 

11. Housesit

Reduce your accommodation costs to just £99 per year by using a housesitting service like Trusted Housesitters. In exchange for looking after someone’s pet, you can stay for free anywhere in the world – making travelling to your favourite places so much more affordable.

For the yearly membership fee of £99, you can book a stay through their website as many times as you like. Join Trusted Housesitters today to get access to free accommodation in the UK and abroad.

 

12. Go camping

Camping can be a really cost effective way to explore without the huge accommodation costs that can often come with a trip away. Some sites will allow you to hire what you need, at a cheaper rate than a caravan, and you can arrive to find it all set up.

If you have your own kit, or can borrow from a friend, then you’ll likely pay very little. It’s also much easier to book last minute when you go camping – which is a real plus with the unpredictable English weather!

 

13. Join Kids Pass

Kids Pass is a fantastic way to save on the cost of your family holiday! In 2021, through Kids Pass, we saved £30 on a Haven holiday, and £20 off our Butlins break – the easiest £50 saving ever! On top of this, you can also benefit from big savings on days out while you’re away – and the best bit is that you can trial it for 30 days for just a quid!

Using their app, you can save on the go and search for things to do and restaurants near you. It’s a great option for trips away and the summer holidays, even if cancelled afterwards. Take a look at my Kids Pass article for more information.

The perks are:

 

14. Save on fuel

Driving your own car when you go away can really cut down on additional costs of hire and insurance. Save even more by hunting out the cheapest fuel costs along your route. Often, the services along the motorway charge a lot more than other petrol stations – which can really add up on a long drive. But, you can avoid this issue by visiting a website like petrolprices.com to quickly compare fuel prices along your route.

 

15. Find a Groupon deal

Groupon deals can be a fab way to have a fun day out when you’re away without spending lots of money. Use their ‘Local’ section to get the best offers close to you. A quick search in my local area revealed these brilliant offers…

  • Bowling for two for £6, or for four at just £10
  • Clip n Climb session for £9
  • Zippos Circus for under a tenner
  • Play Centre entry for £3.95 (one child), £6.95 (two children) or £8.95 (three children)

 

16. Travel for a quid

If you’re in the South East, kids can travel on the train for just a quid –  making getting away, or having days out so much more affordable. For all of the info you need on how to benefit from this deal, check out my post on Southeastern Rail. Not travelling in the South East? Take a look at the area you’re visiting to see if they have any deals on offer.

 

17. Head to the capital

Surprisingly, cities can often be really affordable places for holidays and days out. In particular, there are loads of FREE things to do in London with children – even if you’re not a fan of the museums. From to playgrounds, to lidos, to farms and zoos – there’s something to entertain everyone. Make sure you read my post on freebie days out in London for more info.

 

18. Hunt out restaurant deals

Loads of places offer cheap kids meals, or daytime saver menus – so you can still have a treat when you’re away without spending a ton of money. Here are a few we use:

And lots of supermarkets and chain restaurants offer cheap or free kids meals during school holiday times – so have a google before you go, and plot meals out around the best deals!

 

19. Enjoy nature

There are so many gorgeous beaches, hills to hike and country parks dotted all over the country – each offering a new (free!) adventure whilst you’re away. Whether it be woodland walks, sand dunes, lakes or large green spaces, they’re always a winner for a family day out.

Many have trails too, to keep the kids entertained, or themed activities dependent on the time of year, so be sure to check out what’s on offer before you visit. If you’re feeling energetic – you could even climb a mountain; we had a great time in Wales climbing Mount Snowdon!

 

20. Make the most of memberships

National Trust and English Heritage memberships can be a great investment; once you’ve signed up you can use them time and time again for free days out all over the UK. Often it’ll only take a visit or two to make it worthwhile money-wise, and payments can be made monthly so that they don’t seem too overwhelming – family memberships are usually about a tenner each month.

For home-educating families, you can get a year’s National Trust family membership for a discounted rate of around £50 – which can be used term-time. And, English Heritage allow free entry to their sites, just as they do for school visits – just be sure to give a few weeks notice as they’ll need time to approve the visit and send you an entry permit.

Happy travels! 😍

 

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2 comments
  1. Hey Natalie,

    Thanks for putting together such an informative guide on budget-friendly family travel in the UK! Your tips are a goldmine for those planning staycations and looking to make the most of their budget. The idea of having a perfect family adventure without leaving the country is truly enticing!

    I particularly appreciate your suggestions on off-peak travel, self-catering, and exploring cost-effective accommodations like campsites and budget hotel chains. These insights not only save money but also open up opportunities for more frequent and extended trips.

    And let’s not forget about Butlins – what a fantastic recommendation! A Mon-Fri break for just £88 is a steal, and with so many free activities, it’s like getting a week away for the cost of a day out. Your detailed reviews on Butlins experiences are invaluable.

    I also love the inclusion of money-saving hacks like cashback websites, Blue Peter Badges for free entry, and Travelodge £29 rooms. Your practical advice on decanting toiletries and using Tesco Clubcard points is a game-changer for frugal travelers.

    Now, here’s a little gem for your readers – when planning your travel adventures, consider checking out [https://www.splitsaving.co.uk/](https://www.splitsaving.co.uk/) for some exclusive tips and tricks on train travel savings. It’s a fantastic resource for making your journeys even more budget-friendly.

    Thanks again for sharing these amazing tips. Your guide is a treasure trove for families looking to create memorable experiences without breaking the bank. Here’s to affordable and unforgettable staycations!

    Happy travels,

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