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Big deal: shop smart for summer fun

From swimming pools to cinemas, train tickets to theme parks, the cost of summer days out can add up. Then of course, there’s the little things - food, drink, clothes, toys and bottles of sun lotion to keep the family happy throughout the school holidays.

There’s no need to break the bank, though - with a little money-mindfulness you can have a fun-filled summer for a fraction of the cost. Keep toddlers and teens occupied until school starts again by slashing prices with these budget-friendly tips.

 

Days out done right

There are plenty of fun, free activities for outdoorsy types to keep kids busy during the holidays. But theme parks, zoos, cinemas and other attractions don’t have to be off-limit on a budget, either. With these tricks up your sleeve, you can save a fortune:

  • Cut theme park costs in half, save up to 40% on cinema tickets and massively reduce the price of UK breaks to places including Haven and Butlins by joining Kids Pass. It’s £7.50 monthly, but try the £1 trial first to browse more than 4,000 family offers.

  • Check your Benenden Rewards for great offers on short breaks, attractions and theme park tickets, magazine subscriptions, exclusive product discounts and more. Current deals include 50% off entry to Merlin theme parks and 20% off Virgin Experience Days.

  • Take the train to the zoo and make the family day out cheaper - simply buy a National Rail ticket, register on Days Out Guide and print off your vouchers. Even if you end up driving, it can end up far cheaper than the entry prices for many zoos and sea life centres.

 

Eat out for less

Sometimes, it’s nice to escape the confines of the kitchen and head out for food with the family. But according to the Office for National Statistics, we’re spending more than £45 every week on restaurants and hotel stays. Try these tricks next time you eat out:

  • Sign up to your favourite eateries’ mailing lists: Pizza Express, Bella Italia, Zizzis and Las Iguanas share money-off deals virtually every week.

  • Check deals sites like VoucherCloud to see what’s on offer food-wise near you.

  • Order tap water rather than bottled water and save pounds.

 

Time your trains wisely

Train fares fluctuate, often bizarrely. Stay on top of smart thinking and learn to play the travel system like a thrifty pro: all you need is a little know-how:

  • Book more than two months ahead for a bargain. Network Rail is obliged to have their timetables set 12 weeks in advance and that’s when cheap tickets will pop up. National Rail has an advance ticket chart for every train company so you can keep an eye on releases.

  • Websites and apps such as Tickety Split can help you to pay less for the same train, at the same time, often with the very same seat. It cuts through the oddities of ticket pricing and slashes costs by splitting up your journey into two or more tickets.

 

Holiday prices, halved

The big one - travelling together takes a whopping chunk out of your savings. There are ways to shave off flight, hotel and spending costs, though. Keep these holiday hacks in mind

on your next family getaway:

  • If you know when you’re travelling, use comparison sites such as Skyscanner to find the cheapest times to fly. Be sure to open it up in an incognito window (visit the website in private mode, browsers do this in different ways but click here for a quick guide) advanced tech can mean prices go up if there’s increased interest in specific flights.

  • Don’t be blinded by stars. Hotel star systems aren’t standardised around the world quality-wise - try Tripadvisor feedback or word-of-mouth from friends, family or workmates to uncover the real gems.

  • What would we do without our phones abroad nowadays? Turn your mobile into a free sat-nav without the roaming charges by downloading an app such as Navmii. It uses your phone’s built-in GPS, without milking your data.

 

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