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Young children watching a butterfly display

My school holiday diary: how to save money and keep the kids entertained over the break

With great school holidays come great responsibility: it’s time to think of more affordable ways to keep the kids entertained.

Our mummy blogger Shannon Kyle (@ShannonDotKyle) shares her diary of holiday savings and asks other parenting pros for their favourite deals.

  • Great ways to save on family lunches and apps to download
  • Free museums and ideas for days out in the sun
  • Discounts on travel and theme park tickets

14 April: Good Friday

Friday. Fun at the farm. Savings: £2 on tickets and £10 on lunch. Total: £12

Today we’re visiting Spring Barn Farm in Lewes to see the lambs and hunt for Easter eggs – and by booking tickets online in advance, we saved £1 per person.

Adults and children cost £7.95, and children aged under 23 months go free. We’re packing a picnic to save on eating out and enjoy the outdoors even more.


15 April: Saturday

Saturday. Park and pizza. Savings: £20 on lunch and £10 on pizza. Total: £30

We’re going on a walk around Stanmer Park today, and having another picnic. Then it’s off to a local restaurant for dinner – if we use our Tastecard we’ll get a ‘buy one, get one free’ meal, or 50% off.

I’ve saved even more by buying our Tastecard through Quidco – and even got £15 cashback, making the card half price.

Tastecards often can’t be used during bank holidays, but lots of restaurants will still let you use them on Easter Saturday – including Papa John’s, which is where we went.


16 April: Easter Sunday

Sunday. Seaside & sights. Savings: £13.30 on museum tickets

I used the Hoop app to find out what’s on for kids in my area. It’s really simple to use: just type in the date and how old your children are, and you’ll find loads of free activities to choose from all across the UK.

I found a free Easter egg hunt at the Yellowwave Beach sports venue. Then, we’re going on a trip to Brighton Museum, where there are all-day family activities on. Entrance is usually £5.20 for adults and £3 for children, but it’s free for Brighton residents – always check out local museum prices, as many are free for locals. Have a look on familiesonline.co.uk for a list of free museums.

Phone apps like Hoop can make life much easier for busy parents, and there’s plenty that offer great deals for kids. Picniq has a discount ‘Days out’ card, while Kids Pass offers you loads of great saving options for a yearly fee.

If you think you’ll only use it for the holidays, you can pay £7.50 and get a Kids Pass for the month. With membership and the app, you can get 50% off family days out and the kids can eat free at thousands of restaurants. There are also some great family saving websites, like daysout.co.uk.


17 April: Easter Monday

Monday. Mounting the castle. Savings: £23.25 on tickets.

Today is a trip to Bodiam Castle, and we use our National Trust membership, which costs £114.60 a year per family. It seems like a big one-off payment, but in one trip we’ve saved almost a fifth of the price: tickets cost £9.30 per adult and £4.65 per child, while children aged under five are free.

While we opted for the NT membership, mum-of-three Katy Stevens (@Katykicker), who runs the money blog Katykicker.com, recommends an English Heritage pass too.

‘An annual family pass is under £100, and we can visit hundreds of beautiful locations in the UK,’ says Katy. ‘At Easter, there are activities on offer for the whole family, like an Easter egg hunt at Audley End House.’


18 April: Tuesday

Tuesday. Travelling by train.

Using our Family Railcard we’ve saved a third off our fare to London. Until 20 May, you can buy one for just £27 per year, saving 10%. We can also use our train ticket for discounts at London Zoo.

Travelling by train can save you plenty, as the rail network offers special partner discounts on all kinds of day out, from trips to museums to matinee performances at the theatre. There are also discounts if you use another mode of transport; for example, if you live close to Bristol Zoo, you can get 20% off if you cycle there.

Lifestyle and parent blogger Lylia Rose (@LyliaRose), who has two children – Bella, aged 4, and Reuben, aged 2 – recommends that you always buy train tickets in advance online.

‘I use Top Cashback and Quidco to get cashback on almost all my online purchases – from train tickets to Groupon,’ says Lylia.

Lylia also recommends signing up to mystery shopping apps, where you can volunteer to have a free meal in return for a written review.

Marketforce often reimburses you up to a certain amount if you write a review. They also offer opportunities to be a mystery guest at Hollywood Bowl,’ explains Lylia.

You can read Lylia’s blog here: lyliarose.com.


19 April: Wednesday

Wednesday. Museums of wonder. Saving: £11 on IMAX tickets.

There are so many free museums across the country, but in London our favourites include Tate Modern, the Museum of Childhood and the Science Museum, where we’re going today.

A family walking across a bridge over the River Thames in London

Entry is free, but you can download two-for-one vouchers for special attractions, such as the Typhoon Simulator and IMAX theatre, along with the purchase of a train ticket.

Over 150 top attractions across the UK have signed up for the deal, including Liverpool Cathedral, the Scottish Maritime Museum, and the Manchester United Museum and Tour. We booked online to see Under the Sea in 3D at the IMAX.

Karen Webber (@theallergymum), who blogs on theallergymum.com, agrees that there’s no need to fork out on days out if you don’t have to. She collected the Kelloggs packets two-for-one discount vouchers to get cheap tickets to the museums and galleries where she lives in Manchester.

‘Our favourites include the MOSI, Whitworth and the National Football Museum. Places like Eureka Children’s Museum give you a year’s membership if you just go once – so it’s always worth asking,’ she advises.

‘My top tips to find discount codes is look on Facebook groups for families, and sign up to newsletters from venues so you hear about offers first,’ she adds.

If there’s not an IMAX near you, use some Nectar points for free cinema tickets at Vue – every 500 points gives you £2.50 off!

A family riding on a fairground attraction

You can also convert Tesco Clubcard points into discounts on days out. There are nearly 200 offers, from Alton Towers to LEGOLAND, with up to 75% off.

Afterwards, we’re going for a walk down to the local paddling pool. Karen suggests visiting parks on rotation so kids don’t get bored. She says: ‘Choose a paddling pool one day, a picnic the next, and explore all of them in your local area.’


20 April: Thursday

Thursday. Visiting a resort. Saving £26 on Butlins tickets.

Today’s trip is to Butlins in Bognor Regis. There’s an incredible offer exclusive to Littlebird.co.uk, a family days out bargain website which covers the whole country. You get 40% off Butlins day tickets until 20 April: adult tickets are now £15 (usually £25) and children’s tickets are £9 (usually £15).


With the weather getting warmer, it’s time to make the effort to explore all the fab family-friendly venues across the UK and make some brilliant memories together. With so many options and ways to save, what are you waiting for?

If you want to put a little more aside for your family, in case you are unable to support them, consider financial protection products.


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