Do More With Your Children and Spend Less Money In The School Holidays

It's easy for school holidays to get expensive even if you don't go on an actual holiday. You don’t want your children to get bored but no one wants to have to need a bank loan just to get through 6 weeks of summer. If you are looking for ways to spend less during summer school holidays then read my suggestions for: saving money on days out, keeping children entertained at home, saving money on meals out and free places to go. 

If you want to spend less during the school holidays then keep reading

Children playing in the sea

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Save Money On Days Out In The School Holidays

Many places offer discounted entry if you book in advance and there are also plenty of membership schemes that can bring you even bigger savings. Local schemes like the East Anglia Pass often have a wider selection of places to go nearby, but the national Littlebird pass has money saving offers across the country which include big named theme parks, restaurants (including lots of kids eat free deals), cinema tickets and online shops. Littlebird offer a months trial for £1 which is a great way to save money and see if it is right for you.

Before buying any membership pass check to see what the offers are like e.g. East Anglia Pass has a lot of 2 for 1 offers (and you can only buy 1 per pass) whereas Littlebird has more offers where you get a percentage off the entry price. The size of your family and age of children will dictate which one works best.  Not all offers with any pass will be available in school holidays.

I was gifted a Littlebird membership, but I am not obligated to write about it. They have some offers available to anyone who register with the site and those that buy the pass get some exclusive savings, it's definitely easy to make back your membership fee. 

Another way to save money on days out with children is to buy a voucher through somewhere like Red Letter Days.  They are normally cheaper than the attractions online entry price and they regularly have extra discounts too. If it’s somewhere you know you will want to go in the next few months you can buy the voucher when discounted and use it when you are ready. 

Depending on the interests of your children National Trust, English Heritage or Historic Houses membership can work our great value. English Heritage let adult members add children for free to their family membership and it costs just a few pounds more to add children to a National Trust membership than a single adult.

A hand holding notes and loose change, british pounds to illustrate how money can be saved in school holidays

Free Places To Go With Children

There are always plenty of free places to go with children which helps to entertain them during the holidays. Many free places host activities during the holidays too so these are worth looking out for and prebooking, although some have a cost they are usually good value. These less commercial places seem to keep their Facebook pages better updated that their websites so I would recommend looking there for up to date information.

Visit Local Playgrounds

Even the most basic playground will keep children entertained for a while, but if you fancy venturing further there are usually some big parks within a reasonable distance where you can easily spend the whole day eg near us we have Harlow Town Park in one direction or Victoria Park (Tower Hamlets) and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (Stratford) in another. Both have great playgrounds as well as water areas. If you head into London for the day with children the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens (Hyde Park) is also well worth a visit.

A child playing in a sandpit surrounded by plastic buckets and spades is great free summer activity

Get Lost in The Woods

Natures playground is another idea for a free place to go. Woods are likely to be quieter and have the advantage that they provide shade on sunny days. The Woodland Trust has a great search tool which shows you all the woods near you.

Borrow a Book Or Two

Obviously the library is a great place to borrow new books for the holidays and they often have activities running too. Our local library always has a reading challenge running over the summer holidays to encourage the more reluctant readers.

Council Activities 

Our council (Epping Forest) always runs activities over the summer holidays. We had the information through the door, but you can also find it in the library or online. We have free play in the park sessions every day in the region as well as huge number of workshops starting at £2.

There are also lots of free places you can go with children where ever you are in the country. Some other bloggers have pulled together ideas of free places to go in their regions: 
A child sitting on a swing in a playground for free with mum in background

Save Money At Home or While Travelling

Free or Low Cost Trials

If you are going on a long car journey or holiday then having a way to distract children from “are we nearly there yet?” is always helpful. 
Many subscription services such as Amazon music, Apple Music and Disney Life offer free or low cost trials. By signing up at the right time you can take full advantage for instance Amazon music unlimited has a huge range of albums you can download, play using data or listen at home via Alexa using your WiFi. You can sign up for 1 month for free to Amazon Music Unlimited. Amazon Fire For Kids also offers a free 1 month trial and it includes access to lots of child friendly books, apps, films, TV programmes and games. 

Invest in a Box of Activities

It might be worth investing in a few items to keep children entertained on the days they are bored and out of ideas. If you invest in them at the beginning of the holidays you can get maximum use out of them. Good ideas are: a paddling pool and these garden games for outside and a board games set and craft pack for wet days, check out this great list of suggestions. Another idea is to keep your eyes out for any discounted items throughout the year so you can hide them away and bring them out when they are asking for something to do.

Surviving the school holidays how to spend less and do more

I hope you have found this post useful for ideas of places to go for free in school holidays, ways to save money when eating in restaurants or going to tourist attractions as well as how to keep children entertained at home for less. Do you have any other ideas? I would love to know in the comments.

***Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking through the link I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you if you decide to do this.***


  1. Love these tips, the one about the free trials is a really good point. If we can get Disney free for the summer holidays it keeps the kids busy for hours! Especially on rainy days! Thanks for featuring our Shropshire days out xx

    1. You are welcome. Even without the free trials we have often subscribed to things over the summer and cancelled afterwards, Disney Life is one of those. When there is no ongoing commitment it's really handy x

  2. A lovely post.
    The school holidays are so expensive so keeping the costs down are essential for me

    1. Thank you. I think social media puts a lot of pressure on people to do amazing things as well, but there are so many ways to spend less.


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