MoneyMagpie

Dec 29

Discover the joys of a staycation!

Don’t have the money for a holiday abroad? Have you considered a staycation?

For a family-orientated break on these shores, visit LetsGoWithTheChildren.co.uk.  This must-see site has a search facility which is brilliant for finding great places to visit.  You can set a budget and search by age of children, location, indoor/outdoor activities, category (such as animals, museums, sport) and of course price – but don’t forget to check out all the free things to do in the UK. Simply select the ‘free’ option from the price drop-down menu when you search.

LetsGoWithTheChildren has one of the most extensive search engines we’ve found so it really is one not to miss.  Also, they were kind enough to write this helpful directory for us full of great places to visit and they rather helpfully organised it by theme so whether you’re a family of adventurous explorers, animal lovers or arts and crafts enthusiasts you’ll find the perfect place to visit in our article; “Family Fun on a Budget”.  You can also get some great ideas on sites such as Enjoyengland.com and National Trust or in our article “Holiday at Home For a Budget Break“.

Cheap accommodation in the UK

Of course, the usual sites for hotels abroad are still great for hotels in the UK, including Laterooms and Lastminute.com, but one of the best sites here in Blighty is Travelodge which often has sales offering rooms from just £9 to £25.  Premier Inn also charges just £29 per night as long as you book the room (which can accommodate a family of four) at least 21 days in advance and stay for a minimum of two nights Monday to Saturday.

Cheap travel in the UK

If you’re looking for a cheap way to get around the UK, see if you can snap up a £1 fare (plus 50p booking fee) with Megatrain by booking early, or use The Trainline to search for a cheap ticket, which charges a £1 booking fee.

It’s worth signing up to the newsletters of sites such as National Express – which often run promotions for trips from as little as £1 – as they tend to go pretty quickly.  Then use special rail or coach cards and promotions to cut costs even further; the Brit Xplorer pass from National Expresscosts from £79 for seven days and allows unlimited coach travel in England, Scotland and Wales; the Family & Friends Railcard is £28 and saves you a third on adult train fares and 60% on kids’ fares; and the First Capital Connect GroupSave card allows one or two people to travel for free when two adults buy Off-Peak Day Returns.

Now read our seven golden rules to cheaper train tickets for more ideas.

Do a house swap

This is probably one of the best money-saving tips, because as well as economising big-style you will also get a much more authentic experience of the place that you are visiting.  Most house swaps are organised through agencies such as HomeForExchange, Homeforswap, UK HolidaySwapShop and Intervac but you can also check on Gumtree for private house swapping advertisements, or use it to post your own advert for a house swap.

When you join an agency you will have to provide all the information about where you would like to go; dates when you could possibly go (being flexible will facilitate finding a swap); how many bedrooms and bathrooms you have in your house; along with appliances and any extras you have like a big garden, garage or swimming pool.  You can also opt to exchange the use of your car with the use of the other family’s vehicle to save you having to rent one.

The most worrying aspect of house swapping is the trust factor.  Lots of people do not feel comfortable lending their house to someone else.  However, the best way to assure a good swap is to find a reputable organisation to sort the swap.  It’s also a good idea to get recommendations from friends.

Most of the agencies charge a one-off annual membership fee of less than £100 and will refund this if you do not manage to organise a swap during that year.  Paying the money often means that you deal with people who are genuine about house swapping and will respect your property as they will want you to respect theirs.  There are free services as well, though – just make sure you check out the organisation thoroughly before committing to anything.  We talk you through house swapping in this guide.

Go away with friends

Get cheap accommodation by joining up with friends or another family and renting a large holiday cottage or villa together.  There are thousands of organisations with properties all over the UK and Europe and usually the price for a cottage that sleeps eight is not double the price for a cottage that sleeps four.  It also means lots of fun to be had and a nicer property might be attainable if you pool your funds.  Have a look at these sites to get started:

You can also save money by booking directly with the house owner instead of going through an agent. Take a look at HomeAway and see if you can get a better deal on your getaway.

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