We all love days out with the family, but sometimes they can hit our wallets hard! Great family days out however needn’t break the bank. There are lots of things you can do that are fun for all the family that don’t cost the earth.
Tips for Family Days Out on a Budget
With bank holiday looming, why not plan a fun day out for the whole family. If you follow my tips then it shouldn’t cost you a fortune. So get the family into weather appropriate clothes, don some sensible footwear and off you go!
Location, Location, Location
One of our favourite places to go with the family is nearby Hatfield Forest, which is part of the National Trust. It has everything we need. Open spaces, grass areas, ponds, woodland areas, wildlife and even a little coffee shop should you need some refreshments.
The National Trust look after hundreds of sites across the country and not just forests and woodland but also houses, gardens, castles, medieval barns, coastlines and nature reserves. So there is bound to be a suitable location near where you live. Just visit the site here, type in your postcode and see what’s near you.
The other way to find specifically a forest or wood near where you live is to visit the Forestry Commission website. You can type in your postcode and it lists local woodlands and forests. It also gives you a key to say whether parking is available and if you have to pay, and what is permitted i.e. cycling, dog walking, horse riding, BBQs etc.
I find these two sites particularly useful when we are away camping. It means we can find a budget family day out wherever we are in the country.
Pack a Picnic
Eating out can be costly, especially when it’s the five of us. Packing a picnic can reduce the cost of a day out dramatically. What’s more is you can pack food that you know your children are going to eat, so there will be no mealtime meltdowns, or complaints of hunger pains to ruin your day.
Picnics don’t need to be elaborate. Keep it simple, don’t pack too much and stick to foods you know will be eaten.
Chuck the picnic bag in the car with a couple of picnic mats, and that’s your lunch or tea sorted.
Make Your Own Fun
There are loads of activities that the whole family can enjoy that won’t cost you a single penny! Here are a few of things we get up to when we visit Hatfield Forest.
- Map Reading For Children. Often maps are provided FREE at the locations, but if not why not make your own prior to your day out? Give the children a map each and ask them to navigate their way to a specific area. Our kids love this, and had great fun directing us to our favourite wooded area.
- Building Dens. This is something that I think Daddy enjoys as much, if not more so than the kids. They all love getting involved, and collecting sticks and branches. Oliver like collecting smaller branches to make a camp fire next to the den. A lot of forests have areas suitable for den building and it provides entertainment for all the family.
- Climbing Trees. Again another pursuit Daddy enjoys! For young children there are often fallen trees or tree stumps which are a bit safer to climb.
- Hide and Seek. We played this for ages! It still makes me laugh that when the kids hide they still tend to leave a leg or arm sticking out making them easy to spot. We keep this confined to an area, so we don’t loose the kids. We usually have one parent looking and the other hides with the youngest as well as keeping an eye on the other twos location so it’s nice an safe.
- Imaginary Play. My children’s imaginations seem to spark when we are all outside as a family. We all had wands that we found in the forest, and the kids were learning to be witches and wizards. I was a sorcerer there to deflect evil powers. Daddy was the strange snake thing with a chicken head (not sure where that comes from!) that turns young witches and wizards into stone. Needless to say the young witches and wizards were triumphant.
- Scavenger Hunt. I did a fab Autumn scavenger hunt last year, which could be adapted to fit the season, or there are some great nature trails available on the internet. I like this Nature Trail and this Outdoor Adventure Sheet by Father Fitness, which has a printable pdf. Alternatively you could make your own!
- Feeding the ducks. Wherever there are rivers and ponds, there are probably ducks and other waterfowl. Kids love to feed the ducks, and I have fond memories myself of doing this as a child. Just make sure you feed them responsibly. Bread is not good for ducks, and you should make up your own duck food using oats, peas and sweetcorn, or buy some ready made food for waterfowl.
- Daisy Chains. This time of year there are lots of daisies and buttercups around. The girls especially love to sit on the grass and make crowns and necklaces. The concentration of their faces is just priceless.
If all else fails, we always make sure we have a football, tennis ball or frisbee in the car. Most places have areas of open grassland where you can all run around, get some exercise and fresh air in your lungs, and most importantly just have FUN!
What do you like to do on your family days out? Do you have plans for the bank holiday?
This post was inspired by Provident as a part of their ‘Don’t Break the Bank Holiday’ Campaign. For more ideas of what to do this bank holiday ideas on a budget visit Provident’s campaign.