Money & time is something we’re all short of. When it comes to family days trips and travel, there’s so many ways to save money and time. I’ll tell you how to do that in this post. Here are 9 Top Tips to save time and money on family days out & travel… PLEASE share with your friends so they can benefit from this helpful guide, too! 🙂 9 Top Tips to save time and money on family days out & travel
Some of these apply for Yorkshire travel but most are regional for everyone, yay! These are our favourite handy hacks of how we manage to keep the cost of our trips down and handy tips on saving time.
9 Money & Time Hacks for family days out & travel
1. Money saving: Rail cards.
Our rail card has saved us over £400 just this year… that’s very impressive! We have a “Two Together rail card” which gets us 1/3rd off train tickets. The only catch is that it only works after 9AM and we have to travel together. This rail card costs £30 and you can order it online here. Another option is the family & friends rail card. We will be upgrading to this one once Eric is 5 (if you child is under 5, I recommend the two together).
2. Money saving: National rail days out guide.
Check national rails “days out guide” before you travel. If you are travelling by train, you can snap up some 2 for 1 vouchers; when we went to London, we got 2 for 1vouchers for London Zoo, Battersea children’s zoo and more through using this website. It’s not just for London too; there’s vouchers for Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh, Newcastle, and more. It’s very easy, all you need is your train tickets and the voucher (which you can download straight away). If you are not traveling by train, still do check this website; there’s some really good ideas for days out!
3. Time saving: Check the website/Facebook of your destination.
Before you go, check the website and/or facebook of your destination. Check in advance when planning your day out/trip to find any offers and then it could be helpful to check the day before you go. Why?
Sometimes things happen and the attraction/place you’re headed to might be closed last minute, they might not accept cards because of a machine fault, they might be having difficulities with hot food in the cafe, the opening hours may have changed, or an area of the venue might be closed (for example, a gallery in a museum, or a particular area of a zoo). Google for their website and check there but also check their facebook.
A lot of places have an active facebook and will update there when they open if they have any issues, but not their website. Knowing ahead of time will save you time and disappointment.
And money saving tip: lots of places put special offers on their Facebook page but not on their website. It really is worth having a look in advance. I sign up to newsletters for every attraction/place I go regularly because sometimes you can receive special discounts or offers which will only be mailed out to the newsletter.
4. Money saving: Get annual passes.
There are two types of annual passes: one which is a “year pass” and one which is the same price of 1 entry but means you get free returns for 12 months. An example of the latter is The Deep & Eureka! Museum, and a year pass is what places like Yorkshire Wildlife Park have.
Both are fantastic for saving money because after the first visit you get every day out after that for free. For annual passes which cost more than one visit, I recommend sitting down and working out how many times you would have to go to make the annual pass worth it… is that doable, and will you realistically go more than that? If the answer is yes, then you will save money by investing in the annual pass.
Birthdays and Christmas is a fantastic time to ask friends and family to buy annual passes for you and your children. This is fantastic because they can be pricey upfront and unlike a gift which gets pushed to the side, an annual pass gift gets you free days out and experiences all year round.
I recommend doing a bit of research before buying your annual pass to any attraction/day out. Such as, how much a child costs and what the rules are for any child tickets, additional ticket costs if you were to take someone else, any hidden extras at the said place which may contribute to your day out (for example parking, food, hidden entertainment, charges, etc) and if any special events cost extra or included.
I have a list here of annual passes for days out for you to read and get some ideas of some, but there will be even more around the UK… think outside the box for things like cinema cards and restaurant vouchers/gift cards if that’s something you and your family like to do often.
5. Money saving: Unlimited day travel across South Yorkshire for £8.50 with a SYConnect+ ticket.
If you are going somewhere in South Yorkshire that requries you to get multiple forms of public transport in a day, bus and train for example, then get a SYConnect+ day ticket, rather than pay separate on the travel.
This ticket is £8.50 and allows you to travel on train, bus and tram anywhere in south yorkshire as many time as you like. It’s such a bargain and a really fantastic ticket which isn’t advertised much (or at all).
£8.50 includes any type of train, bus or tram route in the whole of South Yorkshire border and is cheaper than paying for train and bus tickets separately.
Ideas for days out using the SYConnect+ are Yorkshire Wildlife Park from Sheffield; train to Doncaster then bus. More places this is handy for is getting to Wentworth garden centre; train to Barnsley then bus or Brodsworth Hall and gardens in Doncaster; train and bus, Cannon hall; train to Barnsley and bus. These are just some ideas.
Extra tip: Draw out a map of south yorkshire and mark the boundaries from the ticket. Find days out within the boundaries and mark them on the map. Now you know where you can go and plan your days out with this ticket.
A weekly ticket costs £28.70, for unlimited travel in South Yorkshire. Perhaps one to think about for school holidays… you could save a lot of pounds on trains and buses combined in 7 days with that ticket if you had a week full of days out.
6. Money saving: Airbnb & family hostels for cheap accommodation.
We are regulars with Airbnb and family friendly hostels. We have used them for a few years and love it. If you don’t know what Airbnb is; it’s a website where you can find holidays rentals, room shares and homes to stay in, anywhere in the world. You can search by private room, shared room, and entire home.
Last year we went to London twice and couldn’t afford a hotel so we got apartments on airbnb. It’s very handy for booking quick, cheap last minute overnight stays if you are going to another city or town. It’s worth noting that some of the “private rooms” that are listed have separate bathrooms and private entrances so don’t always just filter for “entire house”.
My advice is to always check the reviews of your host, put it the dates of your stay to get an accurate price and google the area of the place before booking, always leave feedback and have good communication with your host over messages; it really makes a difference.
Don’t forget family hostels; YHA is fantastic and if you are a member (£15 a year) then it gets you £3 off per member + £1.50 for every under 18 when you book. Plus there’s lots of other discounts with a YHA membership for high street shops. YHA, Airbnb, etc., is not always the cheapest; like anything, you have to do your research and compare your prices. I always check YHA prices against booking.com (which I use to find any hotel and search by lowest price).
There are many hostels on hostelworld which are family friendly and are a cheaper alternative to a hotel. We like Igloo Hostel in Nottingham as an example.
Extra tip: If you use my refer a friend code on airbnb and book a stay we both get rewarded £25 travel credit, which is amazing! My code is ncooper47. No catch, you have your own refer link once joining too. If you use mine, thank you!
7. Picnic and eat your own food.
Take your own food whenever you can. Pack and plan picnics in advance for your trips. Research where you are going in advance to find a picnic area or inside room you can use.
If you are staying overnight, buy groceries from a local supermarket to take back to your apartment. We often just buy sandwiches and salads to eat when we are staying away as it is a cheaper alternative to eating out.
If you are staying for longer than a few nights, choose accommodation that has kitchen facilities so you can cook and prepare your own food. Plan your meals and packed lunches ahead of time.
We always, always book an apartment for stays longer than 1 night because even though they can be more expensive than a hotel room, the money saved in eating out pays off. YHA hotels have a kitchen you can prepare and make your own food.
Top tip: get reusable water bottles for all the family. We did this last year and have noticed a big saving. Bottles of water are ridiculous at attractions and museums etc., plus taking your own toddler bottle of water means you won’t “splash out” on overpriced kids drinks.
8. Money saving: Vouchers.
Always check for vouchers for places you are going. As mentioned above there is the national rail vouchers 2for1, money saving expert, groupon, wowcher and Tesco club card to name a few. Oh, and remember to sign up to newsletters.
9. Plan activities and days out that don’t cost you a penny.
Before you go, search for free things to do in that area. Really do your research… ask on our community group and dig deep into google.
Don’t forget to read my 57 free things to do and days out for saving money here.
If you have any annual passes these are a great way to save money and make your returns a free day, see my 7 annual passes blog here.