Here are some top tips for saving time and money with traveling and days out as a family.
Some of these apply for Yorkshire travel but most are regional. These are some ways we manage to keep the cost of our trips down and handy tips on saving time.
1. 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. 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. Check the website/Facebook of your destination. Before you go, check the website and/or facebook of your destination. I recommend you check twice, at least. Once, when you decide to go there and are planning your trip. And two, just before you get there. 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.
4. Use a sling. Whenever you can, use a sling. We have used slings since day 1 with our baby and it has helped us invaluably with traveling. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have been stung on public transport; either having to wait for another bus because I can’t get my pram on, or because the bus doesn’t have low floor (this happens with countryside buses) and I couldn’t fold it down, or the train was too busy for me to get on with my pram up. Not only that, but family attractions can be really busy and it will save you a lot of time having to wait for lifts and only be restricted to certain paths, etc due to the pram. Having a sling also means you can go places you can’t with your pram, for example walks in the countryside.
Our slings allow us to go anywhere at any time and carrying our baby safely means we can use any form of public transport. It gives us freedom and we have been able to take Eric places we would be restricted to otherwise. I understand a pram is useful in certain situations, and if you have mutliples it can be tricky, but please find your local sling library where you will be able to get heaps of advice and try on slings. I volunteer for my sling library, the Sheffield Sling Surgery, and would strongly recommend it to anyone in and around South Yorkshire!
Even if you are not close to yorkshire, Rosie has written some fantastic blogs and there is a lot of information on her Facebook page here to learn more.
5. SYConnect+ for South Yorkshire day trips. 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 £7.90 and allows you to travel on train, bus and tram anywhere in south yorkshire. This is cheaper than paying for train tickets, then hopping on a bus and getting a return ticket; which I used to do before I knew about this ticket! It’s also great for if you live on a tram route!
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. You can also use it to combine two trips in one day, and it includes Clayton west for Kirklees light railway!
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.
6. Airbnb & family hostels for cheap accommodation. We are regulars with Airbnb, we have used it for a few years and love it. We also use family hostels, but for the majority of our overnight stays and trips Airbnb is the best value for money. 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; there are many hostels on hostelworld which are family friendly and are a cheaper alternative to a hotel.
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, no sponsors; 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.
9. Plan activities and days out that don’t cost you a penny. Before you go, search for free things to do. 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.
Do you have any tips? Did you find any of these useful?
Thanks for reading ☺️