Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget)

Disclosure: We have paid for this trip ourselves with the exception of our accommodation at Duinrell which has been provided by Eurocamp. This post contains affiliate links.

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget)

We're spending May Half Term exploring Holland with the kids. We're trying to do the trip on a bit of a budget. I'll be sharing daily tips and what we've been up to over on my Facebook page and Instagram stories across half term so if you're interested, please make sure you're following along.

Travel Plans with DFDS Seaways 

As a family of 5, trying to find cheap flights over Half Term AND a Bank Holiday Weekend was an absolute nightmare, especially from Newcastle. When I checked last autumn (10 months ish before our trip), they were going to set us back around £1200 including luggage and budget car hire and when I checked this week, that price had gone up to over £2000. Yikes!

We'd travelled with DFDS Seaways a few years ago to try their Amsterdam Zoo day trip and had a brilliant time, plus the kids are forever asking when we can go back on the ferry. Then when a reader mentioned that DFDS usually run an autumn promotion where you can spread the cost and receive a little bit of a discount (15% in our case), it was a done deal. I ended up paying just under £500 for the 5 of us in a 5 berth cabin including our car for the return overnight ferry from Newcastle-Amsterdam. I LOVE that there are no restrictions with luggage allowance and will be taking advantage of this by packing things like the kids' scooters and our big cool bags etc.... I was able to pay an £80 deposit on booking and spread the rest of the balance (which was due in March).

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - DFDS 5 berth cabin
5 berth sea view cabin

I dithered over what to do about food for ages. The on-board buffet is lovely but there's no denying it's also expensive. It was going to work out to be around £110 each way for us to dine (including drinks) which was an extra £220 on our booking. Not ideal when you're on a budget and I knew that Heidi would stick with pasta and ice cream so wouldn't get the best value (although the boys would fill their boots). I checked with DFDS Seaways and you are allowed to take your own food on board so long as you eat it in your cabin and don't bring any alcohol on board. So our plan is to have a big lunch and then take a picnic on board and lots of snacks for the journey. I reckon 2 picnics will set us back £30 maximum so that's a huge saving of £190. A few people had mentioned that sometimes DFDS email you with heavily discounted dining deals just before your trip but I had no such luck - I am guessing they are probably busy with it being school holidays so don't need to run such a promotion.

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - DFDS buffet
Buffet on board

On the recommendation of readers, I did book breakfast on board for the outbound journey. I remember from past experience that there's a lot of waiting around as the ship docks and the last thing we want during our first experience of driving in the Netherlands is hangry kids! Breakfast is pricey at just under £40 for the 5 of us but in this case, I think it is worth it. You can see a breakdown of what we paid below and you can find out more, check the latest prices and deals and book a trip with DFDS Seaways online here. 

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - DFDS early booking offer

Preparing for driving in Holland

Steve has driven in America and France but it's always been with a hire car. He's a little nervous about driving our own left-hand drive car on the continent but we've had lots of reassurances that it's absolutely fine and pretty straightforward. The main thing to watch out for is cyclists. At time of writing, the UK is still part of the EU and our current car insurance covers us for driving in the EU so we didn't need to worry about that. There are no tolls in the Netherlands to worry about either. The main things to consider were that we needed:
  • A valid UK driving licence 
  • A GB Sticker on the back of our car OR Euro-plates (number plates with a circle of 12 stars on a blue background). We have both just to be sure
  • Motor insurance certificate and V5 document 
  • Headlamp converters to stop lights dazzling other motorists at night. We don't plan on driving at night but better to be safe than sorry. I bought this pack from Amazon for under £5. 
There are some good tips over on the RAC website for driving in the Netherlands here. Obviously, we're in a very changeable situation at the moment and advice and requirements can change -  always double check requirements from official sources before taking a trip yourself. 

I'm excited about taking our own car abroad as it means I don't have to be so strict with packing and luggage allowance. Weather in the Netherlands is very similar to the UK so during May Half Term we could experience glorious sunshine or a week of rain (I'm hoping for the first). I love that I can pack for all weathers without worrying about the weight of our cases or space. 

Duinrell, Beekes Bergen and Efteling 

Our original plan was to do a bit of a tour of the Netherlands and stay at Duinrell, Beekes Bergen and Efteling. However, Beekes Bergen was holding a rock festival on the only dates we could stay so we had to scrap that idea. We're spending 6 nights at Duinrell and 1 night at Efteling.

Duinrell - Duinrell is a theme park and waterpark around a 40 minute drive from port. Guests have unlimited access to the theme park free of charge as part of their stay and can pay a small fee (I think it's 4 euro) to access the waterpark. In the evenings there's a bowling alley, bar with entertainment and you have access to the play parks and trampolines at Duinrell (free of charge). It's also a short walk into the town of Wassanger where there are lots of lovely restaurants. There are a number of options for day trips in the surrounding villages and towns including places like Gouda or you can park and ride to Amsterdam. We are heading to The Hague which is only 20 minutes away by bus straight from Duinrell. You can find out more, check prices and book Duinrell here. 

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - Duinrell theme park rides
Duinrell - Credit Eurocamp

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - Duinrell theme park rides
Duinrell - Credit Eurocamp

Beekes Bergen - Beekes Bergen is a safari park and if you stay for more than 3 nights, you have free access to both the safari park and attraction park where there is loads to see and do including playgrounds, trampolines, rides, mini golf, go karts, water rides and of course lots of animals too. It looks brilliant and I'm gutted we couldn't stay. Beekes Bergen is around a 1-hour drive from port and very close to Efteling. You can find out more, check prices and book Beekes Bergen here.

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - Beekes Bergen Safari Boat
Beekes Bergen - Credit Eurocamp

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - Beekes Bergen Park
Beekes Bergen - Credit Eurocamp 

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - Beekes Bergen Safari Park
Beekes Bergen - Credit Eurocamp

Efteling - Efteling is often cited as one of the best theme parks in the world and said to be where Disney World gets its inspiration. It's huge and very immersive and everyone who has been says it's AMAZING. It is a little pricey staying here and we paid around £300 for one night in an on-site house which includes unlimited theme park access for the duration of our stay (so 2 days). There are lots of added extras such as talking bins and a storyteller is said to visit the accommodation at night and read kids a story. I'm so excited! Efteling is just over a one hour drive from port. Actually, when you price something similar in the UK (eg the Alton Towers Hotel during school holidays), Efteling looks like a bargain. You can find out more, check prices and book Efteling here.

Efteling Cottages - Credit Efteling

Efteling Rides - Credit Efteling

Visiting Amsterdam or The Hague with Kids 

Last time we visited Amsterdam, we spent the whole day at Artis Zoo (which is brilliant). It's pretty easy to get to Amsterdam from Duinrell - you park your car at the Ajax stadium park and ride (around 20 minutes away) and then it's a short train ride into the city. I would love to do this but the problem is, there is SO much I want to see and do in Amsterdam and I couldn't narrow it down to just one day. I have decided not to visit Amsterdam on this occasion but we'll return for a proper city break with the kids soon - watch this space.

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - Amsterdam
Amsterdam - Credit Pixabay

I'd never really considered visiting The Hague with the kids but lots of people have recommended and said it's a brilliant place to visit with children. Plus it is super easy to get to - just a 20 minute bus journey direct from Duinrell. Scheveningen is a large beach with a pier, sealife centre, restaurants, zip wires, fairground rides and more. It looks brill and we'll be heading there first. There's also the Maduradaum which is a Dutch 'mini-land' and supposed to be fab for kids and I can't wait to see some of the architecture and landmarks such as the UN court of justice.

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget) - The Hague Beach
Scheveningen beach - Credit Pixabay

I am so excited to take this trip. I am hoping to give Harry and Heidi some freedom and once we've got our bearings, will let them explore the theme park by themselves for a few hours each day while we go on the smaller rides with Jack. I hope the weather is nice but if it's not the best, I like that there are plenty of indoor options such as the water park, bowling or attractions at The Hague. Eating out is a big part of our holidays and we'll probably dine out in Waasenger or The Hague each night but we'll be enjoying breakfast and lunch in our lodge - there is a big Jumbo supermarket and Aldi within a 5 minute drive of the park. I haven't driven abroad yet but as we don't need an international driving license to drive in Holland (yet), I am tempted to be brave and give it a little go. We will see!

Don't forget, you can follow our trip along via Instagram Stories here and I'll post daily updates on my Facebook page here. We leave on 25 May and will be in Holland for the week. To any would-be burglars, my brother lives at my house to look after our Guinea Pigs when we are away, so don't get any ideas (plus we literally have nothing to steal as I spend all of our money on travel).

Let me know if you fancy this trip or if you have any questions. 



  1. Excited to follow your adventures, it certainly seems like you have done some good planning and saving! I love that you can take as much luggage as you need... one less stress!! X

    1. Yes definitely - especially when the weather could do anything x

  2. I would never have thought of doing this type of holiday before but it sounds like you will all have great fun. We have just booked next years holiday for May half-term but we have saved a fortune by flying two days before half term x

  3. Don’t forget the Dutch supermarkets and some shops don’t take any type of UK cards so make sure you have enough cash otherwise you’re in for an embarrassing time at the checkouts!!

  4. Oh and watch for the cycle lanes when pulling out, driving round roundabouts and basically anywhere - they always have priority! Better yet, hire some bikes and make use of them!

  5. sounds brilliant! we loved our trip to amsterdam last year & thought it would be great to come back to Holland with the kids one day. I'd really like to try a Euro camp too!


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