20+ ways to save money during the school holidays

School Holidays can be an expensive time for parents, I have popped together a few ways we save money / make our £ go further. Let me know your ideas in the comments too.

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays

1 - Collect Vouchers from Primary Times 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - vouchers

I know lots of people pop Primary Times straight in the bin or it stays in a child's school bag for months but it is definitely worth flicking through for money-off vouchers before you do.

They sometimes have some excellent offers. I cut all of the vouchers out and pop them on my fridge. In the summer they had BOGOF Fun Shack vouchers.

I wouldn't normally pay £20+ for Heidi and Jack to go to soft play in the holidays and £10 made it a lot more affordable.

2 - If you are thinking of visiting somewhere, check the following places for offers before you book: 
  • Attraction website (under offers)
  • Attraction Facebook page
  • Money Saving Expert
  • Groupon/Wowcher/ Itson/Living Social
  • Google 
Often offers arent very well advertised and are hidden away. Staff sometimes won't mention them when you visit either.  

3 - Search Groupon 

If you do not have a set place in mind, search Groupon/Wowcher/Itson/Living Social for ideas. There are often some brilliant deals for soft play / trampoline parks etc.... Do check t&cs before booking though as some exclude school holidays.

4 - The Cinema is your friend 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - cinema

Cinema is always a good option. At our local Vue, children aged 8+ can visit unsupervised (to watch a U/PG film if under 12). Tickets are just £4.99 if booked in advance and if they visit on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, I use Meerkat Movies for 2for1 tickets.

If Harry and Heidi go this works out at just £2.50 each and fills in a morning. They always love going to the cinema too so it is win-win.

Look out for various mini mornings at cinemas in the holidays where they show a slightly older film at a reduced price (generally more suited to younger children). We go to Poundland for pick n mix / sweets beforehand and if I am going too, I *try* and remember to take my own coffee.

5 - Travel by bus to save money

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - travel by bus

Did you know if you travel with Go North East you are entitled to discounts on lots of days out across the North East? (T&Cs apply). See here for the full list.  Highlights include:

  • Kids Go Free at LIFE
  • Save 25% off an annual pass at Beamish
  • Kids Go Free at Seven Stories
  • Save 25% at Tanfield Railway 
  • 2-4-1 Quaser South Shields
  • £10 Family Bowling at Sunderland Bowl 

6 - Invest in an annual pass

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - buy an annual pass

Buying one/two annual passes in February Half Term will save you lots of £ over the year. I have compared some of the most popular North East Annual Passes here and shared which ones I think offer the best value.

We have paid monthly for our Merlin Annual Passes this year and it means that we can have a big day out at a theme park / big attraction every school holiday and spread the cost rather than having a big outlay/planning ahead for a big day out.

7 - Check out your local shopping centre 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - shopping centre fun

Local shopping centres often run free events during the holidays. They want your custom and encouraging you to visit with kids is a canny marketing ploy.

Over the years we have enjoyed free family events at Dalton Park, Metrocentre, Eldon Square & Manor Walks. It is definitely worth checking out their Facebook pages in the run up to school holidays.

8 - Sign up to free workshops  

You can sign up to Pets at Home Animal Care (My Pet Pals) Workshops, Apple Camp and free workshops at local museums. There's also Dobbies Little Seedlings Club and Disney run their own in-store events too. 

9 - Check out these options for low-cost/free events 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - free museums

Great North Museum, Discovery Museum,  Ouseburn Farm, The Word South Shields, Preston Park, Baltic and Seven Stories run fantastic events in the school holidays and they are mostly free/under £5.

These are my go-to places for cheap days out. Events at Ouseburn Farm and Seven Stories usually need to be booked in advance, the others are usually drop-in.

10 - Remember you don't have to go out!

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - play board games

Staying in, building dens, cooking together/baking, watching movies, playing board games, playing on Minecraft, arts and crafts, playing with toys, reading.......all stuff my kids love and does not involve spending a penny.

Often there is too much pressure to do something every day. Sometimes chilled days at home are just the ticket.

11 - Your local library is free 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - library

Use is or lose it - you can usually reserve any title free of charge and a little trip to the library & choosing new books together is an inexpensive way to kill half a day. Many libraries offer additional free activities during the holidays such as storytelling, crafts, trails and challenges too.

12 - Ask for theatre tokens/tickets as a gift and use in the holidays

Sometimes relatives struggle with ideas for what to buy kids for birthdays/Christmas. I can highly recommend theatre tokens/vouchers. Saving them for a special show in the holidays gives you something to look forward to.

13 - Make money with a car boot sale/tabletop sale/ebay clear out

This is a fab idea to kill time AND get the kids involved in decluttering. Any money they make can pay for a big family day out. We once made £180 at a car boot sale with minimal effort.

My kids also used to like running their own little table top sales with old toys in our garden in the summer holidays when they were little. It kept them entertained for hours.

14 - Look out for kids eat free offers 

I am partial to a kids eat free offer but be aware that they're not always the best deals. I often find that just looking for a cheaper place to eat keeps the cost down overall.

Our favourites are McDonalds, Subway, Grainger Market for pizza and cakes, the Cluny (kids meals are available from £2.95 and they're all home-cooked) and our local fish and chip restaurant

15 - Get a few friends together and qualify for group discount/private hire

Attractions often offer discounts if there are 10+ of you (theme parks being a prime example). Why not get some of your friends/family together and organise a big day out somewhere?

Alternatively, sometimes looking at party packages can work out cheaper too. For example at Whitehouse Farm, if you book a party for 10 children for £140, you get 10 free grown-ups, a tractor ride, private animal handling session and food and drink for the kids. This works out at just £7 per person and is actually cheaper than standard admission yet includes more.

16 - Travel by train for 2 for 1 entry 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - travel by train

If you travel by train, you can access 2 for 1 entry or discounts to many of the UK's top attractions. See here for details and the full list.  Highlights include:

  • Churchill War Rooms
  • Alton Towers
  • Tower of London
  • York Dungeon
  • Warwick Castle 
  • Kew Gardens 
  • ThinkTank Birmingham
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Cadbury World
  • Chocoholic Afternoon Tea
  • St Pauls Cathedral 
  • Westminster Abbey 
  • Blackpool Tower
  • Kensington Palace
  • Roald Dahl Museum 
  • City Cruises
  • & lots more.... 

Don't forget to buy a railcard to save on train fares - click here to read why we love our railcard

17 - Check activities at your local leisure centre 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - local leisure centre

Local leisure centres are a fantastic place to find low-cost activities in the holidays. Many run low-cost school holiday activities. Our local (Concordia) runs £1 drop-in archery and inflatables or £1 pizza and bowling for teens in the holidays.

Other centres offer cheap multi-sports and even free swimming sessions for local residents.  Councils do not always have the best marketing so as well as keeping an eye on their FB page, it is worth popping into your local leisure centres or giving them a call a couple of weeks before the holidays start to see what is on offer.

Even if they don't run special events, swimming for kids can be pretty inexpensive. At our local pool, swimmers aged 8+ can swim without a grown-up and it is only £2.50 each.

18 - Walking and going to the park or beach is FREE

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - play parks

Often the simplest and cheapest days out are the best. A family picnic in the park, walk through the woods or along the coast is always a nice way to get out of the house and enjoy some family time. Check out these posts for inspiration:

19 - Use Supermarket loyalty points to pay for days out 

Personally, I like to save my points for the big six week holidays. There are lots of places you can redeem Supermarket loyalty points, including:

  • Merlin Annual Pass
  • English Heritage Membership 
  • London Eye
  • The Shard
  • Alton Towers
  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach / Zoo
  • Chessington World of Adventure
  • Cineworld
  • Conkers 
  • & lots more  

20 - Plan and book in advance to spread the cost 

Many attractions release tickets a few months before the holidays. I try and spread the cost and book a couple of events well in advance of the actual school holidays. Then when the holidays do hit, I know I have a couple of things planned and paid for so do not need to stress about finding extra £.

21 - Get in the habit of taking your own snacks & drinks 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - own snacks

A lot of the cost of days out can be due to snacks and drinks. My kids ALWAYS moan that they are thirsty during days out and I have tried to get into the habit of them taking their own little bag (we call them adventure packs) with a bottle of water from the tap at home and a few snacks from the cupboard. Not only does this cut down on whinging but it also saves us lots of ££ too.

22 - Check out this list of FREE days out 

23 - Travel by Metro to save money 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - travel by metro

If you travel by Metro, you can take advantage of some cracking discounts on days out (see here for the full list). Offers include:

  • Kids go free at LIFE
  • £2 off Tynemouth Aquarium 
  • FREE Travel to North East Theatres (t&cs apply)

24 - Newcastle NE1 Events 

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - Newcastle NE1

We are so lucky to have NE1 Newcastle in North East England. They organise lots of fantastic FREE events across the year including the Quayside Seaside, NE1 Motor Show & Screen on the Green. 

25 - Stockpile snacks and visit the fruit shop/market  

20+ ways to save money during the school holidays  - fruit and veg

I swear the biggest expense for me during the school holidays is the kids eating me out of house and home. In the weeks building up to the holidays, I look out for multi-buy deals and stash one half away for the holidays. 

I also like visiting our local fruit shop or the grainger market and letting the kids pick two types of fruit each for the week ahead. Fruit shops are SO cheap compared with supermarkets and a little trip out gets us out of the house. Every time I see the prices at the Grainger Market I am shocked.  

26 - Save your 2ps 

If all else fails, we love a little trip to the arcades at the seaside. Save your 2ps in a jar over the year and then go wild! 

That is quite a list. Let me know if you have any other ideas and I will add them in due course. For more ideas for days out, you can follow North East Family Fun on Instagram here.  I post new ideas for days out (usually low-cost) every day. 

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20+ ways to save money during the school holidays



  1. There are some great tips there. Never overlook the 'go with friends' option, it can be so handy. When I need to go into Manchester with the kids, we often team up with Sim from Simslife because the 5 of us can travel on 1 group tram ticket for £1 more than a single adult! :D

  2. Great post Sam, I'm not near you but still lots of useful tips here. We've just booked a big holiday for later this year, so trying to make the next few school holidays slightly cheaper ones whilst still having fun!


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