days out & holidays

Days out do not have to be expensive, nor do you have to forsake them when living frugally. Some fantastic days out cost no more than the petrol or bus fares used to get there or maybe you could even walk depending on the distance of your chosen venue!

picnicPicnics – pop some filled rolls or sandwiches, fruit, biscuits, juice, crisps etc. into a bag and head off somewhere nice. City parks are free and can provide an entertaining day out – they often have free events on during the summer months from outdoor concerts to acrobats. Country parks are much the same though often much bigger and better for long walks. Beaches are great – ask about good ones at your local Tourist Information Office – they are not always the obvious ones where everyone goes. One of the best family days out we ever had was at a quiet country beach with a very basic picnic – a pod of whales swam by jumping and spouting – it was amazing – no guarantees of that happening of course!

All cities have some art galleries and museums that are free or extemely cheap to see round. Make use of them – you sometimes feel like you are seeing a whole lot more than you ever did once you try to be frugal ;) See Rambles from the London Tube for many walks including details of sights and museums (many free). Discount London have many good sightseeing and theatre deals that are worth checking before you book elsewhere.

If you are visiting attractions that make a charge try never to pay full price. Tourist information centres, libraries and many museums etc. will have leaflets advertising local events and attractions which often include discount vouchers.

Many cinemas have an ‘early bird’ deal every day – for films starting before 12 noon tickets can cost half to a third less than usual – this varies greatly from venue to venue but it’s worth checking. Some cinemas have a cheap night instead.

Historic Scotland have a free weekend in November to coincide with St. Andrews day and English Heritage have a free weekend in April. The National Trust does have a free day once a year though this varies from property to property but it seems to usually fall in April or May. Some of their properties such as ancient monuments that don’t need staffing are free all year round anyway (see their websites for details) – but these weekends and days are a good opportunity to go round a few castles or stately homes. If you find you like visiting this type of property an annual membership can save you lots.

Near the Motorways: Affordable Alternatives to Service Stations (10th Edition) This book lists places that provide a meal or a quiet rest just five minutes from a motorway junction. The author has personally visited and selected over 200 entries in the guide which are included for their ambiance, friendliness, imaginative menus or peaceful surroundings. They do not pay for inclusion so each is chosen solely on merit. Each entry is illustrated by pen and wash drawing by the author, for ease of recognition. Special mention is made of the welcome for dogs and children and of any places of interest which are nearby.

Holidays:

Secret Escapes is an exclusive members only travel club. From chic resorts to city breaks in boutique hotels, they secure their members huge discounts on travel. They hand pick all the luxury hotels and holidays in their sales, and guarantee that you won’t find these offers anywhere else.

Lowcostholidays.com is one of the UK’s top DIY online booking sites, offering customers the freedom to create their own packaged holiday according to their personal needs. They give you the opportunity to hand pick your hotel and flight, which in combination can give you the best value holiday. They offer early booking discounts, and much more.

compare hotel prices on 244 booking sites at once, ensuring you get the best deal.

Home Exchange, the holiday alternative where “You stay in my home while I stay in yours,” is a great way to have a cost effective getaway to anywhere in the world. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet used this website when arranging their own home exchange in the motion picture The Holiday, and with over 40,000 members in 146 countries you can see why! Membership allows unlimited exchanges and costs only £5.95 per month for one year membership or £9.95 per month for 3 months membership.

Then there’s housesitting. Trustedhousesitters is the world’s largest house and pet sitting website connecting home and pet owners who need a sitter, when going away, with trustworthy people who want to house sit.  With homeowners registered in over 50 countries – house sitting has been cited as a big travel trend. From townhouses in London to renovated farmhouses in Tuscany, apartments in Sydney and New York to beach homes in Hawaii – there are thousands of house sitting opportunities.

Camping is a great way to have a cheap holday too, get yourself a tent and an up to date guide to campsites in the UK and off you go!

toby

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