Recession-busting days out

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

So you decide to treat your family to a day out. You settle on a well-known theme park, fill up the car with petrol to the tune of ג‚¬60 and set off on your adventure. Half an hour in, the kids need to stop for a toilet break, so you pull into a service station. ג‚¬20 later and you’re all stocked up on soft drinks, comics and emergency sweetie rations. Arriving at the theme park you gulp at the family ג€˜bargain’ price of ג‚¬40 each (that’s ג‚¬160 for the four of you) and head off for the nearest rollercoaster, thanking your lucky stars you at least had the foresight to pack a picnicג€¦ but that was before the kids spotted the giant fluorescent smoothies on sale next to the ice cream stallג€¦ Before you know it, you’ve spent well over ג‚¬250 and it’s not even lunchtime yet!

For young children the key to having fun without spending all this cash is to really think hard about what they are going to get out of the day, and if the experience will really warrant practically increasing your overdraft. Kids get a huge amount out of simply looking forward to and planning a trip with you, so your attention and shared excitement will have a lot to do with the ultimate outcome of the experience.

For no more money than it costs to make a picnic (and you’ll still get change from ג‚¬5 with homemade sandwiches and fruit), you can pack up and head to the beach, to the woods, a park or simply to the open countryside and spend some time as a family walking, talking and playing in unfamiliar surroundings. Kicking a football on the sand makes a welcome change to your back garden, and when there are inexpensive, reusable buckets and spades on offer, what more do you need?

Why not explore a new location by bike, if your children are old enough to cycle, or alternatively fit a child seat or extension to the back of yours? Your kids will love seeing the scenery hurtling by and the fresh air and exercise will do you all the world of good. A flask full of steaming hot chocolate ready for the odd pit stop goes a long way.

If you’re heading to the woods, you could draw up a list of items to find as a kind of treasure hunt ג€“ use pictures if your child isn’t yet able to read ג€“ then set your children off with little buckets to collect their treasures in, working towards a reward at the end of the hunt for the most finds. Ideas for your treasure list may include a white pebble, a yellow flower, a tiny leaf, an acorn and so on.

Excellent ideas for family days out often include a bit of exercise, and alongside hiking, swimming is usually far less expensive than you think it might be. It’s never too early to increase your little one’s confidence in the water, so blow up your inflatables and dive in.

While your child is still young, it’s worth taking note that many tourist attractions admit children under the age of 5 free, so particularly if you save up supermarkets reward vouchers and keep an eye out for special offers, you can often get your family into a local zoo, aquarium or museum either for free, or perhaps for the price of just one adult ticket.
Where to next?

For some great ideas of cheap days out in Ireland, visit the following websites:

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