Some say that travelling to England for a family vacation is expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you should dump it from your bucket list! Using a few of these money-saving tips and tricks will allow you to make the best of your next UK vacation – without breaking the bank.
1. Travel in July
Most British schools don’t break up for their summer holidays until the final week of July (don’t feel bad for the kids; they get a weeks’ half-term break in October and February). The short British summer means that Canadians can take advantage of plentiful accommodation and lower prices during the first half of July, when all the English kiddies are still in school!
2. Buy a Britrail Pass Before You Go.
Britrail passes offer incredible flexibility and savings for visitors to England, and they’re great for families because for each accompanying adult or senior, one child (ages 5-15) travels free. You must buy a Britrail pass before you leave Canada, as they’re specifically for tourists. ACP Rail is the best place to shop for your pass.
3. Sleep Above a Pub (and eat there too!)
Staying above a pub is a great way to save money for families. Most pubs offer breakfast in the morning included in the room rate, plus a hearty and affordable evening menu. Ranging from high-end boutique to cheap and cheerful local pubs that don’t even have their own website, you’ll find a variety of options at www.stayinapub.com
4. Stay at a Youth Hostel
Do your kids like bunk beds? The award-winning Youth Hostel Association of England and Wales has 150 unique properties, ranging from their modern backpackers on Oxford Street to the incredible Sill at Hadrian’s Wall – a high-spec hostel and landscape discovery centre in Northumberland. High-season prices start at £79.00 for a family room with en-suite bathroom facilities. Check out the YHA UK for more details.
5. Use Oyster Cards
Travelling in London? Use an Oyster card to save money on the London Underground. For example, an off-peak single adult ticket between Ealing Broadway (Zone 3) and Picaddily Circus (Zone 1) is $4.90 if you pay cash, or 2.90 if you use your Oyster. Even better, a Visitor Oyster Card can get you special discounts on London Attractions.
6. Travel Off-Peak
Taking the tube? Don’t travel between 6:30 am and 9:30 am Monday to Friday. This is when Londoners are rushing to work so fares are are nearly double, and the crowds are thick and fast. The same goes for National Rail services – everything is cheaper after the rush hour and on weekends.
7. Visit Free Attractions in London
London is full of free attractions like Paddington’s favourite, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Just down the road, the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens is free too. You can find more free attractions and ideas for family travel at VisitLondon.com
8. Leave the Big Cities Behind…and Hit the Beach
So many of us fly into London’s Heathrow and spend a few days in London, with day trips to Windsor, Oxford or Bath. Why not travel outside the box to somewhere completely new? Take the County of Cornwall for example. With scrumptious local food like pasties and cream teas, and hundreds of stunning beaches, it’s a place that is immensely popular with the British holidaymakers, but that many international visitors don’t see. Learn more at Visit Cornwall.
9. Grab a Picnic
England has plenty of beautiful green spaces, and on every corner, there are convenient mini-supermarkets like Tesco Metro or Sainsbury’s Local. Grab some ready-made sandwiches, juice packs and a few apples to enjoy a chilled-out family picnic near a playground or beside a canal. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!