We all want to take a break, but don’t want to break the bank while doing it. Rather than jetting off abroad, many budget conscious families are looking for holiday entertainment closer to home. But a UK based ‘staycation’ doesn’t have to mean a fortnight camped out in the back garden. There are a whole slew of great, and financially astute, options available if you decide to vacation on these shores.
Take the train to a trail
Petrol prices and parking costs can be make a huge hole in your holiday budget. Why not leave the motor in the drive and ride the rails to your vacation destination? If you book well in advance, using a train travel discount site (like www.trainline.com), bargains can be found. And, if you are travelling with kids, look into the variety of railcards and discount offers available to young people and students.
And you can continue the car-free theme by heading to one of the 2500 miles of National Trails that cover England and Wales. These beautiful tracts of scenery are ideal for bike riding, hiking or horse riding. Set up camp along the route or base yourself at a local B&B, or keep following the route, finding accommodation along the way.
Flip your digs
If you desire a change of scene, but don’t have the funds for a hotel stay, you might want to consider swapping your home for a spell. Trading your place with a like-minded vacationer can mean you pay nothing for accommodation costs and have the security of having your house occupied while you’re away.
Sites such as ‘Home link’ make it fairly simple and painless to find a suitable house-switch partner. As well as the price, you have the advantage of staying in a place away from the usual tourist areas, seeing a different side of your holiday destination.
Camping had undergone a complete revolution since the dark days of trying to erect a damp piece of canvas in a gale-force storm. With the new, luxurious breed of camping, or ‘glamping’ as it has been dubbed, you’ll barely realise you are camping at all. Now you can stay in a tipi, yurt or treehouse, featuring all mod cons in beautifully scenic areas. ‘CoolCamping.co.uk’ has a massive array of great, family-friendly camping sites all over the UK.
If the thought of a night under canvas still fills you with dread, why not enjoy the delights of the countryside and learn a thing or two with a farm stay. Perfect if your offspring are nature or pony obsessed, as well as enjoying unique accommodation and delicious local produce, you and the family will have the opportunity to milk cows, groom horses and feed chickens. Lots of farm-based holiday ideas can be found at farmstay.co.uk.
Explore your home town
If you don’t have the cash or inclination to hop in the car or board and a coach to your budget destination, there are plenty of fascinating distractions waiting for you on your doorstep. Scan your local paper or visit your area’s tourist or council’s website to unearth historic buildings, family fun days, events and attractions taking place.
Instigate holiday projects such as investigating the history of your house or delving into your family tree. Or organise a ‘mystery tour’, where you head out with the clan, not knowing what your destination will be. Hop on a bus, jump on a train and see where it takes you.
Turn your home into a theme park
Centerparcs or similar activity holiday resorts might be slightly out of your price range, but with a little imagination you can bring the theme park fun to you. Take time with the kids to decorate different rooms into different themes: a space room, a pirate room, even a caveman room, with appropriate games and activities.
Rather than splurging on a hotel, rent a bouncy castle or inflatable slide for some backyard fun. Organise a family sports day or Olympics with a whole host of exciting events. Have an outside movie screening by renting or borrowing a digital projector or arrange a family talent show, X-Factor style. Or open the atlas, pick a place at random and have a picnic based on the cuisine of that land. There are a myriad of cheap, fun staycation options out there for frugal families.