Saving money on a staycation

Natural History Museum The Natural History Museum in London is one of the UK's most popular destinations

At the Natural History Museum in London, there is a 45-minute queue for the dinosaur exhibition, the noise levels are climbing by the second, and children are dashing around between the exhibits.

Welcome to the vivacity of the Easter holiday season.

Entry to this museum is free, as it is at many other museums and galleries across the country.

But, talk to parents, and they will say that the cost of days out with their families remains a key issue of concern during the holiday period.

Michael and Emma Griffiths have brought their family to London to celebrate daughter Katie's 10th birthday.

"We have had to purchase train tickets for five of us," says Mr Griffiths.

"We have had to get our lunch. We are going to the circus this afternoon, which costs quite a bit of money. And then we have got to get our tea, and also the train ticket home. So all in all, I'd say it will cost about £200 for the day."

India, Elly and Georgina Boakes India, Elly and Georgina Boakes enjoy a day out in London

Jason and Sally Hickling, from Lincolnshire, wanted to do something more educational than a beach holiday with their two girls. They have budgeted £1,500 for five days in the capital.

Elly Boakes is just up for the day. She has travelled from Lowestoft with her daughters. She says it is not easy.

"First there are the gift shops, then they want lunch, they want to eat out," she says.

"I love having them off school, but I do not know how I am going to afford the rest of the two-week holiday."

Michael Oliver is a senior retail analyst with research company Mintel. He says that as people feel the pinch, prices of attractions and days out become more important.

Michael Oliver Michael Oliver says people are looking for ways to save

"Around two-fifths of people are cutting back on their leisure spending at the moment. One of the key aspects is that they are looking for value for money," he says.

"Around three-quarters say they are always on the lookout for deals. So if attractions want to keep their customers, that is what they really need to focus on."

Tourist boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have taken this on board. They are running a campaign to persuade people to holiday at home or, as they call it, enjoy a staycation.

'Special year'

As well as adverts featuring the likes of Stephen Fry, actress Julie Walters and Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, they have set up a website especially for 2012.

It offers discounts of 20.12% on everything from accommodation and attractions, to events.

The number of people staycationing in England went up by 9% in 2011 compared with 2010, Visit England says.

Sarah Long Sarah Long says that there are ways for visitors to save money on trips

Generally, 84% of all visitors to Scotland are from the UK. That figure climbs to 90% in Wales, the tourist boards say.

The equivalent body in Northern Ireland says its saw a 21% increase in those on staycation in 2010 from 2009.

"There are a million reasons why you should do it this year. It is a special year," says Sarah Long, of tourism body Visit England.

"We have got the Olympics, the torch relay throughout the country, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and the cultural festival with lots of free events.

"So as well all the fantastic things we have in terms of buzzing cities, fantastic coastlines, glorious countryside, we have also got these once-in-a-generation events happening this year.

"We have done some research with people who took a holiday in this country last year, and 85% said they had a really good or excellent time."

Saving tips

Miss Long says tourists can take easy steps to cut down on costs.

"There are really obvious things like taking a packed lunch, or making a really nice picnic," she says.

"That helps to save the pennies. And there are fantastic green spaces throughout this country that are completely and utterly free for a really lovely day out with the family."

Her top tip is to plan ahead.

"You won't believe how much money you can save when you buy an annual attractions pass. You can get those for lots of different destinations around the country," she says.

"Also, make sure you do your research and book your transport way ahead of time so you can get discounts on coaches and trains and all sorts of transport methods.

"Essentially, treat your holiday in this country as you would for one overseas. Do your research and you'll get a much better deal."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Attractions in the UK are overpriced, food expensive and terrible at most tourist places, transport the most exorbitantly priced, I wonder what tourists will think of Britain when they come for the olympics
    And above all, customer service be it in a restaurant or anywhere else, people lack a smile and a helping tone in their voice

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    We have holidayed abroad many times but these days tend to stick to the UK or a trip through the chunnel to Northern France. This has brought the realisation just how nice and varied the UK is. The turning point for us was increased travelling times and conditions in airports. The amount of time you have to spend in these places being kettled and ripped off just spoils the hols.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    It is FAR cheaper to go abroard. Sorry it is a fact and Mr Fry and his TV advert cronies won't convinced me otherwise.Attractions sell expensive annual entrances, food is expensive and rubbish, hotel facilties are ancient and the attitude of staff appauling, resorts and beaches are filthy, shops are cheap and nasty, the behaviour of the indiginous population schocking not to mention the weather.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    yesterday my wife bought a slip of paper from a newspaper of hotels in north norfolk, i have just looked up on the net the (discount) prices.
    all i will say is we will be going abroad again this year and save money.
    good old rip off britain

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    For the last decade my family have camped in the UK, and no matter which corner we have chosen it has rained hard and often, I have the photos to prove this!
    If I wanted to cook for myself I'd stay at home, I want a break from it all on my hard earned holiday!
    For the cost of 2 weeks last year in Devon we have booked 2 weeks half board in contest!


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