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 182.

    181. DibbySpot

    No. You get good and bad staff / people with attitude in the world.

    Best and worse service I received was in Canada.

    More a gender issue I find . . particularly in the UK.

    Male members of staff seem to be polite and welcoming, female staff -particularly young girls, exactly the opposite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Holidaying in the UK can be OK - we have just returned from a cottage rental in Norfolk. Great fun and great food which is sadly an exception. The service ethos in the UK is largely absent most restaurants and events default position is screw the customer. Unless the staff are from E Europe we turnround and leave as the outcome will be too appalling to pay for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    The weather is more reliable abroad. Hotels and cost of travel are cheaper and it's good to learn about other cultures. Experts will write and talk up holidays in the UK and then travel abroad for their holidays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    They're having a laugh. I can get to Spain and back cheaper than a weekend on the East Coast. It's beyond expensive to holiday in England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Funny how people always criticise the railways despite the fact that many of them have probably not travelled on a train in years.

    Try it one time . . you might be surprised !

    Apart from the aggressive, psychopathic, drunk Eastern European drifters who frequent the network . . I have no issues at all !

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Is the BBC now just the PR department of the ruling government?

    The gov seems to be putting lots of effort into encouraging people to stay in the UK this year as a way to try and recover cash from the olympics debacle. Now the BBC is trying to help them.

    How about we let the millionaires in westminster pay and we get the BBC to represent the 63M people of the UK ahead of the 650 in the commons?

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.


    Absolutely right - agree with all you say - in spades!

    I can afford to stay in 4 star hotels in Italy (roughly half the price of UK 4 stars + cleaner & no attitude problems). I can afford the walk on 1st class rail fares in Italy (about 1/3 cost of UK railways, + cleaner & no drunken hooligans).

    The only people who can afford this in the UK are the likes of Fry, Walters and Grint.

  • 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 173.

    Yes, I shall be staying at home again this year as usual. I haven't had an holiday since 2003, as I have no job and no income and no savings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Bethenal Green Museum of Childhood.entrance free.. some degree of interest.but a can of coke £1.45 and the cheapest roll £4, wonder your forced to bring your own sandwiches and a lot of people where at the time we visited!
    Its still cheaper to fly abroad than to holiday in the UK in the Main holidays.There are bargains...but you do have to hunt for them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    We have just booked a cottage in the beautiful Dorset countryside for a little over £500 during the summer holidays. Having stayed on the big sites that charge upwards of £900 (I suspect entertainment accounts for portion of this), feel this is a great result.

    Friendly people, outstaning scenery, not far from the coast and we can the dog with us for FREE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    @154. Proletarian Revolutionary "I'd love to have a vacation in the UK. Unfortunately the jubilee & Olympics make it impossible to have a normal holiday during those events."

    Come to Staffordshire!Great pubs,lovely countryside,beautiful villages,good shops,little Jubilee,no Olympics and very friendly people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    @131 - let's ask a company who's business depends on foreign holidays for a fair and unbiased comparison...
    I managed to have a weekend in London for £100 and that included 1st class on the train. By no means is this reproducible but why be objective?
    Holidays in the UK needn't be going to a different part of the country , I've had enjoyable days on the Lickey Hills enjoying the views.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    @129"The return travelcard from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street was £20.70..I'm flying from Stansted to Limoges ..with Ryan Air at a cost of £50 return including all taxes and admin."

    I travel with luggage to London from my home in the Midlands for £14.50 return.I fly with Flybe Birmingham to Bergerac,in August at £205 return with luggage plus £8.50 trainfare to airport.Both pre-booked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    103. chiptheduck "When the kids were younger we went camping or hired a static caravan in the south of England. Brilliant and cheap."

    We did the same, had some fantastic holidays in South Devon on a lovely safe holiday camp with its own beaches, woods etc. We didn't go abroad until I was 15 and it was a huge let-down. On the other hand have you seen the price of a static van in school hols now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Much as I love the Scottish Highlands I can testify that a week spent "roamin in the gloamins" is anything but cheap! Petrol is the most expensive in the UK by far, eating is expensive (and not always of the quality one had hoped for) and virtually everything else is around city type prices. I'm sure I could have a fortnight in many European countries for the price of a week in Scotland!

  • 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 164.

    Tried to book a cottage or holiday flat for 2 in July. It would've cost £2000 minimum for a scruffy place, 1 bedroom & very basic, cramped facilities, but up to £3,500 for anything decent. This is before travel costs, with petrol up between 10p and 15 p per litre and food and laundry on top. After 3 weeks of searching and many inquiries, I gave up. Who can afford such expensive holidays?

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Holidaying in the UK is a rip off and very poor value. I go to Italy every year. I can no longer get insurance so the UK is my only choice. I can't find any sun, no swimming pools to sit around and relax with a book. Most museums are free, but entry into National Trust and Cathedrals can be exhorbitant. In general its far cheaper abroad and might take a chance and go without insurance. UK, bah.


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