Fun still included.
A fun day out with the kids can be worth its weight in gold: the look on their faces as they whizz around a carousel, meet their favourite characters or encounter roaming elephants is priceless. And so is the look on your face when you view the credit card bill and see just how much it has cost you!
Between the transport, the entry fees, the food, treats, and the glowing spinning wand that plays music that you HAD to buy to avoid a tantrum, a day out can leave you feeling a little ripped off. But there are plenty of ways to save money on family outings.
Here are 11 ways to seek out discounts and find free kids activities – so you can focus on the fun, not the hole it’s leaving in your wallet.
1. Movie Tuesdays.
Many of us love going to the movies; mums, dads and kids alike. But these days, taking a family trip to the movies is likely to cost you an absolute fortune. For instance, if you’re a family of four heading to the flicks on a Friday night, your average tickets will set you back a whopping $74.50! That’s madness!
Check out your local cinema discount days and organise a bit of mid-week entertainment. Some theatres slash up to$7 off their average adult ticket prices on their discount days (often a Tuesday) and some cinemas offer adults at kids prices for children’s flicks. And if you’re lucky enough to live in Melbourne, head to Cinema Nova on a Monday where all ticket prices are $6 before 4pm and only $9 after!
2. Annual passes.
A yearly pass to a children’s attraction (zoo, museum, aquarium or amusement park) can be a great investment for year-round fun. By paying upfront, the more you go, the more you ‘save’. Some attractions also build in other savings, like discount parking, for annual members, as well as reciprocal arrangements with venues in other states – so you might even score a free zoo visit while on holiday. Annual passes also make a great family Christmas presents (hint: request one as a gift from the Grandparents).
3. Cut the junk.
It’s a no brainer: bring your own lunch and avoid the junky, overpriced offerings at the kiosk. Take away food at some events and attractions can sometimes cost more than the outing itself! Don’t forget the treats, either. Have some cupcakes, chips or bickies in your bag so you won’t get stuck paying for a $7 ice-cream to keep the peace. We’re not suggesting becoming the fun police: we know treats are part of a special day out … but do your kids care whether the biscuit they’re eating is from the packet you bought from Woolies, or from the cafe at $4 a pop? Nope.
4. Carpool it.
Save on parking costs and petrol by getting together with another mum and bundling all the kids in to one car (making sure everyone has a safe car seat, of course). Or take public transport: kids under school age are usually free.
5. Scour for specials.
If you prepare in advance, you can get great deals. Subscribe to newsletters or follow the Facebook pages of your favourite attractions, and keep your eyes out for holiday specials, two for one deals or discount open days. It also pays to investigate which places offer the best value for money on family passes. Some places will even let you get a family pass for two adults and two or three kids even if you’re not technically a ‘family’ – so you can get together with another parent and save money.