Travelling with the family is rarely cheap, especially when prices during the summer holidays can rise as high as the mercury! With travel, accommodation, day trips, food, drink and souvenirs to pay for, you can easily burn over two thousand pounds per week.
A tighter budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a well-deserved break – you just need to get a little creative! We put together this list of 7 low cost summer holiday ideas to help inspire you. There’s something for everyone, from rural retreats to luxury escapes and some unexpected surprises, so whatever your budget, get stuck in and plan your summer getaway today!
1. Take a Staycation
A staycation is the ultimate low cost summer holiday idea. The concept is simple – you stay at home, to save on accommodation and travel costs, but enjoy a week (or longer) of relaxation and day trips.
It’s one of the most flexible holiday options, because you can do as much or as little as your budget allows. If you want to spend next to no money at all, you can plan a week of free activities. Some favourites include hiking, picnics, trips to museums (many offer free entry), bike rides, treasure hunts and camping in the back garden.
There are ways to save on more costly day trips too. Nectar points, Tesco Clubcards, rail tickets and even cereal boxes offer significant discounts to theme parks, zoos, castles and more.
2. Go Glamping
For a more glamorous summer holiday idea, try Glamping. Families of all sizes can enjoy the great outdoors without having to wrestle with canvas in the pouring rain. Glamping accommodation varies, from Yurts and Tipi’s for a more authentic camping experience to shepherd huts, gypsy caravans and eco cabins for something really unique.
The best thing about Glamping is you don’t have to sacrifice your luxuries. While the focus is on nature and escaping the trappings of technology, many glamping sites have better facilities than some hotels, and at a more agreeable price!
You’ll sleep in beds and have access to a fully-equipped bathroom, but you’ll also be able to take part in the usual camping activities. Roasting marshmallows on the campfire, eating al fresco, fishing, swimming in the river, hiking and even building dens are actively encouraged!
3. Find Free Festivals
The UK has a fantastic festive scene, but a four-day event like Glastonbury can set you back a whopping £200 per person. And that’s before you’ve even got on site.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of free festivals happening all over the country. Combine a free festival with your staycation and you’ve got the cheapest of summer holiday ideas!
Some of the summer’s biggest parties are family-friendly and free. Notting Hill Carnival, Cardiff Festival and the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta are just a few examples. To find more events near you, check out this excellent free festival guide.
4. Play Swapsies
Next up on our list of brilliant family holiday ideas is house-swapping. You can swap with family and friends, or sign up to a safe and secure house-swap website for much more choice.
House-swapping is completely free, so it makes your summer holiday significantly cheaper. You can stay in the UK or travel abroad, visit a new city or spend a week at the beach, whatever suits your family’s interests best.
House-swapping is especially practical if you’ve got a brood of young kids. You have access to all the comforts of home and there’s no risk of your little ones annoying hotel guests. Plus, it’s much easier to keep an eye on them when there are only a few rooms to run around in.
5. Create Your Own Package Deal
While it may seem like a bargain, some package deals are actually the antithesis of cheap holiday ideas. If you go through a travel agent, expect to pay a premium for using their services. In many cases it can be much more cost-effective to shun the package and book travel and accommodation separately.
If you shop around you can save some serious pennies. Compare flight prices using Skyscanner and check airline websites for special deals. Although it will take a little longer, you might find it’s cheaper to drive or take the ferry to Europe.
Also, choosing your own accommodation gives you greater flexibility. Hotels often work out more expensive per person, so what about a villa or apartments? Self-catered apartments save you money on dining out and are perfect for families, bringing us neatly to the next point…
6. Browse home-rental sites
Airbnb or Friday Flats are great for individuals looking to rent out lodging. They offer a wide range of options for accommodation of all shapes, sizes and budgets. For example, a four-night stay for 4 people in a stylish but small Paris apartment costs as little as £200. The cheapest 2 star hotel we could find (for the same dates) came in at £326.
Each property has been verified and there’s a comprehensive reviewing system, so you can check out other people’s experiences before booking.
If you stayed in a hostel as a young student, you probably remember creaky bunk beds and grotty communal showers. Hostels aren’t usually thought of as particularly family-friendly, but they’ve come a long way in the past few years.
For one thing, there’s been an increase in stylish ‘Boutique Hostels’ with private rooms and great facilities. Despite the similarity to a 3 star (or better) hotel, these brilliant lodgings are impressively cheap, making them the perfect low cost summer holiday idea.
Hostel-hopping lets you travel around the UK or Europe for less. You can stay one or two nights in each place and pack much more into your holiday. To see just how much bang you can get for your buck, check out this Guardian Travel guide to the best hostels in Europe.
Now it’s your turn
If you found our low cost summer holiday ideas to be fun, please leave a comment below.
And I’m curious, how do you plan to spend this summer?
Or if you have any tips that I didn’t mention, let us know below.