Cheap and free days out
You can have a fantastic day out without spending a fortune. Here are some ideas.
We look at lots of ways to cut back your spending, but you should still make time and (a bit of) money to get out there and enjoy yourself. And there are plenty of ways to do so without having to eat into your savings.
If you live in, or near, a city, one of the most obvious ways to spend a few hours is in a museum or art gallery. Most cities have plenty to choose from - most of which you can browse around for free, or very cheaply.
A bit of culture
If you like visiting castles, palaces, stately homes and gardens on a regular basis it can be well worth joining the National Trust or English Heritage. Although this will initially set you back a bit, if you visit enough properties, you'll easily get your money back - and more.
Right now, if you sign up to the National Trust and pay by direct debit, you can get a year's membership for £39.75 for an individual (instead of the standard £53), or £66.37 for a joint membership (instead of £88.50). This will give you free entry and parking at more than 300 historic houses and gardens across the UK.
Or if you'd prefer to join the English Heritage, a year's membership will cost you £46 per adult, or £80 per couple. This will give you free entry to more than 400 historic properties up and down the country.
By becoming a member of either one, you'll have plenty of places to visit spontaneously when the sun comes out - and you won't have to worry about spending too much money!
However, if you'd prefer not to commit to anything, English Heritage will be opening many properties (although not the ones it manages) for free between 6-9 September.
Pack a picnic and head to the park
There's something extra special about sitting on a picnic blanket on the grass and laying on a spread of delicious food. And the great thing is, picnics don't have to cost much!
Just pop some sandwiches, crisps, summery cupcakes, fruit and juice into a basket/cool bag and off you go! And if you're feeling a little extravagant you can throw in some Pimms or sparkling wine for good measure!
Then head down to your local park or beach and wile away a few hours without spending a penny. Many National Trust properties will also allow you to picnic in the gardens, so if you're a member, this can be very handy! Or why not spend a day out at one of the 14 National Parks sites across the UK, which include Brecon Beacons and the Peak District National Park. Entry is, of course, absolutely free!
Walking can be highly enjoyable and relaxing and it won't cost you any money. So if you fancy a spot of exercise and fresh air, check out walking-routes.co.uk and walkscene.co.uk which are packed full of walks you can do in and around your area.
And my favourite part of this is that you can usually stop off at a country pub for a delicious lunch or drink!
It's not just museums and parks that you can get into free - there are even a range of fantastic events that won't cost you a penny!
Free-events.co.uk is a terrific website for finding brilliant free events right on your doorstep - make sure you check it out!
Cut your travel costs
If you're planning to travel by train, don't forget to check with your local train operator for any special offers. Many operators run GroupSave deals - so if you're travelling as a group, you can make some serious savings. And up to four more children can travel for just £1 each when accompanying the group.
And on ScotRail up to two kids can travel free when one adult buys an off-peak ticket. Meanwhile, Southern offers travel for up to four children for £1 each on off-peak trains when they're accompanied by a full-price adult.
If you're planning a trip to London, your train ticket can get you two-for-one offers at attractions, restaurants and even hotels. Visit Days Out Guide to see what's on offer.
If you're planning a big day out, don't forget to keep an eye out for money-saving vouchers. Good places to look include enjoyEngland.com, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and Visit the Heart. All of these are packed with fabulous ideas for days out as well as great two-for-one deals and other money saving offers.
If you're a family and want to go and about during the school holidays, take a look atour regularly updated article Cheap and free things to do this half term!