- Use reward points. The main thing we did to save money was to use Tesco Club Card Points. When considering where to go on holiday we knew we needed to keep it as cheap as possible as money was really tight. I remembered we had quite a few club card points to spend so took to their site to see what was available. If you spend points in store on food you only get like for like. But if you use your points on days out, restaurants or holidays etc... you can often triple how much you have. So £5 of points gives you £15 to spend.
We like to save our points for eating out and family days. Sure saving money on our food bill would be great, but having time with my husband and family is just as important. In the past we've used Tesco Club Card points for P&O ferries, eating at Pizza Express and a trip to Colchester Zoo.
I saw that Butlins was on their list and we could triple our points to pay for our holiday. Luckily we had enough points to pay for our whole holiday, so in essence it has cost us nothing, just the fuel to get there and our food would come out of our weekly budget.
- Take your own travel cot. It is only £10 to hire a travel cot from the resort, but we have our own and were able to fit it in the car, so why not save the money for something else.
- Go self catering. One of the nice things about being on holiday is not having to cook and prepare food, but that comes at a cost. Butlins do have a meal plan that you can pay for that covers your breakfast and dinner, that costs around £200. If you plan to eat out a couple of times I'd suggest just going for the meal plan. But if you want to keep your costs down then preparing your meals in your accommodation is the way to go. There are meals you can make that are quick and easy and you can always get yourself a few treats so you can feel like you're on holiday. Here's a few ideas:
- Bring you favourite cereal
- Eggs and bacon etc.. to enjoy a fry up one morning
- Bread and sandwich filler - we even had enough for our journey home
- Pasta tortellini - takes minutes to cook
- A ready made lasagne or shepherds pie
- Pasta and pasta bake sauce
- Raid your copper pot for 2 pence's. There's an assortment of arcades, one being the 2 penny machine. So if you have a copper jar at home, raid it for your 2 pence's. Our boy had great fun playing, winning more money and tickets that we were able to exchange for gifts for him.
- Little Stars Fair Ground. There are quite a few rides for the kids to go on in the main entertainment centre that cost money. If you really want to keep costs down then you're going to have to distract your little one when passing through as inevitably they are going to want to have a go on every ride. One way of doing this is to take advantage of the little stars fair ground. There are around 5 rides, including aeroplanes and teacups and it's all included in the price of your stay. They are open every day until around 5pm. There's no limit to how many times they can ride other than giving other children a turn.
- Bring cash. Bring some cash with you. Even if you don't plan to spend any money, if you want to go swimming you'll need a £1 coin (that you'll get back) to use the lockers. There's a couple of cash points on site, but they charged over £1 to withdraw money. I know it's only £1, but I'd much rather the money in my pocket (or the bank as it would be), rather than someone else's pocket.
So as you can see you really can enjoy a family holiday on a very tight budget. Our 2 year old loved his week away and it didn't matter that we didn't eat out every night.