7 half-term hacks to keep your kids entertained on a budget

With the cost-of-living ever-increasing and the half-term break here, the personal finance experts at Ocean Financehave shared seven activities that won’t break the bank.

By Chris Page
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:45 pm
Let children get out and about

1. Treat your child to a free meal at these six restaurant chains

2. Take your child to the cinema for as cheap as £2.49

3. Get 2 for 1 entry at the top attractions around the UK with this simple hack

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Keep children occupied this holiday period

4. See what free family-friendly events are on at your local library

5. Pack a budget-friendly picnic and explore a new area

6. Explore your local museum for free, with examples from across the UK

7. Join the National Trust for £6.95 a month

Keeping young minds active and occupied

Treat your child to a free meal at these six restaurant chains

During the Easter break, many restaurants are running offers where a child can eat free with a full-paying adult.

This includes:

ASDA – One child can eat for free if an adult spends £4 more. Available after 3:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Hungry Horse – One child can eat for free if an adult buys a breakfast costing at least £2.99 Available 8:00 am-12:00 pm every day.

M&S Café – One child can eat for free if you spend £5 or more. Available all day.

Morrisons – One child can eat free if an adult spends £4.50 or more. Available after 3:00 pm.

The Real Greek – One child can eat for free for every £10 spent on an adult meal. Available on Sundays only.

YO! Sushi – Kids can receive one free meal for every £10 spent on an adult meal. Available 3:30 pm-5:30 pm, Monday to Thursday.

Take your child to the cinema for as cheap at £2.49

Weather-proof options that are cost-effective this time of year are few and far between. You can, however, take advantage of cheaper showings at your local cinema. It usually means

going quite early in the day, but lots of cinemas run cheaper showings with schemes such as:

Cineworld’s ‘Movies for Juniors’ screenings cost £2.50 for a child.

'Odeon Kids' run a feal where the adults pay the same price as a child, with the deal running every day during the school holidays as well as every Saturday and Sunday.

Vue has ‘Mini Mornings’ screenings from 10 am during the school holiday. Both adult and child tickets cost just £2.49 each.

Get 2 for 1 entry at the top attractions around the UK

Did you know that the National Rail runs a 2 for 1 promotion all year round? If you buy a train ticket, you’ll get two entry tickets for the price of one at a huge number of attractions around the UK, such as Thorpe Park Resort, Cadbury World, LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, SEA LIFE, and Chessington World of Adventure Resort. Ocean Finance also has a helpful guide on purchasing cheap train tickets.

See what family-friendly events are running at your local library

Books are the ultimate all-around activity. They’re entertaining, help your children learn and are completely weather-proof (the art of reading anyway, don't leave your books out in the rain).

Libraries also mean you can borrow for free or read in a quiet free-to-access environment, cutting costs down even further. Plus, many host family-friendly events for free over the school holidays. Check out their website or social media pages for more information.

Pack a budget-friendly picnic and explore a new area

If the weather permits, few activities are as rewarding as taking a walk (or even a cycle) up one of the UK’s many hills and mountains. Dependent on the fitness and adventurous spirit of your family, there are short ascents or hardy treks up the nation’s biggest summits.

You can always go for a coastal walk or woodland adventure if you’re not feeling inclined for an incline. Packing a picnic will also help keep costs down, and snacks and drinks are essential for any lengthy jaunt. Always remember to check the weather beforehand and make sure you have the right standard of equipment for the discipline of your activity.

Explore your local museum for free

Many museums host free events over half term, which is ideal for those extra rainy days. Here are some examples around the UK:

London – The Science Museum or the Natural History Museum

Manchester – The Museum of Science & Industry or The National Football Museum

Edinburgh – National Museum of Scotland

Cardiff – National Museum

Liverpool – World Museum or the Maritime Museum

Birmingham – Museum and Art Gallery

Newcastle – Discovery Museum or the Great North Hancock Museum

Join the National Trust from £6.95 a month

Did you know that National Trust attractions make up over 500 days out across the UK – with many running family-specific events? These provide you and your kids with experiences to learn about all sorts, as well as absorb nature and the UK’s rich history. Family membership is £133.80 a year, which can be paid out as a single annual payment or £11.15 monthly (head here to join). That gives two adults at the same address free entry to any site, along with up to 10 of their children or grandchildren. It’s £83.40 a year or £6.95 a month for a family membership with one adult. You can also pay on the day and per attraction as well, with the prices varying (check the website beforehand for individual costs).