The key thing to remember when planning a day out for toddlers is that it really doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg for them to have a good time. Follow these five tips and you should be able to have a fun day out without it hurting your purse.
1. Fresh Air is Free
There's nothing as healthy for toddlers as running around outside in the fresh air and I'm always amazed at how often my daughter tells me she just wants to go to the park and run around.
There's so much you can do with young children outside and most of it for free. Running around a new park or wood can be very exciting when you're small, as can going somewhere a bit different for a walk or scoot. Finding a park with ducks to feed is a great way to spend an hour or two and if there's a good playground too the trip can easily extend to half a day or longer.
If you just find a big open space and take along a few things like a ball or frisbee it's easy to come up with some simple games that they can play which will help them with their gross motor skills whilst they have fun.
2. Find free versions of paid for attractions
All children love visiting farms or aquariums, but they can be very expensive days out. There are places out there where you can see animals and fish for free – you just have to find them!
I've written before about taking Little Miss C to our local garden centre and aquatic shop and it's something we still do regularly. Talk to other local parents to discover places like this or just try them out for yourself.
The internet can also be your friend. We recently discovered a free farm to visit locally thanks to a bit of time on a search engine. If there are community farms nearby give them a ring to find out about visiting.
3. Have a picnic
Whilst children love routine they also really enjoy doing something a bit different every now and again. Why not take a picnic to the local park one day, or go a bit further afield and plan a day trip around where you want to have a picnic. Taking food with you is always cheaper than eating out and toddlers love the excitement of taking a picnic blanket out and sitting on it to eat their lunch.
Incredibly simple, but exciting at the same time.
4. Look for internet resources to plan your day around
Many attractions like museums or National Trust properies have some great online resources to support their younger visitors. Colouring sheets or treasure hunts are a super way of extending a visit somewhere without you having to do much preparation yourself.
Also look at what parent bloggers have done at similar attractions. It may be that you can take a few appropriate toys with you and create some role-play around where you are.
5. Discount vouchers
If you are planning to visit a big paid for attraction then don't go anywhere without trying to find a discount voucher first.
The first and most obvious place to look is online as there are whole websites out there devoted to vouchers for everything and everywhere. Google will be your friend to help you find these.
If you can't find anything online then don't fret as there are plenty of other places to look. If it's a local venue then try your local press – both the weekly free papers and any other more specific ones that might come through your door. If there's a local tourist information centre they may well have leaflets for local attractions and some of these will also include a discount voucher.
Keep your eyes open for other less obvious places too. For example there have recently been vouchers on cereal boxes to get free adult entry into places like Legoland. Locally I found a voucher for a free ticket to a children's farm on the back of an Argos till receipt and another one on the back of a car parking ticket.