Summer holiday fun on a budget

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Being active doesn’t have to be expensive, we’ve pulled together a range of ideas so you can have fun on a budget this summer.

Cheap and free activity ideas

The six-week school summer holiday seemed to last forever when you were little, and it can feel like that when you’re a parent as well.

Days out at attractions can get expensive, especially if you’re buying meals as well as paying for entry and travel costs. And play scheme costs can really add up.

But there are plenty of low or no-cost fun activities you can do on a budget — and here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

Water fight / slip & slide

No need to pay for paintball or laser tag when a good old fashioned water pistol fight is more fun anyway.

Set up a slip and slide with plastic sheeting and water, and the kids will be getting even more exercise as they make fantastic memories.

Woodland adventures

Taking the kids for a walk in the woods combines healthy exercise with valuable time in nature.

And if the weather’s hot, being under the trees can be more pleasant than being out in the sun — not to mention safer for our skin.

Scavenger hunt

Spend 10 minutes writing a sheet of clues and you can keep the kids busy for an hour or more looking for items.

This can be a great rainy day activity inside the home, or you can adapt it for spotting specific flowers, trees or insects when out on that woodland walk.

Get sporty

Sport-based play schemes are great, but you can get the kids active and enjoying themselves for free in the garden or at the local park.

Football, cricket, rounders, bat and ball, volleyball and badminton are all fun options that you can play together.

Picnic it

Get the kids to help you put together a healthy and tasty selection of food and drink, then find a nice outdoors spot to enjoy it.

It could be an area with picnic benches in the woods, the park, by the river, on the beach or even just in your back garden.

Find a new playground

Your local one might not hold the appeal it once did, so why not pop over to the next town and take the kids to a playground they’ve never visited before?

There’s a good chance they’ll be delighted to get on a new climbing frame, swings, roundabout and zipwire.

Blue spaces

Time spent beside water is scientifically proven as good for our wellbeing, whether it’s a river, lake or the sea.

It’s also great fun for the kids, especially if they’re able to paddle or swim safely, dig holes or make sandcastles.

Museums and galleries

Why not get the train to the city and visit a museum or art gallery for some budget friendly fun?

Many have organised tours or talks at certain times, and some have areas to eat food you’ve bought with you — in case the café prices are a bit steep.


A kind-of digital treasure hunt, geocaching involves looking for a small waterproof box outdoors, using a mobile device with GPS (usually a phone).

It can be a great way to get kids who think going for a walk is “boring” outdoors and exploring in nature.

21 July, 2023