Money Matters Team

How to plan the perfect staycation

By Money Matters Team 05/10/2016

From honey-coloured beaches to rolling green scenery and idyllic country villages, there's plenty to explore in the UK.

And a holiday closer to home can save you money, too. Here's our guide to keeping costs down for a family staycation to rival any trip to more exotic climes.

Choose your adventure

Trotternish in Skye, Scottish Highlands

Sticking to the UK doesn't mean compromising. There's a vast array of experiences to be had and gorgeous scenery to enjoy.

Discover a new part of the country. Autumn is the ideal time to visit the gardens at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, with the trees dressed in golden leaves. See the copper beeches around Castell Coch in Wales, or make the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, free to visit, a highlight of your trip.

Cornwall or Durdle Door in Dorset are great bets for a beach holiday, while the lochs and rugged peaks of the Scottish Highlands are ideal for a family road trip.

Stay and save

Looking out of a tent 

While a staycation can be a cheaper option, splashing out on luxury hotels could make it pricier than a week in the Caribbean.

Use comparison sites to help you find the best deals on hotels and accommodation, or try Airbnb for savings and a local experience.

Feeling spontaneous? Some sites sell "secret hotel" rooms at bargain rates. You're only told the star-rating and rough location before you pay, which means guaranteed adventure and low-as-you-can-go prices.

Or how about taking a tent for a fun outdoor adventure? Just remember raincoats, just in case...

Get covered

Pink wellies in puddle

Think you don't need travel insurance if you're staying on British soil?

What if one of the family gets ill before you set off, leaving you unable to claim back deposits on accommodation and travel? That's an extra stress you could really do without.

Equally, if you lose that fancy new camera or someone pinches your wallet, you could end up even more out of pocket. Some home insurance policies do cover items you might take on the road, so it's a good idea to chat to your provider before you set off.

Either way, it's worth paying for travel insurance for peace of mind should you have to cancel or change plans at the last minute.

To drive or not to drive?

Hand holding a road map

Taking the car could be the best option for families with kids, meaning you can pack in more luggage, food and entertainment and avoid herding everyone on and off public transport.

Make some checks before setting off to avoid delays on the road, making sure oil and water levels are topped up and the tyres are properly inflated. And don't forget the maps, just in case you lose phone signal along the way...

If it's just two of you, or you just want to save on petrol costs, book train and bus tickets in advance for the best deals, and use websites like Check My Bus to find the lowest-cost bus journeys to your destination. A Two Together Railcard costs £30 per year, giving savings on train tickets for two named people over 16 travelling together.

Snacks and soundtracks

Pair of headphones

Whether you're taking the car on hols, exploring by rail or hopping on buses, your journeys might need some added entertainment.

Pack headphones, portable DVD players and/or tablets loaded with fun games, to keep the kids happy when "I spy" begins to lose its appeal.

Putting together playlists with tunes everyone will enjoy is another forward-planning tactic you won't regret.

And, when belly rumbles turn to grumbles, make sure there's an arsenal of pre-prepared snacks on hand to avoid pricey stops at services or treks to the dining car.

Get out there

A National Trust stately house

Via: PR

Nectar card holders can save big on National Trust and English Heritage sites across the UK. For every £1 you spend on the National Trust's website, you'll collect two Nectar points. Or get a discount on English Heritage annual membership, which allows you free access to hundreds of pre-historic sites and castles.

Your Nectar points can also get you free entry and discounts at family-friendly destinations including Cornwall's The Eden Project, Warwick Castle, Legoland Windsor, Alton Towers and Vue Cinemas.

The UK has museums for every age and interest, like The National Football Museum in Manchester, the V&A Museum of Childhood in London, The Transport Museum in Coventry and The Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford. The best part? They're all free of charge.

Don't miss out on freebies, either: lots of attractions will offer free or heavily-discounted prices for kids, from meals to theme park entry.

For families looking for a little more action, there are idyllic cycle routes, glamping adventures and zip-lining and treetop explorations across the UK. Go Ape, available at 30 of the UK's parks and forests, provides the perfect opportunity to monkey around. And, since you were wondering, you can redeem Nectar points towards your Go Ape adventure - enjoy the high life.

Don't forget the "bored box"

Swimming ring floating in pool

Whether you're spending a week in a chocolate box cottage or braving the great outdoors under canvas, you'll need back-up to keep the kids entertained. And the adults, for that matter.

Pack a selection of board games, outdoor playthings like bats, balls, hula hoops and boules, colouring books and playing cards. If you'll have access to a pool or beach, fun inflatables will keep everyone happy for hours. Blow-up pizza slice, anyone?

You'll be patting yourself on the back for all that clever forward-planning, trust us. And it saves you scouring the camp store or local village for fluorescent plastic frisbees.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.