Martin Lewis' UK holiday tips

Published Monday, 21 July 2014
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Whether it's day trips with the kids, or a wee break in our fair isles, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis offers his bargains, tips and discounts to cut UK trip costs this summer holiday.

The key tip for saving cash on UK trips is to plan and book early. That way you can snatch vouchers, ensure availability and keep prices down. While there may be last-minute bargains in individual places, that's a cross-your-fingers solution.

It's also worth noting if you're paying for childcare, even after school or summer clubs during the summer, you may be eligible for childcare tax credits, or able to get childcare vouchers which enable you to pay for it from your gross (pre-tax) income to save you cash. See full Childcare Costs Help. Anyway, onto the deals.

1. Transport and stays

10% off National Railcards: Railcards can save you big bucks as they get you a third off travel. Whether you're after an annual 16-25, Family and Friends, Two Together or Senior Railcard, they usually cost £30. So spend over £90 a year, even on one trip, and it's worth getting one. But until 31 August you can get an extra 10% off when you enter the code LONMID10 online at the Railcard checkout, so you get the card for £27.

For super-cheap travel, check out Megabus coach deals. You can bag a £1 each way ticket via Megabus (plus 50p booking fee) when you book a bus journey in advance. This means you can get a return ticket for £2.50, such as London-Leeds.

170,000 £29ish Travelodge rooms. If you're planning a last-minute summer break in England, Scotland or Wales, Travelodge has 170,000 saver rooms (room-only, so no brekkie) for £29 or less per night until 5 September. London's excluded. The key to this is to just check which day has the cheaper prices, they're launched in tranches and when they're gone they're gone. Seaside resorts appear to be more than £29 a room, so you'll find the bargains away from the seaside - I found a £25 room in Norwich, £21 room in Preston and in Liverpool, I found one at £27.

Hidden hotel sale. If you want to stay at Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo or InterContinental hotels in the UK and Europe, there's a secret 30% off sale. To access it, join InterContinental's free rewards club. It's at least 30% off its prices (though still check via comparison sites as they can be cheaper). You need to book 21 days in advance for stays until 4 September.

Check out cheap hostels and uni halls. If you fancy a UK city break during the summer holidays and can't find a cheap price, one option is to stay at university halls of residence that are empty during summer. You don't even need to be a student to rent a room. The site University Rooms has rooms available in London, York, Cardiff and more. For example, Edinburgh Uni has £70/night doubles.

And don't miss out on hostels either, they're not all smelly dorms - some have singles and doubles in beautiful locations with breakfast such as Downhill Beach House in Northern Ireland. It featured in the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones and a private double starts at £23.

2. Discounts and deals

With all of these do check there aren't restrictions for the specific day you want to go.

Grab theme park 2for1s NOW. Some £2-3 promo packs of Kellogg's cereal, available until the end of this month, include a "grown-ups go free" voucher ie a 2for1, where you pay for the kid's ticket at 27 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland, Thorpe Park, SeaLife Centres (such as Loch Lomond) and the Dungeons (including Edinburgh). For example at Alton Towers you pay £43.20 for a kids ticket and get a free adult's that costs £49.20 (or £32.40 had you bought online seven days in advance). At that saving it's worth buying the cereal just for the voucher, even if you won't eat it.

Or get two vouchers for free children's entry to SeaLife Centres, Chessington World of Adventures, CBeebies Land at Alton Towers, Warwick Castle and Legoland Windsor when you buy the CBeebies magazine for £2.25 until 7 October. The magazine comes out fortnightly and each edition contains the two vouchers which are valid at one of the venues only - the date it's valid varies per venue so check the voucher before you go. With some venues charging £40 for a child ticket, you could save £80 with the offer.

Days out train trick. The Days Out Guide website offers 2for1 vouchers to UK attractions such as London Zoo (£24.54), Drayton Manor (£36) Madame Tussauds (up to £30 depending on venue) and Legoland (£46.80). It's a big saving but you need to present a valid National Rail ticket for the day with it (as it's a rail promotion). Yet even if you're not travelling by train, It's worth going to the nearest station and picking up the cheapest ticket there for the savings.

Cheap kids' cinema tickets. If the rain comes, Cineworld, Vue and Odeon all have special kids' price showings on weekend and school holiday mornings at most cinemas for £1.35 to £2.50, for both adult and child tickets.

Kids go 'free' to London West End shows. Visit Kids Week online to get a 'free' child's ticket (for under-16s) to any one of 37 London theatre shows in August, including Billy Elliot, The Tiger Who Came To Tea and Wicked. You can get it when you buy a full-priced adult ticket (which can cost around £50). In addition, you'll get 50% off for up to two more children. You could save £10-£65 depending on the show and performance you choose, though do check for alternative promotions, which could be cheaper for some plays.

3. Free stuff

Don't ignore the over 180 free museums and art galleries in the UK. We have an amazing wealth of free museums and art galleries right across the UK. As well as the big London ones like the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, my favourites include the Coventry Transport Museum (includes a DeLorean and more - it's a day out in itself), there's also the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Big Pit: National Coal Museum near Abergavenny, and the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Free tennis. Check out Tennis For Free's website to see if there are free coaching sessions in your area. The sessions mostly run during weekends and are suitable for anyone aged three or over. The equipment's also provided free. The sessions aren't professional coaching, they're more focused on having fun. You can book online with some sessions whereas others you can just turn up - all the information for each venue is on the website.

Free festivals. If you're looking to take the kids to a festival this summer, there are many free ones taking place across the UK over the summer holidays. This includes Liverpool's Summer Jam from 22-25 August, which is a chance to see live music from acts such as Shaggy and Lemar as part of the Liverpool International Music Festival; Cardiff Festival from 21 June-6 September, including live music, street and open-air theatre, children's entertainment and funfairs; the Edinburgh Fringe from 1-25 August, which includes free events and shows to suit all ages, and Maiden City Festival in Derry/Londonderry from 2-9 August, which celebrates history and heritage, community and diversity with music, dance and drama. You don't need tickets in advance for these four festivals, you can just turn up on the day.

© UTV News
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