The great “how to save money when you’ve more than two kids” hunt

It’s tough to save when you’ve a bigger-than-average brood. From package holidays to family theme park tickets, companies assume that a family equals two adults and two kids. So I want to tap MoneySavers’ for their tips on tricks to cut the cost.

Are there any attractions or restaurants that offer big family-friendly deals? How do you cut the cost of package holidays and flights? How can you save on days out, for instance buying two family tickets rather than extra individual ones? Any other loopholes?



  • Uniscots97
    Uniscots97 Posts: 6,685
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    My friend has three children and she's found this problem. For days out they tended to stick to the free museums and parks rather than amusement parks as they cost. When they did go to Ireland (first time the kids had been on a plane) she called the airline's booking line (budget airline) and asked what discounts they did for big groups. She actually got 15% knocked off just for asking!

    CC2 = £8687.86 ([STRIKE]£10000[/STRIKE] )CC1 = £0 ([STRIKE]£9983[/STRIKE] ); Reusing shopping bags savings =£5.80 vs spent £1.05.Wine is like opera. You can enjoy it even if you don't understand it and too much can give you a headache the next day J
  • bertiebots
    bertiebots Posts: 1,433 Forumite
    Supermarkets often give vouchers away for theme parks sea life centres etc..usualy they are for a free place with one paying adult. These can be cheaper than the family ticket.Our local sainsburys is doing this at the moment.There are sometimes offers in school magazines(sent home with the kids) I have 3 kids and look out for places that do family tickets for up to 3 children. Unfortunatley this is not the norm so if the price is too high we simply dont go. As for food and eating out the food portions are so large that if you are going for somewhere like pizza hut (pricey but a nice treat) the family meal deals are more than enough for 2 adults and 3 kids and with unlimited drinks and icecream can work out cheaper than a pub meal etc.
    We are lucky to have access to free museums and parks in our local area and a I often do a picnic for a cheap day out (check out your councils web site for events).
    As for holidays abroad they are simply too expensive so we go camping in the uk....and love it !(and its very cheap!!)
    JAN GC- £155.77 out of £200:D FEB GC £197.31 out of £180:o. MARCH GC - out of £200
  • foreversomeday
    foreversomeday Posts: 1,011 Forumite
    This is sort of related...

    For people who already have 2 children and are expecting/thinking of having another, there is no need to buy a 7 seater car just yet! There is a loophole in the law which says if you have two child/infant/booster seats in the back of a car, the middle seat need not have one, as long as the oldest child sits there. This is because it is impossible to fit three child seats in the back of most standard 5 seater cars.

    The other way around it is to have the other parent sitting in the middle, and the third child seat in the front, but be careful of airbags and bear in mind an adult set of hips and shoulders is going to be more of a squeeze between two child or infant seats.

    From a safety/comfort point of view, it's best though to have a 3-point seatbelt fitted in the middle seat and to use a gadget which moves the seatbelt down off the child's neck and across their shoulder (it encourages them to wear the seatbelt correctly).
    I don't believe and I never did that two wrongs make a right
  • Broken_hearted
    Broken_hearted Posts: 9,553 Forumite
    Our local authority is doing free sports taster sessions so no matter how many kids you have they can all go have a fun day and learn something new.
    Barclaycard 3800

    Nothing to do but hibernate till spring

  • mrcow
    mrcow Posts: 15,170
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Well my third is still only just 1 1/2 years, so a lot of this is new to me.

    One way I've found of saving money on holidays is to go in a caravan instead as most hotel rooms won't "house" us all together. We've rented Siblu caravans in France for three holidays now and I've been delighted with all of them. They sleep eight and the parks have loads of facilities and so we're not paying loads more than a family of four would. I combined the last holiday with Tesco clubcard deals and it cost us £111 in total in the end for a week during the Easter holiday in a Paris park including Channel crossing. (Just ideal for Euro Disney and we had our own transport too so we saved money by being self catering).

    We've had to change the way that we eat out too. I often get two kids meals and an extra plate and split the options between everybody (and share my meal too).

    I've also started making lots of use of the free events that are on offer now. Kent Wildlife trust have loads of free family events as do our local libraries (especially during summer) and our church and we've even signed up for the free Kung-Fu lesson offers with McDonalds recently.

    Something else that happens is that I make it general knowledge that I often run out of clothes as they grow so fast and so I'm always being given bags of 2nd hand clothes from freinds which have hardly been worn. It's great as it saves me a fortune and it also means that my friends can get rid of their clothes clutter in a guilt -free way as they know it's all appreciated. Any stuff I don't use, I Ebay.

    Also, I've adopted the strategy of never buying anything new if Ebay will acceptably save me money. All my childrens' bike are 2nd hand and it's not made one jot of difference - I'll be selling them all when they've grown out of them.

    I love having a big family. Some things are more difficult and expensive, but my children are great company for each other and all get on really well.
    "One day I realised that when you are lying in your grave, it's no good saying, "I was too shy, too frightened."
    Because by then you've blown your chances. That's it."
  • eadieb
    eadieb Posts: 238 Forumite
    We have 4 children and are increasingly finding we have to consider the costs of everything we spend our money on. We tend to go camping but have noticed a recent trend in our area for the prices of camp sites to have increased dramatically with some places having a standard price for a 2 person or 4 person tent but then charging on top for each additional child per night (even the baby). so I am now avoiding these and this year visiting the ever more basic camp sites (cheapest this year £6 for all of us for the night).

    Every year we go on one of the newspaper cheap caravan holidays. We tend to get a park within an hours drive away and have sometimes managed to combine a 4 night and a 3 night break together, to form a very cheap week's holiday.

    If we go on trips to cities or in winter, we tend to wedge all 6 of us in a Travelodge family room booked via their website on a special offer, and bring our own cereal and bowls etc with us for cheap breakfasts.

    We live in a tourist area with lots of adventure parks and kids farms and zoo etc. So each year we get an annual family membership card for one of the attractions, so we always have the option of going somewhere for a day out. We also live near lots of beaches and country walks which are free, but we make sure we take packed lunches, drinks, consider the petrol cost and cost of parking.

    If we go for lunch in a cafe, we now tend to just buy 3 or 4 kids meals or meal box's and then we (adults) have a hot drink and eat the leftovers. this has the added bonus of less moaning at the children about eating all their food. We used to try to get the kids to share meals but invariably an argument would ensue so we find this a better way. I always bring our own kids beakers full of juice/water everywhere we go.

    Since last year our aim is to buy approx. two thirds of all birthday and xmas pressies for the children, second hand or on ebay. last year we got a pair of Powerizer jumping stilts for my 12 year old on ebay and she loved them. But there is no way I could ever have bought them new. I try to build up a pot of money on my ebay paypal account by selling stuff whenever I can. I have now become so stingy that when recently choosing some new presents for my one year old, I took into account whether they would be good to resell and as we unrapped each present for him I was putting all the boxes into a bag for the loft, so that the items can be boxed when I sell them on.

    I try to get several pairs of shoes when sales are on but its difficult to guess what the weather will be like when they grow into the next size up. We have 3 girls and our 4th is a boy. All the girls clothes get handed down where possible but I do treat them all to new clothes as well (currently Sainsburys have loads of stuff at half price). I have been dressing my one year old boy in a purple girls coat for the last few months but he hasnt complained.

    Our school PTA run a second hand uniform stall where parents donate any clothes and it is all sold at £1 per item.

    Hope some of this might be of use! Sorry for rambling
  • Ancalime
    Ancalime Posts: 84
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I'm the eldest of ten siblings, the only place that we found a family ticket that was actually a whole family ticket was in southern Ireland. At that point there was seven kids and two adults and we were visiting a castle with one of those mock historic villages in it's grounds I've forgotten the name of it unfortunatly. But on the way in I remember a group of visiting nuns smiling at my parents assuming were were a good practising catholic family. lol

    Some of the things I've watch my mum do to keep the family entertained on a budget are take them swimming during the holidays when the free swims are available for the wee ones. We also take advantage of a lot of local community activities such as the school galas, open days and in Fife there are open door days when you don't have to pay the entrance fees to museums and attractions. They are also members of the kids film club at the odeon which gives them a discount.

    As for holidays we didn't go abroad my Dad hired a mini bus and we would stay in a holiday home, it usually took some hunting to find one big enough. Maybe not the most money saving way but it was always fun.

    With so many of us there was always someone around to keep you entertained even if that was a good
    New house, garden and kitten. oh my!
    :rotfl:Member 258# of Murphy the Cats no more pies club
  • Thefunkygibbons
    Thefunkygibbons Posts: 1,381 Forumite
    With five kids, I know this problem

    We are off camping this year and it is taking a lot of digging to find a campsite that charges by the unit rather than the number of people

    The worst sites are close to £40 a night for 7 people, whereas some digging can more than half this, although I would be happier if it was nearer £12
  • rag31
    rag31 Posts: 198 Forumite
    It's so ridiculous that everything is geared towards families with two children. :cool: We have 4 children and it is rare to get a family ticket or a room that can fit us all in - hey! We are a family so should be included on a 'family ticket'. Anyway.

    We go camping and have found as said that campsites are tending to only include 2 adults and charge extra per child which is annoying.

    Most Youth Hostels do family rooms, we have been looking recently in SW England and the costs are from £77 for a family room sleeping 6 - sometimes this includes breakfast. And the hostels are in really picturesque places.

    Hilton hotels automatically do a second room half price for children, though it won't do it if searching online. You have to telephone them. We have found a few times that this is cheaper than nearby travellodges or premier inn's.

    We have found that it is cheaper to book cheap flights, and organise our own accommodation abroad most of the time. Campsites in the rest of Europe seem to be far superior to most of the equivilants here, and kids clubs etc are thrown in.

    We have also booked and stayed in 'hostal's in Spain which are not hostels like here, but small guest houses and with a bit of searching we have found really excellent accommodation on a really small budget (25 euros per night for family room sleeping 5 or 6) and they are very helpful.

    A really cool idea which we are going to try out next year is a house swap with another family. There are big reputable companies online, and a charity I belong to runs one for members. You get to swap with other families with children which means not only do you get to holiday in a large enough house with toys and baby equipment for free, you also get someone to look after your house/pets/toys too!

    With having 4 children we finally had to go for a people carrier, which annoys me no end as a lot of the time there are only 1 or 2 children and 1 adult in it so it's a waste of money as it consumes a lot of petrol. We have actually worked out the mpg and done all the sums and we are getting a small car to use the majority of the car with people carrier maybe once a week, and expect to save approximately £500 a year.

    For big families train fares and bus fares are ridiculous, even with family railcards etc. So, we rarely use them which is a shame but we can't afford to pay 2 or 3 times the cost of a journey by car for our environmental principles.

    We buy a lot from ebay, out of the paper, and from charity shops and are always on the look out for bargains in the shops.

    Hope that lot might be of use to someone somewhere....

    Mum of 4 lovely children
  • aplegjnf
    aplegjnf Posts: 32 Forumite
    Has English Heritage membership been mentioned? For £62 a year for joint adults, upto 12 children can go into an attraction for free. Each adult membership at English Heritage lets 6 under 19s in too. They don't have to be a part of the family, we have often taken our children's friends with us. Sometimes there are additional costs if a place is having a re-enactment, but usually just £5 -6 to include anyone on the family ticket.
    If you also read the small print, a 16 - 18 yo can use their parent's membership card to gain entry on their own.

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