Best budget days out - Readers' Choice
It’s readers’ choice time again! Thanks for all your suggestions – wholesome and not so wholesome – about budget things to do around the UK. We’ve put them together and added our own tips so you can have a penny-pinching time wherever you are and whatever you’re into:
Our Facebook lot do seem to like their crabbing, even if some mentions were of the unwholesome variety referred to above. Crabbing is simple, cheap and can be done almost anywhere – although possibly not Bromley, as one enterprising reader pointed out…
The website Crabbydays has some good tips on how to go crabbing in the UK and there's a good crabbing guide here. For kit, all you need is a crab line, net, bucket and bait – bacon works well but most things whiffy will do. Fill your bucket halfway with water, add a few rocks and some seaweed so the crabs don't get distressed being out of their environment, and count and release after about an hour.
The new-fangled version of letterboxing, geocaching is just the technical ticket for kids who normally clutch their console in a death grip once they hear the phrase ‘How about going for a walk?’ There were over 67,000 caches hidden around the UK at last count, placed in items cachers like to call ‘containers’ and we like to call ‘portkeys’.
If you’re new to geocaching, the National Trust has a good overview of what it’s all about, as well as details of geocaching events and free GPS devices to borrow at many of their sites. (There are also free geocaching apps available for both Android and iPhone.) And, as we’re responsible sorts, we’ll also finger-waggingly call for caution if you’re new to placing your own cache. Ta.
More of a letterboxer? Dartmoor’s the place to do it – info here.
Foraging and fruit picking
Mussels, mushrooms, seaweed, berries, nuts, more crabs…there’s all sorts of free food fare to be had in every habitat in the UK, cities included. Our guide to foraging covers ten of the most frequently foraged species, while this site lists pick-your-own farms all over the country as well as how to preserve or prepare your haul.
The Forager’s Apprentice, iPhone, £1.99
Free and cheap museums
We covered the Secret Nuclear Bunker with much mirth in our mad museums blog last year, so were chuffed to see it mentioned as a top budget day out. But there’s an admission charge (£7 for adults and £5 for children), so if you prefer free things to do take a look at this year’s hundreds of Heritage Open Days from 12 – 15 September: there’s a map to roam to find free events wherever you are.
Almost every towns and city will have free or cheap museums; here are a few of our faves:
- Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxfordshire – Oxford University’s collection of anthropology and world archaeology – with shrunken heads and all sorts of madness to find
To find more, the site moneysavingexpert.com has a list of free museums and galleries in the UK, grouped by region and many with user reviews.
Back to nature
Country parks almost always have free or budget nature and outdoors events for all ages – in Essex’s parks, for example, September 2013 had a falconry event for donations only, free stargazing and a nature trail for £1. Similarly, The Wildlife Trusts have branches in almost every county (there are 47 Trusts in total) and regular events around the land from campfire cooking to bat walks. If your kids are less than wild about going on the trail of wild things, we have some tips in our kids and nature blog.
Whichever festival you pick, check to see if it’s on the Pitchup.com list to get details of nearby campsites; if we haven’t listed it yet, add in the festival postcode to find campsites within 5 – 60 miles (and drop us a line to add the festival!).
You can filter the festival or postcode search with ‘budget/backpacker’ under the ‘Themes’ section to get the best deals, or add in your dates and click ‘sort by price’ on the top right.
- Check the local tourist information offices wherever you go to on a day out or break: they’ll have plenty of leaflets on free and budget things to do in the area.
- Borrow Ordnance Survey maps from your local library before setting out (or click on the Location tab on your Pitchup.com campsite listing for OS maps and others).
- If you’re going to London for the day and travelling by train, you can get two for one entry to over 150 attractions in and around London including ZSL London Zoo, London Dungeon and Madame Tussauds.
- Look up regular deals on moneysavingexpert.com’s Cheap Days Out page.
- Want a free festival and travelling without kids? Register as a volunteer for the Samaritans or Oxfam to work at festivals including Glastonbury and Leeds: for the bigger ones, register an interest now to apply for next year.
- Pack the kids off on a supervised (and free) sporty day while you cackle wildly and go shopping: Tennis for Free has tennis coaching around the country and Tesco Skills offers free football coaching for 5 – 11 year olds during school holidays (not Christmas).
Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas – feel free to leave more below!