Any family lucky enough to have had a week or two's holiday this year, or families taking days out in the UK, will be looking around for the best deals. Everyone knows there are budget trips to the local park with a picnic, or an afternoon down by the river. But what I wanted to find out was how much does it cost to visit local "attractions" - the places where kids say all their friends have gone to so why can't they? I was very surprised and shocked by some of the "deals" on offer.
I live in N Wales, so what better place to start with than the Snowdonia train in Llanberis. For the prices I am taking 2 examples: My family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers aged 12+, and my friends family of 2 adults and 3 kids aged under 12. The heritage steam train is the train all the kids want to go on to the summit of Snowdon. For my family, my teenagers are classed as adults and so we will have to pay 4x £35 =£150. For my friends family of 2 adults and 3 children the cost is £145.Once you add on the cost of petrol to get to Llanberis, a lunch out of say burgers and chips and the odd ice cream you would be looking in the region of £200+ for this day out!
All the kids love Alton Towers. The best deals are to be had by booking online in advance apparently with 40% off the price of admission on the gate. My family are again treated as 4 adults so the admission price is £112 if booked online for a random mid week day in August. For my friend as she has children under 12 she is able to book a family ticket for 2 adults and 3 kids. This sets her back £118.75 but we are advised online this is a far better deal than simply turning up on the day as the costs would be 40% higher. Again add on the cost of petrol and a simple lunch and depending on how far you are travelling this again is a £200+ day out.
How about a day out in Blackpool and a trip to the Pleasure Beach? If you intend to spend quite a long time at the Pleasure a beach and with the prices on offer, you probably would, there are options. If like my teenagers who want to go on everything and be all inclusive, the price for 2 adults and 2 children is £146. My friends family of 5 is £182.50. There are other options of a £6 pass to visit the Pleasure Beach and enter the Chinese Maze but kids want to go on all the rides in general don't they? A "BIG VALUE" pass at £50 each allows 1 person to visit on the day of their choosing and return again for another visit within 14 days. But if you have travelled as a family, you will probably need the wristband option. Again add on a lunch , an ice cream and petrol and you can easily bump this up to £250 in my case and probably £300 for my friend.
So after viewing these top days out, it is obvious that many parents either working on low incomes or those receiving benefits could not afford even a day out to an attraction at these prices. Many of you reading this will no doubt be saying "Well there are parks, museums,rivers and local hills to climb etc" I agree cheap days out are there to be had if you think carefully and budget for a homemade picnic. But kids are kids. They hear their friends in the classroom boasting of holidays abroad or a trip to Alton Towers etc, which is way beyond their parents budget. It is a travesty that children with parents on low incomes will miss out on a summer holidays day trip during their childhoods, because these attractions are so vastly overpriced for what they are.
And the most precious thing of all - nothing to look back on when they are older, except for miserable summer holidays where mum and dad were concerned because the food budget was tighter than ever, due to the kids being at home.... Government have the power to lobby these attractions and work out a better deal for low income families. But while Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg enjoy a holiday abroad AND a holiday within the UK, they are not bothered about those children in low income families who will be experiencing boredom and lack of money for 6 weeks and in many cases a visit to the Foodbank as food runs out...