Summer holidays can be an expensive time for families. Childcare costs in the holidays, days out, and extra food/treats can all add up. Add in more than one child or children with additional needs and this cost can shoot up considerably.
While you may want to have some summertime treats and big family days out, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and budget wisely. The key is to budget and to stick to it.
Here are my 15 ways to save money on summer fun with additional needs. I’d love to hear yours too in the comments below.
1. Max Card
If you’re looking to entertain the kids this summer, the Max Card can be really handy. It’s a discount card for families of children with additional needs. Show your Max Card upon entry to a participating venue to obtain free or discounted admission. The card costs £3 and is valid for two years. Max Cards can be distributed up until the day before a child’s nineteenth birthday.
This can be a great money saving tip for families with additional needs but it can depend where in the country you live. It was set up in Leeds so Yorkshire is particularly well covered.
Visit http://www.mymaxcard.co.uk/ for details
Also check out my Max Card series on the blog to find out where you can use it near you.
2. Travel concessions
If you travel by public transport, a free off-peak bus pass could be a godsend.
The England National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) provides free off-peak bus travel throughout England for people over the age of five with disabilities.
The pass enables the child plus an adult to travel free of charge. Bus travel passes are issued by your local authority,
Also check out The Disabled Person’s Railcard, which allows you to save 1/3 off all rail travel for just £20 a year. It covers both the cardholder and an adult companion.
3. Free cinema ticket
Planning on going to the cinema this summer? Apply for a card from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA). It gives one free ticket for anyone accompanying a disabled person to the cinema.
To get the free ticket, you will need to purchase a full price ticket for the disabled person for the same performance of the same film.
Apply for a card, which costs £6 for one year, on the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association website https://www.ceacard.co.uk/
4. Discounted and free theatre tickets
Lots of theatres offer discounted tickets for disabled people. Some also reserve seats for wheelchair users and allow carers in for free.
Check with the theatre when you’re booking tickets to find out what they offer.
5. Free entry to National Trust and English Heritage properties
Both the National Trust and English Heritage give free entry to companions of disabled visitors.
The disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee or membership (although if you have a Max Card, they may be able to get in free to some properties).
To save having to ask for free entry at a National Trust property, you can apply for an ‘Access for All Admit One Card’ in advance https://www.nationaltrust.org.
To find out about the accessibility of English Heritage properties visit http://www.english-heritage.
6. Concessions at public libraries
Some libraries offer services at a reduced rate or free of charge to disabled people: Overdue books, computer access, audio and visual material. Check with your local authority.
7. Free admission at football matches
Some clubs offer this to fans with disabilities and their carers. Check with your local club to see if they do.
One of my top money saving tips for families with additional needs is to ask. Lots of places offer concessions for disabled people but don’t always advertise them. It’s always worth asking, even if the answer is no.
9. Fast track
If you’re going to an attraction where there might be queues, such as a theme park or a festival, find out if they operate a fast track system. Often, these places will let you bypass the queues if you take a copy of your DLA award letter from the Department for Work and Pensions as proof of disability.
10. Soft play and trampoline sessions
Many local soft play centres and trampoline parks hold sessions for children with complex needs. It’s always worth asking, so try getting in touch with your local centre. They can sometimes work out cheaper than a standard session too.
11. Use vouchers
Tesco Clubcard and Nectar allow you to swap points for deals to big attractions and restaurants. Check how far in advance you have to swap them for and plan accordingly. Also note that there’s a big shake-up coming to Tesco Clubcard vouchers.
From June 11, vouchers will be capped at up to three times the value of your points – meaning you potentially get a less for your points – depending on which retailer you choose. If you have lots of clubcard points to use, consider swapping them before this date.
12. Get outdoors
If you’re looking for ways to save money on summer fun with additional needs kids, get outdoors. If you have a Lido or local outdoor pool near you, these often are low cost for a full day of entertaining for the kids. It goes without saying that parks and playgrounds are great places for burning off energy.
13. Think picnics
If you’re going out for the day, pack a picnic. Kids meals and lunch boxes can be extortionate at tourist attractions so keep down costs by bringing your own packed lunches. Don’t forget to bring snacks too.
14. Ice cream
If you ask, some places will give you a child’s scoop of ice cream for a cheaper price than the full version. Alternatively, many ice creams come with two scoops as standard. If the ice cream place won’t sell a child’s version, ask for one of the scoops in a separate cone or tub. We also use this tip in restaurants.
15. Save on special offers
If you buy something on special offer in the supermarket or in the sales, put the saving into a jar or another bank account to save for days out in the summer holidays. You won’t notice the difference and the pennies will soon rack up.
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Why not check out 7 FREE days out in North Yorkshire with a Max Card