With the school holidays looming most parents will be thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained, and days out are part and parcel of this. If the thought fills you with a slight feeling of dread then all you have to do is plan and double plan... here are the key points to remember in order to be forearmed.
How far is it?
It’s a day out – the last thing you want to do is drive for hours and get stuck in traffic en route. Give yourself a couple of hours at most to reach your destination or it’ll be too much of a mission for little ones.
It is often cheaper to book online before you go and it saves you queueing when you arrive – and bear in mind that most big theme parks, museums and zoos do vouchers and offers, often through supermarkets or on food aimed at children, such as cereals. Keep an eye out a few weeks before you go so you don’t end up paying full price on the day – it could potentially save you a packet.
Map it out
Print out a map beforehand so you can plan where you want to go and what you definitely don’t want to miss – that way everyone’s needs are satisfied! Research exactly what rides, animals or exhibits your children really want to go on or to and plan a sensible route that incorporates as many as possible.
Go to customer service and get your children a wrist band and write your mobile number on it. Then, if you part company for any reason, you can find one another again. Alternatively, write it on your child’s arm. If you’ve got older children, work out an easy rendezvous point.
You can usually pay extra to jump the queues. Great idea – but on what is already an expensive day out at theme parks, this can be a bill that’s just too much. It may be better to prepare your kids for the waits and tell them it’s all part of the day out.
Lock it away
Most parks and places of interest have somewhere to lock away your bags so you don’t have to traipse them around with you – great if you’re lugging along a picnic and don’t want to have to go back to the car to get it. However, it’s worth taking a small rucksack just for valuables that you can carry with you, preferably one that’s waterproof if you plan to go on splashy rides.
First things first
Go to the rides or animals that your little ones are really desperate to go on or see first when you are all fresh, so they won’t miss out later on in the day when they may be too frazzled.
It literally saves you loads of money if you pack some drinks and snacks for the day. Buying food on sale can be over-priced and not that nutritious. It also gives you the chance to have a sit downaway from all the crowds before you start again for round two!
- Map (print out before you go)
- Loose change for machines (for parking and lockers)
- Small bag for valuables on rides
- Comfortable shoes
- Clothes suitable for the weather: sunglasses, suncream and sun hat or rainproof and warm clothes
- Change of clothes (especially if you want to go on water rides)
- Jumper or coat
- Drinks and bottles for water refills
- Food and snacks