School holidays cost parents more than £3,000 according to new survey - here are 7 ways to keep costs under control

New research has revealed how much the school holidays cost parents, and it's an eye watering sum - so we've shared our top tips on how families can keep costs under control

family heading on a day out in the car during school holidays
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Parents are expecting to spend more than £3,045 this year to keep their children entertained during school holidays, new data has found.

When it comes to making ends meet during school holidays, it can be really stressful for parents, thanks to the added expense that comes with finding things to do with kids for days at a time.

Now a survey from American Express has estimated that parents will spend more than £3,000 on kids entertainment in 2024, including things like sports activities, clubs, toys, books, magazines, games consoles and tech devices, days out, meals out and TV subscriptions. This value is also calculated per child, so those with two kids or more should expect to pay more, although there will be some economies of scale that will make it a bit cheaper for each additional child. These economies include kids being able to share toys and games consoles, and TV subscriptions being paid on a household rather than personal basis.

More than half of the survey respondents (59 per cent) said that keeping the kids entertained outside of the home was the biggest driver of their school holiday spending.

With school holidays just around the corner, we look at how parents can try and keep their costs down, while still making memories with their kids out of term time.

  1. Draw up a budget - if you can draw up your budget as early in the year as possible, and plan for extra expenses during school holidays, you can identify the times of the year when you'll need to spend more and when you can spend less
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for where kids eat free to keep food costs down
  3. Instead of theme parks, why not plan a park day, with a picnic, and a couple of inexpensive outdoor games
  4. Search websites like Days Out With the Kids and Visit England for free outdoor activities such as fossil hunting and Viking trails
  5. Look for how to get cheap cinema tickets to keep costs down if the weather isn't great
  6. Team up with friends to see if you can get discounts on group tickets, or make the most of any membership perks any of you might have. You could also join forces to see if you can take turns looking after each other’s children for a few days over the holidays to reduce childcare costs
  7. Try to save money elsewhere, like pausing some lesser used streaming services, or forgoing takeaways during school holidays to ease the pressure on the schools holidays budget.

If you have a child between five and 15, then make sure you know the trick to getting them free entry to 200+ attractions in the UK, and where tired parents can get free coffee when they need a caffeine hit.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.