Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Sunday, May 26, 2019

How to have free (or really cheap) days out on your next staycation

How to have free or really cheap days out on your next staycation, mandy charlton, photographer, north east england

I'm a great fan of staycations and they can be really cheap or even free if you do it right.  This week both Harriet and I are taking some days off at the same time, our plans to have a staycation and get the most out of the time with the least amount of spending are spectacular.

You see, I'm a joiner, I like schemes and memberships and loyalty cards, currently I am a member of -

English Heritage - Individual member, I can take me and up to 5 children in for free - approx £5 per month
National Trust - Family member, I can take me and the kids free and Abigail's dad also has a card which I pay for so that they always have somewhere to go for days out even if finances are tricky - approximately £10 per month
Royal Horticultural Society - £4.80 per month

Harriet is also in the National Trust so we both walk into hundreds of properties for free, English Heritage is free for me so we just split the cost of the properties and it's usually just a few pounds.  The RHS, I've recently joined so I get in free to lots of places but if we go to the 4 RHS Gardens not only do I get in free, I also get to take one adult guest or 2 children up to the age of 16. You also get in free to hundreds of partner gardens so again it just means a two for one arrangement if we go together.
How to have free days out in the north east of england, staycation holiday bargain, mandy charlton photographer, writer, blogger

I also have handy loyalty cards from - 

Wyevale Garden Centres, discounts in the restaurants and at the till
Dobbies Garden Centres £10 per year for free tea and coffee every month, discounts at the till and in the restaurant plus loyalty vouchers
Gardeners World Gardens Card which came free in the May issue and gets 2 for 1 into hundreds of gardens.

I have £33.50 of vouchers for Wyevale from their now defunct points system, I also have a voucher for £5 off in the restaurant at any RHS Garden and our nearest is Harlow Carr in Harrogate.

So, you can see how these discounts all stack up, both garden centres are dog-friendly as are a lot of the gardens although Harlow Carr isn't but Harlow Kennels next to the gardens will look after your dog for you for £4 or I can just leave her with Iain on that day, Holly Bobbins isn't a high maintenance dog.

We could of course also save even more money by taking our own picnic but then you need picnic food and sometimes that can cost just as much if you want a nice picnic, plus who wouldn't want to have tea at Betty's at Harlow Carr, it is legendary after all.

I do always wonder why dogs aren't allowed into gardens, I get that they can't really go into castles but in gardens on a lead, maybe it's a consideration for the future as we become a much more dog-friendly country.

This summer, whether I'm with Harriet or Looby I plan to have the most fun it's possible to have in our wonderful country but you can be sure I'm going to make days out as cheap as I possibly can whilst still having amazing experiences.  Cheap or free days out are easy, finding amazing places in that budget is the tough part, add kids or teens into that mix and then a dog and the challenges become so much greater.

This year however, I plan to smash it and with a camera at my side to record it all, you can be sure I'm going to come back with memory cards full of, well, memories.  I cannot promise not to splurge on things for the garden though, well you've got to have something to spend money on in the gift shop


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