Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Surviving a wet camping holiday without blowing the budget

Our annual summer trip to the Lake District this year was not quite as well timed as it has been in the past. While we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy three glorious summers there to date, the recent wet weather made it much more of a challenge – especially now the kids are at an age where they need constant entertainment.

The other problem is, when the sun is out you can picnic, walk, swim and play until your heart is content, but this all falls apart as soon as the grey clouds show up. There’s no doubt about it, this means you are going to have to spend money. So the trick then becomes how do you do that without busting the holiday budget?

Well, luckily we had a few extra quid to play with. My other half is very savvy when it comes to price comparison websites and managed to shave some money off the cost of our van insurance with MoneySupermarket. To be honest, that old campervan of ours is getting to an age where it needs insurance now more than ever, so I’m amazed we were able to save so much. But nevertheless we found ourselves with an extra £120 to play with – which definitely helped.

So we fired up the iPad and (using the free Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop) started hunting down things to do. It sounded crazy, but one of our two seemed genuinely enthused at the idea of going to The Pencil Museum in Keswick – and as it would only cost us £11 for a family ticket we decided to give it a try. There was a surprising amount to do there and the kids learned a little bit about animation and how to draw cartoons from some of the lovely staff there. Of course, we walked away with a pocketful of souvenirs, but as most of them were pencils at least they aren’t completely useless.

The next day, we headed to an incredible place called The Puzzling Place. I suppose the only way to describe it is a museum of the bizarre. Optical illusions, puzzles, tricks and all sorts of things completely weirded the children out in the best way and they were soon running round the place like idiots having a whale of a time. And the best part was it was absolutely free.

You might think that when the rain makes an unwelcome appearance on your family holiday, that it’s time to pack up the tent and call it a day. However, there are loads of things to do either for free or very cheaply that may just be a stone’s throw away. So keep the faith!

Helen Collingham : Business blogger specialising in start-ups and online businesses, I focus on integrating innovative aspects of web to benefit new and existing businesses. And when I've not got my commercial head on I can be found blogging about family holidays.