5 budget friendly school holiday activities

For many families, it can be difficult to find the time to take holidays. Children spend much of the calendar year in school, and even when they're not, they may have extracurricular activities that take up their time making it difficult to get away.

In particular, the summer holidays seem an endless school break that can sometimes leave you feeling financially wrung out. The good news? You don’t need to spend a fortune to keep the kids entertained with these five low-cost ideas.

1.  Hit the beach

For a great family day out you just need to look at where we live. One of the great things about our amazing country is the long stretches of beautiful coast, and really, who doesn’t love that feeling of sinking your feet into the hot sand. Many of us have a beach within a reasonable driving distance1, and it’s a great place to take the whole family for a  simple, affordable and fun day out.

Aside from the usual swimming and surfing, try exploring rock pools often found at the end of beaches, challenge the family to a sandcastle building competition or look for sea treasures as you enjoy a walk along the shore. Pack some lunch, some shelter and plenty of sunscreen and you are set for a day of adventure.

2. Get into some park life

The local park is a great Aussie tradition and you probably won’t have to go too far to find one for your family to enjoy. Or, if you're feeling more adventurous, take the family to enjoy one of the many National Parks sitting on the outskirts of our cities and towns. If you do choose this option, it can help to do a bit of research about the park you’re going to so you know what to take with you and what facilities are available once you get there. Also, remember to respect the environment as there may be sensitive areas that are easily destroyed by trampling and rubbish2. Whether it's a hike to a waterfall, a picnic, a kite-flying trip or just a play in the local playground, our parks offer plenty of low-cost options for your whole family to enjoy.

3. Find your local art trail

Looking to introduce a little culture into your children's lives? You may not have to look too far to find a local art trail. Take the family to explore the talent in your area by visiting local galleries3. Once you’re feeling inspired, get the family painting or sculpting to create your own family gallery, or run a portrait prize where the winner earns a couple of nights off chores.

4. Explore your closest city on a shoestring

A little research can help you explore a major city, without blowing your holiday budget. A quick web search should offer up a range of activities in each city that you can do free of charge – explore walking trails and landmarks, visit free museums and discover new places. Use public transport to avoid expensive parking and fuel costs when exploring inner city locations.

Get the whole family involved and plan your day in advance. Remember to take your own water, or even lunch to help minimise costs.

Hot tip: Be a tourist in your hometown

5. Head to the country

Ready for a change of scenery? Part of the charm of our country is that you don’t need to travel too far to get away from the big cities. Australia has some beautiful countryside areas to explore. And, for kids who have spent much of their lives in urban areas, it can be a real treat to see new sights like farms and wilderness areas. Add some fun by creating a list of sights you’re hoping to see – this has the added bonus of keeping everyone on the look-out and providing a great reminder of all the new things you’ve seen.

Need some help planning your holiday budget? Head to the IMB Bank budget planner or read our tips on creating a budget that works for you.

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1. Australian Bureau of Statistics

2. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

3. ASIC's MoneySmart

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