Right, I’m assuming whether you love them, hate them of are indifferent to them, you have at least heard of them. Collect tokens in the Sun newspaper, get a cheap holiday. Simple. Since our SAHM decision, these have been our holidays – a huge departure from our life before kids – think Venice, Paris, New York, LA, South of France, Las Vegas and various beach holidays. To be honest, apart from the money, the idea of taking the two small ones abroad doesn’t appeal to us anyway until they’re a little older, so until then, we will be using The Sun! We go for the UK options, though there are European breaks available, too.
If this is a new world to you, or you’ve just not really felt you could a get decent break from it, read on..
I’ve a few tips to make the most of these offers to ensure you get a good deal.
1. Do your research. I always use Trip Advisor when looking into where to stay. I also use route finders to check out how long it’s likely to take to get there – with Boo and Little Man, I like to be prepared! I look into where we can go round the area, things to see and do, and I then make a priority list of our choice parks, ready for booking day.
2. Check the accommodation available at each park. We personally prefer a caravan to apartments/chalets, so I always exclude these parks straight-away, so go for what’s right for you.
3. You need to collect the tokens the first time you want to do this. As soon as you have that last token, send off your form, that same day. Otherwise you’ll be left with the poorest choices.
4. After this first time, you’ll then receive an on-line priority booking form – use it! As long as you use it, you’ll continue to get them and not need to collect tokens and go through the slower booking process again. If you don’t want it, offer someone else the chance to use the code – friends or search on forums such as Netmums and Money Saving Expert as there will be people there wanting them
5. If you’re now on-line, you don’t need to collect the tokens. There will always be people in the above forums happy to share the codes with you. So then you enter them in and choose your parks. Do this as soon as the site goes live to give yourself the best chance of getting your preference. Have several dates and parks prepared, as you’ll need to put in at least three for the website to search for you, and be sure you can get the time off, as once booked, you cannot change it. It does make it easier for us that we needn’t go in prime school holidays time, so we’re making the most of that now!
6. Be aware that you’ll pay the Sun amount (usually £9.50 or £15 each), and then will need to pay the park for service charges, entertainments passes, bed linen etc., so build this into your budget. Even with all of this, you should still find this is cheaper than the brochure price listed for your chosen park – always has been considerably cheaper for us.
And that’s it – you’re booked! You can usually pay to upgrade at most sites, prior to going, so that’s totally up to you. We didn’t upgrade our breaks last year (Hoburne Bashley and Parkdean Cherry Tree), and our accommodation was brilliant, so we were pleased we hadn’t paid any extra for it! That’s just the luck of the draw, though, and I’d imagine we wouldn’t be so lucky in school holiday times. Thsi year we did upgrade, purely to ensure we had heating (for Little Man’s benefit), and three bedrooms so we could put his cot in one. As they get a little older, they can share a room, so we needn’t’ do this every time.
And that’s it. Until the children are older, we’re happy with our UK breaks, and by doing it this way, it’s a cheaper way to stay at lovely parks, we get to explore various parts of the country and as they’re cheaper, we have 2-3 breaks a year to look forward to, rather than just one. So far, we’ve been to Somerset, Norfolk, the New Forest, Dorset and the Cotswolds. And if you follow the above tips, you can’t go wrong 😉