We all love a good day out but boy can they become rather expensive, add a few of those in the diary this summer and you could be weeping silently in a bid to entertain the children.
First off, congratulations – you’ve survived the first half of the summer holidays and if you’ve still a few slots left on your calendar and haven’t needed to take out a bank loan yet the I’m here to tell you all about the savings you could make with the National Rail Friends & Family Railcard.
With a Family & Friends Railcard you save 1/3 off most rail fares and 60% off kids fares. When you travel by train you can also get 2FOR1 entry at lots of great attractions. All you need to do is visit daysoutguide.co.uk, pick the attraction, download the voucher and show a valid train ticket (with your Days Out Guide voucher) on the day you’re planning to go to the attraction.
The Family & Friends Railcard will give you 1/3 off Off-Peak Day Travelcard Zones 1-6 (subject to minimum fare of £8.30) and 1/3 off Anytime Day Travelcard Zones 1-6 when bought as part of ticket to London from outside the London Zones area (subject to minimum fare of £18.10).
We put this to the test last weekend and travelled by Overground using Greater Anglia Trains going from Theobalds Grove to Shepherds Bush to take the kids to KidZania – somewhere they have been desperate to return to. We had to change at Hackney Downs on the way.
Using the Friends & Family railcard our tickets cost £17.30 for 2 adults and 2 children instead of £40.80 (which is a saving of £23.20). By downloading
Making sure you book in advance and print off your tickets, showing these with your valid railcard on entry for your discount.
We are used to travelling by Tube as it’s so easy for us to get into London that way but having said that we did choose to travel on one of the hottest days so the Overground was rather welcomed change for us, no over crowded carriages, seats for us all on all journeys and it was far cooler, with only one change added into the mix the journey there was really easy and only took around 25 minutes longer than the tube takes to get to Shepherds Bush (we have no changes to make when we travel by tube).
Having been to KidZania on 2 previous occasions we knew where to go and the kids practically ran through the West Field Shopping Centre to get to the far end and enter KidZania.
Once inside we headed upstairs to their favourite activity – British Airways training, Paul hasn’t been with us previously so they were keen to show him around. Harry headed off to do his pilot training while Emmy went to be a Air Steward training.
For those of you who haven’t been to KidZania before it is an indoor interactive city, for kids, run by kids. Children can independently choose from a number of real-life entertaining activities in one safe and secure space. The city is designed for children aged 4-14, activities range from being a Doctor, Dentist and Police Officers, Actors, Dancers and much more.
Once inside, adults are almost redundant except for holding bags, buying lunch and taking photos of their children. The adults are banned from the queues for the activities meaning the queues are never too long but with around 60 activities to choose from the kids can move along to ones with smaller lines outside.
Inside the kids are set to work, earning their own wages (KidZos) by doing jobs or they can spend their wages in the gift shop, or pay to enter some of the activities such as chocolate making, smoothie making or even making their own wraps.
Since our last visit their have been a few new additions and Emmy couldn’t have been happier to discover a Nintendo Switch Labo room – this is the longest activity within ZidZania and is separated into 2 parts each taking 25 minutes. In the first room you make your own bug by putting together the cardboard template and decorating it, then you attach the controllers to the sides and you can control your bug. Emmy had a great time here, carefully creating and taking her time before moving to room 2 where she could play other Nintendo Switch games using the pre-made Labo equipment. Given she wants a Switch for Christmas this was great for her and she was able to play a variety of games so I now at least know which to add to her list.
As this one lasts so long we left her inside and took Harry off to join other activities – the great thing is children are completely safe inside, with trained staff and they can’t leave the centre without the parents/guardians they can in with (you all wear electronic wristbands and are scanned out to ensure no-one from your party is left behind or you try to take another child out with you). I made sure I was back to collect her at the end of her session as I knew she would worry otherwise but if your child isn’t shy etc they are able to just take themselves around the centre and meet you back at a pre-arranged spot later on – there are places to eat, seat for adults all around and even an adults only bar should your child be happy to venture around without you.
Harry is at a funny age currently where he was desperate to do a few activities however once he got to the front of the line and it was his turn he changed his mind – had be been with Emmy he would have gone into those activities I’m sure but it did make the day a little frustrating and he wasted a lot of his 4 hours.
As there are timed slots it doesn’t get too busy inside and queues aren’t very long and with planning kids can easily do around 8 activities – many of these last around 15/20 minutes.
Top tips for enjoying KidZania:
- Time you slot so it doesn’t fall over lunch/tea time – you will waste your 4 hour slot if you sit down for lunch for around half an hour then the kids will be upset they’ve not managed to fit everything in. You could take sandwiches and eat these while queuing or time your slot so you have 4 hours then eat if you wanted to eat inside, otherwise there are restaurants inside West Field
- Take your own drinks – yes you can buy them inside buy they aren’t the cheapest. There are water fountains located in the restrooms too
- Make sure the kids wear comfy clothing esp shoes – they will be standing up and walking around a lot so ill fitting shoes aren’t advised
- If your child wants to use the climbing wall they can’t be wearing skirts or dresses for obvious reasons
- Start upstairs and work downwards or from the back and work forwards
- Going with a friend/sibling helps shy children to enjoy the day more, they’ve someone to queue with and helps if they are feeling apprehensive – Harry this time kept refusing to go in as Emmy was busy in the Labo room, had he taken a friend or been with Emmy he would have joined in more
- There are things for under 3’s to do but not that much so I’d advise leaving them at home if you can
- Take an empty purse, wallet or bag for the children’s wages – they won’t want to carry them around and soon add up. I have a lanyard with money holder on which I wear around my neck for each of my kids – this saves me having to reach into my bag constantly and the arguments of he took my money.
- Pre-arrange a meeting point should the kids want to split up
- Adults – take a book or something to do. The phone signal inside is none existent and the Wi-Fi never works for me so once the kids are engrossed you can be happily reading the paper or catching up on your book guilt free – make the most of being child free for a while
- If you don’t want to spend money on the professional photographs captured during your child’s time here don’t let the kids tap their wristband on the computers to bring them up on the screens – if they see them they will want them, but will never know unless you show them!
If you fancy saving money on your next day out then why not take a look at which are included within the 241 offer over on the website: daysoutguide.co.uk – Don’t forget you will need a valid rail card from your journey there for the offers to qualify and you could save even more with a Friends & Family Railcard.
Disclaimer: We were provided with rail ticket and entry to the attraction in exchange for this post, as always all thoughts and opinions are our own.