How to keep your kids occupied affordably during the June holidays

How to keep your kids occupied affordably during the June holidays

So the kids are bouncing off the walls because the school holidays are just around the corner, but deep down you're fretting about how it's going to cost you a bomb.

Sure, you know they'd love a trip to Universal Studios, but it would cost a family of four $256 just to get their foot in the door. Ouch.

We sure hope you're not signing your kids up for extra tuition classes, because that's going to cost a pretty penny. Here are a few ways to ensure your kids have a fun holiday without plunging your entire household into poverty.

Pick an overseas holiday destination you can drive to

You might be accustomed to making bi-yearly trips overseas, but the cost can add up astronomically. Just the air tickets alone for a trip to Hong Kong would set you back over $1,000 if you're a family of four, and woe betide the family wanting to go to Western Europe-a week in London as a family of four would easily set you back $10,000 during the peak holiday season.

If you've got a car and aren't too nervous on Malaysian roads, it makes sense to drive to your destination. Even ferry tickets to Batam or a coach ride to KL adds up when you have to multiply by three, four or five. When you drive, on the other hand, the bigger your family is, the cheaper the trip becomes per person.

Malacca or Port Dickson would be an easy drive, while more intrepid families might attempt to make it all the way up to Phuket. Just prepare to deal with a bunch of extremely grumpy kids if you're going any further than KL.

Instead of going overseas, book a local chalet

To be brutally honest, if your kids are aged 12 and under, they'd be just as excited about staying in a chalet at East Coast Park as they would be for a trip to Paris… well, maybe if you don't mention Disneyland. When I was a primary school kid, my family used to rent a chalet at East Coast Park for a week, and it felt like being in another world.

It was also pretty awesome that we could run around unattended, which would never have happened in an actual foreign country.

There are tons of affordable staycation options in Singapore.

Most of these options tend to be in slightly more rustic surroundings, which gives the kids a reason to tear themselves away from their iPads (shame on you for buying them one though).

If the great outdoors don't make you and your spouse squeamish, pitch a tent and have a family campout instead. This is probably your cheapest option. Just make sure you bring lots of insect repellant.

Sign your kids up for free activities the month before the school holidays start

Wait until the school holidays start and it'll be too late. When you're surrounded by screaming children complaining about boredom, you'll be that much more likely to cave in and send the entire family to Universal Studios or the zoo just to end the misery.

The trick is to do research on free or low cost activities for your kids way in advance, and reserve spots for them if necessary. Pencil in the dates on your calendar so you can arrange to drop them off if necessary.

Two or three activities a week is plenty, and your kids will be so occupied they won't even have time to complain.

Here are a few places that conduct free kids' activities:

National Library Board: A wide range of free kids' programmes, from crafts and storytelling to photography and music.

Esplanade: Free performances, classes and activities for kids 12 and under.

Singapore Sports Hub: The Experience Sports programme will teach your child a new sport.

It might require you to do a little more homework, but can help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the month of June. Worth it? You bet.

This article first appeared in MoneySmart at http://blog.moneysmart.sg/family/how-to-keep-your-kids-occupied-affordably-during-the-june-holidays/

MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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