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Tell Direct Line what makes the perfect family day out – £150 John Lewis voucher to be won. Plus 20 MNers will win a year’s free membership to the Let’s Go website! NOW CLOSED

(105 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Apr-14 17:08:21

With summer just around the corner, Direct Line would love to hear from Mumsnetters about the perfect fun filled family day out.

Here's what Direct Line have to say, "To celebrate our launch of 'Let's Go', a new rewards programme offering an exclusive range of free and 2-for-1 deals across the UK, we're on the hunt to find out what elements make a great family day out."

Do you have a fail-safe formula for the perfect outing? Or is this just a distant dream because there are chores you need to finish before you can enjoy fun and frolics with the family?

So whether it's oodles of good value activities for you and the kids, someone to look after them while you relax or simply time away, get in touch and let us know what you think.

Everyone who adds a comment will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 John Lewis voucher.

20 Mumsnetters will also win a year's free membership to the Let's Go website, giving you access to hundreds of free and 2-for-1 family days out across the UK (both local and major national attractions) - all year round!

Thanks and good luck,
MNHQ

For me, it's something that keeps us entertained for most of the day without costing loads. The cost really adds up at a lot of places.

We love going to the Media Museum in Bradford. We wait until after peak times and go by train. The museum is free and they have a picnic room so we don't need to buy lunch. It's great because the kids love going anywhere by train and it doesn't cost us lots.

I also find that 'annual' entry puts me off and it seems so popular now. Charging a high entrance price with the 'selling point' that you can go free for the next 12 months. It's usually places that are too far away to go more than once.

KateOxford Tue 08-Apr-14 13:04:05

Things I like are the ability to picnic in the grounds and buy coffee without having to queue for long, for instance kiosks which just sell coffee and snacks separate from the main reataurant(s), clean toilets and baby changing which isn't just within the ladies toilets. Reasonably priced healthy food, all too often places sell kids lunch packs which contain too many biscuits and crisps. I always try to pack things to take the night before , we always have to take a spare set of clothes for each child, mini first aid kit , sun lotion and hats if sunny, changing kit etc... If places don't allow you to take bags in its helpful to have lockers and somewhere safe to leave a buggy. Convenience is key because it's often a rush to get to places so close parking, short queues when you arrive ie an efficient ticketing system are always well received. We often go to Blenheim Palace which is so well run with people directing you to parking spaces and walking down the queue of cars to scan passes if you have them, first impressions are everything and this always makes us feel relaxed when we arrive. Circling a car park for ages trying to find a space to squeeze into doesn't start the day off very well. They also provide jugs of water with cups in the cafe so you can help yourself which is brilliant. Colouring for kids in restaurants while you wait is a good easy thing to provide and makes everyone have a more relaxed meal therefore more likely to buy more!

CMOTDibbler Tue 08-Apr-14 16:28:28

Perfect day out for us involves being active and all having fun. I don't mind spending some money on food and drink if its nice, so we tend to mix and match by taking all the basics.

We had a fabulous time last year at the CLA Game Fair - got there at 8, complete with dog, dh and I had rucksacs with snacks, sarnies, and Camelbak hydration bladders with water in (4l in total which all got drunk), did all sorts of things, enjoyed great shows, lots of places to sit in the shade, immaculate loos, back to the car at 5.30 to eat the food we'd left in a big coolbox and a cuppa from the flasks. Fabulous value, and so well organised!

Paintyfingers Tue 08-Apr-14 22:33:51

All being together and anything that our toddler DS finds fun - from the highs of the zoo to even simple things like the supermarket!

Cantdothisagain Wed 09-Apr-14 08:38:51

I think the key to a perfect day out is to not set out with too high expectations as inevitably it won't go like the ads. Second point is not to take too much stuff with you - or you end up like a packhorse. A good day out has a mix of activities, so you can build in down-time in between more energetic elements. I like days out that include train journeys as these combine fun and relaxation. Also like the chance to go to a cafe as well. And a play area is always fab!

Cheesecakefactory Wed 09-Apr-14 08:47:02

Being prepared - picnic to cut down costs leaving money spare for treats. Change of clothes sick bags first aid kit in case of any accidents makes life less stressful.
Being outside as a family enjoying the fresh air we always have a football in the boot of the car for a kick around if kids get bored. Arriving early to beat the crowds and easy parking. Clean loos and great weather is a bonus. Seeing the kids happy and adults relaxed enjoying time together makes a great day and great memories.

GrasshopperNchipmunk Wed 09-Apr-14 13:47:58

Nice weather definitely! I'm currently on maternity leave and cannot wait for some warmer weather so we can get out and about as a family. Seriously, this weather stinks... it feels like its been winter forever, and spring is cold this year. I feel like we're hibernating. Anyway, enough of my whinging!

We really cherish family days as I normally work in the week and my husband works weekends so we never normally have family days. I like visiting places when it is less busy, so week day (we're lucky as we still have pre schoolers!, hate ques, love family friendly places like the zoo, farm, parks or walks. We love the beach.

We normally take picnic food so we buy less, and look for vouchers for admissions. We do treat the kids with gift shop tat/ balloons/ ice creams though. Cheap things like swimming can be as fun for us as a day at Alton Towers.

Anything that makes the kids happy makes us happy as less stress - it's no good dragging the kids around something they wouldn't be interested in.

Perfect days out for us are to places with lots of open space where Ds can just run and run. We love having picnic lunches so good picnic areas are essential.

Rhs gardens are perfect for toddlers and national trust too and am lucky to have both nearby. Ds isn't big enough for theme parks yet, but I find them overcrowded and dull.

Aquariums are also brilliant for Ds and can't wait to do a day trip to the natural history museum this summer -my favourite place from childhood.

Ds has also been on a few theatre outings now and loved them, so can easily build a day out around that with train journeys and picnics.

the perfect day out is difficult to find because we are looking for something that strikes a chord with early primary to preteen and things always end up seeming babyish for the older ones or too much for the youngest. I like places thst offer family deals or entrance with a meal. lots of outdoor stuff always go down well

Willemdefoeismine Wed 09-Apr-14 18:19:44

A full day out which provides the whole family with something offering interest/fun appeal to everyone (for at least some of the day) and includes a meal out (always a winner in our house!). And something that delivers the children home tired and contented so that we get to relax with a wine and chillax time at the end of the day :-)

Changing the kids into their pyjamas at the end of the day in the car and brushing teeth with bottled water so they fall asleep on the way home, tires and happy

My dd's love cheap spontaneous days out, trips to the beach taking a picnic, dog walking in Sandringham woods.

tiredandsadmum Wed 09-Apr-14 21:06:44

A great family day out for me is one that does meet expectations. So if I have paid a lot for the day eg at a theme park, then I expect facilities to be clean, all rides to be working, food to be edible and reasonably priced. I would also like recognition that families come in all shapes and sizes (so I am a 1 parent, 1 child family), yet often family tickets don't reflect this at all. (it is similar to singles on holiday - very expensive per person compared to bigger families).

However we can have a great day out elsewhere - and need toilets, yes decent clean toilets. I truly dread sometimes where we go. Not nice sad

I like good coffee and particularly like my local park as I can get coffee and snacks on the high street and take them to the park. Lots of space and plenty to do for DS on bikes, scooters, sandpit etc.

We do go to the local and national museums in London. The free ones are great and you don't mind dipping in and out if DS gets bored. But DS particularly likes the Transport Museum which is quite expensive for adult and child. I like the transport offers that SE railway offers, child travels for £1. it does make the train more affordable than car/petrol/parking.

I also have an annual pass for the National trust but DS is no longer covered so I have to pay for him on top. If he is doing a topic at school it is great to take him to see a place or person for real.

tiredandsadmum Wed 09-Apr-14 21:08:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlicatCope Wed 09-Apr-14 23:00:46

A great family day out for me can come in various shapes or sizes- from a day at the beach with a picnic, to a trip to the big city, on a train to go to a museum. Or meeting friends in a park or a camp-fire in the woods, letting the children bash things with sticks to their hearts content. A 'successful' day- whatever that means, I have either got to have planned for every eventuality so that I can relax when out and about. That's my mothers advice but in truth I've never actually managed it. Or, with the power of my mind alone, I can sedate myself to go with the flow and enjoy whatever happens, attempting to smile serenely when squabbles break out if different interests pull us in different directions. Hoodwinking unsuspecting adult friends along with us to facilitate such occurrences also works well, but they'll only be fooled once...or maybe twice if you're lucky. The same goes for a DS or DD Birthday party. But, the best 'family days out' I have experienced were relatively spontaneous and then the smoothness of it all can take you by surprise. If the day ends and everyone's had a fabulous time, with very little thought or effort on my part then how can you help but feel a little bit smug and pat yourself on the back for having a reasonably socially functioning family after all. Who knew. What's better than that?

Bubbles85 Thu 10-Apr-14 17:13:02

For me the perfect day out involves the whole family with plenty of lovely food, preferably a picnic in the sunshine!

idleweiss Thu 10-Apr-14 19:51:15

I always make sure I am prepared for every eventuality with my 'bag of tricks', but I like to go places that I know have good facilities, such as Baby change, plenty of toilets, reasonably priced snacks and food. We love to visit places where the little ones can explore, learn and have fun without worry of over crowding and stressful garish environments. We tend to try new places or lesser known areas and activities or go to more well known attractions off peak. smile

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Thu 10-Apr-14 20:39:42

The perfect day out would be stress free, so plenty for everyone to do, good quality, reasonably priced food, clean toilets and plenty of them, something for any weather, short queues, pleasant and helpful staff and an alternative exit that doesn't take you through the tat gift shop. Oh, and decent coffee for me.
smile

telsa Fri 11-Apr-14 11:29:01

The perfect outing involves a train, a picnic, a fantastic destination - historical usually - books and toys for the journey and sunshine, if at al possible.

zipzap Sun 13-Apr-14 23:33:08

For a great day out, it's nice not to have to travel too far, not to have to spend too much money, to have lots of interesting things to look at, do, think about and get involved, enough space for young dc to race off their energy but to sit and recover when tired, tasty cheap food and drink or at least somewhere to eat your own picnics if they can't do that, somewhere to shelter from extreme weather conditions.

Places where you don't need to queue too long (if at all) are good, as are clean and sanitary toilets - if possible dotted throughout the attraction, rather than being in one place (invariably the furthest point from you when one of the dc has a sudden unexpected urge to go, having not needed to when you were close to them!). Good parking (particularly if it is close to the entrance, has spaces that can comfortably hold cars bigger than a mini, and isn't a quagmire) is a bonus.

For my dc (9 and 6) they love the freedom of being able to choose something to remember the day in the gift shop - so a decent giftshop with plenty of choice of memorabilia at decent prices (no £6 biros with just a fancy name printed on!). Having a leaflet of info that is child orientated is good too - so they can feel involved and find out about what it is they are at. We visited the Lost Gardens of Helligan last year and all got given a little compass to help us navigate around the gardens when we were given our maps - which the dc loved and still talk about today, something a bit different made a much bigger impact than just giving them a map and letting them buy a compass in the gift shop.

Another thing that is nice is when you happen across special events happening at a place that wouldn't normally be there. Next week we're off to the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park - it's a fantastic place and they have a special Easter Bytes programme running this holidays including loads of lego for the kids to sit and play with, old style retro computer games they can get their hands on and actually play with, all sorts of different activities that will be great for a day of indoor fun (having said that it's probably going to be all warm and sunny for the week now!).

starlight36 Mon 14-Apr-14 15:25:53

The perfect family day out is one where stress is kept to the minimum (not too expensive or crowded) and there is enough to entertain everyone. Sunny weather always helps if the venue is outside. We had a great day out on our summer holidays last year at Ventnor Botanic Garden as DD3 loved all the colourful plants and got the chance to clamber around the play area whilst our 6 month old had a peaceful sleep in his pram. We spent hours there and the adult treat was a lovely meal in a very nice restaurant.

We try to do our homework beforehand so we know in advance how much the day will cost to avoid nasty surprises. Where possible we book online or use any vouchers or offers we've seen.

Groovee Mon 14-Apr-14 16:07:20

We love tesco vouchers. Last week a friend and I pooled them together and for 7 of us we went to an indoor tourist attraction and had lunch. Would have cost us over £170 instead we paid £18 for lunch, £16 for an extra event and £7.50 for a family day saver on the buses.

Other fun days outs have been things like packing a picnic and getting the train into town and heading to the parks and having a picnic.

We have some great country parks near us too. A ball, a drink and some snacks make for a great afternoon or morning.

vestandknickers Mon 14-Apr-14 16:08:20

Perfect day out involves something interesting/educational such as museum/animals/crafts and a chance to get some exercise/let off steam. It also needs somewhere to have a picnic or a really nice (but not rip off) café. My children would also say they need to round off the day with a gift shop where they can buy cheap tut that they love and admire in the car on the way home and then sling in a cupboard and never look at again grin

supergreenuk Mon 14-Apr-14 17:00:04

Value for money.
We usually try to take a picnic because food is usually chips so a really good place to picnic and an area to picnic under cover would be good.
Good clean toilets with child level sinks.
Buggy friendly.
If we are looking at rides a hight rule that's not totally stupid for the ride. "Health and safety"

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