Centre Parcs is fantastic but it’s not cheap. Even if you can get a good deal on the accommodations, you still have so many extra costs to factor in. It’s so easy for these to spiral out of control. However that doesn’t mean you need to miss out. Here’s my guide to enjoying a Centre Parc on a tight budget.
Tip 1: Go out of season
Clearly this isn’t an option for everyone but if you can, avoid school holidays by a good few weeks. If you can be flexible on when you go, you get get the best deal with accomodation. This time we lucked out and bagged a three bed lodge for the same price as a two bed as the two beds were sold out. At the time of writing this, the same lodge, during the Easter holiday is £729. We paid £299!
Tip 2: Be less picky
Think about travelling a bit further to an alternative Center a Parcs if the closest doesn’t have the cheapest lodge. Also don’t be persuaded to chose your zone. Either you’ll be close enough to walk everywhere and save cash by not needing to hire bikes. Alternatively, you won’t and can hire bikes with the money saved from not selecting a zone. We’ve been three times and never paid to be located somewhere specific. All three times we’ve been within 10 minutes walking distance of the centre.
Tip 3: Don’t prebook much (if anything)
This comes down to what sort of break you want but if budget is high on your priority then don’t even look at the activity list. They offer some fab experiences and it can be very tempting to just book a few. Almost all can be done significantly cheaper out of the resort. For example, they offer a messy play session called Mucky Pups for little ones. It’s about an hour and cost £15. My local community centre runs a very similar weekly sessions and it cost £2 per family. Unless you are holidaying in peak time, you’ll more than likely be able to add on sessions when you’re there if you feel you need to.
Tip 4: Take a full grocery shop
Eating out is easily the quickest way to rack up the bill in Center Parcs. There are a multitude of family friendly restaurants and it’s enticing not needing to cook and wash up on holiday but again think of the budget. Before we go, we head to Aldi. This is where we always shop but for a mini break, we go a little crazy. Snacks and treats all get thrown into the trolley as are the packs of preprepared veg and luxury ready meals. We also like quick, fun meals like pizza.
Tip 5: Take advantage of the free stuff
So you’re not booking any activities and you’re not eating out. Surely I’ve just zapped all the fun from the break. Absolutely not. There is more than enough to keep you entertained without spending a penny. Here are my favourite free family activities
#Swimming – The subtropical paradise is amazing. We visit daily.
#Soft Play – There is no obligation to eat in the restaurants. Sometimes we treated ourselves to a drink, other times we just sat and relaxed watching our girls having fun.
#Man made beach – Take a bucket and spade and enjoy the sand whatever the time of year. Sitting overlooking the water is lovely whenever as long as it’s dry.
#Open fires – When the weather turns cold or wet, retreat indoors and light a roaring fire. We don’t have an open fire at home so this is a real treat. We pack hot chocolate, marshmallows and skewers for toasting.
#Woodland walks – Get off the main tracks and head into the trees. We played hide and seek, hunted for pine cones and spotted wildlife. We even took a torch and headed out at dusk for a different experience too.
Hopefully I’ve given you a few good ideas to keep the costs down. Here is what we spent:
£299 – Accomodation
£68 – Grocery Shop including alcohol (+£18 on typical shop)
£50 – Meal on the last day
£15 – Waterproof camera
£4 – Caramel Latte
£2 – Children’s entertainer show
£1.75 – Washing up liquid
Why not save another tenner and buy one of these fab cases before you go.
We loved it for the swimming pool and got some really great shots.
However, we overpaid in the gift shop.
Do you have any more tips for cutting costs on Center Parcs break? I’d love to hear them.
Anna over at Popitha: Life and Adventures with Twins has also just written a great post with 34 fab tips for travelling to Center Parcs with little ones. Click HERE to pop over and take a read.
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