Treasure Trailing on a budget

Five top tips for a fun cheap day out

Great days out on a budget and how to save on getting there, refreshments and extra activities whem om a Trail

Summer’s here, and we all want it to be the best summer ever! That means day trips and fun activities are on the agenda, but these don’t always come cheap. With everyone tightening their belts this year, it can be a struggle to decide what to cut down on without cutting out the fun and summer treats.

Here at Treasure Trails, we believe a Treasure Trail can form the basis of a fun-filled yet inexpensive day out. We’ve already established that Treasure Trails is the best value family day out in 2022, and with prices going up all around us, the good news is that a Treasure Trail still costs just £9.99.

Once you have your Trail, there are various other costs to consider. But how do you choose where to make savings and when to splash the cash?

We’re not you, so we're not qualified to answer that question! That's why we surveyed 550 adventurers who completed a Trail in April, May or June this year and asked about their latest day out on a Treasure Trail. We wanted to find out what extra spends cropped up and get their top tips on how and where to make some savings for the ultimate cheap day out.

So, let’s take a look at the real costs of a Treasure Trails day out and pass on our Trail-goer’s tactics for looking after the pennies while still ensuring your mystery gets solved and everyone returns home with a big smile.

Tip 1: Getting there

Getting there - a Trail and parking

Unless you're like the 11% of people surveyed and happen to live within walking distance of the start point or are staying in your chosen Trail location, you’ll need to factor transport costs into your day-out spend. 

Our survey says

15% of you took some form of public transport, while just over 1% arrived by bicycle, or in one case by canal boat and another on a cruise ship!

This leaves 73% of Trail-goers arriving by car. Fuel costs aside, parking fees vary wildly by location. Your Trail booklet will suggest a suitable car park based on proximity to the start. However, you are of course free to choose alternative parking.

In our survey, of those who arrived by car:
71% used the suggested car park in the Trail booklet.
11% researched parking online before they went or already knew where to park.
9% sought out free on-street parking.
8% just rocked up and followed car park signs.

Your money savings tips

While free car parks are perhaps a dying breed, smaller Trail locations may have a free or low-cost car park for visitors. If you're visiting a larger location, you may be faced with several options - some cheaper than others. To get the best value parking on the day, our Trail-goers suggest:

Research different car park charges online before you set off. Check out car parks a little further out from the centre and weigh up the extra walk vs cheaper parking.

Aim for parking where you can pay by app or on exit, so you don’t have to try and guess how long it will take you to do the Trail.

If available, use a Park & Ride service. Buses are usually low cost, and you’ll save on fuel not sitting in traffic to get into the city centre. Plus, if it's a double-decker, you can sit up top and get a good view!

If you’re Trailing with other people, car share to minimise the number of cars needed.

In the summer, consider an evening Trail as many car parks offer free or much cheaper parking after 6 or 7pm.

Tip 2: Snacks & drinks

Snacks and drinks when on a Trail

All good detectives, intrepid explorers and top-secret agents need to refuel from time to time. A well-timed pit stop can give your brain a boost and weary legs a rest. How you choose to enjoy those well-earned snacks, though, can have a big impact on your spend.

Our survey says

78% of you stopped for a coffee, snacks or drinks on your last Trail adventure.

Of those,
88% purchased snacks or drinks at the location.
22% took your own.
6% bought some on the way.
(Some of you did more than one option)

Your money savings tips

It's important to support local businesses - many tourist towns rely on visitors to keep them going. However, if you're looking to save some pennies, reducing your snack spend is one way to do this. The resounding response from our Trail-goers was that when it comes to snacks and drinks, you should take your own! Here's what else they had to say:

Take a water bottle at the very least. Even if you also stop for coffee or a quick drink, you'll likely spend less if you've topped up on water first! Plus, most cafes and restaurants will happily refill your water bottle for free. 

Take a flask. This is a must for anyone who's very particular about their brew, and it allows you to enjoy your hot drink in a more scenic or quiet spot.

Cereal bars or fruit - having snacks in your bag is a good idea if you have kids who may need a boost at any point. This saves you having to detour from your Trail or ending up with unsuitable snacks.

Check prices before you commit, as there may be cheaper options nearby.

Try out a local delicacy or product if available instead of spending money on things you would normally have at home.

Planning is key so you can enjoy the day - let the kids know in advance what snacks you have on you and if and when you plan a stop. This will stop them pestering you for extras!

Tip 3: Lunch stops

Lunch stops on a Treasure Trail

Most Treasure Trails take around 2-3 hours to complete, which means you can easily do them in a morning or afternoon, before or after lunch. However, you still need to eat, whether that's before, during or after your Trail, and this is where you can perhaps make the biggest savings.

Our survey says

56% of you stopped for lunch in the location where you were doing your Trail. But what did you choose to eat?

Of those,
75% had lunch in a café/pub/restaurant.
19% took a picnic from home.
11% bought picnic bits at the location.
(Some did more than one option)

Your money savings tips

You're in control of your budget, so if it's a slap-up meal you're after, then go for it! Trying out new restaurants or pubs in places you've never been to before is always a treat. Whether you have something planned in advance or simply pop into somewhere that takes your fancy, lunch can be a key part of a memorable day out. Lunch can also be the biggest expense, especially if there are a few of you in the group, so here's what our Trail-goers had to say about eating out:

For a budget lunch, you can't beat a picnic. Plus, you get to eat al fresco, and if you have picky eaters in your group, you can ensure that everyone has what they want. Happy eaters = happy Trailers!

Choose fish and chips over a sit-down meal. 

Research places within your budget before you set off, so you’re not looking for a place to eat when you’re really hungry.

Look for vouchers or discount cards for local cafes/restaurants.

If you do find the perfect lunch spot before you go, book ahead to ensure there's a table free for you.

Tip 4: Detours

Detours on a Treasure Trail

When you explore with a Treasure Trail, you don't need to enter any building or private areas or pay any admission fees to solve the clues. However, as your Trail is completely self-guided, you are free to stop off and detour much as you like! A whopping 89% of our Trail-goers did just that, turning their 2-3 hour Trail into a super fun-packed full day out. 

Our survey says

62% of you enjoyed other activities in the Trail location, as well as completing your Treasure Trail.
29% stopped off at a different location before and/or after your Trail.
11% just did the Trail and then went home.

Of those who combined your Treasure Trail with other activities:
27% pre-planned your other activities.
41% did activities spontaneously as you came across them.
35% did both pre-planned and spontaneous things.

Your money savings tips

The range of detours which may make demands on your wallet will, of course, vary wildly by location, with free activities competing with charged ones. Our Trail-goers have plenty of great advice for ensuring you keep within your budget:

Do your research before you go.

Pre-plan one extra activity and stick to the plan!

Book tickets online as this is often cheaper.

Seek out free entry - many museums are free.

Look for free things to do in your location – e.g., fossil hunting if near the sea, or extending your walk.

Take your time. If you live or are staying locally, you don’t have to complete your Trail in one day. You can return another day to finish off solving your clues.

Make the most of the playgrounds/beaches or other areas to extend your day. Stop to feed the ducks in the park if they have food on sale, or take some duck food with you.

Don't be afraid to detour from the Trail route if you see something interesting you want to explore - you're on an adventure after all!

Tip 5: Post-Trail treats

Post-Trail Solved It Treats

Picture the scene. You’re at the final clue – Trail complete! You’ve submitted your answer and now need to celebrate your success. What do you do? If you're savvy, you'll shout out "Solved it!", take a photo of your successful team and share it online, tagging us at Treasure Trails and adding #solvedit to your post. It's a great free way to share your joy and put big smiles on our faces here at TT Towers!

Our survey says

69% of you enjoyed some form of treat to mark the end of your Trail.

Of those,
4% took treats with you.
61% grabbed an ice cream or other treat at the end of the Trail.
7% went for a meal or drink in the pub.
27% treated yourselves when you got home.

Your money savings tips

29% of Trail-goers said that 'completing the Trail was treat enough'. This just goes to show that a treat is an extra spend that you can do without! But, who doesn't love a treat? For many, a post-Trail treat is part of their Treasure Trails experience, and for some Super Trailers, has become very much a tradition. If you want to reward yourselves for all your hard work, here are our Trail-goers' cut-price ideas:

Ice cream - it's the go-to #solvedit treat for many a Treasure Trailer!

Bring something from home, such as chocolate coins, to treat kids at the end.

Plan your spending limit and stick to it - especially good advice if heading into a sweet shop!

Make your lunch or refreshment stop your reward, and combine two sets of spending into one.

Or, skip dessert at lunch to save it for when all your clues are solved.

Key takeaways

To sum up the advice of our expert Trail-goers above and ensure you have a great day out, plan your budget in advance and stick to it, or plan ahead and stick to your plan. This gives you a little wiggle room for treats and extras and ensures everyone returns home with a big smile on their face, including the person holding the purse strings!

Happy Trailing!