LondonThis morning, I took part in a discussion about the cost of going on a family day out to London on the BBC Radio Wales show Good Morning Wales. Recent figures show that visitor numbers have fallen at several of the city’s main tourist attractions have fallen, and the costs of getting to London have been cited as a potential factor.

As a parent of two children under five, I do in some ways like the idea of going a day trip to London but at the moment it isn’t really something that I see as realistic due to both the cost and the time it takes to get to London from North Wales. We’re lucky to have a three hour direct train service to London from Bangor, but a return ticket for my wife and I would be likely to cost £90-£100 each. This is a lot of money to pay before having purchased any food or paid to visit any attractions.

As a grandmother from South Wales who was also interviewed in this morning’s discussion on Radio Wales pointed out, there are ways of saving money once you’re in London and there are attractions such as major museums that are free. I think it’s absolutely fantastic that the state funds free entry to many major museums in this country. Indeed, I’m much more happy to see some of the money we all pay via taxes go towards making culture and the arts rather than helping to fund a royal wedding.

Although the interviewee from Cardiff mentioned being able to travel to London for as little as £5 return on the discount bus operator Megabus, this simply isn’t an option in North Wales. Megabus don’t travel from Bangor and the nearest city they serve is Chester (over 50 miles away), and they don’t run a Chester to London service. Although we could travel from Bangor to London by coach on National Express, the journey would be likely to take over nine hours and cost at least £35 per adult. This is significantly cheaper than rail travel but the journey time alone means that a day trip, or even a weekend break, is out of the question. Even when our kids are older – they’re currently almost five years old and eighteen months old – this hardly sounds like a fun excursion.

In North Wales, we are lucky that we can much more cheaply and easily go on day trips to a city such a Chester that is little more than an hour away by car or rail. It is also a much smaller city than London, and much more easy to get around by foot. Although London is full of tourist attractions, it is a massive city and I can’t say that I relish the idea of negotiating our way round the London Underground with two under fives.

In general, we have tended to avoid going on city breaks when we’ve gone away on holiday with our kids so far as we feel it’d be likely to be a bit stressful and not necessarily something that they would enjoy as much as other activities. When we went on our first family holiday, we deliberately decided to stay at a rural campsite in France and take things easier. As I’ve mentioned in another blog post, we’ve enjoyed camping with our kids from quite a young age.

At the moment, I’m just not sure that our kids are old enough to fully appreciate going on a trip to London. We’re fortunate that they seem to travel fairly well when we go on family holidays or head up to visit my parents in Scotland. However, for the time being they seem perfectly happy going on smaller scale excursions in our local area. As you can see from this blog post from a couple of years ago, we’re really fortunate to have some pretty scenic locations nearby!

What do you think of London as a destination for a family day out or weekend away? Do you have any favourite places to visit? What do you think are the best ways to save money when visiting a city like London? Feel free to let me know by commenting below. Please remember that you can ‘like’ this blog’s page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter to keep up-to-date with my chronicles of family life.

 

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