We have just got back from a fantastic family holiday at Butlins in Bognor Regis. It was the ‘Just for Tots’ week which is aimed at families with children under 5, and caters for them with drop-in style activities, live shows and popular children’s characters. We booked the holiday in their New Year sale and with additional voucher codes I found online we saved £100 on the booking. We stayed in a 2 bedroom silver grade self-catering apartment which was small but functional – clean, fully equiped and a perfect base. We took our own cot (normally £15 to hire for the week) with us for Arthur and he slept in our room, and Ted had his own room. We pushed the 2 single beds in his room together so that he didn’t fall out! (He has a bed guard at home) We paid extra to have a groundfloor apartment which was absolutely worth it, as we had the buggy in and out all day, not to mention the amount of stuff we had to take! It was great to have a good base as both boys napped at various times during the holiday so we needed somewhere quiet to come back to. Of course their naps never coincided at the same time, so one of us would stay in the apartment with the sleeping child whilst the other went out to do an activity. It actually worked quite well, giving us time to tidy round and then have some downtime, I even got to read some of my book!
The amount of things to do was just amazing – there was always something going on somewhere! We spent a lot of time in the funfair going on the rides and were pleasantly surprised that the queues weren’t too long. It actually didn’t feel too busy on site at all and we had no issues with it being crowded or anything like that. The boys loved the teletubbies show which we saw twice while we were there, however I wasn’t prepared to pay £15 for a photograph with them so we gave that one a miss! Billie and Bonnie were great and Ted loved seeing them pop up at various points over the week. We also got to see the Mister Maker show, which is the reason we booked the holiday. We had heard rumours of people queueing from 5pm to be there for the 7pm start which wasn’t something we were up for with two active boys! So we had tea and headed over for 6pm. The queue was fairly long but literally as soon as we joined in the queue started moving, we got in very swiftly and managed to get a great seat with a table. We then had to entertain the boys for an hour before the show started which resulted in us buying various flashing toys at £5 a pop but they really did love them.
We were very lucky in that the weather was incredible the entire week. At times we felt like we were abroad! There is a beach a stone’s throw away from Butlins so we managed to spend some time there too, going on the little land train which was an adventure itself and the boys loved. Even if the weather hadn’t have been nice I think we still would have had a brilliant time as there is lots to do. Particular highlights include Tikes Town, Soccer Tots, the aeroplane ride (which Ted went on at least once a day), the water fountains, Tots Disco, Splash Water World (the swimming pool) and my parents visiting by buying a day pass. We didn’t get to do everything on offer as we were always doing something and there was just so much on offer!
We really did have a great time and are thinking about going again next year and splashing out on the upgraded accomodation. We were reluctant this time to spend a lot incase it was a bit naff, but actually it was a great little holiday. I think it is a great place to go when you have young children and it really is possible to do it on a budget. Here are my top tips!
- Look for vouchercodes and promotions when booking, you will always be able to find a discount somewhere. You can book the Just for Tots week with Sun Holidays but be wary of additional hidden costs.
- If you are self-catering, get your food delivered! We did this and it was so easy and saved us a fortune. The shop onsite is really expensive, as are the restuarants. I did my usually weekly online shop but had it delivered to guest services, and we just went to collect it when the driver called us. It meant I could cook us cheap family meals whenever we fancied, and then I made lunchboxes up for the day. It also meant I could drink wine in the evening whilst the boys were asleep. (WIN)
- There are lovely seaside cafes just outside of Butlins – we bought ice creams here one day and it cost us half of what it would if we had got them in the resort.
- If there was an additional cost, we simply didn’t do it. Some activities or rides had an additional charge, and as there was so much to do it was just unnecessary. I don’t feel like the boys missed out at all because of this. I also didn’t pay for them to have a photo with the teletubbies…
- We bought Ted a moneybox and have been giving him any loose change to save up for the arcade. He loved having his money and playing on the 2p machines and collecting tickets!
- Don’t be put off by the merchandise shop – there are some reasonably priced things to be found! Although I wasn’t prepared to pay £15 for a Billy the bear cuddly toy (x2!) I did find some cute butlins wristbands that came in a pack of 3 for £2.99 and a bouncy ball, so they could have a little souvenir.
- Use your clubcard boost for nearby restuarants – there is a Chef and Brewer pub nearby in Shripney and we were able to use £7.50 worth of points for a £30.00 voucher! Great if you fancy a night off cooking or a special occassion. The restuarants on the resort are quite expensive.
- Not to do with money – but, if like Ted, your child is quite sensitive and can get easily overwhelmed this is a good tip! We started watching vlogs on YouTube a few weeks before our holiday so he knew what to expect and what it was going to be like. It helped him to understand what we were going to be doing and he was happy there from start to finish. He went on rides that I never expected him to and loved every minute. He keeps asking to go back!
We really did have a great holiday – and whilst there were a few glitches (noisy people, a bad experience at one of the restaurants, a blown fuse) it was a great family holiday for us. I think sometimes it can be the luck of the draw – you never know who your neighbours will be, what the accomodation will be like or if it will rain every day, but it seems like we really lucked out! Xx