We love a bit of the National Trust, have been members for 3 years now and we’ve always got our monies worth from our membership fee.
It’s something I highly recommend to friends with young families, as the National Trust has worked hard over the last decade to become more family focussed and shake off their (unfair) middle class, middle aged reputation.
We think the National Trust is absolutely great for families and here are some ideas for making the most of your membership if you’re visiting with children.
The launch of the National Trust Days Out app has meant that you can search for properties and places of interest local to where you are (be that at home or on holiday), read all about them, check out facilities and even see a diary of special events. We show Stanley the local properties and then he picks one that he’d like us to visit (usually one with an ‘extra’ think along the lines of a railway museum, toy museum, sculpture trail, or a playground). You can also create a list of your favourite places,mark off the properties you’ve been to previously and create a wish list of ones you’d like to explore.
As you probably already know…we are outdoorsy people and the National Trust provide an abundance of outdoor space that is safe for children to run around in, explore and learn. We always tend to visit at least one National Trust property while on holiday, it’s become a bit of tradition for us and we never forget our passport…yes, that’s right we have a National Trust passport!
If you’ve not heard of the passports, they are available to buy online for £5 and specially made for you to take with you on your visits. Your passport will get stamped at each property. It’s worth noting however, that not all properties will have this facility, it’s usually the bigger ones with a gift shop that have their own unique ink stamp.
Once you’ve completed your passport (with 30 different sites) you can send it off to the National Trust offices and they will send you a certificate through the post. We’ll be holding on to ours though as the stamps themselves are little works of art and combined with the date act like a little scrapbook of memories.
Stanley loves using our passport and he always volunteers to go and ask the shop staff to stamp it for him although on our last outing James showed an interest too so he’ll have a bit of competition next time. We have had our passport since we joined and have used it alongside Stanley’s ’50 things to do before you are 11 3/4′ activity book to make our holidays that little bit more special.
50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4
This book is bursting with ideas to help children discover the great outdoors and get closer to nature. The pocket-sized companion contains 50 fantastic activities, selected by children around the country. Full of handy tips, nature facts and activity checklists, it’s the perfect nature journal – with lots of space for notes, photos, leaves, doodles and more.
When it’s just too wet to go outside, you can always turn to the rainy day activities.
We have been working through Stanley’s hardback copy (available online for £5, currently reduced to £2 – bargain!! ) for just over a couple of years now. Each activity is numbered and listed (some are seasonal and some geographical). Once you’ve done the activity you can sign and date it or if you are at a National Trust property then you will get an official ’50 Things’ sticker to put in your book.
We haven’t done absolutely all our activities at National Trust properties but some we have and have organised days out with this in mind.
TIP: I’ve taken a different approach and used a collage technique to fill out Stanley’s book (sticking in photos, leaves, footprints etc) as this then extends the activity into another day/week/month/whenever I remember to actually print the photos off, that he can help with….ALL kids love brandishing a glue stick, right? I also think it will make a great keepsake and something for him to look back when he is older. I’ve just ordered a further two copies for James & Eli.
When I’ve been stuck for ideas of what to do with the boys especially in the Autumn/Winter months this has been an absolute lifesaver and with a bit of Facebook wizardry, I’ve looked up local events that will tick off an activity or two and taken the boys along.
You don’t have to buy the book to join in with ’50 Things’ you can pick up a FREE scrapbook at most properties or join in by downloading the full list as a PDF from the National Trust website.
Come and try our fantastic explorer packs and start your adventure today. Our packs contain five different activities to keep all the family entertained. Pick up one at reception upon arrival and get exploring.
These are available for free (a refundable £5 deposit is required) at selected properties. The contents of each rucksack will vary depending on the venue but they will contain everything you need for activities suitable for that environment (coastline, country house, castle, quarry etc). We picked one up at Dunwich Heath in Norfolk and were armed with spotting sheets, binoculars, a handheld GPS for geocaching, a bug hunting kit and pond dipping equipment.
Due to the timing of this post there are lots of special National Trust events for the Easter holidays. Cadbury has teamed up with National Trust to create over 260 Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts (1-28 April) across the UK, so get ready for some fun and discovery.
Also check out the National Trust website for the best places to see daffodils, lambing events and erm dinosaurs!!
So there you have it, a few things to be getting on with!! If it’s not your cup of tea and you prefer more leisurely and relaxed visits, then I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!
I’ll be adding our experiences at the National Trust properties we’ve visited in more detail as part of the Five Go! series…so watch this space!
All images are my own unless otherwise credited.