Increased demand sees prices shoot up during school holidays, but there are ways to beat the hikes and escape to warmer climes as the school bell chimes! Follow our 15 tips for real-word school holiday savings…
1) Head to Scotland for the cheapest half-term flights
If you’re located in the North of England – or even further south – swapping your local airport and departing from Scotland could save huge amounts of cash for summer half-term flights.
Scottish schools don’t take the Summer half-term break enjoyed by English pupils, so comparing costs of flights from Manchester and Glasgow airports during this holiday period revealed a great opportunity to slash air fares for parents from south of the border. Here’s what you’ll pay…
Manchester Vs Glasgow: England Summer half-term 2016
Here’s how much you could pay for a return flight to Majorca for two adults and school-age kids during the summer half-term break – from Manchester and Glasgow.
Verdict: Driving the return journey of 454 miles (around 3.5 hours each way) won’t be the ideal start and finish to a family holiday, but there are 669 compelling reasons to jump in the car. Even when you’ve added the cost of fuel – around £75 – to the total, it still makes an extremely tempting way to slash your bill.
2) Use planned inset days to save £100s and beat holiday hikes
With a big rise in the number of fines being issued for unauthorised term-time absences in 2016, inset days can help parents save cash when it comes to booking their holidays.
Local Authority schools can have up to five inset days – Academy schools can determine their own number of inset days – which can be grouped together and extend holidays into term-time – allowing parents to book away from traditional holiday dates and save £100s.
How much can an inset day save you…
Cottage Grove Primary School, Portsmouth, states on its website that Monday, June 6, has been earmarked as an inset day – adding an additional day of holiday to the end of the school’s Summer half-term break. This will allow parents to travel Monday to Monday and dodge the congested standard holiday travel dates – but how much can a solitary day really save you? We found out…
Verdict: It’s clear to see that utilizing just a single inset day can have a huge impact on how much you’ll pay to take a holiday during a legitimate school break. Forget the online travel agent, your child’s school website is the first place to head when looking to decide where your budget will take you. An easy saving that really can work for all.
Find out how much you can be fined for term-time holidays here
3) Getting to airport… how to cut the cost
For most families, making their way from home to airport will seem like an unavoidable drain on their budget… but is that really the case? Here we look at taking a train, taxi and driving your own car to see if there’s cash to cut saved…
Verdict: Along with being the great for stress-free travel the airport, taking your own car – with it’s own child seats already in place – proves to be the cheapest of all methods. At £56.33 cheaper than a taxi and £33.71 shy of taking a train, cost-conscious travellers will be quids in by pre-booking airport parking.
Take the test from your house… what’s cheapest for you?
Use the following resources to see how the comparison works for your address and don’t forget to share the result with us below…
Find out what's cheapest for you... click here to reveal
Petrol price: Head here to find out how much your petrol costs will be for the drive to and from the airport car park. Find your fuel price here Airport parking price: Get your instant quote for airport parking here, which can then be added to your fuel costs to reveal a total for the luxury of using your own car to reach the airport. Find your airport parking quote here
Train fare: Simply add your starting point and destination for the train fare. Don’t forget to factor in any bus or taxi charges you might need to reach the station. Find your train fair here
Tell us who’s cheapest for your… Use the form below to reveal which method of transport is cheapest for you
4) Don’t forget to pre-book your airport parking – May, 2016
Leave your airport parking until the last minute and you’ll pay hundreds more. The following prices compare turn-up and park prices with what you’ll pay when booking through APH.
Save a further 10% on airport parking
Pre-booking your parking with APH can save hundreds compared with turn-up and park prices, but simply signing-up to our weekly email newsletter will guarantee you a saving of 10% when reserving a space at participating car parks across the UK. There’s no form to fill in, just enter your email below – it’s that easy.
Receive news and discounts – simply enter your email here…
5) Cut your spending money… head to Europe’s cheapest?
Falling or stalling prices around European travel hotspots have helped to soften the fall of pound’s value since its highs of summer 2015, according to research from the respected Post Office Travel Money survey.
With a fall of 8% in the value of sterling against the euro and continuing uncertainty over a possible Brexit, experts anticipate Brits will feel the pinch as they pull on their Speedos and head for the beach.
However, studying the Post Office Holiday Cost Barometer – which measures the price of holiday essentials such as a cup of coffee, a bottle of beer, insect repellent, sun cream and a three-course evening meal for two at 20 popular destinations around Europe – will help you cut the fat from your travel budget.
Europe’s top 10 cheapest beach resorts
How much it’ll cost to buy the holidaymakers’ ‘essentials basket’ including items such as beer, coffee and suncream.
Pre-order: Don’t leave buying your currency card until you get to the airport. Stepping through the terminal doors will see exchange rates tumble, while pre-ordering will get great deals from companies such as these two… Moneycorp Travelex
6) Reclaim Air Passenger Duty for kids under 16…
Save more now children under 16 are free from paying APD
While APD is creeping up by a few pounds for adults, it has now been abolished entirely for children under 16 – if they’re flying in economy. The ‘duty’ was axed for children under 12 in 2015, but from March 1, 2016, this was extended to kids aged 12-16.
If you were charged APD for a child between 12 and 16 flying after March 1, 2016, you will be entitled to a refund. You will need to contact the airline or travel operator to ask for this. Expect to receive around £26 per child for short-haul flights and anything up to around £100 for long-haul, depending on distance travelled.
Flights booked from now on – in theory – should be cheaper for those with children, so look out for this when searching for deals.
Is APD repaid on outbound and inbound flights: No. APD is only charged on flights leaving the UK.
My child was 15 when I bought the ticket but will be 16 when we fly: No refund for you. Sorry.
What about my toddler: Kids under two aren’t given a seat, so they won’t have been charged APD.
How do I get my cash: Most airlines should automatically refund money to the source you bought your child’s ticket on… credit card etc. If no cash comes your way – call your airline or travel agent and request they cough – sharpish!
7) Take your kids out of school for term-time… the big debate
The rise of fines for unauthorised absences… would you take your children out of school to make holidays affordable?
Up until 2013, schools had discretion to approve absences of up to 10 days a year for term-time holidays. However, post-2013 rules scrapped this ‘discretion’ with parents of absent children liable to be fined between £60.00 and £120.00 per child for each five-day absence. Additionally, this could also be increased to £2,500 or a three-month jail term for failing to pay the fine. We are not advocating taking children out of school, simply explaining the rules and showing the financial implications of fines and savings.
Does it work: Each individual parent can be fined up to £60.00 per child, per absence. So, if a family of two parents took their two children out of school for five days in the final or first week of term they could be fined a total of £240.00. Would that still save money on a break taken in the school holidays? Here’s a comparison of various times covering flights for a week in Majorca…
Price of flights to Majorca – sample prices for two adults and two school-aged kids flying from Liverpool Airport
Verdict: With the maximum £240.00 fine taken into account (£60 per child, per parent, per five-day absence, paid within 21 days), parents travelling on our sample holiday would save a whopping £941 for taking their kids out of lessons for the first three days of term – swerving the fine because the absence is less than five days. In addition, taking just one day’s unauthorised absence would slash £725 from out sample holiday. However, make it a full week away from the desk and the £240 fine kicks in to cut savings to £742 for our sample holiday.
Verdict: It’s obviously a big money-saver to pull kids out of school, but is it responsible? Many parents are frustrated by the fact that most schools spend the end and start of term on non-academic pursuits, so it’s unlikely that kids will miss much vital schooling. However, if mums and dads took a child out of school for a week’s extra holiday each year, their offsrping would miss three months of education during school years. The decision is yours…
What about Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? The term-time fines are applied to all Schools in England, but separate rules are in place for parents in other areas of the UK.
Click below to find more information on how the rules affect children in your part of the UK.
School absence rules in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: Click here for more information
Wales: In Wales, headteachers have the right to authorise up to 10 days, but fines will apply for unauthorised days away from class. Scotland: In Scotland, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) can’t issue fines, but can give ‘attendance orders’ to make parent explain absences. If parents don’t reply or give a reasonable excuse they can be taken to court and could face up to one month in prison and a fine of up to £1,000. Northern Ireland: Parents can’t be fined in Northern Ireland, but if their kids’ attendance fall lower than 85% they can be reported to the Education Welfare Service.
Who’s fining who… Thinking of taking your children out of school for an unauthorised absence? These are the local authorities issuing most fines in 2013-14.
School absence fines issued by English local authorities: Click to reveal
East Riding of Yorkshire
Courts throw out term-time holiday fine Fining parents taking kids out of classes for term-time holidays could be legally flawed after magistrates threw out the case of a parent who refused to pay. Click below for full details of how and why.
Courts throw out school absence fine: Click here to find out why
What happened: Jon Platt, from the Isle of Wight, was hauled before local magistrates for non-payment of a £120.00 fine after taking his six-year-old daughter to Florida during term time. However, the case was dismissed.
Why the case was dismissed: After refusing to pay the fine, Mr Platt argued that Section 444 of the education Act required parents and carers to ensure children attended school ‘regularly’ and did not enter restrictions on taking pupils on term-time holidays.
Because the absence only covered days on holiday and Mr Platt’s daughter had a 93.8% attendance rate for the previous school year, magistrates concluded she did attend ‘regularly’ and the Act had not been breached so a fine was not payable.
Will this defence work for me: The case does not set a legal precedent, but does mean local authorities will be unlikely to pursue such cases in court and in similar circumstances give parents an argument against being fined. If your child has a previously high record of attendance, you could take the case to court, but losing may result in a £2,500 fine and criminal record.
High Court uphelds decision 13/05/2016: The decision by magistrates has now been upheld by the High Court after Isle of Wight Council had asked it to clarify whether a seven-day absence amounted to a child failing to attend regularly.
The decision to upheld the decision to throw out the case could lead to changes to how the law is applied. Watch this space!
8) Choose the right time to book your flight
Pick the right time to book flights and save cash
The cost of your flight makes up a major chunk of what you’ll be paying when hitting the beach this summer. So, going it alone and booking your flight and accommodation can be a great way to save cash. Flight prices fluctuate and buying at the right time is just like playing the stock market – luckily, flight booking website Skyscanner.net has crunched the numbers and come up with some handy cash-slashing facts.
When to book your flight in 2016
This data from Skyscanner.net shows how many weeks in advance you should book your flights to get the cheapest prices. Open the toggle below to see data for 50 destinations
Click here for when to book: Ticket lead times for top 50 destinations revealed
Best time to book (weeks in advance)
Saving on average flight price
Verdict: Prices will always be high during school holidays, but using this method of playing the market will help you cut the amount you have to pay for your flights.
*Data provided by Skyscanner.net
9) Reclaim cash with flight delay compensation
Claim cash back for delays during busy school holidays
Travelling in school holidays is not only expensive, but busy too – leaving plenty of opportunity to claw back some of the cash by claiming compensation for delays.
Claim what’s yours
You’ve paid top money for your trip in school holidays, so don’t accept anything but top class service. Here’s how to grab some of your money back back if flights are delayed, cancelled or if you’re bumped to a later service.
Can I claim?
Bott & Co, the leading flight compensation firm says that if you can answer yes to the following four questions then you could claim up to £440 per person on the flight.
Did your flight depart within the last 6 years?
Did your flight take off or land in the EU, or was the flight with an EU airline?
Were you delayed for more than 3 hours?
Was the delay the airline’s fault and not “extraordinary circumstances”
Use this online calculator to enter your flight numbers and let Bott & Co reveal how much you could be owed. Flight delay calculator here
10) Swerve the hotel or resort
Use sites like Airbnb.co.uk to save money on accommodation
Hotel chains and resorts are more likely to hit by high demand and higher prices, but looking away from the package deals and booking your own accommodation using websites such as Airbnb.co.uk and Housetrip.com can save you up to 30%. These sites introduce vetted homeowners to visitors looking for somewhere to stay. Accommodation ranges from single rooms to apartments, or even entire homes.
Does it work: There are plenty of great deals on these websites. We looked at Majorca again and found entire flats being offered for prices from £40 per night. There’s plenty of choice and contacting the owner for more information is simple. All ‘hosts’ are vetted.
Verdict: Booking your flight at the right time and saving 30% on your accommodation could result in a hefty saving on the total cost of your holiday. We’d certainly recommend you try out this method of booking accommodation. Give these sites a go: www.airbnb.co.uk www.housetrip.com
11) Spread the cost
Use a credit card for an interest free loan and travel perks
If the price of taking a holiday sends you into a cold sweat, then get yourself a credit card that offers interest-free payments over a number of months. This will help you spread the cost over the year without paying interest.
Does it work: Yes. Where else can you get an interest-free loan. You’ll also be protected against your holiday being cancelled, while some cards will also offer free travel insurance and other holiday-based perks – which could save you £40+. Other cards will also offer benefits such as cashback on your spending, so make sure you check out this Money Saving Expert guide to credit card incentives.
Verdict: Credit cards can be a useful tool when going on holiday, just make sure you read the small print when applying for any card – and make sure you keep up the payment schedule or you’ll end up paying interest.
12) Use a cashback site
Booking your holiday and all the extras through a cashback website using a cashback credit card can save you a large wad of cash while you toast yourself on the beach.
Does it work: Yes. Using cashback sites such as Quidco and Top Cashback will earn you cash. Consumer magazine Which? carried out research on a two-week holiday to Florida purchased through cashback sites and a cashback credit card. Here’s how much they earned.
Here is a breakdown of the Which? holiday
1 night in Premier Inn Gatwick
2 weeks’ parking
2 return flights from Gatwick to Orlando
Travel insurance with LV
2 weeks’ car hire
DK Eyewitness guide to Florida
Four-star hotel in Orlando
Cashback credit card
Total cashback saving = £318.00
Verdict: No hiding from these savings of more than 10%. Another great tool to have in your arsenal as you battle to save cash on school holiday vacations.
13) Save cash on food and supplies when you get there…
It’s not just before you leave Blighty that savings can be made to soften the blow of school holiday price hikes, swerving local minimarts and heading for large supermarkets when you arrive can slash your bill for food and essentials by up to 50% in many destinations. Use our nation-by-nation guide to finding the nearest out-of-town supermarket to where you’re staying.
Find your local supermarket here: With supermarkets likely to be the cheapest places to shop with savings that could amount to hundreds of pounds over a two-week break, we have created a collection of links to help you find your nearest supermarket. Just click your location below.
No one likes hidden charges, but they’re becoming increasingly common in the booking process – with hire cars being big offenders. Most families will need a rental car as they hit foreign shores, so here’s our guide to beating hidden hire car extras… (This was first published in our guide to ‘Driving Abroad‘. )
You’ve seen how much you could be paying in addition to your basic headline figure, but don’t despair – here are our tips to beat the hidden costs.
What: Hiring a car might not be the most glamorous part of booking your hols, but once you’ve secured your accommodation and flights, organising a car should be your top priority. Booking early could save £100s. Hire car hidden cost: £140.00-£700.00 depending on location and time of year. Beat the hidden cost: Figures from TravelSupermarket reveal leaving your booking until you get to the destination airport could cost as much as £100 a day more than if you’d reserved your car a couple of months in advance. A compact family car hired now for a week-long trip to Portugal during August will cost £37.00 per day, while booking at the time of the trip will result in a daily tariff of around £138.00. Other countries are less expensive, but expect to pay at least double the early-booking rate. Save cash by getting a quote for your hire car right now from APH.com
What: Arriving at the desk to collect your hire car could rapidly become a traumatic experience as the commission-led representative assaults you with a machine gun-like volley of insurance-related acronyms. The common theme will be that anything from a scratched bumper to a chipped windscreen could cost you several thousand euros/dollars unless you buy the particular add-on insurance that he/she if offering. At this point, many tired travellers with understandably succumb to panic and agree to purchase. These ‘policies’ will typically cost around £25.00-£30.00 per day. Hire car hidden cost: £175.00 (approx) Beat the hidden cost: There’s nothing wrong with wanting peace of mind – so get it on your terms. Buying a standalone excess policy before you fly is likely to cost around £2.99 per day, according to TravelSupermarket.com – while annual cover can be purchased for less than £40.00. Get a standalone excess insurance quote here
Have cash on your card
What: Have space on your credit card: If you’ve saved cash by purchasing a standalone excess insurance policy, the car hire company will usually want to ring-fence or charge a refundable deposit on a credit car – to cover any excess charges that you can claim back later from your insurer. The amount is usually somewhere between £300.00 and £500.00. Charging or ring-fencing the cash on your card is normal, but if you’ve maxed-out your credit card, the ‘deposit’ will be declined and you’ll be forced to lose your car or take the operator’s own expensive policy. Hire car hidden cost: £200.00+ including the standalone policy you’ve already bought. Beat the hidden cost: Contact the hire firm in advance – by email, so you have it in writing – to find out how much they’ll need to ring-fence and make sure you have the funds available on your card’s balance.
Child seat hire
What: Hiring child seats will cost you from £5.00/day. Bad enough for just one child, but if you’ve a brood of them populating the back seat, you could be looking at more than £100.00 on seats alone. Hire car hidden cost: £35.00 per child per week Beat the hidden cost: First option to slash the cash is take your own seat with you. Many airlines will let you take it for free – or for a small charge. For example: British Airways will let you check in a stroller and one child seat for free
easyJet offers a free service allowing you to check in a child seat or booster seat for each infant under two years old, along with one of either a booster seat, buggy, pushchair or cot. You can also use the child seat on the plane, providing it fits in the 42cm space between the arm rests on the aircraft seats – go to SeatGuru.com to double-check this ‘armrest’ measurement for the plane you’ll be on. Get full info on easyJet’s child seat policy here. RyanAir’s website says two pieces of infant equipment are carried free of charge (per infant/child). This equates to a pushchair plus one of the following: car seat, booster seat or travel cot. Read RyanAir’s latest policy on child seats here. You could also consider buying a BoostApak. It’s a clever booster seat that folds into a handy backpack. It’s suitable for most kids aged from 4-12. It costs £44.95, but will make a clever investment the kids will love to carry. Buy the BoostApak here.
What: You might be an expert traversing the back streets from Accrington to Clitheroe, but navigating your way through the Pyrenees might require a little GPS-powered assistance. Borrowing one of these from your hire car firm is likely to be a costly decision, with charges up to £14.00 per day. Hire car hidden cost: £50.00+ per week. Beat the hidden cost: Upgrading your current device with foreign maps could cost you as much as £50, but if you have a GPS-enable smartphone, you can use apps such as NavFree which turns your phone into a free sat-nav device for around 50 countries. Don’t worry about huge data charges , either, the service uses pre-loaded maps and that work offline. A great way to cut the cost of hiring a car.
What: Some hire car companies have targeted fuel as a prime way to boost their income. It won’t appear on the headline cost either, so make sure you’re fully aware of how much you’ll be charged before you book. A particularly expensive option is to charge you for a full tank in advance, but not give any refund on unused fuel. Many people won’t use all the fuel, plus operators will charge big premiums compared with the cost of petrol and diesel from local filling stations. Hire car hidden cost: £50 per week. Beat the hidden cost: This ‘full to empty’ policy is particularly prevalent in Spain, but look out for it in all destinations. Only hire cars from firms that operate a ‘return as found’ fuel policy – allowing you to benefit from cheaper foreign fuel prices. Get your quote now from APH.com
Pay with a credit card
What: When you pick up your holiday hire car, it’s likely the firm will charge a deposit. Always pay this using a credit card. Never hand over a debit card – this will give the hire firm freedom to dip into your bank account at will and extract whatever they want. Hire car hidden cost: £?? Difficult to put a figure on this, but it could run into hundreds if you have a dispute with the hire car firm over damage. Beat the hidden extras: Using a credit card acts as an extra buffer between you and the hire firm – allowing any contested charges to be frozen while you dispute them – debit cards offer no such protection. The Consumer Credit ACT 1974 also makes the credit card supplier jointly liable in disputes. Additionally, insist the firm charges you in the local currency, because many hire car companies will convert to sterling using rates that are heavily biased in their favour.
Check and check again
What: Holiday hire cars have a tough life and operators are keen to extract as much revenue from of them as possible. As such, you might find that vehicles are scruffy, scratched and even have mechanical problems. Hire car hidden cost: £300+ if your deposit is lost over spurious damage claims that weren’t your fault. Beat the hidden cost: Make sure you spend a good 10 minutes looking over the car for damage and checking it for mechanical problems before you drive away. Insist the agent marks all scratches, scuffs and dents on the ‘diagram’ before you sign for the car. It’s a good idea to photograph the car too – using your smartphone to do this should insure that ‘exif’ data is recorded (this invisibly embeds a digital footprint to the photo, including date and location it was taken) which could be invaluable in the event of a damage dispute (use Google to find an exif reader). Also, you must check the spare wheel to ensure it’s not damaged, or punctured – otherwise you could end up paying for another driver’s carelessness.
Don’t hire a car
What: Many people hire a car and then only use it for travel to and from the airport and hotel. If you’re staying in a lively costal resort, it’s likely that you’ll have a beach, restaurant and shops within a few minutes of where you’re staying. Hire car hidden cost: £100.00+ (after accounting for alternative travel) Beat the hidden extras: Use Google Map’s Streetview feature to take a virtual tour of amenities near your accommodation. You might just realise you’ve got all you need on your doorstep, or if you do want to take a trip, check out local buses etc. Beat the cost of hiring a car by getting an instant airport transfer quote from APH.com.
15) Plan B: Win a free holiday
Win a holiday
Research reveals that 8million Brits are relying on a National Lottery win to finance their retirement, so why not join the optimists and try to win yourself a holiday. You’ll certainly have a better statistical chance of winning a vacation – and it shouldn’t cost you anything either. With a huge amount of competitions being used to grab our digital fingerprints for marketing purposes, you really do have a realistic chance of winning a holiday. Visit a few of these pages and get entering… Good luck – someone has to win.