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Family, Pool

How to save money on travel in the school holidays 🤔

Looking to book your 2024 or 2025 family holiday? Travelling in the school holidays is notoriously more expensive than in term time with prices skyrocketing due to increased demand. We've put our pirate hats on to compile a list of the best money-saving tips for your next family trip.

Published by
Caitlin Moore·25/04/2024

Family holidays

Booking a family holiday can be incredibly daunting, there are loads of factors to consider, and we all know how much the prices skyrocket compared to term time. However, it's always worth it to spend that quality time exploring a new destination with the kids.

Although we can't change the prices for you, we have done some research and used our insider knowledge to compile some tips and tricks to help you save money on travel in the school holidays.

We hope you find this guide helpful!

1. Travel in the shoulder season

The summer holidays are typically the most expensive time to travel, as they combine both the increased price of peak summer season and the school holidays. Although you'll still pay above the odds in any school holiday, you'll find cheaper prices in the Easter holidays or May/October half-term.

2. Be flexible with your destination

Try somewhere different rather than the typical British summer holiday destinations like Greece, Turkey, Egypt, the Canaries and the Balearic's. These destinations are all geared towards British tourists and therefore have some of the highest price increases in the school holidays.

Check out destinations that aren't as popular, but are still hot and perfect for your family getaway like Tirana in Albania, Nice in France or Bari in Italy.

3. Look out for free child places

Free child places can save you a nice little chunk on your trip. You can look on websites like TUI and use their free child place finder to easily scope out these deals.

Always make sure to check what the 'free child place' entails, you'll want to make sure it includes all the same components as the paying adults as some tour operators only offer a free child place in the room, but there is still a cost for the flight and extras.

4. Book early

We're usually pretty big on last-minute bookings, but due to the high demand in the school holidays, super last-minute savings are less common. It's more often better to get your package booked early when tour operators first offer deals on their school holiday packages or exclusive discount codes. Prices will increase as the rooms start to fill up, so getting in there early can save you some serious cash.

Booking early means you can also spread the cost if the operator offers monthly payment plans, which can take the sting out of the price.

5. Travel in the last week of the summer holidays

Data from Which? and Skyscanner both suggests the last week of the summer holidays is the cheapest week for travel, because of varying term times.

This won't be the case 100% of the time, so be sure to compare dates before you make a decision.

6. Look for all-inclusive packages

One of the main costs when travelling as a family is the food, drinks and snacks. When you have hungry little mouths to feed and entertain all day, all-inclusive packages can pack the best value as it's one less thing to worry about when you arrive.

🏴‍☠️ Tip: Compare the packages against room-only options and work out the additional cost per day. You'll quickly be able to gauge if the upgrade is worthwhile.

7. Consider a villa

Villas can be extremely cost-effective for larger families or groups who want to holiday in the school holidays. You can share the amount between more people, rather than paying for multiple rooms at a hotel.

Villas will be cheaper when they're slightly further away from main tourist spots, so consider less popular areas and price up hiring a car for your trip.

You'll also be able to cook your own meals in a villa, which can save families a fair chunk over eating out.

8. Use price comparison websites

Rather than immediately jumping to book a package deal with a tour operator (who are more likely to increase their school holiday prices), check out flights and hotels using price comparison websites to find the cheapest rates.

We've seen flights to Ibiza in August from £48 return on Skyscanner, with family hotel prices from £110 per night for two adults and two children on Trivago. That means you could nab a 7-night holiday from under £250 per person (based on a family of four).

However, it's worth keeping in mind that you'll not have inclusions like luggage and transfers if you book a DIY trip.

9. Consider other airports

Make sure you check multiple departure airports when hunting for your family getaway. Sometimes driving a couple of hours to an alternative UK airport can slash £100s off the total cost of your flights or package deal, depending on what's available.

10. Trust the experts

OK, this is more of a shameless plug for HolidayPirates than it is a tip. But monitoring the market for the best family holidays takes time. And deals can sell out very quickly.

At HolidayPirates, it’s our job to find great deals – we’re literally paid to do it. So while you may still want to look for school holiday deals yourselves, following our social channels, downloading our app and receiving our deal alerts on WhatsApp make a lot of sense.

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