Avoid getting stung - book your holidays in advance

Travelling with the kids is often pricey, says Rob Griffin, but there are deals

Millions of families paying inflated prices for taking their children away during the school holidays can actually save a fortune by doing their homework.

The cost of flights and package holidays rockets at Christmas and during the summer because there's huge demand from thosetaking a break. A comparison of online deals carried out this week by Save & Spend illustrates the point. A 10-day self-catering trip for a family of four at Candia Park Village in Agios Nikolaos, Crete, would cost £1,244 during the first week of May, according to the website of Thomson Holidays.

However, the exact same holiday more than doubled in price to £2,748 in the first week of August.

Prices charged depend on the destination chosen, the travel operator, the departure airport and flight times, explains Darren Cronin, editor of Travel-Rants.com. "Saying it's all about supply and demand is a cop out," he says. "They should be working with local authorities to make holidays more affordable."

While parents are entitled to ask their child's school for permission to take them out before the end of term, this request can be turned down. Defying this decision can lead to a fine or prosecution.

But Kayte Williams, Holidays Channel Manager at comparison website Travelsupermarket.com argues that shopping around and booking in advance can result in major savings.

You can not only find plenty of offers available - even during peak times - but also take advantage of paying a small deposit now and the balance a few weeks before departure.

"It's also worth considering all-inclusive holidays as this means you won't have much to pay when you get to the resort," she adds.

Lorna Cowan, editor of Holiday Which? magazine, recommends people take a close look at the small print of brochures to ensure they're not going to be stung by hidden costs.

Other tips that can save you cash include travelling at unsociable times, building your own holiday by booking flights and accommodation separately and just haggling with the tour operators to get the best possible deal.

Much of this research can be done online, points out Cronin from Travel-Rants.com. "Spending a few hours comparing prices can save you hundreds of pounds," he says. "It's also worth considering independent travel agencies as they concentrate more on the customer."

There are cheaper alternatives to package deals. Many families opt to load up their cars, book a cheap deal on a ferry and go on a driving holiday to France, rather than facing the costs and hassle of flying.

Gail and Ian Isted from Maidstone, Kent, certainly favour this type of holiday. The couple who have two children - Poppy, four, and one-year-old Penny - recently drove to their skiing holiday in La Clusaz and are planning to go by car again. "We like the flexibility and the freedom it gives you when you get to your destination, as well as the fact there aren't any luggage limits - the amount we took was unbelievable," says Gail.

It still pays to book in advance even if you're just planning a driving holiday, warns Brian Rees from P&O Ferries. "If you leave it to the last minute you'll find other people have beaten you to the best deals," he warns. A return trip from Dover to Calais for a car and up to nine passengers in August would cost you around £90 at the moment, he says, but if you book just before you depart, the price could be double."We use the model introduced by the low-cost airlines where prices start off very cheap and then increase as more bookings are made," he explains. "It means that with every day - and every booking received - the price can potentially start rising."

School's out

* Can I take my child away during term time?

Parents don't have an automatic right to simply remove their children from school for holidays, but they can apply for permission, according to the Department for Education and Skills.

* Under the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995, schools have the discretion to grant leave of absence for up to 10 days per school year for family holidays during term time.

* This leave of absence must be applied for and the decision to authorise absence for holidays rests entirely with the school which, in exceptional circumstances, can agree to grant more than 10 days.

'We're penalised for having children'

Carla and Phil Spencer are fighting back against the school-holiday price trap by scouring the internet.

The couple, who live in Elton, near Chester, have been facing major cost increases since son Ryan, five, started school.

But they are helping to offset the increases by using sites such as Travelsupermarket.com and Holidays-Uncovered.co.uk. "When we choose holidays it's on the back of weeks of research and reading online reviews," says Carla, 31, a mortgage consultant. "We also have a two-year-old girl, Yasmin, so we never book holidays without knowing exactly where we are going and what we're getting. It's nice to have the peace of mind that the hotel you've chosen isn't next to a bar pumping karaoke out until 4am!

Even with their research, the Spencers believe they must reduce the number of overseas holidays they take. Says Carla: "We can't afford to go twice a year any more because it's so much more expensive atpeak times."

This year the couple are planning to go to Greece to celebrate Ian's 40th birthday - but they are paying the price.

"It wasn't an option for us to take Ryan out of school," says Carla.

"We really don't want him to miss a couple of weeks. It's unfair people are being penalised for having children."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks