Parents facing the holiday dilemma

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Published:
01/06/2010
Topic:
Press Release,Travel

Parents are ignoring the pleas of schools and the threat of fines to take their kids on holiday during term time, with almost half (46 per cent) confessing to having done so in the past, new research by travelsupermarket.com shows. 

  • Nearly half of British parents facing fines to take kids out of school for family holidays
  • Off peak prices and difficulty taking time off work most popular excuses
  • 29 per cent more parents fined for taking their children out of school every year1

Typical savings for a family of four by travelling during term time are £1035.91 or 72 per cent2.

Over a third (35 per cent of parents) would risk taking their kids out of school if the school holidays did not fit in with the times that the adults in the family were able to take their holidays; 31 per cent would do so to avoid paying a premium for going away during the peak school holiday period and just under a quarter (24 per cent) say they would take their children out of school "because it's my child and I should have final say-so on how they are brought up".

Only one in five parents think taking children out of school during term time is not justifiable.  And attitudes varied noticeably depending on the age of parents.  Just 13 per cent of parents in their twenties believed taking your children out of school could not be justified; however this rose to 30 per cent amongst parents in their fifties, indicating a more rebellious attitude amongst younger parents - or perhaps tighter budgets.

There were also disparities dependent on location.  Those in the East and West Midlands (57 per cent and 55 per cent respectively) admitted that they had taken their children out of school during term time whilst parents in Northern Ireland (33 per cent) and London (34 per cent) were most respectful of the rules.

The number of parents fined for taking their children out of school on unauthorised breaks is increasing every year and this trend shows no signs of slowing down.  Experts predict figures for the last school year could top the 20,000 mark and for the current 2009-2010 year to be even higher as parents take the plunge and opt for cheaper breaks in school term time.

School year

Number or parents fined

2004 - 2005

3,483 fines

2005 - 2006

12,150 fines

2006 - 2007

14,625 fines

2007 - 2008

18,000 fines

2008 - 2009

To be announced  

Source: Department for Children, Schools and Families

It comes as no surprise that term time getaways are too tempting to resist. The difference in price can vary by over 150 per cent.  Although fines do not apply in Scotland (or Wales), travelsupermarket.com found a holiday to Florida departing from Glasgow costing £1,876.80 for a family of four departing on 17 June, before the schools break up.  The same family travelling just two weeks later - once the Scottish schools have broken up - would pay £4,979.00 for the same holiday - a difference of £3,102.20, or a massive 165 per cent.

And it is a similar story on short haul destinations: travelsupermarket.com found a holiday to Alcudia, Majorca costing a family of four £1,132.00 if they travelled on 11 July. Two weeks later, departing on 25 July, the price shoots up to £1963.00 - an increase of 73 per cent.

Comparing a cross section of destinations travelsupermarket.com found that families travelling to long and short haul destinations will pay more during the school holidays, without exception.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at travelsupermarket.com, commented: "The truth about the variation in prices is simply an issue of supply and demand.  More people are looking to get away in the school holiday period than in term time and there is only a limited number of airline seats and rooms available.  It is not a simple matter of putting extra seats and hotel rooms into the market when the kids are off school and reducing the seats during term time, as the prices would be even higher for airlines and tour operators to contract these holidays - making prices even more expensive for the public to buy. 

"However, although missing school isn't the ideal option, it seems that the possibility of a fine still doesn't deter a large proportion of parents. A £50 - £100[3] fine isn't much of a deterrent when parents can save far more than this by taking a holiday during term time, in some cases, thousands of pounds.

"Add to this the fact that one in five parents thought it very unlikely that they would ever get fined and it is not surprising to find such a large number of parents admitting that they had, or would, take their children on holiday at the expense of school."

"We always advise parents to consult with their child's school before taking them on holiday in term time and ensure that your break is authorised.  As long as you are sensible as to the time of the school year and reasonable about the amount of time they will be away, many schools understand.  If you can select a holiday that also offers clear educational benefit in terms of culture, language, history, art or skills to your child then you will also get the double whammy of saving money and enriching your children's education."

travelsupermarket.com's top tips to be a holiday 'savvy spender':

1.  Book early - the earlier you book for school holiday dates, the better the chance of getting the destination and accommodation of your choice with an offer price. Be cheeky and ask for money off when you make your booking.

2. Shop around for offers - it really pays to shop around for deals, with the best bargains usually being found online. Use comparison sites such as travelsupermarket.com for the latest prices on holidays, flights, hotels, cruises and car hire.

3. Compare package prices against booking separate flights and hotel - It is always worth looking at the options to see if you can create a cheaper 'package' yourself. Similarly, it may also be worth seeing if a package holiday works better for your trip.

4. Be flexible with your dates - try and book midweek dates and if you can. Flights in particular are generally much cheaper mid-week.

5.  Pick your destination carefully - with the lower value of the pound you can make your holiday money go miles further by looking at non euro countries. Best value are Turkey, Morocco, Red Sea, Bulgaria, Thailand, Canada and South Africa.

6.  Don't forget holidays in the UK - cottages, self-catering apartments, hotels and holiday parks are as popular as ever - and they're selling out fast.

7. Look at the total cost of your holiday - If you are booking separate flights and hotel, look carefully at what is included, particularly in regards to airline charges. Pay careful attention to baggage allowances, credit card booking fees and seat reservations as well as meals in resort and spending money.

8. All-inclusive holidays - set your price in the UK and enjoy a hassle-free break with meals, drinks and many activities all included in the price - great for families watching the budget and wanting to keep everyone entertained on their break.

9. Self-catering holidays - are great for keeping food costs down in resort. Pick up bargains in the local supermarket and cook back at the apartment rather than eating out in restaurants every night.

10.  Save money on extras - don't forget to pre-book all of the little things that add up - travel insurance, airport parking, transfers, car hire and activities in resort. Use travelsupermarket.com to find great deals on these essentials. The savings made here with just a little planning can give you enough to fund many days of spending money.

-Ends-

All figures unless stated otherwise taken from research carried out on behalf of travelsupermarket.com by Opinium in May 2010, among 3,855 adults residing in the UK.

1 Based on 14,625 fines in 2006 - 2007 and 18,000 fines in 2007 - 2008. Increase = 29%
2 Based on average savings in below table 
3 English schools can fine parents up to £100 for taking children on holiday in term-time. This is cut to £50 if paid within 28 days. Scotland and Wales do not use fines.

Sample savings, based on departures before and after schools break up for summer:

 

Package Holiday Deals

 

 

Based on 2 adults and 2 children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow

LondonGatwick

Manchester

Majorca

Hotetur Lagomonte, Alcudia

Mallorca

Direct Holidays

3* all inclusive

Departing 22 June for 7 nights

Total cost = £1523.00

Alcudia Beach, Alcudia

Mallorca

Thomas Cook

3* self catering

Departing 11 July 2010 for 7 nights

Total cost = £1,106.44

Alcudia Beach, Alcudia

Mallorca

Thomson

3* self catering

Departing 11 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £1,132.00

Majorca

Hotetur Lagomonte, Alcudia

Mallorca

Direct Holidays

3* all inclusive

Departing 6 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £1937.00

Alcudia Beach, Alcudia

Mallorca

Thomas Cook

3* self catering

Departing 25 July 2010 for 7 nights

Total cost = £1,754.20

Alcudia Beach, Alcudia

Mallorca

Thomson

3* self catering

Departing 25 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £1,963.00

Difference

27%

Saving £414.00

59%

Saving £647.76

73%

Saving £831.00

Florida

Quality Inn International

International Drive, Florida

Virgin Holidays

Departing 17 June for 7 nights

Total cost = £1,876.80

Econolodge Inn and suites

Orlando

Thomas Cook

3 * room only

Departing 15 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £2,455.98

Quality Inn International

International Drive, Florida

Thomson

Departing 12 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £2,275.00

Florida

Quality Inn International

International Drive, Florida

Virgin Holidays

Departing 2 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £4,979.00

Econolodge Inn and suites

Orlando

Thomas Cook

3 * room only

Departing 29 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £3,199.98

Quality Inn International

International Drive, Florida

Thomson

Departing 26 July for 7 nights

Total cost = £4,047.00

Difference

165%

Saving £3102.20

30%

Saving £744.00

78%

Saving £1772.00

Sourced by http://www.travelsupermarket.com/, correct as of 19.05.2010

NB: Scottish schools break up Fri 1 July, English schools break up 23 July

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Susannah Clark - Head of PR
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