New research shows that more than four in ten (41%) British parents have had to forgo a family get away during school holidays due to price hikes making it unaffordable.
It has been revealed that more than 90,000 parents in England and Wales were fined a total of £5.6m over the 2015 academic year for taking their children out of school for holidays during term time - a sum almost four times higher than the year 2012-13*.
Previously, head teachers were able to grant up to two weeks a year for family holidays in €œspecial circumstances€, but in 2013 the government imposed fixed penalty fines of £60 for unauthorised absences, rising to £120 per child per parent if not paid within 21 days.
New research from Holiday Travel Watch reveals that more than seven in ten Brits (73%) don't think it's right that parents are charged a premium for going on holiday during school holidays and more than nine in ten (92%) believe something needs to be done to ensure this does not continue.
But if parents stick to the rules and book their family get away for October half term, what practical advice is there to ensure they are getting the best value for money and protecting themselves from hidden costs?
Consumer Director of Holiday Travel Watch, Frank Brehany, says €œRecent years have provided plenty of angst for parents trying to decide when, where and how to take their family away on holidays. The problem for parents covers issues from safety and security, to the pressures imposed on their pockets by rigid school holiday periods. To help parents navigate this potential minefield, I offer the following tips€:
1. Start the research for your intended destination early - what kind of experience do you want for you and your family? When researching you should remember that many resorts and destinations in October are already operating on a reduced capacity mode. Whatever the brochure states, follow it up with a call to the hotel or destination and check to see if facilities are open.
2. If you are going all-inclusive, make sure it really is all-inclusive. Make sure you know what's included so you can budget correctly. Don't forget to check your terms and conditions and ensure you know what protection you have.
3. Before you click to pay for your holiday, check for any other €˜extra' charges such as credit card charges. Make sure you are satisfied that you are only paying what you want to pay.
4. Once you have clicked to go, take out that all-important travel insurance and also get your European Health Insurance Card if travelling in Europe - shop around, do not just buy the cheapest policy. Never leave home without it.
5. Don't buy your foreign currency at the airport. Shop around before you travel and be ready to buy the best rate you can get. Make sure you understand the cost of using your credit card abroad and watch out for those €˜extra' costs if you use your card!
To learn more about these tips and how to save money if you are going on holiday this October half term, watch this short video