Revealed: How the cost of a family holiday soars when schools break up

Gavin Haines
The cost of a family holiday will be brought into sharp focus today - Alamy

Research suggests families are paying twice as much to go away during the school holidays as they would if they took off during term time.

The news, which will surprise few parents forced to stump up the cash each summer, comes as the Supreme Court prepares to give its ruling of the legality of term-time holidays today.

The case has been brought to the court by Isle of Wight Council, which fined Jon Platt, a local businessman, for taking his daughter on a week long term-time holiday to Disney World, Florida in 2015.

Jon Platt and his wife, Sally Platt, outside the Supreme Court in January 2017 Credit: GETTY

Mr Platt refused to pay a £60 fine given to him by the council and his case against the penalty has already been successful at the Magistrates’ Court and High Court. Today’s ruling is expected to set a new national precedent.

To coincide with the verdict, the currency experts, FairFX, analysed the cost of 104 holidays departing during the peak summer holiday period compared with travelling during term time.

Term-time school holiday price comparison

It found that a family of four will pay an average of £905 more to go on holiday in the second week of August, compared to a month before, during term time.

FairFX claims a family vacation to Disney World Florida rises by an average of 18 per cent – or £1,455 – during the school holidays, while a week in the Costa Brava creeps up by 126 per cent between June and August.

Costa Brava holidays can cost 126 per cent more when the kids break up Credit: ALAMY

“Time and time again families are hit hard financially when it comes to taking a holiday together outside of term time,” said Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of FairFX.

“Parents understand supply and demand and may expect to pay a bit more during the holidays but some of these hikes are nothing short of shocking.”

10 ways to have a guilt-free term-time family holiday

Parents who take their children out of school during term time face fines of £60. Those who don’t pay within 28 days could be prosecuted and handed a further fine of £2,500 – or even a three-month jail sentence.

Earlier this year, former Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury waded into the debate on term-time vacations by describing the travel industry as “evil” for inflating prices during school holidays. She urged parents to ignore the law and take their children away in term time.

Term time holidays

“Children spend less time outside every day as part of the school curriculum than prisoners do, which is a frightening thought,” she said.

“I think if you the parent have the chance to do something or go somewhere then you should have the right to home-school them, take them on an adventure, which will be educational and eye-opening.”

FairFX said Mr Platt was “brave” for making the decision to fight his fine in the highest appeals court in the UK.

“The eyes and ears of the nation will be on the Supreme Court Ruling today as the result will have a major shake-up on how families holiday in the future,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome, the plight of parents needs to be addressed and the school holiday price scandal must be tackled.”

Should parents be allowed to take their children on term time holidays?