Caught In The 'Parent Trap'? Join The Campaign To Reduce The Cost Of Family Holidays

14/08/2014 16:54 | Updated 22 May 2015

Family in Tent Looking at Rain

Why do holiday prices spike so dramatically during the school summer holidays? The reason our bank balances are annually depleted during July and August is because of what's been recently termed the 'parent trap'; a fierce combination of new government legislation, increasing taxes and tour operators with the kerching of the parent pound ringing in their ears.

Extensive research conducted by online travel deal company, Travelzoo and money saving website, MyFamilyClub shows that more than 70 higher than at other times of the year.

As a mother of three holidays are never cheap and, like many parents, I'm put off from booking a trip during the summer break for fear of bankruptcy. My dreams of white sandy beaches, jet skis at dawn and pina coladas on tap rarely meet the reality of two weeks in a damp tent in Dartmouth.

Parents of school-aged children have long been penalised for booking a holiday in that prime six week stretch. "Last year, I took my children out of school a week before the end of the summer term and it saved us nearly £900 off the price of our holiday." says Emma, mother of two. When the savings are this dramatic, it's no surprise that more and more families are opting to take their kids out of school as it's the only way parents can avoid the summer price hike.

However, this is not the answer. More than five million days at school were missed last year due to families taking holidays during term time. Since September a new government legislation means that term time absence for family holidays will not be granted and will result in heavy fines for parents if ignored.

It's sad because travel, experiencing new places and different cultures can be a vital part of part of a child's education. With this new legislation it seems everything is against us having an affordable family holiday. It's either do without or sell a minor organ in order to afford a week self-catering in Faliraki.

"Parents are now being forced to pay extortionate prices for a family getaway in peak periods or go without" says Gemma Johnson, CEO of MyFamilyClub. "Families are being squeezed from every direction and a family holiday is now deemed a luxury for most."

Sadly, the likelihood of tour operators slashing their prices during the peak season in order for my little darlings to gorge themselves on all-inclusive Spanish ice cream is fairly slim.

But things do need to change. Thankfully, this has not gone unnoticed by one online travel company. Richard Singer, the European managing director of Travelzoo and a father of one has initiated a personal petition to Parliament to lobby the government to suspend the airport passenger duty (APD) for the six week summer school holiday.

This alone can bring down the price of a family's summer holiday by several hundred pounds. While this doesn't mean Disneyland for all, it's certainly a start to more affordable holidays.

"We are supporting the petition and are asking our members to do the same," says Gemma. "We urge the government to take note of this petition and to do more to practically help families as they face yet another bleak financial summer."

Richard needs 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in the House of Commons. With more than 30,000 signatures already, he's well on the way. However, to get things moving before the next summer holiday, why not take a moment to sign his petition. The pina coladas are waiting...


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