The Big Holiday Debate

I have been watching the debate on holiday firms effectively “cashing in” in school holidays unfold with interest.

I may be controversial but I really don’t think they are cashing in.  They are a business like any other and are simply responding to supply and demand.

If you want to go on holiday in the height of summer, ie. July / August, the rest of Europe is also on holiday too, making the demand for hotels and flights high.  Many of these hotels need this couple of months of high demand and higher prices to keep afloat in quieter times when they have to deflate their prices to stay open.

It is not the travel companies dictating prices, it is the hotels and airlines.  What the travel companies do is arrange the holiday for you and simply add their commission on top.  When we went to Disneyland Paris last year I went into the travel agent to price up my holiday and being a nosy so and so, was watching which websites they were using.  They were using the main Disney website that everyone has access to so I went home and booked my holiday directly saving myself £150 but not using the agent.  I actually saved more than that as I spent ages checking different dates for the best deal.

Last year we did take the children out of school for that holiday as there was no way we could have afforded it otherwise and I do not agree with the new policy of not allowing holiday in term time, especially for primary school children.  Kian is embarking on his GCSE’s in September this year and I would not take him out of school at this important time for a holiday.

The other thing we found on our holiday to Disney was the staggering amount of children that were there when we were.  It turns out that in France the winter and spring holidays are staggered region by region to spread the season for French winter sports resorts.

Would staggering holidays work for us?

It wouldn’t change the prices of holidays in the height of summer abroad, but may have a small impact on UK based holidays.  Discussing this on twitter with @AnnieQPR she was concerned that this would impact her business as she she offers childcare for teachers in different areas and takes the school holidays off work to spend with her own children.  @MrsWhappas then joined in explaining that they live on a border, primary son in one county, daughter at secondary in another county meaning they could get different holidays!  What a nightmare that would be for a working family.

The one idea I do like was given to me by @maggiemou.  Her school lumps the 5 inset / staff training days together and effectively has another week off school.  Hers was tagged on to the October half term, so it would mean a holiday that is out of season, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if it mean’t that prices were cheaper still.

I love this quote from @MrDavidWhitley “Off season travel is like shopping in the sales.  Peak season travel is paying the NORMAL price, not the adjusted one”.

Sadly holidays both at home and abroad cost money.  If you can’t afford it, you don’t go away – we didn’t have a holiday for 10 years prior to Disney and it will probably be another 10 years until we can afford one abroad again.

8 thoughts on “The Big Holiday Debate”

  1. I have always thought that staggering the holidays by region, as they do in France, could be a very good idea. What it would mean, is that tourist attractions and holiday destinations are not all absolutely heaving and unbearable during one 6 week period. There must be some strong benefits or France wouldn’t do it. We don’t seem to take advice/guidance from other countries though, do we?!

    • Fair enough but bear in mind we do already do this, to some extent. If you look at half-terms, they tend to vary from week to week depending on the county – you can’t allow more leeway than this because people naturally want to be off school for Easter etc. Then in the summer, you have private schools finishing at the start of July, Scottish and Irish schools from mid-July, English schools end of July. I’m not sure you can extend the flexibility much more than that – who wants to be in the county that doesn’t get to start summer hols until mid-August and goes back mid-September, when the weather abroad is so much cooler?

      FWIW, I totally agree that accusing holiday companies of “ripping us off” is stupid – they’re a commercial entity and they discount prices massively out of season. You can afford what you can afford, is the truth of it.

  2. We have a two week Autumn half term for 3 children – it would be good if the fourth ALSO had a 2 weeks half term :S but I agree with you, it’s all demand and supply at the end of the day, and resorts need paying for whether full or empty.

  3. We are taking Harry away in May. Even his nursery don’t generally allow term time days off since it is part of the school but it is the only time we can get to our family’s holiday home in Devon and the only time it is available before we would be liable for the fines come September.

    I agree with you; ultimately it IS a case of supply and demand, businesses are in the business of making money.

    I do agree with you regarding term time holidays; not sure I really understand why the ban includes primary children but I certainly understand it for older children.


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