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May half-term family holiday: Here’s how to save nearly £1,000

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

As the average cost of a family holiday increased by £80 over the past year, new research shows you could save nearly £1,000 by choosing an alternative destination.

Families can save an average of £388 on the cost of a week-long holiday during the May half-term while some could save much more by choosing alternatives to popular tourist destinations in the same country.

Research by M&S Bank found that Sweden offers the biggest saving. A family of four can save £932 by choosing to stay in Gothenburg rather than Stockholm as flights there are nearly three times cheaper – £524 in total, compared with £1,492 to visit the capital.

Families heading to popular sun spot Portugal can make savings of nearly 25% on accommodation and flight costs by heading to Alvor instead of Funchal.

And Sibenik in Croatia is £636 cheaper on average than the tourist hotspot Dubrovnik.

Out of all holiday destinations, Nessebar in Bulgaria is the cheapest overall, costing £1,812 for a family of four. It has seen one of the smallest annual increases in price of just two per cent, or £35, since 2015.

The table below shows the average savings available to alternative holiday destinations:

YM AltHolidayTable (002)

However, the experience of family and friends is an important factor for many UK adults, with nearly half choosing not to holiday at a destination they are unfamiliar with.

Only 15% of the 1,000 people polled said they generally prefer to look at lesser-known destinations from popular tourist resorts when planning a holiday.

But three quarters are open to visiting destinations they haven’t heard of if they are cheaper than nearby, well-known tourist hotspots.

Top travel money tips

Paul Stokes, head of products at M&S Bank, said: “Although holiday prices have risen slightly – partly due to the decline in value of sterling against the euro – families can still pocket savings this half-term by looking for alternatives to the more popular tourist destinations.

Here are his top travel money tips:

  • Always check whether an alternative destination in the same country could be more affordable – being flexible with your holiday plans could result in significant savings
  • Make a holiday budget and work out how much your holiday will cost and how much travel money you will need. Even if you’re staying in half-board or all-inclusive accommodation, don’t forget to factor in costs for taxis, tips and other extras
  • Find out if you can buy tickets online and in advance for activities you’re planning
  • Don’t rely on internet rates if buying travel money in-store; many providers have different rates online and some change their rate throughout the day
  • Never leave your holiday money until the last minute; airports often offer less competitive rates and may not have a wide variety of note denominations
  • Always take both travel money and a credit or debit card to ensure you’ve got multiple methods of payment.