Martin Lewis’ MSE website tips for cheap holidays when kids are off school

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website has shared a number of tips to make holidays outside of school terms more affordable.

The cost of flights, hotels and package holidays seems to rocket when the kids break up, and it’s illegal to take kids out of school for unauthorised trips.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to find a cheaper deal.

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These are some of the tricks you can use to bring the cost of a trip away down – according to Money Saving Expert :

Find the destinations with the cheapest flights

With the school calendar locking you into specific dates, it pays to be flexible on destination. This is where a handy tool that lets you search for cheap flights by date comes in.

Simply tell Skyscanner where you’re leaving from and enter dates, then opt for “Everywhere” and it’ll find every flight that fits.

This allows you to plan your trip purely around the cheapest flights over the school holidays.

A quick search on the tool for August found return Liverpool to Paris flights for £37, and return Liverpool to Barcelona flights for £47.

Book with a company offering free child places

Many travel operators are offering free kids’ places – usually one free child place with two full paying adults on selected getaways.

First Choice, Jet2 and Tui handily have “free child place finder” tools to help you track these down.

It is worth shopping around, using companies that don’t offer free child places, to check you’re actually getting the best deal and that the cost isn’t being recouped else where.

How old kids need to be to bag a free place varies by operator and hotel. The easiest way to check is just to enter your child’s age on the free child place finder tools – then they should only show holidays with free spots for that age.

Under-twos don’t qualify with any of the three operators above (though they usually go free or for a small admin fee anyway).

Book with a school trip firm – and book late – for family adventure bargains

Companies such as PGL which offer kids’ school trips also do reduced-price adventure holidays during school holidays.

With PGL, you can choose from over 40 activities, such as quad bikes, zip wires and abseiling (may vary depending on location).

The real trick though, MSE says, is to wait to book until six weeks in advance when prices plummet (though of course availability may be more limited).

For example, in previous summers, it offered two adult places free with every child place on selected August holidays, one week beforehand. It also dropped August two-night break prices to £79 per person a week before.

Find hidden cheap booking dates

Now and then your school’s term dates may differ from everyone else’s.

This could be due to inset days or just because your council’s chosen different dates – and this could mean huge savings.

Also watch out for inset days – those one-off mid-term holiday days which vary by school and are usually for teacher training.

These can be a boon for long weekends away. For example, some MoneySavers report nabbing cheap stays at Center Parcs through careful forward planning.

MSE offers these tips for spotting hidden cheap booking dates:

  • Use the school holiday dates tool to find out when schools in your area are off, and check directly with your school too, as inset days and term dates can vary
  • Then search Google for other schools’ dates. The Days Out With The Kids site has a summary of the different 2022 dates in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Work out where your school differs from the norm. It might start a week early, finish a week late or have a tempting Friday or Monday inset day, which means you can make a long weekend of it. If your school’s off and others aren’t, chances are you’ll find a bargain

For more tips on bagging a cheaper holiday, visit

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