While solo travel is becoming more and more affordable thanks to the uptick in hotel rooms so small you can barely lie down in them, family holidays seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Nowadays, if you want to take your spouse and two children away for a couple of weeks, it's probably going to cost you at least two months of your salary.
But hope isn't totally lost - at least not yet. Even with skyrocketing costs, those who are prepared to put in the legwork might just be able to snag themselves a fun-packed family adventure without having to blow a hole in their finances. Here are our top tips for getting ahead of the game.
The dilemma faced by every parent looking to treat their kids to a fun adventure is whether to travel during in term time, and in so doing remove them from school and risk potential legal action, or to pay for a premium rate trip that coincides with the summer or Christmas holidays.
Unfortunately, there's no easy fix here. The best advice we can give is to try and go away towards the end of the summer, i.e. the final week of August and, if your school's schedule will allow it, the first of September. The weather is still relatively pleasant in most of the major tourist hot-spots in Europe, and you can potentially save a few hundred quid in comparison with those who are jetting off in July.
It seems counter-intuitive, but last minute booking can actually work in your favour if you're looking to sniff out a discount deal. The way this works is that travel agents will sell holidays at a knockdown price if there have hitherto been no takers for the package, or if it's suddenly become available due to another family cancelling late in the day.
The inevitable trade-off here is that the holiday probably won't be geared exactly to your requirements. For example, you might be looking at airline seats a few rows apart, or your room might have two single beds instead of a double or vice-versa. But the point is you could potentially make massive savings if you're prepared to compromise a little.
It's tempting to flick through the Thomas Cook brochure you order every year and base your choice of package on the dreamy photos on the front page. However, more discerning travellers will know that this isn't necessarily the best way to pinch the pennies.
For a more comprehensive look at what the market has to offer, check out comparison sites which provide information on trips provided by a range of different operators. Some of them even allow you to even book directly through their sites if you want to save yourself an administrative headache.
While making sure you understand exactly what you're paying for with your holiday may seem obvious, you'd be surprised just how many holidaymakers return home to find extra charges on their bank statement even though their trip was supposedly an all-inclusive one.
Common examples here include minibar access and dining. Some holiday packages only permit you a certain number of alcoholic drinks, with anything beyond that number incurring an extra fee. You may also find yourself paying extra for participating in certain activities such as boating or scuba diving, where operators sometimes charge for the hire of their equipment.
Here are our top 5 destinations for a great family holiday:
1. Central Dalmatia, Croatia
2. Majorca, Spain
3. Antalya, Turkey
4. Cancun, Mexico
5. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria