However, that benefit could be wiped out as the report also found that many parents bow to pressure from their children, making holiday decisions that cost them dear.
1-in-5 parents (21 per cent) questioned about holiday decision-making for the report said they let their children choose where to holiday2. In order to keep kids happy, 45 per cent picked a beach resort, 51 per cent chose self-catering so they could cook food their children liked and 43 per cent admitted choosing a destination they would not otherwise have visited.
More than half (51 per cent) bought beach extras after giving in to pester power and 60 per cent spent money visiting water or theme parks. This could cost them almost £100 in Ayia Napa (Cyprus) – the most expensive of 11 water parks surveyed by the Post Office3.
The Post Office Travel Money report showed that putting children in the driving seat could add significantly to holiday costs. It found that families set an average budget of £669 to cover costs while overseas – over £200 more than those families taking a UK holiday (around £453) - but overspent this by an average of almost £72 – or almost 11 per cent4.
On an overseas holiday parents said they spent an average of around £47 on water park visits, £45 on kids’ items, £32 on ice creams and £24 on pedalo rides. Sightseeing (£104) and drinks (£103) could also rock the holiday boat but eating out put the biggest dent in the family budget (£213).
Family meals were the biggest single cost item in the Post Office Family Holiday Report barometer, which compared prices in 12 destinations including Bournemouth in the UK. Majorca was lowest-priced at just over £30 for a three-course meal including drinks – adding up to around £212 on a one week holiday. By contrast, a week’s meals in Bournemouth could set families back almost £536, over two-and-a-half times as much (£76 per meal), while the bill in Sorrento was three times higher at £749 (£107 per meal).
Meals were also cheap in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (around £38), helping to make this the cheapest resort for bargain-hunters for the third consecutive year. At just over £76 for the Post Office Travel Money barometer basket of 12 family items, which included drinks, ice-cream, beach items and suncream as well as a family meal, Sunny Beach was £100 cheaper than Sorrento, the most expensive resort surveyed at over £176.
The report brings more welcome news for families. Sterling may be worth over nine per cent less than a year ago against the euro but price cuts in resorts surveyed in Spain, Portugal and Greece as well as in Bulgaria have been big enough to counteract the weak pound and mean families will pay less than last year for typical holiday purchases.
Prices have fallen most sharply in Crete where families will pay almost 19 per cent less than in 2012 for the same 12 items. However, with a barometer total of almost £108, Crete was one of the more expensive destinations surveyed. Elsewhere, the four best value resorts have all seen price cuts since last year. Sunny Beach is 3.6 per cent cheaper while close runner up the Costa del Sol is showing falls of 15.3 per cent (around £78). In the Balearic Islands, families can expect to be almost 12 per cent better off in Majorca (£91) while prices are down 3.4 per cent in Portugal’s Algarve (around £96).
The biggest price rise was in Bournemouth, where the barometer basket was 12 per cent more expensive than last summer. Prices for UK holidaymakers also rose in Marmaris (+2.1 per cent), Ayia Napa (5.5 per cent), Sorrento (+5.7 per cent) and Corfu (+6.5 per cent). However, this was entirely as a result of the weaker pound because local prices were actually lower than in 2012 in all four resorts.
The Croatian resort of Porec (£142) and Nice (£163) were among the most expensive destinations surveyed but are included in the report for the first time and year-on-year comparisons are not therefore available.
Family Holiday Report Price Comparisons at a glance:
· Children's drinks and ice creams cost less in the Algarve. A Coca-Cola and ice cream cost £2.50 compared with £6.69 in Nice.
· Sunny Beach offers the best bargain for a bucket and spade at £2.35 - around half the price as in Bournemouth (£4.55). The Bulgarian resort is also a best buy for Aqua shoes (£2.35) but these will cost over three times as much in Sorrento (£7.14), Marmaris (£7.26) and Bournemouth (£7.50).
· A mask and snorkel set are cheapest in Bournemouth at £4.49 - under half the price in Sorrento (£10.70) or Marmaris (£12.71).
· Taking an hour's pedalo ride will set families back £17.84 in Ayia Napa or the Algarve but is only £6.14 in Porec, Croatia.
· An inflatable lilo is available in the Algarve for £2.67 but costs over three times as much in Porec (£9.83) and more than four times that amount in Nice (£13.38).
· Families who forgot to pack the suncream will find this costly in Corfu at £13.38 and Majorca (£12.36) but cheap in Costa Del Sol (£4.42) and Porec (£5.53).
Renting a sun lounger is an expensive luxury in Nice, where half day hire costs £13.38. It will cost a fraction of that in Marmaris (£1.82) or Sunny Beach (£1.88) but may be a cost families want to avoid in Sorrento (£10.70) and the Algarve (£8.92).