Playing hooky for holidays?

The holiday premiums that cause parents to work the school system

3 July 2013

New research on behalf of Nationwide Building Society suggests that the inordinate cost differential between holidays in and out of school term time is driving parents to take their children out of school in order to obtain an affordable family break, as 37% of those surveyed admitted they had taken their children out of school to get a good deal on a holiday.

Under government advice, schools can fine parents for "unauthorised absence" during term time, but many parents are happy to pay the £50 fine, particularly when the savings they can make far outweigh the discretionary penalty.

The cost of a typical family summer holiday can range tremendously, often with choice of timing meaning the difference between being able to afford the time together or not. We compared costs for an average family of four, over a week, in the UK or in Europe. For those able to head off at the start of July, on a UK break to Center Parcs in Wiltshire, for example, the cost would be £1038, not including meals. For those not able to travel until the school holidays have started, beginning their trip on 29th July the price rose to £1928 on the same basis, a difference of £890.

For those looking for a bed and breakfast vacation in EuroDisney, on the same dates, prices ranged from £2262 in the first week of July to £2631 once the school holidays kick in, not including travel. If a package deal to Spain is more your family’s idea of holiday fun, our search revealed costs ranged from £1501 to £2558 over the same periods, an increase of over £1000 for those who wait for school holidays.

Destination Term time cost* School holiday cost** School holiday premium
Centre Parcs, Wiltshire £1038 £1928 £890
EuroDisney £2262 £2631 £369
Spain £1501 £2558 £1057

*w/c 1st July; **after 29th July

Graham Pilkington, Nationwide’s Director of Banking, Insurance and Investments comments: "With the current challenging economic environment, it's no wonder that families are looking to shave their holiday costs, but there are other ways that they can save money.

"When first making holiday plans consider shopping around, comparing prices on comparison sites, and doing your homework to source benefits and offers that reward your loyalty. For example, Nationwide's Simply Rewards is a rolling programme of spending discounts and one-off treats for Nationwide Visa debit and credit card customers who pay using their card, and currently includes discounts on major brands such as Marriott weekend dining experiences, Thomas Cook Holiday Club, APH airport parking and Hertz car hire.

"Main Nationwide FlexAccount customers can access free multi-trip travel insurance, and its Select credit card, which is available exclusively to customers with a Nationwide main current account – FlexPlus, FlexDirect and FlexAccount - offers unlimited commission free purchases abroad, 12.9% APR representative.

"Whatever your plans, start saving as early as possible to make preparing for a holiday, in the UK or abroad, more achievable – and don't forget that, if you do take your children out of school to enjoy a clandestine family break, you will leave yourself with greater childcare costs during the school holidays when you need to be at work."

Notes to editors:

Survey undertaken by TNS Omnibus via OnLine Bus internet omnibus survey, amongst 570 GB parents of children aged between 0-15, between 7-13th May 2013

About Nationwide Building Society
Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million members.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 16,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

Details on FlexAccount products available via

FlexAccount - Access to free European travel insurance and a full range of ways to bank

  • Free European multi-trip travel insurance
    (conditions apply)
  • No monthly fee
  • 3 month interest-free overdraft available2,3
  • Flexclusive product offers and rewards(conditions apply)

FlexDirect - Access to in-credit interest if you're happy to bank online or by telephone

  • 5.00% AER (4.89% gross p.a.) fixed in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500, if you pay in £1000 each month1
  • No monthly fee
  • 12 month fee-free overdraft available2
  • Flexclusive product offers and rewards (conditions apply)

FlexPlus - Our premium current account gives you access to in-credit interest and some great benefits for £10 a month

  • 3.00% AER (2.96% gross p.a.) variable in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500
  • Worldwide travel insurance, mobile phone insurance, breakdown cover and extended warranty
  • Identity theft and emergency card assistance
  • 3 month fee-free overdraft and a £100 fee-free limit after that2
  • Commission-free cash withdrawals abroad
  • Flexclusive product offers and rewards (conditions apply)

1 Qualifying conditions vary by offer and terms and conditions apply. Credit cards are only available to those aged 18 or over and availability of credit cards depends on circumstances. More information on Nationwide credit cards.

To be eligible for a Nationwide Select Credit Card, account holders must either:

  • Hold a FlexAccount with a Visa debit card (not cash card or cash card+) and:
  • Have been paying in £750+ a month (excluding internal transfers) for the last 3 months; or
  • Complete an account transfer to us (from a non-Nationwide account) using our Account Transfer Service or have done so in the last 4 months; or
  • Hold a FlexDirect or FlexPlus account

For cashback, you must maintain a main current account relationship with us.

Cost examples based on online prices researched on Tuesday 25th June 2013
Typical family of four, with two children aged 7 and 11

Example 1

Center Parcs, Longleat Forest, 2 bedroom Woodland Lodge, 1 week stay from Monday 1st July 2013
And same accommodation from Monday 29th July 2013

Example 2

Disneyland Paris, Disney's Newport Bay Club hotel, 1 room with 2 double beds, includes 25% off hotel and park tickets and free half board meal plan, 7 night stay arriving on Monday 1st July and Monday 29th July respectively

Example 3, Family Holidays, Golden Avenida Suites Hotel in Salou, Costa Dorada for 7 night stays, half board, and including return flights to London Luton, departing Tuesday 2nd July and Tuesday 30th July respectively.

Please note: If you are a customer looking for information on our products and services, please visit the main website.