How to hack a cheap break in the school holidays

Don’t let the sky-high cost of summer travel keep you from getting away. We spoke to travel experts for their insider tips

Ella Jackson

school holiday teacher

Wishing you were somewhere warm with a drink in your hand and your feet in the pool? You're not alone.

But the cost of international trips during the summer can be prohibitively high for many in the teaching profession.

So what can be done? We asked some travel experts for their top tips on summer breaks that don't break the bank.

Quick read: Meet the teachers who choose to work through summer

Quick listen: The truth about mental health in schools

Want to know more? Trips abroad give students access to the world

Sue Ockwell, of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), says it’s worth looking beyond the best-known budget airlines to find cheap flights.

“Ryanair and easyJet are certainly not the cheapest airlines,” she says.

“They spend a lot of money on advertising and thus have brainwashed the public into thinking that they really are low-cost, no matter what the dates of travel.

“But in peak season, they charge very high prices, far in excess of what a tour operator including flights in its packages will charge.”

school holiday teachers

Neil Stickells, from travel site loveholidays, says it’s all about “supply and demand” when booking journeys. 

“Night flights are often cheaper,” he says. “Early morning flights can sometimes be more expensive because they give maximum time in resort.”

The supply-and-demand principle also applies to the time you’re booking for.

Stickells advises that the last week of August can be a good time to get a holiday on the cheap, as everyone else prepares to return to school, just as “different destinations and times of the year will also affect the prices of different flight times”.

He recommends that families looking for cheap breaks head towards Costa Brava, Turkey, Bulgaria, or even explore some of the Greek islands, and consider all-inclusive holidays, which may seem more expensive upfront.

“They offer good value as often they include entertainment and kids’ activities, in five, four and some three-star hotels,” he says.

For those travelling solo, Ockwell suggests trying Eastern European destinations such as Prague, Budapest, Kiev or Krakow. She says Eastern Europe is ideal for those with “a love of fine wine and food, a passion for the natural world or, perhaps, travelling by rail, on foot, on horseback, by bicycle or by canal boat”.

Shop around

It’s always worth shopping around. Signing up for a flight deals newsletters, like Jack’s Flight Club, is a great way to keep your eye on prices (and get inspiration for your next trip).

And don’t be afraid to mix and match when it comes to airlines and airports. Flying from and back to different airports can shave a few hundred pounds off of your total bill.

Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents says keeping an eye on currency markets can be a smart move.

“Look for destinations where the pound has increased in value,” he advises. “This usually happens when a country is in economic difficulties. Turkey and Argentina are currently good examples.”

And when you’re away, it also pays to be smart about how you spend.

“If you’re given the option to pay in sterling, don’t do it – always choose to pay in the local currency,” he says.

“And avoid changing money at airports if you can, because the exchange rates are often not very good.”

Happy holidaying!

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Ella Jackson

Ella Jackson is Social media assistant at Tes

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