UK families need a holiday 'buffer budget' of £536.80 to cover unexpected costs


  • Average family will spend nearly a fifth (17 per cent) more than their holiday budget in unanticipated costs
  • Families willing to spend 13% more on their 2017 family holiday compared to 2016
  • ATOL has partnered with personal finance expert Simon Read to share top tips for holiday budgeting ahead of Easter, one of the key holiday periods of the year


New research from ATOL, the holiday protection scheme, has found British families are willing to spend 13% more on their holiday this year compared to last year, with a family of four now set to spend an average of £3,133¹ on their annual break. However the research into holiday spending habits also revealed unexpected holiday costs leave travellers in the red on their return. A family of four holidaying abroad should set aside an average of £536.80², to cover unexpected costs, the equivalent of two return flights to the Canary Islands or a four day pass to Disneyland Paris³.


ATOL's research revealed that two thirds of holiday makers (61 per cent) struggle with budgeting on holiday.  As families relax into their holiday it also seems they relax their purse strings with more than one in ten (12 per cent) admitting they don't keep track of what they are spending and then get a shock when they come to settle the bill at the end of the trip.


UK holidaymakers are most likely to get caught out by having to pay for additional food and drink outside of their original booking, and by charges when withdrawing money abroad. Nearly a fifth of UK holiday makers (18 per cent) have at some point had to pay for replacement accommodation, and a sixth (16 per cent) have had to pay for new flights.


Top 10 unexpected holiday costs:


  1. Food and drink bills
  2. Charges when withdrawing money
  3. Parking charges
  4. Additional car hire costs
  5. Airport transfers and shuttles
  6. Excess baggage
  7. Airplane food and drink
  8. Phone roaming charges
  9. Internet charges 
  10. Sporting equipment hire


Simon Read, personal finance expert, said, “Holidays are a great way to relax and switch off, but this can all be ruined if people overspend abroad. While we know budgeting and finances are not a top holiday priority it is important not to lose control completely. Foreign currency, changing exchange rates and excitable family members can all lead to budgeting confusion when you are away.


“However, by taking simple steps such as checking for ATOL protection or setting a daily allowance, people can manage their budgets better while on holiday and avoid those unexpected costs that can dampen the end of a holiday.”


Simon Read's top tips for keeping your holiday budget on track


  1. When comparing flights make sure you take into account 'hidden' costs such as baggage or seat selection.
  2. Always check what is actually included within a full-board holiday, especially smaller items such as food and drink.
  3. When booking make sure that your break is ATOL-protected. Look for the ATOL symbol on travel company websites or brochures and don't forget to take your certificate with you.
  4. Ensure you know your holiday budget before you go and use a foreign currency pre-payment card to know exactly what exchange rate you've paid.
  5. Make sure you check the airport and resort fees - some resorts charge up to £10 a day which can prove an eye-watering £140 extra per person on a two-week break.


Commenting on the research Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL, said: “Holiday costs can mount up quickly, while you're enjoying your holiday, making it very easy to overspend. 


“Our research also showed the unexpected can happen, and over their lifetimes nearly a fifth of consumers (18 per cent) have had to pay for replacement accommodation and a sixth (16 per cent) have had to pay for new flights.


“We know many families look to head abroad over Easter, while others will be using some well-earned time off to research and book their summer holiday. So this is a timely reminder that it's essential consumers look past the price of their trip when booking and check for ATOL protection. This will protect the money they have spent on flights and hotels, and ensure they don't end up paying more in the end should their travel company collapse.”




Notes to Editors


Survey of 2,000 UK adults who holiday abroad conducted by Mortar on behalf of ATOL from 11th - 14th March 2017.


¹Based on the average cost of a holiday abroad for a family of four


²Based on the average unexpected costs incurred by two adults and two children


³Price correct as of 29.03.17


The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its regulatory activities range from making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards to preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency


The ATOL scheme covers the traditional package holiday, some individual flights and holidays known by the industry as 'Flight-Plus'. A 'Flight-Plus' booking is one that includes a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, so long as these separate parts of the holiday are requested within a day of each other.


The Air Travel Trust (ATT) is the primary source of funding when an ATOL holder fails. It is administered on behalf of the ATT by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).


Simon Read's holiday budgeting top tips in full:


  • Start when you're booking. The cheaper the flight often the more you'll have to pay in extras. Want to choose your seat? That'll be £10. Want to be first on the plane? That could be £20. When comparing the costs of flights make sure you include all the costs, whether they're hidden or not.
  • Is that holiday really all-in? Many people get caught out by not checking what is actually available on a full-board holiday. Is all that wine and beer included? What about snacks in between meals or poolside? Many holidaymakers come a cropper when they're stung with unexpected food and drink charges because they don't check. And definitely don't be tempted to raid the hotel minibar. 
  • Crucially, make sure that your break is ATOL-protected. Sadly we know that travel firms can fail but as long as your trip is protected by ATOL they will ensure you don't lose the cash you've splashed out on your holiday or, worse, end up stranded abroad. Look for the ATOL symbol on travel company websites or brochures and don't forget to take your certificate with you. 
  • Spend sensibly. How are you planning to pay for things while you're away? Use the wrong card and you could get a bad currency conversion rate as well as additional charges, such as foreign transaction fees. If you buy a foreign currency pre-payment card before you go, you know exactly what rate you've paid and also how much money you have. Budget beforehand how much you can afford to spend each day and keep to it to avoid landing yourself with rip-off rates from emergency spending on credit.
  • Airport and resort fees. Is there an extra charge for transfer from the hotel to the airport? It could be £20 or more so check the extras when you're booking to see the total cost of getting to your resort. And also check if there are resort fees. Some charge up to £10 a day which can prove a mouth-watering £140 extra per person on a two-week break.