With the end of the school term in sight, the challenge for families planning trips to Europe will be how to get the most for their money and avoid busting their budget after sterling’s fall in value.
There is encouraging news for them in the Post Office Travel Money Family Holiday Report. This confirms that while resort prices are up on 2015 levels, when sterling was at a seven-year high, meals, drinks and tourist items now cost less in several family favourites than in each year between 2011 and 2014.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “It’s all about putting today’s exchange rates into context. Sterling may have fallen recently but when you compare its value with every other year since 2011 except 2015, holidaymakers can be reassured that the cash in their pockets will cover their costs – particularly as bars and restaurants in several of the resorts we surveyed have cut their prices to attract tourists.”
While meal and drinks prices have risen by an average of 18 per cent since last summer in 12 of the 14 European resorts surveyed – with the only falls in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (-1.2 per cent) and the Costa Blanca (-10.3 per cent) – Post Office research for the annual report reveals price falls in half those resorts compared to 2014. The biggest falls of around 10 per cent have been in Sunny Beach, the Algarve and the Costa Blanca.
Roll the clock back five years, when the euro was almost at parity with the pound, and the cost of a three-course meal with drinks for a family of four was far higher in 2011 in 80 per cent of resorts. Families can expect to pay over a third less for a meal this summer than in 2011 in the Costa del Sol (£34.83 now compared to £53.92 in 2011) or Crete (£39.19 vs £58.82) and 40 per cent less in Bulgaria (£27.83 vs £46.39) – with big falls of over 20 per cent in other family resort favourites too.
Brown said: “Keeping a tight rein on the holiday purse will be crucial this summer and that is going to be a big challenge for many because our latest research found that only one-in-five families stuck to their budget on their last holiday. The majority of families said
they overspent by an average of over 25 per cent – or £178 – on the £694 budget they set.
Eating out is the biggest drain on family finances as 87 per cent of parents surveyed by the Post Office admitted spending 28 per cent more on meals on their last holiday at an average of over £146. Meal costs are lowest by far in Bulgaria. Families can expect to pay an average of £27.83 in Sunny Beach – 3.8 per cent less than in last year’s record-breaking summer (£28.92). The Algarve is another good bet for bargain hunters at £33.09 for a family meal.
By contrast, holidaymakers visiting Nice (£74.02), Sorrento (£87.09) and Ibiza (£100.15) will pay over twice as much as in Sunny Beach or the Algarve.
Drinks are another big expense. On their last holiday abroad families spent 40 per cent more on drinks – an average of £98 – than on previous trips. When the price of coffee, beer, wine and a soft drink is added to meal costs, Sunny Beach (£34.57) and the Algarve (£41.55) were found to be cheapest. Prices are also low in the Costas – £46.15 in the Costa del Sol and £48.52 in the Costa Blanca – but are over twice as high in Ibiza (£118.19).
Family Holiday Report beach extras: price comparisons at a glance
- The Costa del Sol boasts the cheapest price for a bucket and spade. Two of these cost just £3.48 but parents will pay over three times as much in Nice (£11.32) or Malta (£12.18)
- Ice-creams will cost parents least in Sunny Beach. Over the course of one week, buying two kids an ice-cream every day will add up to £16.24. The same number of ice creams will cost over twice as much (£36.54) in the Costa Blanca
- By contrast, paying over £32 to take an hour’s pedalo ride twice during the holiday in Sunny Beach is an expensive luxury. Pedalo rides are even more expensive in Crete and Limassol, where two rides in these two resorts will set parents back almost £35. In Porec that price plummets to £14.58 – less than half as much
- Banana boat rides are popular with kids but they can be pricey too. Expect to pay around £26 per person in Nice and almost £21 in the Algarve. They cost a fraction of the price in the Balearic Islands and in Cyprus – at under £9 in Limassol, Paphos, Ibiza and Majorca
- An inflatable lilo may be a cheaper option than boat rides in some resorts and can be enjoyed throughout the holiday. A lilo costs as little as £2.53 in Paphos but is over four times more expensive in Porec (£10.93) and even more costly in Nice (£13.93)
- This year’s best-buy swimming goggles are available in the Costa del Sol, priced at £1.09, but these cost eight times as much in Sorrento
- Hiring a sun-lounger for a family of four costs £8.72 in Cyprus or the Costa del Sol but that price mushrooms to £41.80 in both Sorrento and Nice.
Brown said: “The best advice we can offer is to set a realistic budget before travelling and stick to it to avoid incurring charges by having to change money abroad. If they do that, families will get more holiday cash for their pounds because there are better rates on higher value transactions, especially if they order online for delivery to their home or local Post Office. For those yet to book, it will be well worth doing some holiday homework to check which resorts are cheapest as prices vary dramatically across Europe.”
Cost of meals and drinks in 2016 compared with 2014:
|Sunny Beach, BULGARIA||£34.57||£38.31||-9.8%|
|Costa Blanca, SPAIN||£48.52||£53.85||-9.9%|
|Costa del Sol, SPAIN||£46.15||£43.29||+6.6%|
|Palma Nova, MAJORCA||£75.71||£69.73||+8.6%|
Cost of a family meal for four with wine and soft drinks: 2016 compared with 2011:
|Sunny Beach, BULGARIA||£27.83||£46.39||-40.0%|
|Costa del Sol, SPAIN||£34.83||£53.92||-35.4%|
|Costa Blanca, SPAIN||£34.83||£47.06||-26.0%|
|Palma Nova, MAJORCA||£60.96||£53.92||+13.1%|