Martin Lewis’s MSE website tips for a cheap holiday when the kids are out of school

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website has shared a number of tips for making holidays outside of school time more affordable.

The cost of flights, hotels and package holidays seem to skyrocket when children get separated, and it is illegal to take children out of school for unauthorized trips.

Luckily, there are things you can do to find a cheaper deal.

READ MORE: Six countries Britons can now travel to without any tests or proof of vaccine

Here are some of the tricks you can use to reduce the cost of a trip – according to Money Saving Expert:

Find the destinations with the cheapest flights

The school calendar locking you into specific dates, it is advantageous to be flexible on the destination. That’s where a handy tool that lets you search for cheap flights by date comes in.

Just tell Skyscanner where you’re departing from and enter the dates, then opt for ‘Anywhere’ and it will find all the flights that suit you.

This allows you to plan your trip only around the cheapest flights during school holidays.

A quick search of the tool for August found Liverpool to Paris return flights for £37 and Liverpool to Barcelona return flights for £47.

Book with a company offering free child seats

Many tour operators offer free seats for children – usually one child free seat with two paying adults on selected getaways.

First Choice, Jet2 and Tui have easy “free kids place finder” tools to help you find them.

It’s worth shopping around, using companies that don’t offer free places for kids, to make sure you’re actually getting the best deal and the cost isn’t being recouped elsewhere.

The age children must be to book a free seat varies by operator and hotel. The easiest way to check is to simply enter your child’s age on the free child place finder – they should then only show holidays with free places for that age.

Those under two aren’t eligible with any of the three operators above (although they’re usually free or for a small admin fee anyway).

Book with a school travel company—and book late—for great family adventure deals

Companies such as PGL that offer school trips for children also offer discounted adventure holidays during school holidays.

With PGL, you can choose from over 40 activities, such as quads, ziplines and abseiling (may vary by location).

The real trick though, says MSE, is to wait to book up to six weeks in advance when prices drop (although availability can of course be more limited).

For example, in previous summers it offered two free adult places with every child place during certain August holidays, a week in advance. It also slashed prices for a two-night holiday in August to £79 pp a week earlier.

Find hidden cheap booking dates

From time to time, your school’s term dates may differ from those of others.

This could be due to inset days or simply because your board chose different dates – and it could mean huge savings.

Also watch out for induction days – those one-off mid-term vacation days that vary by school and are usually for teacher training.

These can be a godsend for long weekends. For example, some MoneySavers report finding cheap stays at Center Parcs through careful planning.

MSE offers these tips for spotting hidden cheap booking dates:

  • Use the school holiday dates tool to find out when schools in your area are closed and also check directly with your school as insert days and term dates may vary.
  • Then, Google dates for other schools. The Days Out With The Kids site presents a summary of the various dates for 2022 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Determine where your school differs from the norm. It can start a week early, end a week late, or have a tempting day on Friday or Monday, which means you can make it a long weekend. If your school is closed and the others aren’t, chances are you’ll find a good deal

For more tips on bagging a cheaper vacation, visit

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