In the early parenting years you are free to take your holidays whenever it suits you. Usually that means avoiding the chaotic and costly school holiday periods.
But what happens when your kids hit school age? Are term time holidays off limits? Or should you take your kids out of school to travel?
Should you take your kids out of school to travel?
To compare the cost of travelling in versus out of school holidays, I’ve priced up a variety of destinations.
These figures are based on a week’s holiday in school holidays (2 – 9 July 2016) or out of school holidays (4 – 11 June 2016) for 2 adults and 2 kids flying from Sydney.
|Destination||Out of school holidays||In school holidays||Difference|
Jump down the page to view more information about each trip.
Within Australia and Fiji the cost of both flights and accommodation increases during school holidays. For more distant destinations like Hawaii and Los Angeles, the accommodation cost doesn’t tend to change a lot and is more likely influenced by local school holidays. But the flight costs to get there are much more expensive.
Broadly speaking, prices go up by roughly 40-50% during school holidays. For a domestic destination like Port Douglas, that equates to about $1,600 extra, but for a big overseas trip to somewhere like London, that 40-50% means an additional cost of about $3,500.
Other important factors to consider
- Your school principal‘s view – Official education department policy is generally that students are not allowed to miss school to go on holiday, but the principal will usually assess each case individually and make the final decision. Have a chat to him or her if you’re considering taking your kids out of school.
- There’s so many special events at school throughout the year, so make sure you are clear on what the kids will miss if they’re away. For example, my kids would be devastated to miss the annual school production, and very disappointed to miss a sports carnival, school camp or excursion.
- Consider the disruption your holiday may cause to your kids, their class or their teacher. There will be a lot of work covered in class during the time you are away, so have a chat to the teacher about how your child will keep up. A school class is also a social structure, so consider the cumulative effect of having multiple students choosing to be absent on the overall class environment for those left behind.
- If you’re paying private school fees, then you may want to give some thought to the amount of money you will be paying to the school for the period your child is not in class. Is the money you will be saving on the holiday enough to make it seem worth it?
- What about after school activities? Will your child miss a music exam, a big sporting match or a performance while you’re away?
- And lastly, talk it over with your kids. Whether they would love or hate missing school, explaining your reasons will help them to understand your decision.
How to minimise school holiday travel costs
If your preference is to keep travel to school holiday periods, then get proactive about finding a great deal –
- Book as far in advance as possible – For example, I priced up the same trip to Fiji for this post 6 weeks ago and it was $700 cheaper.
- Use the Skyscanner app to find the cheapest day to travel. Instead of entering fixed travel dates, you can browse their calendar and spot a bargain! For example, flying on the first Saturday of school holidays will most likely cost more than flying mid-week. You can also set up price alerts so that you get advised when prices drop.
- Get on airline email lists in the hope they will have a sale that doesn’t exclude school holiday periods!
- Take a road trip – Taking airfares out of the equation makes travelling during school holidays not so different in cost to travelling outside of them.
Costs are based on –
This is a road trip from Sydney, staying at NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Park in a 2 bedroom self-contained cabin with queen bed and 2 sets of bunks.
Flying with Virgin and staying in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom self-contained apartment at Oscar on Main.
Flying with Virgin and staying at The Reef Resort in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom self-contained apartment.
Flying with Fiji Airways and staying at Radisson Blu Denarau in a 1 bedroom self-contained suite with king bed and sofa bed.
Flying with Japan Airlines and staying at Centurion Hotel Grand Akasaka in a 1 bedroom suite with 2 queen beds and 2 sofa beds.
Flying with Hawaiian Air and staying at Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel in a hotel room with 2 double beds.
Flying with Virgin and staying at Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance in a hotel room with 2 queen beds and 1 set of bunk beds.
Flying with Emirates and staying at Citadines South Kensington in a 1 bedroom self-contained apartment with 1 double bed and 1 double sofa bed.
Want to save this to read later? Just hover to pin the image below –
Have you ever taken your kids out of school to travel?