Saturday 13 August 2016

To holiday in the UK, or overseas

  • Families hit with a £250 holiday tax and a triple whammy of stealth fees
  • Air passenger duty, VAT and insurance tax have soared by 40 per cent 
  • Hidden car hire extras, currency scams and credit card fees add to pain
Said the headlines today. The pain of holiday.
This summer, the great debate of Overseas-all-in, versus, UK-All-to-Come took place in the BQ household. The cost was the big BQ factor. The sun was the Mrs BQ factor.Even though her pale, Irish skin can burn if she sits under a florescent tube.  Kids - Well, they just want to have fun.
Having only very, very recently got into the all-in, I am a convert. They were nothing like the chav, heavy drinking, fat face stuffing, Hi-de-Hi event I imagined. They are just for families on holiday. Doing family on holiday things. My 18-30 days clouded my judgement.
But, we do go to Cornwall sometimes too. Not camping. I couldn't put up a poster. And Mrs Q won't be further than 10 meters from a hairdryer. But cottage stay or resort huts thing is great.

A family of 4, 1 week to the med, all inclusive, first week of children's holidays was looking at about £3,500 last minute. That's a lot more than last year since all the terror outbreaks put Turkey and North Africa off many people's lists. 
A cottage in Dorset, £1100 rent for the week.But with zip included. Toilet roll and a welcome half pint of milk.

I was leaning to overseas. The UK sun had yet to come out. Instead being muggy with cloud. Sweaty and grey - So No UK - You cannot be trusted. With just your 4 weeks of good sun a year. And those weeks could be anytime from March-December.
The water park was free? {free entry - still have to pay for the stuff inside- that's not very clear in the brochure}. The beach was near. The food was 3-4star. The ice cream included. All the soft drinks the children could want. Wifi in areas? {probably the reception - not a lot of use} And the temperature - warm to boiling. Great.

But then the terror kicked off again in Nice. And I said lets go UK. Just so we wouldn't get stuck somewhere because there was a deadline involved.
Picked that lovely week when the sun was finally out in the UK. The drive to Dorset is about 90 minutes. The stress free aspect of home holiday can't be emphasised enough. Its worth a few hundred quid just to be able to drive to holiday. Park the car. Unload. And that's it. No airport parking fees. No ten hours in airports. Waiting and checking and stamping and loading and queuing and eating and queuing and dropping and forgetting and arguing and panicking and so on.  
Mrs Q had taken a few meals with her. {And had brought the shopping? Despite my best efforts, she seemed to think Dorset was like Belarus and they would only have strangely labeled tins of dubious contents. - They do have Sainsbury's , you know? I KNOW! ..{but she didn't really believe they would.}
WIFI included. TV and DVD all their - Books /games/ / garden/ It was really, very, very nice. Beach a stroll away. Water parks and adventure stuff and lots to do. It was a great holiday.
On balance, the cost is about the same between UK and over there.. Meals for 4, even only once a day, in the UK, is expensive unless its fast food. Attractions are really expensive. Any kid over 10 is an adult. Drinks out and ice cream  is costly. Parking, is costly. Boat trips etc ..all costly.
I think the UK trip probably came in about £300 less than the £3,500 all in. No more than £500 less. 
Of course, its possible to do it for much less if you just live like you would normally and not as if you were on holiday. Lunch from a meal deal at a supermarket. Only go where your national trust card will allow you. Use the vouchers and offers. Skip the treats. But where's the fun in that?
The trouble for the UK is that despite very significant advantages of a UK holiday, is that the weather cannot be relied upon. And that is a very significant factor in very many people's holiday plans.

Tax on a flight to the sun would have to rise quite a lot more to make the UK the first choice for most.


dearieme said...

One of the more reliable places for weather is the West Highlands.

May and early June: high chance of dry, sunny weather.
July and August: high chance of lashing down. With added midges.

Electro-Kevin said...

Weather - yes. I'm happy for it just to be dry.

I think two week holidays are overrated. I much prefer 4-5 day mini breaks more frequently.

You don't get the dread of going back to work, there's always another to look forward too and the looking-forward-to is where the real value of a holiday is - not actually being on one (nearly always a disappointment.)

Boating on the Norfolk Broads/Thames is the only holiday I really hanker for - though being pitched up on a fairly quiet Greek island like Spetsi does have its appeal. Nowt like sitting outside a taverna and watching the sun go down. Going on boat trips and hiring mopeds is fun.

I thought all-in was good but the Jamaican one I went to felt a bit like sedation. Had it not been for the scuba diving I'd have been really bored (except for the card school.)

Electro-Kevin said...

We stayed at a cottage (hired by friends) last weekend. Mulberry Cottages at Porlock Weir, Nth Somerset (near minehead.)

A truly spectacular beach house with excellent views, games room, excellent pubs and restaurants a few doors away - a newsagents and harbour. The best part of the house was the classy oak kitchen, open planned with lounge. If you're into cooking (as our host is.)

Five bedrooms. So three families could hire it easily and share the seemingly expensive costs.

The weather wouldn't matter. In fact I'm sure watching storms over the Bristol Channel from the sun deck, or through the bi-fold doors from the lounge, would be mesmerising.

Our friends are loaded so we got to stay for free. Well not really. I bought them an original painting they said they liked, as thanks.

Anonymous said...

All depends on your holiday needs - for a family the School Holiday prices are going to make you weep no matter the destination, for those of able to make use of off-season prices the UK is still pricey.

It really hit home a few years back, when I had reason to be in Bilbao. Hotel was very nice, and at around the half the nightly price something similar in the UK would cost me. Beer was less expensive. Food was basic, tasty, plentiful and mostly cheap (pinxos can add up though.) I got a concert ticket for almost a third of the price I would have in the UK, and at a much nicer stadium too.

Had the same thing in Madrid as well as in a few spots in Germany.

There's the level of service too, too many UK places have taken the concept of hospitality out of a French book. You get expectations of tips for service that barely blips above pisspoor. I'm always delighted at finding places that actually realise customer service doesn't have to be something out of Fawlty Towers.

Same with festivals, I've no idea why people still camp out in muddy hovels, feast on over-priced burgers and pizza that would be improved by having horsemeat in it and on sup on warm, overpriced beer, when for under a hundred quid extra you can decamp to the continent to see mostly the exact same bands, get better food and drinks at cheaper prices, usually with better weather and travel included.

Demetrius said...

North Berwick up on the Forth is very pleasant. You could have the family running along the beach humming the theme to "Chariots of Fire".

Anonymous said...

I'm also not sure the weather alone stops the UK being so attractive, the expense as I said earlier is one, but there is generally very little for the kids to do, unless you take them somewhere like Centre Parcs, where you can expect to feel somewhat light in pocket if you go during the school holidays.

We have plenty of good locations, what we haven't got is any level of invention or imagination in how to convert it into a holiday destination.

I visit the UK coast several times a year, and we've some lovely spots that aren't exactly destinations (the Wirral coastline for example), but with a bit of thought would make good holiday places rain or shine.

And the destinations we do have can be summed up as places for the nearly wed or the nearly dead, pissed up hen and stag dos or pensioners hastening on that cardiac arrest with cream teas. We've plenty of spots for the 30+ to go, but they're also the exact spots kids are going to get very bored and express that on a teethgrindingly regular basis.

We've a beautiful country, surely it's not beyond our wits to package parts of it as a destination to our own population with resorting to the hammer of taxation?

Anonymous said...

"withOUT resorting to the hammer of taxation?" not "with resorting to the hammer of taxation?" obviously! :D

Thud said...

As a kid every summer was a mass evacuation from Liverpool to cram into a little house with family in Totnes.Now family live in California so its summer in Napa.Next year I want to revisit Devon so a place like EK mentions sounds jst about right,i live on the wirral and it does have some places worth visiting...not Birkenhead!

Sackerson said...

@Thud: We still love Totnes.

Anonymous said...

If the wife likes sun then that is indeed a problem. But we've had a lot of great UK holidays with small children, and it hasn't rained *much*.

"Meals for 4, even only once a day, in the UK, is expensive unless its fast food."

Self catering and take over the "cooking" i.e. a lot of easy to do or prepackaged meals !

In the UK or places of similar cost just have a big order-what-you-like meal out on the last night before leaving, so there's not much to clean up in the kitchen the following morn. Except for Iceland or Norway, where a meal like that for 6 people with drinks may necessitate a remortgage.

dearieme - West Highlands are usually great in early September for some reason. And in July 2014 we got quite badly sunburned - in Arran. 90 degrees in real money - never seen the like. Everyone in the sea at Blackwaterfoot and Kildonan.

Dick the Prick said...

It is just the weather. We've got absolutely awesome places here but they get snookered by the weather. As kids we went to the Langdale Valley in the Lakes which is unbelievably beautiful yet it absolutely pissed it down for the entire week - it's kinda unacceptable.

Outer Hebrides are better than Greece (midges, rain, wind, transport cancellation).

Worst 2 weeks was a Corfu resort - could have achieved it in 3 days. Do city breaks mainly now but maybe not for kids.

Charlie said...

As an IT contractor, if a holiday isn't measured in months, I get quite upset.

Mrs Charlie and I spent four months in SEA (Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysian Borneo) for about four grand each all-in, including flights, two weeks diving, a grand prix, numerous attractions, treks and wildlife tours... sometimes slumming it, sometimes in 5*, always eating well.

Try doing that anywhere in Europe. Impossible.

Scrobs. said...

Can't really be arsed to go away nowadays...

Lovely village, lots of chums, a huge allotment, so everyone gets courgettes, tomatoes and runner beans, whether they want them or not...

Electric bike, so lots of seeing and breathing the clear air - and no hills to worry about either!

And no sand up bum, or midges, or typhoid flavoured ice-cream, plenty of cheap wine and beer, small dog for exercise locally...


Electro-Kevin said...

Michael - I hear you. Now where can I get me an electric bike !

Anonymous said...

Money can buy most things, except contentment with your lot.

I can recall hols spent in a mates' caravan in Littondale and pissing recycling good beer, listening to the laughter within, out into a star lit night after a grand days walking, yomping up and down, on the fells and valleys in the dales.

As a kid, a family school friend invited me to a day or two in a family caravan, it was cramped, we only had the tiny beaches set in coves around the headland, we had no need of money, good companionship needs not.

Your holiday is what you make of it, wherever you travel. I only force myself to an airport if I am travelling light and alone and sometimes business breaks give great insight into towns and cities you'd never dream of actually holidaying in, a cafe and time to observe......can be such fun, smile and people smile back a wonderful elixir.
Family, love Brittany and with ferry trip in betwixt you can drive there, a bit like Cornwall and if you know where to look, its far from the maddening crowds and Salafist nutters.
And Dorset, the jewel of England, wet weather, cripes summer rain - is a joy and keeps the golf course empty!

And smiles, makes the trip.

Scrobs. said...

Elecs, just email me at and we can chat any time!

When I was down your way several years ago, looking at development sites, we exchanged chats, but I think the old address might have changed since then!

And any of those hills near your place will be a doddle on this magic machine!

But you'll have to come over to a village near here - Woodchurch, near Ashford - which you know well - to collect it, (and pay the man £525), and it's mandatory that you call by here for several tinctures...


Scrobs. said...

For safety's sake, there's an extra @ in there somewhere...

You only need one @, but sometimes, I've managed several. and they all seem to look the same after an embrocation or several...

Electro-Kevin said...

You can't have too much @s in my view, Michael. Will be in touch.

CityUnslicker said...

The issue with the UK is, I am afraid to say, elf and safety.

IN France, you hire a canoe, so which if there are waterfalls and you have got young kids, deal with it as you see fit.

In most countries, pay a few quid, get some fund. Jetski for an 8 yr old, not probs, fifty plonks extra.

See to me, this is FUN, you know the actual dangerous, wow-shit-nearly-fucked-it-there moments. In the UK, fun is centre parks with stupid plastic arrows. Fun is Peppa Pig adventure park.

it is very expensive and very dull. In other countries people just don't give a shit as much and will do anything for a couple of bob.

The UK could be great, but wont be.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I think the rot set in when Mrs Thatcher allowed solicitors to advertise and no-win/no-fee was permitted.

Steven_L said...

In most countries, pay a few quid, get some fun

Did you see the crocodile feeding Chinese tourists in Thailand?

Anonymous said...

"hols spent in a mates' caravan in Littondale"

Do they still do beer from the jug in the Falcon?

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Dick's right, the weather trumps all for us.

Sailing on the west coast is unbeatable if you happen to hit the three days of the year when it's dry, warm-ish, and sunny. Otherwise it's misery. With midges.

Whereas if you go to Italy, as we did, you get clear blue skies and 30C all day every day practically any time from June to October, plus wonderful food and drink and the best looking girls in Europe. What's not to like?

Ok it's a bit more expensive (but not as much as you'd think given the very reasonable price of meals out etc), but basically it's a no-brainer.

Just checking out some nice villas in Sicily now, for next year.

Forza Italia!