Holiday 'pester power' costs you £200 extra a child

Ruth Doherty

With the end of the school term a week away, the plunging pound already means that families face spiralling holiday costs in Europe.

Now research for the third annual Post Office Travel Money Family Holiday Report has revealed that hard-pressed parents hoping to keep a lid on costs could come unstuck paying for holiday extras.

More than one in 20 families shell out over £200 per child by giving in to kids' 'pester power'.

On average, parents anxious to please their children admitted to forking out almost £80 per child on beach holiday extras that they had not bargained – or budgeted - for.

A whopping 87% of parents surveyed had paid out for kids' extras - 49% of them giving in to demands for ice creams and lollies. These topped a long list of kids' 'must-have' items that could bust the family budget.

Other budget-busters included sightseeing attractions, fizzy drinks, water parks, pedalo rides and beach gear like buckets and spades and lilos.

But prices for these items vary dramatically in European resorts, according to the 2011 Post Office Family Holiday Beach Barometer, which surveyed prices in 13 destinations.

Bulgaria emerged as this summer's bargain buy, where kids' beach extras cost half as much in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (£47.93) as in France's Vendée region (£96.28).

More worryingly for cost-conscious parents, there were year-on-year prices hikes in every resort except Majorca (-1%). The highest rise was in Croatia (+58%).

How to keep 'holiday extras' down

Do your research before choosing your holiday destination, and you could save yourself hundreds of pounds. Kick off by checking out the Post Office's Beach Barometer comparison guide:

Beach Barometer Price Comparisons At A Glance:
• Bulgaria is a bargain for jelly shoes (£3.09), a third the price in Portugal (£9.80)
• A lilo is cheapest in Bulgaria (£2.58) but three times the price in Crete (£9.80)
• Best-buy bucket and spade is in Spain's Costa Blanca (£2.94) but Corfu is over twice the price (£6.86)
• Turkey is great value for an ice cream – one every day for a week will cost £7.06. Families will pay double that in Bulgaria and even more in France
• Taking an hour's pedalo or kayak ride twice during a week's holiday provides cheap entertainment in Bulgaria, Majorca and the Algarve (under £16 apiece for two hour long rides) – but costs almost double that in Brighton.

The Post Office barometer research found that family meals in resort restaurants could see costs soaring, too. Portugal's Algarve will set a family of four back just over £34 – but a meal would cost twice as much in Corfu (£68.63) or Croatia (£70.41). In Italy it would be almost three times as expensive (£98.04).

Sarah Munro, Post Office Head of Travel Money, said: 'Sterling has taken a battering recently and when you combine the reducing spending power of sterling with higher resort charges, it means that families will have to contend with spiralling holiday costs this year. As our research shows, paying out extra for kids' 'must haves' could bust the holiday budget – so the clear message must be to pack the suitcase carefully.

'For families who haven't already booked, it's worth considering Bulgaria or a cheaper eurozone destination like Portugal or Spain. They should also buy currency before leaving home rather than waiting to change money at the airport where they will get a poor rate and carry enough currency to avoid changing money abroad.'

Check out our tips on how to save money on your next holiday here: