The pound is so weak it’s making even the most basic holiday items seem costly. So is it time for us to re-evaluate our holiday expectations and accept that we can no longer holiday abroad on a tight budget?
Despite being aware that the dear old pound is well past its heyday, I couldn’t help but feel shocked every time I went to pay for something on my recent two week holiday in France.
Paying for campsites, food in supermarkets, souvenirs and clothes and eating out in restaurants all seemed as expensive – if not (gasp!) more – than back in Blighty.
The sterling slump
Little wonder – the sterling slump began in the second half of 2008, when a pound would get you a healthy €1.40. Compare that to the €1.08 that I got and it’s easy to see why costs seem high. As one British woman who has a house in France remarked: ‘I don’t even bother converting in my head anymore – it’s not worth it for a few pence – just treat Euros as equivalent to pounds.’
And that’s exactly what I was doing, which is a far cry from my last few European holidays, when it was affordable to eat out everyday without worrying about the grand total at the end of your holiday.
Plus, it’s not just a problem with the Euro. Back in 2007-08 Brits came to expect a healthy two dollars to their pound – now, we’re lucky if we get $1.50. And other currencies, like the Swedish krona and the Swiss franc, continue to stand strong against the pound.
How costs compare
So what does this mean to the average British traveller? The Independent released some interesting research at the weekend, showing just how much prices have leapt.
It compared costs of various tourist activities across the world between 2008 and today. For example, child admission to Disneyland Paris was £28 and is now £46 – a 65% increase. And if you want to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the cost has rocketed a startling 92%, from £77 to £148.
But it isn’t only the extravagant things that dent holiday funds. In May, the Post Office compared a typical one-week family shopping basket across a range of popular holiday destinations.
Many countries were on a par with the UK when it came to the likes of bread, milk and eggs – just as we found in France. And if you think it’s pricy to dine out in the UK, six of the fourteen countries they compared, including Croatia, France, Portugal and Greece, worked out more expensive when it came to a three-course evening meal.
Is this the end of cheap holidays?
But is it right to grumble? My generation has certainly grown up in the era of cheap flights and a strong pound – we’ve come to expect holidays to be cheap. We’ve got used to European mini-breaks and long-haul holidays where we’re positively loaded when we have pounds in our pockets.
Haven’t we had it good for a long time now? Perhaps it’s time to accept that if we want a lovely holiday we’ll have to save up for it – and take fewer trips abroad. Or have you found a way to keep the costs down when you’re heading overseas?