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Revealed - the Top 10 holiday rip-offs

  • 2/3 of families say ‘rip-offs’ helped empty their holiday purse
  • Airplane meals and drinks and excursions are rated the biggest ‘rip-offs’

With less than a month to go until schools break up for the summer, new research from Post Office Travel Money has revealed the ‘holiday rip-offs’ that could be responsible for almost seven-in-ten families busting their budgets on trips abroad by £159 each – 23%†.  Two-thirds of families who took part in the survey complained that a range of rip-offs – led by airplane food and drink prices – caused them to spend more than budgeted on their last holiday††.     

Around a third of families said prices charged for food and drinks on flights abroad had contributed to their holiday overspending.  Post Office research found that a family of four could fork out as much as £33 on a meal deal of sandwiches, crisps and soft drinks on a low-cost airline but could cut this by half in an airside shop at the airport (£16)†††.

The second biggest perceived rip-off, according to holidaymakers, was the high cost of excursions – a budget-buster for over a quarter of the parents surveyed (27%).  More than one-in-five were frustrated by how much it cost to get around in taxis and on buses, while a further 20% thought that compulsory service charges added to restaurant bills were a ‘rip-off’.     


  1. Food and drink prices on airplanes
  2. High cost of excursions
  3. Transport costs
  4. Compulsory service charges on meal bills
  5. Charges for credit card cash withdrawals at ATMs and hotels
  6. Meal and drink prices in restaurants and bars
  7. Poor exchange rates at airports
  8. Transaction charges for using credit or debit cards in restaurants, shops and bars
  9. Waiters expecting tips in cash
  10. Kids’ beach extras e.g. buckets and spades, lilos

Foreign currency exchange rates and charges for paying on plastic abroad were also sources 
of concern for many families.  Almost one-in-six were stung by the poor exchange rates they received at airport bureaux and Post Office research confirmed that regional airports offer some of the worst deals. For example: families changing £500 in euros would get £55 more cash by purchasing online from Post Office Travel Money and having it delivered to their home before travel than buying euros at Liverpool Airport.  Similarly, they could get £81 more by purchasing £500 in Turkish Lira online than changing their money at Bristol Airport.

Once abroad, one-in-five families got caught out by charges made for using their credit or debit card to withdraw cash at an ATM or hotel and one-in-seven were charged transaction fees for using their cards in shops, bars and restaurants. The research found that around 3.65m people were charged an average of £48.57 each in non-sterling transaction charges when paying on plastic.  Collectively, Post Office calculated these charges cost tourists £1.77 billion on their last holiday abroad^.    

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said:

Holidaymakers told us that charges added to credit and debit card payments are among the biggest concerns – especially as they only discovered them once they returned home and received their bank statements.  On future trips abroad, this can easily be avoided by using a travel money card loaded with holiday cash, which won’t incur transaction charges in shops and restaurants.  

The key to saving money is to think back to those budget-breaking experiences on past holidays and take steps to avoid getting caught out again.  Do your homework between now and the school holidays and you could avoid overspending by hundreds of pounds when you get to your destination.” 

One of the biggest drains on the family purse is the cost of meals and drinks in resort restaurants and bars – rated a rip-off by 15% of families. Our research found that families spent an average of £242 on meals and drinks on their last family holiday^^ but eating out could cost far more in one of the more expensive European resorts.  A family should expect to pay around £134 for one meal in southern Italy.  A better bet is Sunny Beach in Bulgaria where £200 would cover a week’s family meals


Helping you understand our research

Post Office research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2017) among 2,088 UK adults found that 80 per cent of those who had been on a family beach holiday set a budget on their last trip abroad averaging £682.31 and almost seven-in-ten (68 per cent) of this group overspent it by an average of £158.59 (23 per cent).

††The Post Office research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2017) found that 67 per cent of families surveyed felt they had been ripped-off on their last overseas holiday.  Amongst that group, the greatest number (31 per cent) named the cost of food and drink on planes as the biggest annoyance.

††† Ryanair inflight menu: a meal deal including a drink costs €10 for adults and €8.50 for children – adding up to €37 – around £32 – for a family of four.  The equivalent cost was £15.56 at Boots airside shop at the airport.

^ Source: Office of National Statistics: 45.02 million overseas holidays were taken by UK holidaymakers in 2016 (latest figures available) – approx. 36.51 million of these by adults.  Since 10 per cent of all adult holidaymakers (3.65m) surveyed had been charged non-sterling transaction fees for using their credit or debit card at an average of £48.57, the collective total paid out in fees is estimated to be £1.77 billion.

^^ The Post Office research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2017) found that 15 per cent of families of the two-thirds who felt ripped off on holiday said resort meals and drinks cost them more than they expected or had budgeted.  The average that families spend on eating out is £145.75 while they spend an average of £96.03, totalling £241.7




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