Spanish islands and Algarve ‘best value for self-catering holidays’

A third of people planning trips abroad this summer will take a self-catering holiday, according to new research.

More than two-in-five of families chose their most recent self-catering holiday to cut costs.

And a newly published report suggests heading to the Spanish islands or Portugal’s Algarve to keep costs down as supermarket prices are as much as 84% lower than in destinations further east.

The consumer research also revealed that more than half of families bust their budget on their last self-catering trip – with one-in-six admitting they spent over £200 more than planned.

Post Office Travel Money and Monarch Holidays surveyed the cost of a weekly family shop in 10 European destinations and found big differences for 15 typical food and drink staples.

Majorca emerged as the cheapest destination with the shopping basket of self-catering basics costing £31.91 – five per cent less than in the Algarve, at £33.65 the runner-up in the survey.

Monarch Holidays resort staff discovered that the same shopping basket cost 84% more at £58.74 in Dubrovnik, the most expensive destination surveyed.

Supermarkets in Eastern Mediterranean resorts were also between 31-40% more expensive than Majorca.

With a fall of 6.1% year-on-year, Majorca was one of four destinations where supermarket prices were found to have dropped – despite sterling buying around 10% fewer euros than last June.

The biggest drop of 20% was in Menorca to £35.03 – fourth cheapest in the survey – while prices fell 3.7% in Lanzarote to £34.41.

Cyprus is the fourth destination where grocery prices have fallen over the past 12 months, with a 6.2% drop. At £44.29, the shopping basket in Cyprus is at its lowest level since Post Office Travel Money started compiling the self-catering report in 2011.

Prices are now 39% cheaper for UK tourists than five years ago when the same items cost £72.48.

The study found that prices have plummeted in all eight destinations that were also surveyed in 2012. Aside from Cyprus, the falls ranged between nine per cent in the Costa Blanca and 32% in Lanzarote.

Aside from the opportunity offered to cut the holiday budget, half of parents surveyed thought that self-catering gave them a greater degree of flexibility, while more than a third (35%) believed it to be a more family friendly option and one-in-ten (11%) said it was the only practical solution when travelling with older children.

Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said: “It’s good to report that the cost of self-catering groceries has fallen in parts of Europe despite the fall in sterling’s value since last year.

“However, the wide variations we found across the 10 destinations surveyed mean families should do their homework and check prices before booking. Majorca and Portugal are great value for self-catering but Turkey, Greece and Croatia will be more expensive.

“Although self-catering can be a great way to save money, spending can easily get out of hand.

“Just over half of the holidaymakers we spoke to shopped in supermarkets but almost as many used local mini-marts, which are significantly more expensive.

“Our advice is to do one big supermarket shop and choose cheaper local brands. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in local markets and only use mini-marts to top up supplies. If you plan to eat out during your stay, make it a lunch time set meal, a cheaper bet than eating a la carte in the evening.”

Monarch Holidays sales director Gary Anslow said: “Self-catering continues to offer great value for money.

“The most frequent request to our exclusive Monarch Holidays’ Concierge service, after the best beaches to visit, is for information on the best value supermarkets in the area, so we know holidaymakers want to make the pound in their pocket stretch as far as possible.

“Self-catering is certainly growing in popularity and is now nearly a quarter of all sales. In certain regions, such as the Algarve, where our customers have access to a vast range of great value supermarkets and restaurants, self-catering accounts for over 40% of bookings.

“For families in particular, self-catering allows them to control their spending more effectively and gives them the flexibility to do what they want when they want, without the restrictions of catered accommodation. Customers can enjoy the ultimate in flexibility and so it will continue to be a very popular choice.”

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