The Sun markets these as £9.50 holidays, but in reality they're never that cheap. That doesn't mean it's not a decent deal though - you can bag four-day holiday park breaks from just £38 (plus £10-£50 service charge), simply by collecting tokens with The Sun and The Sun on Sunday newspapers.
You'll need to collect 10 tokens in papers from Sat 9 Jul to Tue 2 Aug, for holidays between Fri 2 Sep and Mon 15 May 2017. Watch out for a host of extra charges, though. This guide explains how to sidestep these, and save £100s on a family getaway.
In this guide...
Are they really £9.50?
The Sun’s "£9.50 holidays" headline looks stunning, and with park holidays costing in the £100s, the savings can be huge. Yet while they're undeniably good value, truthfully, they're never actually £9.50 all-in.
Basic charge: though the basic cost is indeed £9.50 per person for three or four nights, when you factor in extras, it mounts up.
You always have to pay for at least four people, even if only two of you are planning to go. So you'll pay at least £38 with this offer, as well as the cost of the newspapers. PLUS, nearly all parks add a service charge on top, adding £10-£50 to the total cost.
The service charge covers the holiday home's cleaning, gas and electricity and most parks charge it. If they don't, electricity and gas will be charged on a meter using coins/tokens. Some European parks will also ask for a £100 refundable cleaning/damage waiver deposit, but you can pay £15 for a non-refundable Equipment Damage Waiver.
The parks also recoup their cash by charging for optional 'extras' such as bed linen and entertainment. To cut the cost, bring your own.
Bed linen - £1-£10 per bed
Bed linen and blankets are not included at any of the holiday parks. You should take your own, otherwise most parks offer bed linen and blankets for hire for about £1-£10 per bed.
Most tent accommodation includes pillows and blankets, but check with the park beforehand. It's also worth knowing cots, cot sides and high chairs may also require a supplement.
Entertainment - £3-£20 per person
Parks offering entertainment programmes may charge for optional entertainment passes, about £3 to £20 per person, per break.
Some parks offer free entertainment, so look out for the 'free entertainment' symbol when choosing.
Food - £10-£18.50 per person, per day
No meals are included in the price, so save by self-catering. Some parks have catering facilities for breakfast and evening meals, but this will be charged on top, about £10-£18.50 per person, per day.
Buy the paper, collect your tokens & form
To book your holiday, collect 10 unique tokens, printed in The Sun (50p weekdays, or 70p on Saturdays) and The Sun on Sunday (£1) every day from Sat 9 Jul to Tue 2 Aug. Therefore the last day you can start collecting is Sun 24 Jul.
You can book online from Mon 18 Jul using the code words on your tokens or by printing a booking form and filling in the info described below. These holidays are always popular, so have everything ready to roll as soon as you get the 10th token.
The Sun says it will try to get you a holiday of some description, but it can't guarantee it. If your postal application is unsuccessful you will be refunded.
If you meet the conditions, fill the application in correctly and book as early as you can, you have a greater chance of getting your chosen break.
Pick your dates
One of the reasons these hols are so cheap is that you can’t pick the exact date and place. You have to specify FOUR dates and FOUR parks you'd like, and hope for the best.
The £9.50 hols can be taken on selected dates between Sep 2016 - May 2017. Weekend breaks are three nights and weekday holidays are four nights.
From £9.50 holidays
Friday-Monday (three-night breaks) can start:
9, 16, 23, 30 Sep; 7, 14, 21, 28 Oct; 4, 11, 18, 25 Nov, 10, 17, 24 Feb; 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 Mar; 21 Apr; 5 May.
Monday-Friday (four-night breaks) can start:
12, 19, 26 Sep; 3, 10, 17, 31 Oct; 7, 14, 21, 28 Nov; 6, 13, 20, 27 Feb; 6, 13, 20, 27 Mar; 24 Apr; 1, 8, 15 May.
Note: Not all parks will be available on these dates.
Pick your parks
The holiday accommodation includes caravans, chalets, apartments, tents, lodges, bungalows or cottages at over 260 parks in the UK and throughout Europe. Search the full park listings.
You must pick a shortlist of FOUR. Quality varies, so search the reviews on TripAdvisor, and also compare parks’ service charges.
Pets are not included in this offer. If you want to take a dog, check directly with the parks first, or your pooch could end up home alone. This may require you to pay extra.
Also note that the parks will not accept bookings from parties where everyone's under 21. All-male and all-female parties under 25 are not allowed either.
If you’ve been on a Sun holiday before, please add your feedback in the Sun Holiday Parks Reviews thread, so others can benefit.
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Send off the form or book online
As soon as you've all 10 tokens, post the form and tokens to: UK Holidays in The Sun, PO Box 1811, Colchester, CO2 8LF.
If you book by post you must pay by cheque or postal order and remember to include the basic charge of £9.50 per person and 63p for a stamp. So, the total would be £38.63.
Or... book online at The Sun, you'll need to enter 10 token codes and pay via credit/debit card. There's a £2.30 charge per booking.
The advantage of booking online is that you're told within minutes whether you've been successful, and you can play around with your booking until you get what you want, whereas by post, you get what you're given and you can't change it.
The closing date for applications for both booking methods is Fri 19 Aug.
For postal applications, parks will send holiday confirmation directly by Thu 25 Aug. If you're unsuccessful, your payment will be returned by this date. If you have not heard anything by then, call 0344 543 9743 (calls cost the same as a landline). Make sure you keep a record of your selected parks and dates.
WARNING! There are absolutely no amendments or cancellations whatsoever after you've sent off the form. So only book if you're sure about the four dates and parks, and make sure you read the terms and conditions that IPSO enforces.