You can bag four-day European holiday park breaks from just £60 for four people, by collecting tokens with The Sun newspaper.
Watch out for a host of extra charges, though. This guide explains how to sidestep these, and save up to £500 on a family getaway.
The Sun’s "£15 holidays" headline looks stunning. But it can work out at much more if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The basic cost is £15 per person for three or four nights. 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 £60 under this offer. Nearly all parks add a 'service charge' on top, adding around £20-ish (can vary per site) to the total cost.
Plus remember this is accommodation-only, so factor in the cost of getting there (read the Cheap Flights and Cheap Trains guides).
The parks also recoup their cash by charging for optional 'extras' such as bed linen and entertainment. Take your own sheets and a Scrabble board, and the holidays really can be had for as little as £60 for four.
With park holidays costing up to £600, the savings can be huge. For example, the last time this offer was on, a four-night stay at La Croix du Vieux Pont park near Disneyland Paris would normally cost about £400 for four in July, but cost just £60 via this deal.
To book your holiday, collect eight unique tokens or codes, printed in The Sun (40p weekdays, or 60p on Saturdays and Sundays) every day until Sun 28 Apr. The last day you can start collecting is Sun 21 Apr.
Next, download a booking form from The Sun and fill in the info described below. These holidays are always popular, so your form must be ready to roll the day you get the final token. The Sun says you should get a holiday of some description, as long as you meet the conditions, but the earlier you book, the more chance of getting your chosen break.
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 £15 hols can be taken on selected dates between May and September. Weekend breaks are three nights and weekday holidays are four nights.
Friday-Monday (three-night breaks) can start:
31 May; 7, 14, 21, 28 June; 5, 12, 19 July; 23, 30 August; 6 September.
Monday-Friday (four-night breaks) can start:
3, 10, 17, 24 June; 1, 8, 15, 22 July; 26 August; 2 September.
For two, three or four people sharing, the basic cost will be £60, five people sharing will cost £75 and six sharing £90. Then add on the service charge.
The holiday accommodation includes caravans, chalets, apartments, tents, lodges, bungalows or cottages at 311 parks in England, Scotland, Wales and throughout Europe. Search the full park listings. Last year featured some real smashers, such as Bunn Holiday Village in Sussex and Parkdean Crantock Beach in Cornwall.
You must pick a shortlist of FOUR. Quality varies, so search the reviews on TripAdvisor, and also compare parks’ service charges.
If you want to take a dog, check directly with the parks first, or your pooch could end up home alone. 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.
Some parks are more costly than others in the first place. First, look on the parks' websites to see how much it would cost you to book direct. Next, whip out the calculator, and work out how much The Sun holiday will cost to make sure it’s cheaper.
Basic charge. The basic holiday cost is £15 per person, and you can take up to six people (including yourself). The parks will only accept parties of fewer than four if you pay the four-berth price, so in reality the hols start at £60. If your brood is bigger than four, it could well be cheaper just to hire a caravan direct, so check.
Service charge. Next, add the service charge. This covers caravan cleaning and gas & electricity. Nearly all parks charge this fee. Charges vary according to park, but typically range from £10 to £44 (typically £20ish) per family per holiday. A few offer no service charge on selected dates, as shown with the park listings. Go to the Park Finder to see the full list of parks. Then click on a location and check at the bottom. These fees will be charged direct to you by the park before arrival.
Bed linen. Bed linen and blankets are not included at any of the holiday parks. Make sure you take your own, or you’ll have to hire them for about £10 per person.
Entertainment. Parks offering entertainment programmes may charge for optional entertainment passes, around £2 to £12 per person per break. Some parks offer free entertainment, so look out for the 'free entertainment' symbol when choosing.
Food. No meals are included in the price, so save by self-catering.
An example from the previous holiday offer
Mr Ivor Taholiday and his family get their first choice of four nights in Great Yarmouth in June. He’s taking his wife and two kids, so they pay a £60 basic charge. Haven Seashore has a service charge of £6.50 per unit per night (total £26).
The family take their own bed linen and make their own fun, so they spend a total of £86. If they’d booked a caravan directly, it would have cost £300.
As soon as you've all eight tokens, post the form to: UK Holidays in The Sun, PO Box 1811, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8LF.
Remember to include a cheque for the basic charge of £15 per person and 60p for a stamp. So, for a family of four the total would be £60.60. Service charges will be invoiced later.
Or book online at The Sun (we'll post the link here when it goes live), you'll need to enter eight token codes and pay via credit/debit card. There's a £1.90 charge per booking, but the advantage of doing it 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 is Fri 10 May 2013.
The Sun will send holiday confirmation by Thu 23 May 2013. If you're unsuccessful, your payment will be returned by that date. If you have not heard anything by then, call 0844 543 9743 (calls cost 5p per minute from BT). Make sure you keep a record of your selected parks and dates.
WARNING! Only book if you really want to go.
There are absolutely no amendments or cancellations whatsoever after you've sent off the form. So only book if you're sure about the five dates and parks, and make sure you read the terms and conditions.
Found a cheaper deal?
Let us know in the Sun £9.50 holidays discussion
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