A friend mentioned recently how her son wants to go on the Year 9 overseas school trip, and she can’t afford it. A few other friends agreed it was too expensive, and trips weren’t that expensive back in our day. I had to play devil’s advocate.

In 1997, I went on a 4 night school trip to the Lake District. I was in Year 9 at the time, and it cost £175. Plus buying all of the outdoor clothing I’d never use again, as well as an old set of clothes and a decent set of clothes for each of the 5 days we were away. That was 21 years ago. According to This Is Money, £175 then is equal to £312 now.

The £175 cost of the residential trip I did go on was paid for mostly by my parents, but I did have to put my £5 a week pocket money towards the cost as well. I paid £75 and they paid the other £100 as well as buying me everything else I needed to go with. I know my folks had to save for me to attend and I definitely appreciated it. I think the fact they made me contribute made me appreciate it even more too.

When I was in Year 10, we had the option of a French Skiing trip. For 4 nights, it was £535, which is around £927 in today’s money. I didn’t go as it was much too expensive for us as a family with 6 kids to afford.

Another friend told me her son was going on an educational trip to New York with his school, and she had been able to set up a weekly payment plan 18 months beforehand. She said this made it more affordable. She has halved his pocket money so he’s contributing too, and she is paying £15 a week. While £60 a month for 18 months seems a lot, she said she has made conscious changes and isn’t missing the money.

I asked her what she had changed and she said she now picks a friend up en route to work and they halve the fuel costs, which has saved her £10 a week. She also swapped her usual 6 weekly hairdressers appointments to 8 weekly, which has saved her £150 a year. Her son’s pocket money makes up the other few pounds. She says she will have to plan carefully nearer the time to cover the cost of his clothes and spending money, but he already knows he’s not getting as much as usual for his birthday and Christmas, plus any money he gets will be saved for spends for the trip.

When the time comes for Sam and Syd to go on trips like this, I definitely won’t be handing them their trip on a plate. I feel that getting kids to “earn” the trip and contributing to the cost is a great and incredibly valuable lesson. When they want to go on their first holiday with friends, they’ll have to work hard to pay for it, so why should educational trips be any different?

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