Many ordinary working families are struggling to cover the cost of a family break, according to research from Nottingham Civic Exchange and the Family Holiday Association (FHA).
The report’s authors are calling for the government to launch an independent commission to investigate how to make holidays a social right.
Speaking at an event in London to launch the report, FHA head of programmes John Kinnear said the benefits of holidays – including strengthening family relationships, providing social experiences and getting children away from electronic media – meant taking a break was now more important than ever.
“The link between getting away form it all and mental wellbeing came back very much stronger than we expected in the research,” he said.
“60% of families we help report having mental health issues, and 30% of them said they felt ‘a lot’ better after a holiday.
"Our ambition is to double from 4,000 to 8,000 the number of families we are able to support in the next two years.”
The report’s authors also believe family holidays can have a positive impact on learning outside the classroom and reducing isolation and loneliness.
Martin Realey, chief executive of the FHA, said: “We know how a simple break from a stressful situation can create precious memories, strengthen bonds and develop a new sense of optimism.
“What NCE’s research tells us is that being able to get a break is also a challenge for large group of families. What is concerning is the negative impact this is having on our country’s mental wellbeing.”
Dr Paula Black, director of Nottingham Civic Exchange, added: “Participants in this study expressed strong feelings that they were more disadvantaged in terms of holidays and breaks than those they compared themselves to.
"The challenges of costs, including saving up for a holiday and time away from work, was a source of worry for many.”
Ordinary working families were defined for the research as families whose household income is between £12,000 and £34,000 a year after tax and benefits.
NCE spoke to 36 families for the research, including 10 in-depth case studies.