This paper aims to explore the relationship between well-being, quality of life and holiday participation among low-income families in the UK. There have been very studies that have examined quality of life (QOL) and subjective well-being in relation to tourism and none that have attempted to apply measures to assess the benefits of holidays for those people who are generally excluded from participation. This is important in relation to social tourism because of the fundamental need to develop mechanisms to evaluate the impact of charitable funding for supporting low-income families' participation in holidaymaking. This study evaluates the types of reasons given for financial assistance in applications to the Family Holiday Association including follow-up research with a sample of successful applicants on the perceived benefits of the holiday, including questions on QOL factors. The findings are limited in scope but do indicate that increases in QOL were reported among low-income families. The paper concludes by arguing that further research on adapted well-being and QOL measures be applied to tourism consumption. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.