Back in the 1970’s we saw the big ‘Package Holiday’ revolution, enabling thousands of Brits to travel abroad for the first time. They were a great deal; with flights, accommodation and transfers all included, organised by your local travel agent. All you had to do was choose from the brochure, pay your deposit and pack your case!
Still today there is a big draw for booking a package holiday. Using a large tour operator, backed by ‘Atol’ (giving better protection against failure), we are only required to choose our destination and accommodation preferences and away we go! The choice is tremendous, enabling us to travel most of the World on a package of one kind or another. Many now include the ‘All Inclusive’ option, with the choice to pay for food and drink up front, which can be a bonus especially if you are holidaying with the kids.
On the other hand, more recently travellers have preferred the option of booking independently. With multiple choice flight times and accommodation ranging from a basic room in somebody’s house to 6* luxury palaces. Some of us feel that being in control of every detail is the only way to travel.
It is, of course, your choice: Package Holiday or not!
The Pros of a Package Holiday
- Cost: Believe it or not, it usually works out cheaper to book a package holiday, as tour companies strike deals well in advance, booking and paying upfront for flights and accommodation
- If you are travelling as a family with children, packages often include reduced child prices, and, if you book well in advance, ‘free child places’!
- A travel representative is usually available, meeting you at the airport and being on hand throughout your holiday to give advice, and be your spokesperson in an emergency
- Protection in the event of a package holiday company going out of business. By law you are protected through ‘Atol’, which is a scheme backed by the government, giving you a refund in the event of your travel company going bust prior to travel, or getting you back home safely if you are already abroad
- Less stress with booking as the deal is under one umbrella. Also, peace of mind when travelling knowing you have the backing of the travel company if everything doesn’t go according to plan!
The Cons of a Package Holiday
- As the name ‘package’ suggests your choice will be limited. The obvious one being that you will be required to travel on a flight chosen by the tour operator rather than the time that might suit you best. Flights will often be very early or very late, especially if you are choosing an affordable package. If you book independently you are able to watch flight prices, which fluctuate from week to week, and possibly book a good flight time at the right price
- Some of us want a 3 to 4-day break or wish to travel for 16 days. In this case the total length of your holiday is in your control. Pick your flights and book accommodation for the exact time that suits you, not the tour operator!
- Booking independently means you are free to choose which board you prefer, whether it be eating in the hotel every day or choosing to try every local restaurant. With a package you may have to compromise
- A big draw to travelling independently is that you can travel around freely from place to place rather than staying put in one resort. You may book accommodation in advance or even leave it to chance and book as you travel around. The internet, of course, makes this very viable option!
- There is often an option of ‘free cancellation’ on hotel websites. This means you can book accommodation well in advance, but in the event that you change your plans or see the same hotel cheaper at a later date, you are at liberty to cancel with no cost!
If you are travelling independently and need to cancel your holiday through your travel insurance, it may not be as straight forward as with a package holiday. With a package holiday being ‘one booking’ your insurance company will apply your excess as such, with one excess charge. With separate bookings for flights, hotels and transfers your insurance excess may apply to each section of the booking. Check with your provider and always take out insurance immediately after booking.
Finally, whichever choice you make you will need to arrange to park your car safely at the airport. Make this booking as soon as your travel arrangements are confirmed to ensure you get the best price.