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With more and more of us wanting to create our own tailored trips, many are looking for advice on how to build their ideal holiday and ensure that they get the best value with all the protection a traditional package holiday would offer.
But while you might think that building your own trip is daunting, it’s actually never been easier to create a holiday that is exactly what you are looking for.
So here, we show you how to do so in five easy steps.
It all begins with lots of research. Use online and traditional sources of information, such as guide books and brochures, to list out the places you want to go to and the things you want to do, how long for and when. Read plenty of reviews and forums to see what others have done to help guide you and give you advice. And, of course, remember to talk to friends and family about their own trips, especially if they have been where you are planning to travel to.
Key things to check are the weather and seasonality of the destinations you are considering, cost of living, ease of travelling around and access to accommodation, visas and healthcare. The more remote and exotic the destination, the more important this research becomes.
Once you are settled on destinations it’s time to consider the options on offer.
The quickest way to price up your holiday is to use a comparison service such as TravelSupermarket to compare the cost of flights or a ferry journey, for example. Ensure you check both mid-week and weekend travel to see if you can get a better price and also consider alternative airports to the obvious to open up other options.
You might also consider renting a car which can be an excellent solution for getting around in some destinations. Otherwise, check out bus and train services as well as domestic flights in the larger countries.
For accommodation, our hotels comparison service will give you pricing on all the major hotels and hostels as well as many apartments too.
So you are now armed with swathes of notes, times, prices and availability. However, before you book you should compare your self-made plans to a package.
Speak to a good travel agent in person or online and ask them to price up your proposed itinerary for you. They may also be able to offer off-the-shelf tours and packages which could be very good on price and bring your trip nearer to affordability. In addition, ask them if they can help to tailor-make any brochure product to fit your needs better. You will also benefit from the experience and advice an agent can give you before making your decision.
If you are taking a straightforward flight and hotel stay to one location then it’s always worth comparing the big package deals on offer from the likes of TUI, as well as online companies such as expedia and Travel Republic. Our holiday search will help you do this easily.
Reconsider your plans to see what is going to give you the best overall value and also give you the holiday closest to what you want. Remember that if you book a package deal with an agent you will have ATOL cover should any element of your trip break down or the tour operator go bust. Your agent will also look after that hassle for you.
However, if you want to be in charge of your holiday, you can still insure against company failure by selecting a travel insurance policy that includes ‘End Supplier Failure’ cover. This will mitigate the inconvenience of last-minute problems and losses should any part of your travel plans collapse due to company failure.
You should also consider the outlay for your break. Booking a DIY trip may mean you pay for your flights when you book them, but other parts of your holiday, such as the hotel, may not be paid for until you arrive, so you will need to be in control of your finances throughout your trip planning and execution. A package holiday, on the other hand, will usually mean paying a deposit and a full balance around two to three months before you travel.
Once you’ve made your decision, get booking!
Paying by credit card wherever possible will ensure your holiday is protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act as well as the Consumer Credit Directive, providing it costs more than £100. However, you don’t have to pay for the whole holiday on your credit card to have this protection – you can pay for part of the holiday by credit card and the remainder by another method of payment so long as the holiday costs more than £100.
You should also take out a travel insurance policy from day one of your booking so that you’re covered if you had to cancel your holiday for any reason.
Finally, get organised by creating an itinerary and holiday planner with key dates to remind yourself of everything, from reconfirming hotels to checking in online for flights, from getting jabs through to checking your passport and visa, from organising your holiday money options to packing.
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The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides valuable up-to-date travel advice for British citizens abroad. It is the best resource for reliable safety and security information. You can also find other important details, such as local laws, passport information and visa requirements. Stay safe abroad – check the FCDO before you travel.