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How do you book holidays abroad?

(42 Posts)
PersonAtHome Sat 17-Feb-18 22:47:15

This sounds like a silly question... but how do people book holidays these days? Apart from one trip to France on a ferry a couple of years ago I haven't ever taken the DC abroad (eldest now 14) because for years we had no money.

So where do I start? Book flights and then use AirBnB? Or are there other sites I should be using? Are package holidays the only way to keep the costs down? Or are there ways of finding more characterful accommodation without it costing a zillion pounds (as AirBnB seems to cost)?

I did some travelling when I was much much younger (way before DH) and did that whole inter railing staying in hostels thing, then also spent a few summers in Spain but a friend knew people and we kipped on sofas.

I'm a bit confused about how to holiday abroad as a grown up with two DSs (10 & 14)!

And how much do reasonably priced holidays abroad for four people cost? What's a good budget for a summer holiday abroad? (I realise that this is probably a dumb question too but I've no idea what's considered normal as everything looks expensive, probably cause I'm comparing it to my pre DC holidays with only me to pay for).

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ineedamoreadultieradult Sat 17-Feb-18 22:49:42

We do it a few different ways.
Package holiday from Travel Agents website for a chill out all inclusive holiday in the sun.
DIY booking flights, hotels etc seperatley ourselves (online) for city breaks. Usually get flights from Skyscanner then fit the hotel around cheap flights. Usually get hotels from but that's just habit.

BigSandyBalls2015 Sat 17-Feb-18 22:50:47

Not a silly question. I think if I was you I'd use a travel agent, there's still a few around on the high streets and they'll advise you on best places to go that would suit your needs.

PersonAtHome Sat 17-Feb-18 22:52:36

Thanks both, I hadn't even realised that travel agents still existed!

I find it interesting hearing about your different methods for different places ineed

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Olga81 Sat 17-Feb-18 22:54:26

Flights and airbnb here. Airbnb has always been great value for us, although slightly less so at the moment due to the value of the pound.

Rhubarbginmum Sat 17-Feb-18 22:55:00

Well assuming you are not taking your DC out of school most things will be expensive due to supply and demand in school hols. As well as costs going up you will now have three flights to factor in, a room big enough to sleep @ least 3, food for 3 if you want b&b, h/b or AI and transfers for 3 of you.
You might want to start with a Eurocamp holiday, a DIY holiday may be cheaper than a package but obviously I would weigh up accomodation cost and availability simultaneously alongside flight costs and departure dates. You may also want to check out where is safe less safe to go in the world etc.

DrMadelineMaxwell Sat 17-Feb-18 22:57:07

I looked online at the standard tourism companies. Then went to my travel agents to tell them what I wanted. They were able to book something with the same provider at a lower price. And a better room.

I go on holiday with my teens, but without DH, so I like the peace of mind that going with a package company provides. Off plane - look for reps - onto their coach - off at the right hotel.

bakingaddict Sat 17-Feb-18 23:02:18

How much is your budget? What time of year do you want to go on holiday? Do you want a beach holiday in a resort or happy with something else. Do you like to go out in the evenings finding new restaurants or happy with an AI resort. You've got to know what you want from your holiday in order to get the best possible price but a week in main school holidays would be minimum £2000 for a 4* resort for a family of 4.

MrsGruber Sat 17-Feb-18 23:18:35

Research is key to keeping costs down. Look at travel agents offers online to help you narrow down where you want to go, and then look at flights & accomodation costs seperately to see which is the cheapest way to book. Double check using price comparison sites. This year I've found, for the first time in five or more years, that packages have worked out cheaper to my planned destination. If you are prepared to spend hours searching and comparing you can save £££s. Worth registering with Holiday Pirates, Travel Zoo, Late Escapes etc etc to keep an eye on offers too.

PersonAtHome Sat 17-Feb-18 23:27:32

Thanks for all your replies, I'm finding all tips and thoughts very helpful. I

MrsGruber I'll try Holiday Pirates, Travel Zoo, Late Escapes and look for other similar sites.

bakingaddict Good idea re defining what it is I want - wish I knew! I'm thinking either Easter or Summer school holiday (either is fine), somewhere warmer than the UK (but not too hot and sweaty). My ideal would be to have access to a swimming pool and possibly a beach and to have some nice restaurants or tavernas within walkable distance.

I think I'm realising the bits that are stressing me out - I like the idea of a DIY holiday and finding somewhere pretty (and more private than a resort) on AirBnB but as well as coordinating flights and accommodation I also feel like I need to spend hours researching all the locations to find a good beach / village etc. Or maybe that's what travel agents are for though I'd always associated travel agents with package resorts.

I'm just looking on Thomas Cook and some of the package deals look really good, I just get a bit anxious about being in such big resorts with so many people milling around (I like places with fewer people!).

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PersonAtHome Sat 17-Feb-18 23:29:58

I don't have a specific budget as yet, I'm just trying to get to grips with the costs at the moment.

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MrsGruber Sat 17-Feb-18 23:39:13

Have a look at tour operator's 'small & friendly' options. If you fancy Greece, Olympic is good for quieter destinations and their site is quite easy to search for best prices.

MsGameandWatching Sun 18-Feb-18 00:21:04

I book flights first, as far in advance as possible. Then hotels or villa/apartment etc, then additional arrangements such as transfers etc. I was looking at a holiday to Spain this afternoon and could have booked a week at Easter for £800 for three in a 4* hotel, in about five minutes if I had been inclined but I can't justify it as have just got back from a pretty big holiday. I've never used a travel agent, love doing it all myself.

somewhereovertherain Sun 18-Feb-18 07:31:38

I use various methods but mostly online and I don’t do travel agents or tour operators.

Have yet to find a travel agent that’s not hopeless and both them an tour operators take a cut. That combined with AI killing tourism across the world.

Tend to decide which country we are going too and work back from there. Have used AirBnB and found to be fantastic value. Also tend to use hotel direct sites. Flights use Skyscanner and also look separately on the low cost carriers.

If you want to and are flexible about where you go you can get a couple of weeks away in the summer for around 300 each. We tend to go for villas and cottages with a pool - if somewhere sunny.

One of our favourites is a gite with a pool. South central France. Try and two weeks ever couple of year.

But during summer hols have also done

The Netherlands - love CP

Out of the summer we’ve done
The Canaries
The Belarics
The Netherlands
St Maarten

It’s all about what you want. Next up for us is Antigua and hopefully Honduras as found some awesome places to stay trying to get flights for the right price.

Family of 4 two teenage DDs and don’t pay more than a couple of grand for europe and Caribbean was about 3

10thingsIhateAboutTheDailyMail Sun 18-Feb-18 07:37:03

I use iescape for inspiration

Or friends recommendations

MrsGruber Sun 18-Feb-18 08:59:38

Not sure if it's the collapse of Monarch, but summer holiday flights to the Med are much more expensive this year. Have DIY booked using Skyscanner for a long time. Not this year. But I'm going for hotel rather than self catering accommodation.

rookiemere Sun 18-Feb-18 09:04:04

Jet2holidays is a very decently priced option - generally works out the same as pricing it up yourself separately. Or if you dont want to be in big touristy bits James villas shows which places you can rent without needing a car - but is quite pricey.

smartiecake Sun 18-Feb-18 09:16:54

What are you looking for for your kids in terms of entertainment?
I have 2 boys aged 10 and 13. We had our first 'summer hols' last year (did abroad when they were very little and orlando a couple of yrs ago) but this was our first hols where we sat on sunloungers around a pool. We were on a site with 2 pools and a couple of water slides. We took inflatables and the kids loved it and made friends and spent hours in the pool. It felt like our first 'proper' relaxing holiday. The first time i have read a book in years.

chipsandpeas Sun 18-Feb-18 09:21:35

this years sun holiday was booked thru jet2 as by the time i added on transfers and bags it was more expensive doing it myself - plus the accomodation i wanted you could only get thru jet2

my usa holiday have booked the flights and hotels seperately

i usually look and see what the prices are on the tour operator sites then compare with the likes of travel republic remembering to add the cost of bags and trasnfers on top

Longdistance Sun 18-Feb-18 09:42:02

I’ve used on the beach. We booked our Easter holiday just this week to Mallorca.

Where do you want to go?

Branleuse Sun 18-Feb-18 09:45:50

i book flights and accomodation seperatly. I use budget airlines and usually

AgathaRaisonDetra Sun 18-Feb-18 09:48:02

If you don't know what you're doing, then I strongly recommend that you use your local travel agent.

mrs2cats Sun 18-Feb-18 10:04:02

I do it all separately using cheap airlines and booking accommodation via It takes hours though. You need to ensure that the location suits you. Are you going to hire a car or are you relying on public transport? I look at road and transport links - is it easy to get to and from the airport? If relying on public transport, check how it ties in with flight times.

Do you want a quiet or lively holiday? Are there sights/activities around/within easy reach to suit everyone's tastes?

Can you speak a little bit of the language? It can help if you're negotiating public transport.

It can take hours as I said and sometimes I just wish I could just pop down to a travel agent. However, we prefer self catering and look for apartments with 3 bedrooms which aren't usually available with travel companies at a good price.

PersonAtHome Sun 18-Feb-18 10:08:39

It's great to wake up to more messages, I'm feeling really inspired. :-)

somewhereovertherain I'm very encouraged by you saying that you manage to do European villa with pool holidays for around 2k and Caribbean for around 3k. That's doable for us. How far in advance do you usually book to find somewhere nice on AirBnB?

Having looked at a few different options last night I'm now thinking Spain, Crete or Italy for summer and maybe a mini break to Denmark at Easter, but I still have lots of different sites to check out thanks to all your posts so feel like I can keep my options open and do lots of research.

I feel a lot less daunted now having heard all your different holiday planning methods.

I've also found it helpful reading some guidance on costs as had felt I was being too extravagant, whereas now I feel like the costs are just realistic for holidays rather than over the top.

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PersonAtHome Sun 18-Feb-18 10:10:11

mrs2cats I can see what you mean about it taking hours... !!

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