Can anyone do a beginner's guide to booking a package holiday?(12 Posts)
Due to the timings of teacher training days next May, it looks like we might be able to get a slightly better holiday deal, so I thought we might go somewhere warm with pools for our DDs (then 6 & 2). I have never booked a beach/sun holiday before and have no idea what I'm doing.
We'd like somewhere warm, but not too hot, 28C is probably our limit. I think that Cyprus or the Canaries are as far as we'd want to go.
I have no idea whether we want all inclusive or not, I like to eat good food and a range of foods, so don't want to be stuck with something disappointing.
I don't know who to book with and when to book to get the best prices.
I would go into your local High Street and tell the travel agents exactly what you've told us, and see what they come up with.
then go into another one, and do the same.
I certainly got a 'feel' for liking one particular travel agent in my local High Street - they seemed to listen more than the others, and then they seemed to have a lot more personal knowledge.
First, I would decide on a budget for AI and for SC, which airports you can fly from and what your essentials are...pool, near a beach, kids' club etc?
I would then have a browse on the main sites like Thomas Cook and Thompson and see which areas you like the look of and what you can get for your budget. Bear in mind that cheap AI may have a limited range of food and might not be in the nicest resorts, or might be a couple of km from the nearest beach and village! The 4 of you might have to share a room in a hotel, but you might prefer a 1 bedroom SC apartment, with the kids sleeping in the lounge.
I always check accommodation on Trip Advisor...I wouldn't go anywhere with a rating of less than 3/5 on there, preferably 4/5 +
Once you've narrowed down your options, you could then go into a high street travel agent or decide to book online.
..and book your travel insurance the day you book your holiday, but don't use the agent's pricey policy.
Have a look at the Club Magic Life holidays with Thomson/First Choice. They're AI, really well set up for children, the food is excellent and right on the beach.
We've just been to the one in Fuerteventura, it's the best AI we've ever been.
Thanks all, it didn't even occur to me that I could go to a travel agent.
Agree that TripAdvisor should be 4/5. Once you've found a place you like, always see if you can do it cheaper yourself. I haven't booked a package in years as flights/taxi/hotel
are usually cheaper independently.
We book our holidays independently, but one company that friends have used and that I have priced up in the past and found to be within a 100 pounds of booking it ourselves is Jet2 holidays.
I'd check out temperatures too - we've been to Majorca at the end of June and it was a little parky on occasion so yes I'd say the Canaries might be a good bet. We love Tenerife and Costa Adele in particular, there are a number of nice hotels and apartments there and a good choice of restaurants.
I definitely agree with other posters who have said check out on Tripadvisor any accommodation that you are considering booking. I would not personally book anything with a rating of less than 4 on Tripadvisor. You mention that the quality of the food is important to you. That is something that many posters on Tripadvisor are likely to comment on.
When booking Thomson holidays to Menorca, I have noticed that booking flights later in the day can make a substantial difference to the price compared to booking an identical holiday with a flight earlier in the day from the same airport. Obviously, that can have the disadvantage that you end up hanging about in the resort on the day you leave, having already had to to check out of your accommodation, but you may consider that it is worth it if flying later results in a substantial cost saving. It is sometimes possible to book a late check out for an extra fee.
When I booked with Thomson last year they had a relatively low baggage allowance included in the price, and you had to pay extra if you wanted a 20kg baggage allowance, so it's worth considering how much baggage allowance you will need.
How about a package holiday but B&B not all inclusive? You then get the ease of having the hotel, flights, transfers and accomodation sorted, but are not tied to the hotel because you have paid for all your food. An aparthotel type place will come with a small kitchen, so you can buy drinks, snacks, icecreams, lunch stuff etc in supermarkets and eat out some of the time.
Packages can often be cheaper than booking independently too.
Look for a resort that is not the big Benidorm/Magaluf/Playa de Las Americas but a bit quieter and more family orientated and also where the hotel is close to the restaurants, bars and beach. Somewhere like Playa Blanca in Lanzarote would be good and the island is small so you can easily travel around or stay locally.
Given your food style, I would say definitely do not go AI. Try to find somewhere (small hotel, or better still apartments where breakfast is included) that is walking distance to the beach and to a little town/village with plenty of restaurants.
If I were you, my first step would be to look at flights from my local airport. Where do they go, which days, what are prices on the days you can travel? I would pick a flight to somewhere I fancied visiting that time/cost is good, and then use tripadvisor and booking.com to find accommodation within 45mins of the destination airport.
I think with the all inclusive thing, it depends how hotel based you want to be. It's never particularly suited me or DH as we like to get out and explore the local area and do day trips, so didn't want to be tied to eating at the hotel for pretty much every meal. If however you are looking to be mainly hotel based then it may well suit you. I'd recommend a hotel with lots of activities for children. The Thomson family options are usually pretty good in my experience. I'd be inclined to maybe suggest Tenerife as it's very family-orientated and tends to be more of a year-round destination due to it's warm winters, whereas in other parts of Europe you may find that only a limited programme of activities is running in May due to it not being high-season. Also you may want to check whether the hotel pool is heated as a non-heated pool might not be particularly warm in May.
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