Following on from a few topics where people have discussed booking their holiday - and also tied into news that Thomas Cook is to close 39 UK stores - I thought it would be interesting to see how members go about booking their holidays.
Do you do it direct - booking via a hotel website and with flights from the airline?
Do you like to go into a traditional travel agents and sit down face to face?
Do you book via an online agent?
Do you like to call and speak to someone to guide you through the process?
As we generally book private accommodation I may use holidaylettings or owners direct. Holidaylettings charge a fee however so we've recently booked direct with the owner as got their details.
Car hire. In Fuerteventura we book direct with Pluscar.
If however I'm having a break with my friend, I'll use somewhere like travel republic or booking.com, for accommodation, but still book flights separately.
with that we look for something that suits us and tailor it as much as
possible to our requirements,
Short haul to European destinations we do almost always book it all fully DIY with our own flights, accommodation etc.
Our reasoning for this is that we do like the security that a package
gives us on a long haul trip. Should something go wrong you have the
security on a package that you will have accommodation and get home
without having to start trying to sort it all out yourself, in some
destinations it is hard to even get internet access let alone sort out a
major problem. At least in Europe it is very easy to sort out return
flights back to UK with very little hassle and quit cheaply from most
Some might remember the collapse of what at the time was a very large
charter / scheduled airline operator, XL Airways. When they collapsed
they had around 90,000 passengers stranded abroad in 50 different
destinations, 63,000 of those passengers were on a package and were
repatriated without any cost to them, this left some 27,000 passengers
abroad who had to try and find flights and also pay for them and any
We had a holiday booked which happened to be a package due to the
specific location which involved ferries and other odd transport
requirements and as it was a package, when XL collapsed we received a
full refund again due to that little bit of extra security.
When we go to the US we stay with family so we book direct with the airline and sort out our own carhire (we used my Tesco Clubcard vouchers towards carhire last autumn).
We have only done one family hotel holiday since 2000 and that was booked online with the Thomas Cook.
Short breaks, we have booked budget airlines online and sorted out accomodation via Expedia or similar.
Long haul I usually book each part individually online unless it's a particularly complicated trip when I work out an itinerary and let a specialised agency do all of the booking. I do somewhat agree with Kiltman about the security of a package, I was caught out a few years ago in Bangkok when protestors closed the airport and I was stranded for some days in the city. Some people I met were on a package and their travel firm paid for their extra hotel stay whereas I had to find and pay for extra days in a hotel, and find some alternative way of getting home,. It would have been a lot less of a hassle if I had the security of a TA behind me at the time especially as I was travelling solo.
I always book car hire everywhere I go, usually through recommendations on review sites. I can't remember the last time I went into a high street travel agency. Years ago at a guess.
Regulars here will know that I'm a big Cubanophile and I usually book those trips through a small specialist company who will put together bespoke packages based on staying with local families. Doing it through them, I know that I'm going to get decent accommodation that a member of their staff will have visited personally. Plus their dance and music packaged trips are brilliant - I know people who've done similar holidays with other operators but who have been disappointed because of the very large size of the groups whereas the company I go with restricts the size to around 14/16 people. Small enough for everybody to get to know each other well and for us not to totally dominate a dance/music venue when we go out of an evening but large enough to mean that you don't feel that everybody has to do everything together.
Fast forward a number of years and I travelled solo to Barbados in September 2015, booking online. I used Mercury Direct who advertised no single room supplement. Had to pay upfront for Virgin flight as it was their lowest fare, but remainder of holiday was paid for 10 weeks before departure. Sorted out flight payment over 'phone then paid balance through Mercury's website. Printed off all documents when advised they were available.
I find it better to book online as I've got fed up with high street travel agent's "computer says no". Their price matching with website prices is often a joke!
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