Two options for booking a trip is to either book a package holiday which often includes flights, accommodation and transfers, or instead plan a trip where you book everything separately. We’ve been on both these types of trips many times and found there are pros and cons to both. Here are some of the features and benefits of booking a package holiday and also when booking everything independently.
First package holidays which are generally trips where you pay for a deal that includes flights, accommodation and transfers. Sometimes you can also get ‘all-inclusive’ holiday packages, which include most of your food, as well as drinks. A package holiday is often for a one or two-week stay and might be to more beach-type destinations, although not always.
A big benefit to package holidays is that they take minimal planning. You just need to find a deal, such as online through a tour operator, or at a travel agency on the high street. These operators and agencies will likely have a huge portfolio of package holidays to choose from and with options for all over the world.
Once you have booked the trip you’ll then have a lot less to think about in terms of planning, and it will almost be a case of just getting to the airport from your home and then deciding what to do when you’re there. So nice and easy.
Great for families
A package holiday is great for families as it will take the pressure off organising everything. Often there are lots of kid-friendly hotels available where the hotel or resort will have special activities for kids, or even play areas.
Easy to budget
Package holidays are generally easy to budget for, especially if some meals and even drinks are included. A benefit of package holidays is that often you can spread out the cost of it over several months too. Such as when you book you may have to pay a deposit, and then the final balance may not be due until shortly before the trip.
A big benefit to package holidays is that the transfer will often be included. This will be from the airport to the hotel. Actually having this organised is nice as you’ll just get off the plane at your destination, probably see a sign for your hotel or tour operator, and then will jump on the transfer.
We personally find a package holiday a lot more relaxing than booking independently. We find it almost feels more like a holiday as you just turn up at the airport and then take it easy until the departure from the destination.
Often hotels and package holidays will have excursions and other activities available from your hotel. Such things mean that you can almost just turn up and then go with the flow rather than pre-planning anything. The activities and excursions may also mean that you get to do something you may otherwise not do if you were to book independently. You can also book activities for many destinations through our partner GetYourGuide. Read why we recommend them.
We find that a lot of package holidays have options where you can include breakfast, lunch, dinner and sometimes drinks in your booking. These are referred to as “bed and breakfast”, “half board”, “full board” or “all-inclusive”. When you have these it will mean that you may be paying a bit more for your stay at the hotel, but you won’t have to leave the hotel and find a restaurant. This is very useful when you are staying in quite an isolated location, or if you have kids. If you are staying close to a town or city, a nice option is to go out for some meals, but eat at the hotel for others.
Deals are common for package holidays and you will often see sales and discounts advertised throughout the year. This may mean you can escape to a beautiful destination and for a great price. Around Black Friday, Boxing Day and in January Sales might be particularly good times to find holiday deals. Head to our deals for travellers page where we will list some of the best offers we find.
A few options for booking package holidays include:
- TUI – a package holiday leader for travellers in the UK
- Love Holidays – the sister company and UK version of Love Vacations
- Jet2holidays – A highly regarded package holiday company in the UK
- On the Beach -An award-winning company offering a great selection of beach holidays.
- Crystal Ski – An alternative to Skiworld also offering package ski holidays
- Skiworld – The biggest independent ski company in the UK – offering chalet holidays, all-inclusive deals and more
Tips when booking package holidays
Here are a few tips for booking package holidays.
- Make sure the booking agent has insurance that protects you in case the company fails or other major issues. In the UK this is ABTA and ATOL, as well as the Travel Trust Association (TTA). Other countries may offer other solutions.
- Read reviews on the tour operator/agent before booking. Also, read reviews on the hotel/resort.
- Do your research and look at several websites/operators before booking.
Booking travel independently
When you book independently you will have to find flights, accommodation and transfers yourself, and then make everything fit together and work. There are definitely benefits to this type of trip though. Here are some of our thoughts about this type of booking process.
More choice of accommodation
If you are booking independently you will have an army of hotels, apartments and other accommodation types to choose from. We often start our search on either booking.com or Airbnb depending on which type we want. Booking this way means you will have a lot more choice, which in turn can help with different budgets.
It can also be hard to choose what accommodation works best for your trip, so read our guide How to Choose the Right Accommodation for Your Trip for some tips and suggestions on what to think about.
Better for short-term stays
If you will only be at the destination for a short period, such as a two-three day city break, then booking everything independently often makes sense. This would also be a good option if you were travelling around multiple destinations, backpacking or something similar.
A package holiday will have restrictions such as the dates, flights and other features, whilst if you book everything independently you can keep looking until you find what works best for you.
Easier to hire a car
Often package holidays include transfers to/from the airport to the hotel and you wouldn’t get a car. Whilst if you book independently you would be able to hire a car and then this will give you more options for exploring the destination. Hiring a car is especially helpful when visiting a more rural and adventurous destination, as you’ll have a lot more flexibility.
More flexibility for flights
Generally, you will have a lot more flexibility for what flights you get when booking independently. This will help if you don’t have much time off work, as you may be able to get an evening or early morning flight without taking extra time off. You might also be able to find deals and cheaper flights, therefore keeping your costs down.
They take more planning
A negative of booking everything independently is that you will have to do a lot more planning and research and it will be less relaxing. However, for some people this is fun and they enjoy the challenge.
Tips when booking travel independently
Here are a few tips when booking everything independently.
- Always read reviews for places you may stay. Most booking sites now include these, but you could also look on websites such as tripadvisor.com and Trustpilot.
- Be careful when booking connecting flights separately (ie through different airlines), and if you do then always make sure you have a large amount of time between the flights for the transfer.
- Do your research on transfers beforehand to/from the airport.
- Consider adding tours to your trip to further enhance your visit and for cool experiences.
Personally, we like to mix it up and have some trips where we book everything independently and somewhere we just pay for a package, which is sometimes more relaxing.
Are you ready to book? Head over to our page Start Booking Your Trip where you’ll find our recommendations to get started.
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