A guide to finding cheap holidays

A Guide to Finding Cheap Holidays

Going on holiday can be expensive, which is why many people prefer to shop around for the best deals, and book everything themselves as opposed to using a travel agent. But while this may be the cheaper option, is it really the best?

It partially depends on your individual needs. A tour operator will sell a travel agent a block of rooms in a hotel, which the agent then has to sell to the customer. Sometimes, a customer will require a type of room which the agent has not bought, in which case they may try and sell two rooms to cover the family’s needs. This is where it can work out more expensive. Booking a room direct with the tour operator, or even the hotel, can sometimes work out better, both in terms of cost and getting your exact requirements.

For example; a double guest room at the Hilton Cairns hotel in Queensland, Australia is ?438.67 for a 5 night stay at the end of January. The same room, for the same stay is ?362 when booked directly with the hotel. It’s worth checking directly with the hotel if you prefer to book the holiday yourself.

If you prefer your holidays to be stress-free, then approach a travel agent about a package deal. They will take your requirements and find flight, hotel, and possibly airport transfer and car hire for you. You may end up paying a little extra for this, but it could be worth it just for the luxury of having someone do all the hard work for you. You also get added security when booking through an agent in case the hotel closes or the airline goes bust. With ATOL, if the airline fails while you’re away, alternative arrangements to get you home can be made. Every tour operator and agent that offers flights should have an ATOL licence. If you decide to book directly with a tour operator, ensure they are a member of ABTA, which is the Association of British Travel Agents. ABTA covers everything non-flight related such as the hotel closing down or the travel agent going bust.

Cheap holidays are still possible if booked far enough in advance, or last minute. Keep your eye out for deals in high street travel agency windows. Often this is where the best prices are, but you usually need to be ready to leave at a moments notice. If booking more than 2 weeks in advance, prepare to haggle to get a good price. Don’t go too far with your haggling though, it’s been known for people to lose out on a perfectly reasonable price due to haggling over as little as ?10.

Ski holidays are usually best arranged through a travel agent, at least if you’re new to skiing. A ski package can include all the little extras such as ski hire, tuition and even clothing hire, which the beginner skier may not think of. Specialist winter travel agents exist and can find you some great ski holidays whatever your level of experience.

The internet is a great tool to find good holiday deals, as you can view lots of different agents at once, that you may not be able to physically visit. And remember to research your chosen destination thoroughly so you know what to expect.

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