Lifestyle, Travel Link up

Travel Contrasts: Packaged or Independent

So having just found out about the marvellous travel link up in association with a whole host of lovely bloggers I feel it’s about time I dip my toe into this new world and do my first proper travel link up post. What a perfect month to start with Travel Contrasts as this month the other half and I will be taking two trips, one has been booked independently and the other has been put together by a travel agency so I thought it would be interesting to explore the contrasts between these two types of travel styles.

The Packaged Trip

The traditional package holiday consists of booking with one of the many high street (and now online) travel agencies for a charter flight and week or fortnight’s accommodation. However a package holiday may only consist of one night’s accommodation but it’s what booked in addition, possibly a flight and or car-hire where it becomes a ‘packaged’ trip enabling the holiday maker to have some peace of mind that their trip is protected under extensive insurance and the ATOL scheme should there be a problem with any part of the holiday.

I remember my first proper package holiday with my parents when I was about 14, we went to an amazing All-Inclusive resort in Majorca, the type with lots of clubs and activities, huge swimming pools and evening shows. I didn’t really go another proper packaged holiday until I was about 21 with an ex-boyfriend where we went to Kefalonia in Greece and were easily the youngest people on the charter plane! In addition to booking the flight and accommodation we also opted to pre-book excursions with the travel agency before we got to Greece and whilst the trips themselves were amazing it would have been just as easy to get ourselves around the island or to do a bit of island hopping. But for hassle free it couldn’t be beaten.

Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia

Pros:

  • Huge range of high street and online companies to choose from.
  • Not just standard package holidays anymore – places like Flight Centre, STA travel and Trailfinders can put together packages that are ATOL/ABTA protected but have more of a DIY feel to them giving you ownership of a trip.
  • Opportunity to book onto organised tours and excursions if you are short on time in a destination or are travelling alone.
  • Luxury travel becomes more attainable – the influence of companies such as Kuoni makes booking those places you would maybe only dream of before a little bit easier.
  • There are really good deals out there! I am a sucker for looking on Secret Escapes and Voyage Prive for some of their package options as well as icelolly.com to compare deals across different agencies. I’ve also found great deals on lastminute.com for a packaged holiday and after our Honeymoon to Mexico with British Airways holidays will always be on the lookout with them too.
  • No hassle in booking the details – the travel agents do all this for you. It may mean you have to pay a bit more but the agency will be most likely to get the best rate anyway so it all works out in the end.

Cons:

  • You may end up eating in the hotel every night, and morning and lunch if you are on All-Inclusive. Sometimes this is great as I can’t be the only one who has argued with their other half over where we will eat each night but if you are like me and like seeking out local restaurants and trying new things then this can become very repetitive.
  • You may not leave the resort! You’ve arrived at your resort hotel and everything you need is within walking distance so you end up not leaving the hotel gates and see any of the actual destination itself.
  • You are more likely to book tours and excursions with the travel company meaning that you pay a higher premium and don’t have the opportunity to go your own way and explore.

This August we are off on a lifelong dream holiday, an African safari in Tanzania and then a week of relaxation in the Indian Ocean on Zanzibar. I started researching this trip over 3 years ago, pretty much as soon as we get engaged as this was originally going to be our honeymoon but after realising just how much it would cost we decided to wait another year and to go with a reputable travel agent to help us secure the best price for both parts of the trip. Working closely with Freedom Africa has really helped me to still feel like I have had ownership of booking independently but with experts who have been able to advise all along the way. I know we are in for a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to write all about it when we get back.

The Independent Trip

On the other side of our travel plans this year we have a really exciting few days planned in Marrakech, planning and booking this trip has been easy compared to the extensive amount of work I put into our Indonesian trip in 2013. I am a planner and love organising all the details for a trip so I had no problem in putting together an itinerary for our almost 4 week trip.

IMG_0348

Rice Terraces, Bali Indonesia

Many people who travel independently say that having the freedom and flexibility to do what they want is what attracts them to this style of travel and I have to agree. It means you aren’t tied in to an itinerary where you only like certain parts or working to someone else’s time schedule or have to be back at the hotel for your evening meal if you’re on Half-Board. Our Indonesian trip was probably the longest stint of independent travel we have ever done together as a couple, and it really enabled us to hone in on what we wanted to do rather than follow a strict itinerary planned by someone else. We’ve done many other shorter independently booked trips together and I also put together a pretty awesome itinerary for when my family and I did a tour of Italy together so am well versed in trying to please different personalities.

Pros:

  • You plan your itinerary so you decide where you go based on what you want to do and see and don’t have to waste time with the aspects you are not fussed about.
  • You can look around to find the best flight fares and accommodation rates to ensure you get the best value for your money.
  • You have the freedom and opportunity to try as much of the local cuisine as possible and get out to different restaurants to try what they have to offer.
  • You can choose to visit sites with local tour representatives putting money into the local economy rather than paying to be part of a packaged excursion tour through a large company.

Cons:

  • Takes time to plan and put together all the different aspects of a trip – just finding the perfect airfare with good flight times may take days.
  • Unless you book your trip on a credit card, aspects of it may not be covered if something happens to one of your providers meaning you will face the costs to put it right immediately or risk losing a part of the trip altogether.
  • You may not realise just how much your trip ends up costing you as you are paying towards the trip at different times and most of it whilst in destination – this could mean you overspend rather than paying a set amount during the lead up to the trip like with a package holiday.

My Conclusion

I think it’s up to you whether you prefer to solely travel in one way or the other but I really like mixing up with a bit of both. We take advantage of the good deals on offer with a packaged trip and use these to book our accommodation and flights and then use our independent travel heads to seek out what we want to do, see and eat whilst in destination so we can have the best of both worlds.

P1010905

Packaged? Tunisia

DSCF5120

Independent? Lombok

signature

Pin for later…

PicMonkey Image

Comments