The 17th of May is approaching and with it the anticipation of a relaxing holiday in a sunny, green list country to take a long-deserved break from pandemic stress. Among the worries of restrictions and constant changes, the question of package holiday vs. choose-your-own-adventure booking is a simple decision, but well worth a good think.
Whether you’re going for an all-inclusive lounging holiday, or hoping to get your hiking boots on, finding the right way to book for your own needs is important for your peace of mind.
The Pros and Cons of Package Holidays vs Independent Booking
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Though these are all generally valid points of contention between the two, there are also a lot of variables that could sway your decision that are very dependent on your decisions. This includes:
- Independent financial protection; and
- ATOL Protection
Though the pros and cons seem unbalanced for the most part, what you want from your holiday has a big impact on these things. The need for freedom could be a crucial aspect for you on any holiday, if you want to stay somewhere different every night and travel with no set plan, independent booking is the option for you by a landslide. If you have a set plan we would still advise to book your bespoke trip with a travel professional as it would be fully protected and the more complicated your holiday is the more support you will inevitably require. If you want everything taken care of for you, whether you customise the package or not, then independent booking could be your enemy.
However, past those very personal choices, there are a lot of other elements to consider about both package holidays and independent bookings.
Why Should I Book a Package Holiday?
Booking a package holiday is by far the most convenient and protected option. By definition, a package holiday must consist of more than one element, such as, flights, transport, accommodation, tourist events etc. and it will all be sold by one travel company under one price.
Past that there is more freedom than you might think. Some travel companies will offer tailor-made packages where you can pick and choose the elements you want within a certain model. Equally, you can get pre-made packages where all elements will be chosen for you. Bespoke travel is incredibly popular and when you choose the right travel company they will undoubtedly have experts for each destination that will be able to advise you and truly make your holiday a trip of a lifetime.
When the elements are chosen for you, they’ll fit well together. Travel businesses that sell packages will generally have go to service providers for destinations meaning all parts of the package will come together like a puzzle, all specifically chosen to optimise that package. A true travel professional, like PTS members, are incredibly knowledgeable and they will be able to open a wide range of options and ideas to you.
If you just want to lay back and relax, this is the perfect option for you.
How Am I Protected?
Package holidays are by far the best protected without any fuss on the consumer side. You get financial and legal protection as covered by the Package Travel Regulations and the ATOL Scheme (if you book any flights), and these cover a myriad of issues, from ensuring you get all the documents you need, to refunding or reimbursing if something is changed or cancelled.
The ATOL Scheme will protect you with anything flight-related within a package (this changes if the flight is not part of a package). This is funded specifically in case of cancellations or emergency returns from holiday.
The Package Travel Regulations do something similar for all package holidays. They protect you from financial trouble or emergencies directly related to your holiday that you have no control over. It also deals with the information you’re provided so you always know how everything works.
With this wall of protection, even in this pandemic, you can relax assured that your money is safe.
It’s highly recommended that you go back to a trusted travel agent, a human being. But if this isn’t possible and you’re looking
for further protection, look for the PTS logo when choosing a travel agent to ensure they’re a PTS member, going through a travel business that is invested in the PTS independent trust account will keep your money safe and you can always find out where it is in times of uncertainty. PTS offers all consumers complete financial track and trace unlike any other protection in the UK.
Should I Book Independently?
Especially in a situation like we’re in, we would generally recommend you go with a package holiday in order to protect yourself, booking independently, you’re on your own.
In saying that, the potential disadvantage of a package holiday can be a lack of spontaneity if that is what you want from a holiday.
Booking independently can take a lot of time and organising on your own. Booking each element completely separately means you pay separately, and you make different agreements, it also means finding things on your own that line up well for what you want.
But if you want to set off somewhere and see where the land takes you, that is completely at your fingertips by booking this way. If you’re confident you can keep things in order, then the complicated nature will probably be no problem for you. But, you must be aware, you will not be covered by Package Travel Regulations or have an expert at the end of the phone you can just call for assistance.
How Can I Be Protected?
Where you should be putting a lot of thought before beginning to plan your holiday, is in the areas of protection.
This is where package holidays have a steep cliff of an upper hand. Though there are ways to get some protection while booking independently, you’re completely alone to do it correctly and finding the right protection is adamant, though it won’t protect you as thoroughly as the Package Travel Regulations.
For the most part, excellent travel insurance and paying through debit or credit card are your keys to some protection.
What Should I Know About Paying By Card?
- Specific terms may vary per card company, so do your research. Email or call your card company to check.
- You will be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act as long as you spend over £100. However, this regulation has been loosened over COVID so it is important to check with your provider.
What Should I Know About Travel Insurance?
- As with card, terms of protection may vary, so it’s important you investigate the terms to find the right travel insurance for you
- Even excellent travel insurance will only protect you for a certain amount, if you lose luggage, depending on the value, you may not be reimbursed in full
- Travel insurance will provide medical and cancellation protection
- Travel insurance will not provide protection for issues as a result of carelessness or intoxication on the traveller’s part
- Covid cover is important to check. You must check whether your insurance allows you a full refund is you are unable to travel. Also, will your travel insurance cover any extra costs such as official quarantine.
- You can ask your travel professional any questions if you would like too.
Generally we advise package holidays to consumers. The amount of protection from Package Travel Regulations, the ATOL Scheme, and travelling through the Protected Trust Services trust account provides is unrivalled with other booking methods. With all the talented and experienced travel service providers out there, it’s unlikely there’s a holiday you want that a package cannot provide.
However, if you do choose to book independently for a more spontaneous holiday, always ensure you are as thoroughly protected as possible.
When booking your holiday, look out for the PTS logo to ensure you’re booking with a PTS member, or call head office at 0207 190 9988 to find out if your travel provider is a PTS member.