Now that summer holidays are almost here, it’s time to plan your perfect vacation. While there is no dearth of interesting locations, a number of factors have to be kept in mind before booking a travel package depending on what the age group of your children is, and whether there are senior citizens accompanying you. The prime consideration of course is affordability and comfort in terms of travel, accommodation and food. The package should also provide maximum bang for your buck in terms of exploring your destination. Here are some tips to help you select a good travel package for your upcoming vacations:
Check out different travel agents/portals
The first thing is to register yourself with different travel agents/portals. There are plenty of players in the market. Check out their website and register with a few that inspire confidence. Compare the deals and read between the fine print. Do enough research and negotiations before sealing the deal.
Be specific about your preferences
Many people tend to rely entirely on the agent while opting for a travel package. But remember, it is your vacation; you need to have a fair idea of the ‘must dos’ of your destination. Your travel agent’s job is to fine-tune and streamline it for you. A package tour to Dubai might include visits to three different malls — Atlantis, Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. But if you are not a shopping person, it will be a total waste of a day. You could spend the day more productively on a cruise or perhaps hot air-ballooning. You need to specify your preferences to your travel agent. But for this, you must have a a rough travel itinerary chalked out in your mind, complete with location preferences, budget and the number of days, before you approach an agent. It is important to have an outline of your vacation ready before checking out for travel packages; it would help you remain focused.
Try out lesser-known travel portals
While choosing a travel agent/portal, we often tend to believe that the well-known or popular ones are the best. That is not always the case. Often, travellers find more lucrative and reasonable deals and more customised solutions from lesser-known/ entities or start-ups. They are willing to go to great lengths to customise the package to your need in the hope of building a good image and a loyal clientele.
Stick to basics, avoid the frills
Travel agents/portals tend to lure you with packages that provide ‘additional services’ to make your trip more exciting. However, these extra offerings invariably add to the cost. Facilities such as airport transfer, shopping assistance don’t come for free. There’s always a hidden cost. Avoid these ‘free services’.
Choose a 24x7 travel agency
On vacations, travellers often need urgent assistance. It might be to revise a booking or initiate an emergency change of plan or just to locate a place when out sight-seeing. Therefore, it is advisable to book with a travel company that offers 24x7 assistance.
Book in advance
When it comes to vacation planning, the old saying “the early bird gets the worm” holds true. Flight fares and room rents are significantly cheaper if booked well in advance. Last minute bookings are generally more expensive and less satisfying.
(The author is CMD, BigBreaks.com)