For some people the idea of a dream holiday means doing as little as possible, a sentiment which can even encompass the planning and management of their trip. Travel agents were made for this type of holidaymaker, taking care of all those troublesome tasks such as booking flights and accommodation; all the details that make up a dream trip.
However, one person’s idea of heaven is another’s hell and for those that dream of independent travel, taking matters into their own hands when it comes to arranging a holiday is their preferred course of action.
Although it might require a little more planning and organisation, there are a myriad of plus-points to making your own travel arrangements. Travelling independently allows you to hold all the cards, making your own decisions and keeping your own timetable. You can decide: where you want to go and for how long; where you want to eat; where you want to sleep; and what you want to experience. Arranging your own travel plans can be one of the most authentic ways to fully immerse yourself in a different country and culture.
Of course, if you’re new to making your own travel arrangements and don’t have a thorough understanding of the travel industry, there are a few common pitfalls that can end up wasting your valuable time and money. Instead of learning by trial and error, why not simply read our top five ‘need-to-knows’ about arranging your flights and accommodation independently? Soon you’ll be planning your trips like a pro.
To get the best deals on flights and accommodation, it pays to shop around. Travel comparison sites such as Skyscanner and Trivago take care of this time-consuming process for you, offering a range of the cheapest prices to match your chosen dates. It is also worth noting that if you can be flexible with when you want to travel, you are more likely to bag the best bargains. This could mean avoiding the school holidays as well as travelling on a Friday or Sunday when lots of people are enjoying a weekend away or commuting for business.
When it comes to booking flights, the old premise of purchasing as early as possible does not really stand anymore. In fact, it is more important to regularly check prices as airlines release discounted flights at any point in the year, although sales generally only apply to flights leaving within the next few weeks or months. Many popular comparison sites will offer you the chance to sign up to email alerts on your chosen flight so you can stay updated whenever a change occurs, then swoop in to seal the deal.
If your heart is set on a comfortable hotel then rest assured, there are some great deals out there waiting to be snapped up. However, if you want to make your money stretch that little bit further, don’t forget to consider alternative forms of accommodation. A private home such as those available on Airbnb or a self-catered cottage or villa offers the opportunity to set your own schedule, rise as early as you like or stay up as late as you want without worrying about disturbing other guests. Just remember to book through a reputable company to avoid any scams.
Social media platforms and review sites such as TripAdvisor are an excellent resource for independent travellers. Additionally, some booking sites will have a section for customers to leave reviews. You can read about people’s real-life experiences to help you gain an accurate picture of a hotel or alternative accommodation and help you to weigh up the pros and cons of your choice.
When it comes to booking flights and accommodation independently, don’t take anything for granted. If you require mobility assistance, accessible rooms or have any other special requirements, be sure to contact the airline or accommodation directly in advance. Additionally, don’t forget to double-check your baggage allowance and check-in stipulations, particularly on budget flights. Some may only allow a carry-on bag unless you pay to check in luggage and others might insist upon advance online check-in in order to avoid a hefty fee.
Finally, if you’re arranging your own flights and accommodation, don’t forget to purchase the correct travel insurance to ensure you are covered if anything goes wrong. Medical Travel Compared helps you compare a wide range of insurance providers, including those that offer cover for people with existing medical conditions, so that you can choose the right one for your personal circumstances.
Arranging your own travel independently might involve a little extra work, but the results will be a one-of-a-kind experience that you’ll never forget.