Everyone has their own unique idea of a perfect holiday. For some, two weeks of doing virtually nothing but laying on a beach and sipping cocktails is heaven. For others, the thought of doing nothing all day is their idea of hell on earth. After all, fun and enjoyment are subjective topics. Which brings us to the age old holiday dilemma of ‘package/all-inclusive holiday verses an independent trip’. Do you prefer to head out as part of a group and have the logistics sorted for you, or are you happier when it’s just you and your hand-crafted itinerary?
We’ve rounded up some of the pros and cons of package/all-inclusive tours vs independent trip:
Generally speaking, if you are heading to a popular location in a well-established tourist destination like Spain or Turkey and you are a couple or family travelling for the usual number of days 1-2 weeks, then a package deal is likely to offer you most variety and value for money. Especially as there’ll be fierce competition between tour operators and holiday companies. Whereas if you are planning your own unique route and timeframe, then an independently booked trip is probably your best bet. Check that whoever you book with is covered by the ATOL scheme giving you financial protection if anything goes wrong.
Do you love or hate the prospect of researching your trip and trawling reviews, blogs and books? Are you happy to leave it to a travel expert to make recommendations based on your list of ‘must-haves’? If you just want to head away with minimum research and planning, then a package holiday with guided tours is ideal because someone else has done all the leg work. It takes away the stresses of researching accommodation options, itineraries and logistics. And if you opt for an all-inclusive package it even takes away the stresses of worrying about which restaurants to choose and calculating potential costs. Everything is organised and paid for in advance, so you simply arrive, kick back and enjoy the vista.
On the other hand if you can’t wait to take a deep dive into the ocean of travel blogs to gain inspiration for your perfect trip, then organising a DIY holiday could be just what you need.
All-inclusive packages offer good value and choice. With meals and drinks included (check the small print on what’s classed as ‘extras’) it’s a stress free option that takes away budgeting worries.
If you are looking for something a bit more independent, unique, or off the beaten track (like a cave-hotel or glass-igloo perhaps?!), or you prefer to move around, then you may prefer to book direct. With the boom in Airbnb options, the choice is endless.
If you’re looking to meet new people, it’s more likely to happen if you sign up for a package holiday – especially one with inclusive tours. Whether your tour lasts for hours or over days, you will meet all kinds of wonderful people – many of whom will share the same interests as you. You could end up making life-long friends! But equally, if you prefer to go it alone, then it's easy enough to plan your own itinerary if you're prepared to put in the effort.
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When you travel abroad on holiday, there are always risks and dangers to be aware of. This is where travel insurance can be so valuable, and it’s where it pays to prioritize safety. If you choose an all-inclusive group guided tour, not only is there safety in numbers, but the tour organisers will know what to avoid and watch out for. So you can relax as you’ll be less-likely to become a victim of crime or injury. What’s more, if something were to happen, help is at hand.
As great as guided group tours are, you are on someone else’s clock. If you discover somewhere that you absolutely love and want to stay longer, as part of a group you simply can’t. You’ll be herded up at the allotted time to head off to the next location. If you travel independently, it’s you that sets the pace – so if something is amazing, you can linger, or if it’s disappointing, you can quickly move on.
As much as package tours and all-inclusive holidays offer value for money and budgeting security, there are also advantages with a DIY approach. You can be flexible with your accommodation – mixing hostels with apartments and rooms. You can book flights on the most cost effective days to suit instead of the fixed package dates. You can look to see if sites and museums offer free entry days (some do at weekends) and save there too.
As great as it can be to be around people, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy a little peace and quiet instead. If you go it alone, it’s simply you, and whoever else you choose to travel with. You won’t have to queue for the fixed buffet lunch and dinner, or wake up at dawn to stake your place by the poolside. So if you’re looking for a little quiet downtime, you are probably better off selecting a less touristy location with independent days out away from the crowds.
When it comes down to deciding between a package verses independent trip, it really depends on what your own personal circumstances and preferences are. So sit down, crunch some numbers, do some thinking, and decide which suits you best. Before you make your final choice on your independent trip - be sure to cross check there isn’t a package out there with the same elements for half the price. Equally, if you’ve found a package – it’s worth searching flights and accommodation to your selected location separately in case it’s better value than the package you’ve found!
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