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Package Holidays: A Guide

Package holidays are one of the most popular ways of taking a break. The convenience of letting someone else organise all the logistics of your holiday plans proves an attractive option for most of us.

A package holiday is, quite literally, a holiday which comes as a package. In other words, instead of booking a hotel room, flight and airport transfer individually, you deal with a single tour operator who puts all the different parts of your holiday together for you in a single booking for a single price.

Package holidays come in different forms. The stereotypical package holiday involves accommodation at a beach hotel or apartment block with flights and airport transfers included. However, skiing trips and other activity holidays can be booked as a package with a tour operator, often including equipment hire and activity passes. All-inclusive holidays usually come as a package, as can cruise holidays or sightseeing tours.

Why book a package holiday?

Unless you have specific requirements for your holiday, it is usually beneficial to book it as a package. Apart from the convenience, a package holiday usually works out cheaper than booking all the different elements individually. Tour operators can command competitive prices by booking hotel rooms, flights and transfers in large numbers.

How can I book a package holiday?

Most of the largest and best known tour operators deal in package holidays, whether you’re looking for a relaxing family beach holiday, an activity break, a winter holiday, a city break or a sightseeing tour. You can pick up their brochures in high street travel agents or look at their websites. Keep an eye out for special offers such as free child places.

Holiday comparison websites feature a wide range of package holidays from many different tour operators, giving you a good opportunity to compare prices and what’s included in the package. If you are looking for a more specialist trip or luxury break, look for some of the niche tour operators who can offer packages tailored to your individual requirements.

What do I need to look out for?

Booking a package holiday is usually straightforward. However, there are a few potential banana skins you need to be aware of.

First of all, make sure the tour operator you want to book for is a member of ABTA, or the Association of British Travel Agents. This means that if the tour operator goes out of business before or during your holiday, you should be covered for any financial loss.

Make sure you read all the terms and conditions so you understand your rights once the holiday is booked. In most cases, if you change your plans well in advance of your departure date you should get all or most of your money back but if you have to cancel just before you’re due to leave, you may not be entitled to any refund.

Most tour operators will include travel insurance as part of the package unless you pro-actively opt out. Many people prefer to purchase their own travel insurance and you don’t want to be paying twice for insurance.

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