What are the pitfalls of booking package holidays?
* . Know what kind of holiday you would like to take - Do some research on line and decide what time of the year you want to travel. Winter in South Africa is not generally winter elsewhere and can influence your holiday. Decide on whether you want to cruise, or take a train tour through Europe or simply go and lie on a beach somewhere. Once you have made that decision, then investigate where you would like to travel and if a travel or tour package works for you. It can have its pitfalls if you do not do your research properly.
* . Once you have established your type of package holiday and the season you would like to travel in, now is the time to decide on your budget. And if the entire family is going or if you want to travel on your own or with friends. Word of caution when traveling with friends, it doesn’t always work out. So make sure your packages, although in the same venue, do not mean they are in the same villa especially new friends. It may not give you the space you need. Also check that the venues are child friendly i.e. if teens, make sure there is wifi, if little ones, who looks after them at night and if its included in the package.
* When you have selected your package, ask questions about the inclusions. Is it full or half board (full board includes lunch, and half board does not), is the local alcohol bearable or can you take your own duty free? Do they charge corkage if you take your own, and depending on your palette what is the buffet like? Often vegan’s or Kosher/Halaal followers are not catered for. The tour operator is not going to know this unless you advise them. When booking package holidays remember to mention your food dietary requirements.
* What are the travel arrangements, i.e. is there a coach when you arrive or can you hire a car for those days when you get cabin fever and you would like to explore a little. Check on the add on’s for excursions etc.
* Advise your medical aid of your anticipated travel arrangements and bear in mind, you have to pay up front and they will reimburse you on your return. Travel insurance may seem unnecessary but until you end up being on the wrong end of overbooking or lost luggage, you will realize the value of having taken it before departure.
* Check on the "small stuff" such as how many cups of coffee you can have during the day and if there is a time frame for meals. As its a package holiday they often put meals into time frames such as breakfast is served until 10. Check if coffee and tea is until 10 only or can you enjoy it all day. Is beer and wine included in their beverage range or are these items extra. Is the beer draft or is it a specific brand.
* Tipping is the last thing on your mind when you go on holiday but it can be a hidden cost called Service Charge. Confirm that tipping is included in the package price or if each and every service provider needs to be tipped. In some countries its considered rude to suggest a tip and in others its a requirement.
* Lastly a word of advice from someone who has travelled across 85 countries, check on the drinking water, take a small medical kit containing Imodium together with cramp medication and insect repellent together with sun screen and after sun. Those items are not only expensive when traveling but also can be unobtainable depending on where in the world you are travelling.