If you’re thinking of a vacation
package you have a bewildering number of choices to make. The vacation
industry is the ultimate buyer’s market – there is simply so much to choose
from out there that you could spend almost as much time surfing the web or
thumbing through brochures trying to find the right resort as you do lounging
by the pool or on the beach once you actually get there. To make things a
little easier, we’ve put together a list of questions you should ask yourself
to make your decision-making a little easier.
Shall I book a long time in advance, or at the last minute?
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. You can get
significant discounts by booking either a very long way in advance or just a
few days before the vacation begins – if getting big bucks off the price of
your vacation is your major aim, then last minute booking can be very
successful. Vacation companies that have undersold places on particular
vacations will often slash prices spectacularly in the final few days. But
there are risks involved: booking last minute means you have less choice of
where you go on vacation, and less time to do research and ask around about the
resort. You could get the bargain of a lifetime – or you could be disappointed.
If you’re traveling as an individual, a couple, or a group of adults this can
be a great way of going on vacation – it’s maybe not such a good way to travel
with kids. The best advice, whenever you book, is to go through a major and
respected vacation company.
When is the best time to go?
Peak season in some resorts is effectively all year around –
especially adults-only locations where demand isn’t affected by school
holidays. Things can get a little quiet right after Christmas, but this is a
time that some resorts have their annual shut-down for refurbishment and staff
training. If you’re not taking kids, you can get pretty good deals by going to
a resort that caters for kids outside of school holidays. Although the overlap
is not complete, most US, Canadian, Australian and European school and
university holidays have broad coincidence. If you’re traveling with kids,
things are a little more limited – do some research on international school
breaks to find out likely off-peak times in which the best deals will be
All-inclusive or pay-as-you-go?
All-inclusive vacations are great for those of relatively
moderate habits and conservative tastes – an all inclusive resort will tailor
its package to the ‘average’ vacationer, and if you fall outside that profile
you might find yourself paying a lot of surcharges for premium services while
having little interest in the free services that are on offer.
Flights-and-rooms packages can offer much more flexibility, but you have to be
careful to balance your budget as you go. One of the less considered advantages
of all-inclusive breaks is that you can forget about even the most trivial
details of every day life for a week or so – you can go for days at a time
without having to reach into your pocket.
How do I choose a child-friendly resort?
Some child-friendly resorts are friendlier than others. Not all
resorts that welcome children offer a full range of activities to keep them
happy – and kids are less likely to be satisfied than adults with a couple of
weeks of just lounging by the pool. Try, if you can, to select a vacation
resort that makes a big deal of providing things for kids to do. This will help
to keep your family entertained and ensure that the adults in your group can
enjoy a little peace and quiet while the young tearaways occupy themselves!
How do I know that resort publicity is true and accurate?
There are a couple of good ways to make sure you don’t get
ripped off. First, trawl around the internet for information about the resort
you’re interested in. If anything suspicious turns up, email the resort
management for clarification. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, look
elsewhere. Second, only book through large, respected providers such as
Apple and Travel Impressions –
these big companies have lot to lose from bad publicity, so they go to enormous
lengths to make sure that the resorts the represent are both of a high quality
and advertise themselves fairly. Of course, all publicity material is going to
include flattering descriptions and photos taken from favorable angles, but you
can rest assured that the presence of a major vacation company in the equation
offers a certain guarantee of quality.