Five-step plan to your 2013 holiday

The January Holiday sales are well and truly on.

With all the big holiday companies all fighting for your business it is really important to be ruthless in your holiday research and planning to ensure that you book the right holiday at the right price from the thousands of breaks fighting for your attention.

Many people find it frustrating and difficult to find a holiday that will really deliver what they are looking for. So why struggle? Follow our step by step guide and in no time at all you could have a holiday to look forward to this summer.

1. What do you want from your holiday?

Sounds simple this one. Yet so many people jet off on holiday with friends or family and forget that we all have differing needs and wants from our break. The result? An unfulfilling trip that leaves you needing another break to recover.

So, start off by getting everyone together and understanding the things that you all like and dislike about travelling on holiday. Make a list of must-have items such as swimming pools and kid’s clubs, location, type of resort, flying times and things to do in the resort such as nightlife and eating out, to cultural activities or maybe sports.

Then filter them down to the three or four killer things that will ensure the trip goes with a swing. These are now the must haves for checking any holiday you find against. If there are any real ‘no-nos’ then ensure these are also listed. And don’t forget to sort out the dates you can travel on, or ideally a range of dates.

2. Set the budget

An important thing to do before beginning your research is to set a realistic budget. Our Annual TravelSupermarket Travel Trends Tracker showed that Brits will look to spend an average per person of £658 per person on booking their break plus an additional £449 on holiday spending money – a whopping £1,107 per person. But what can you afford? And how are you planning to pay for your break?

It’s a great opportunity to consider taking out an interest-free on purchases credit card if money is tight after Christmas. This will allow you to snap up the January bargains without taking the hit right now. Especially where companies require full payment to be made. You can then spread the repayments over the interest free period. But make sure you have the means to do this as interest rates that will kick in thereafter are hefty.

3. Get researching

Now that you know what you want from a break start the research for your best destination.  If you already know where you want to go then you can skip this step and go straight to step number 4. Otherwise, kick things off by consulting your friends, family and work colleagues about idea on destinations or hotels. They may well recommend places that they have been to and enjoyed. And as they know you they’ll have an idea as to whether they are right for you.

Get online and use social media sites as well as blog sites and review sites for further ideas and research.  Then begin checking the travel sites for inspiration and by using a search engine to read destination guides such as those from TravelSupermarket. Our huge range of concise guides cover off the key holiday resorts and city break locations with all the things to see and do.

You can also pick up brochures from the high street agents, consult guide books from the big travel publishers or use tourist board websites for more information about your planned locations

4. Compare the prices

This is where the hard work starts unless you are prepared with your budget and list of things that you need from the holiday. Check package prices on the high street or with your favourite travel company or tour operator.

For beach breaks and city trips use our comparison service to find you holidays at a range of prices.

If you already know where you want to go then key in the destination, search and use the filters on the left hand side of the page to narrow down your results. You can easily see the various offers and how you can save money on one company versus another. If you know you want the Balearic Islands but are not sure of which one, or maybe want to go to the Algarve but would like to check prices in all resorts, then simply key that in and search. We’ll show you the lead in prices for the options and you can narrow down from there.

Still looking for inspiration?  Then we can offer two options. The first is to have a look at our new Holiday vs Holiday gadget. Change the slider for the average price or your departure airport to give you some ideas of destinations at similar prices. You may be surprised at how far your money will go.

Alternatively key ‘wider’ terms into our holiday search such as Spain to see the areas we cover or even Europe. You can then browse through the options. Selecting beach or city will narrow these down from the search box.

Once you have an idea of package prices for your chosen trip, do two more things.

  • Check out review sites for the accommodation you are looking at to ensure it is right for you
  • Complete a separate flight and accommodation search.

You can now compare the DIY price of a flight and accommodation versus a package price (which will usually include a transfer) to see which is the best value.

5. Get booking!

Don’t let the offer go. If it’s the right hotel, on the right date at a price that you are happy with then get booking. A final comparison and click through will take you to the booking screens of your chosen company.

Some holidays will only require a deposit per person at this stage whereas others will require full payment so be prepared before you book. Ensure all the names you have match passports to rule out costly admin fees and check you can have time off work on those dates.

For holidays requiring a deposit only its maybe worth setting up a savings account to start saving up for the balance and for your spending money. Opting for an easy access account will mean you can get your hands on the money at any notice. Rates are not good at the moment though so take care to shop around and get the best deal you can.

Now is also the time to check your travel insurance and if necessary take out a policy to cover you for your trip. Buying insurance now ensures you are covered for cancellation as long as this cover is equal to or greater than the cost of your booked trip.

And when booking don’t forget our three Golden Rules for booking your holiday break;

  • Wherever possible book an ATOL or a Flight-Plus covered holiday. If in doubt ask the company you are booking with if they are covered and if in doubt that the licence is genuine then check the licence with the CAA.
  • Pay by VISA or Mastercard debit card for charge back protection or by credit card you can receive protection under the Consumer Credit Act and the Consumer Credit Directive for transactions between £100 and £62,260 – even if just the deposit is put on the card.
  • For all holidays without protection such as DIY trips, you should have an insurance policy to cover End Supplier failure. This protects you against loss due to the collapse of a part of your holiday or the ability to re-book the failed element without incurring the additional costs, dependent on your policy.

Make a note of things like your balance due date, mark the calendar with your trip and cut out a picture of your holiday hotel, beach, city or villa and secure to the fridge. It’s a great reminder of your trip to come.

And finally pop the kettle on, sit back and start dreaming about your 2013 summer holiday...

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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