Helping you plan your holiday

We presented our resident travel expert, Bob Atkinson, with questions we were asked by the Great British public. They wanted tips on planning holidays in 2012 including how to find the best deals, whether to opt for self-catering or all-inclusive breaks, and how to make their travel budget go even further.

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Q1 – I’d just like to know how to book a holiday more cost effectively, what is the best way to do it?

Bob Atkinson (BA): The first thing you should do is make a list of things you want to do and then get online, get into the high street and research what is practical and available for your price.

Once you have settled on a destination, ensure you use price comparison such as our holiday search to find you the best possible price for the deal that you are looking for.

But, don’t just stop with the booking. It’s just as important to make sure you get great value on your travel insurance, and then all the rest of your holiday extras. So, that’s things like your car parking - booking ahead[to save money; car hire - book way before you go, and use online comparison to do that. With things like your holiday money, you can be throwing hundreds of pounds away by buying that in the wrong place.

Q2 – Hi Bob, when I go on holiday do I book all-inclusive or self-catering?

BA: If you start with all-inclusive – and this also includes many cruise holidays, which are pretty much all-inclusive – what you are basically doing is controlling your budget.

So, you set the amount in the UK and then you go away knowing that all your food, drinks, entertainment and many activities are included and you are not coming back to bills after your holiday for things that you didn’t expect. Of course, that’s more to pay up front before you go, but at least you know it’s all paid for.

Self-catering on the other hand, gives you a lot more flexibility, so it’s great for families and kids because you can do a bulk shop at one of the big hypermarkets or supermarkets in resort. You can eat out if you want and whether you are doing a villa holiday or self-catering you’ve always got the kitchen to make things as and when you want them, and as and when you need them.

So, you can control the cost in a completely different way there by paying less for your accommodation and then really monitoring your costs while you are away.

It has to be the choice that’s right for you but both of those - self-catering and all inclusive - are set to be the real favourites with Brits this summer.

Q3 – Where do I find the cheapest deals?

BA: When booking your holiday and trying to get the best value, there isn’t one simple answer as to where to go to know you’ve got the best deal. But this is what I do...

I identify what it is I’m looking to book – whether that be a package holiday, a tour, a flight or just a car hire. Then always check the prices in my high street agent. I also check online to see what prices I can get, and then the most important step is that I do a comparison using a price comparison site such as TravelSupemarket, to make sure I’m getting the best possible price for what I’m looking for.

One thing you should do when you are booking a holiday involving both flights and accommodation is to check both a package price, as well as booking separate flights and separate hotels.

If you take the package option, if that’s the right priced one, then always make sure it’s got ATOL protection in case anything goes wrong with the company.

If you are booking separate flights and separate hotels then always make sure you pay either by a credit card or a VISA or Mastercard-backed debit card that gives you financial protection and back it up with a travel insurance that has ‘End Supplier Failure’ and that again gives you that belt and braces protection that ATOL gives you in normal circumstances.

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