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All you need to know about holiday package deals

Holiday package deals sound fairly self-explanatory, but if you’ve never delved into the world of all-inclusives before, you need to make sure you know what you’re booking. This means understanding exactly what the package entails, what to expect while you’re there and just how many free drinks you can actually claim! Here are a few frequently-asked questions to help you get the holiday you want this summer.

What is a package holiday?

The standard definition is just a pre-booked deal consisting of two or more of these main elements: accommodation, flights/internal travel, and other services which form a major part of holidays, such as organised tours. These don’t all have to be provided by the same suppliers as long as they are coordinated together by your favourite travel company. Package holidays are often marketed as all-inclusive and are designed to save you money and time by letting you pay for everything in one go.

Aren’t they a bit restrictive?

To a certain extent, yes: packages are usually offered on fixed dates, with particular flights, hotels and meal arrangements. But the reason all-inclusive holidays are so successful is because operators block-book things like aeroplane seats and hotel rooms for a specific period in advance, enabling them to offer customers affordable deals, particularly when they’re selling packages off at the last-minute.

What’s more, some companies are offering more flexibility, allowing you to ‘tailor-make’ a package to suit you. However, be careful when the wording is different: ‘dynamic packages’ give you more freedom, but may have separate contracts for things like flights and accommodation, so you may not be covered by the Package Travel Regulations. It’s usually best to double-check before booking.

What about extra charges?

These tend to vary between travel companies. Travel insurance may not be included, and you may be charged between 2 and 3 per cent to book using a credit card. Check things like airport transfers and hire cars as these might be available at an additional cost. This said, all non-optional charges should be listed in the promotional information, so you just need to examine this carefully. Other extras, such as excursions and entrance fees to attractions, are usually optional, giving you greater flexibility while on holiday.

What’s the deal with food and drink?

Many tour operators pride themselves on just how all-inclusive their packages can be by throwing in poolside cocktails, unlimited mealtime drinks and of course, the meals themselves. It usually depends on what level of package you’ve bought; budget breaks may only allow you locally-branded drinks and buffet-style catering, but pay a little more and you may find à la carte dining and other premium services are available.

Naturally, the food and drink that is included will only be available at your hotel or resort, but most people find it’s a good way of keeping a lid on holiday spending and enjoy being able to relax without worrying about the bill.

What if my package holiday isn’t as expected?

Package holiday providers must set out clear information in the brochures about pricing, accommodation types, itineraries and travel arrangements. If the holiday doesn’t meet the description, you may be able to claim compensation. You should also check their policy on what happens in the event of travel delays, but the good news is that all reputable package companies are members of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), which is the UK’s biggest travel trade association.

Images by Mac Hotels used under CC license