Family holiday costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to stay ahead of the costs from the moment you book. But which approach is likely to save you more money: DIY or all-inclusive?
All tour operators are reporting a shift in favour of all-inclusive holidays, with some saying that searches for all-inclusive packages are up 160% in 2011.
The growth of holiday websites like Expedia, Lastminute and Ebookers, as well as an abundance of low cost airlines, meant that it used to be much cheaper to cut out the tour operator or travel agent and book all the bits and pieces of your family holiday yourself.
So along came the DIY holiday, where you’d book flights and hotel before setting off, and pay for food, holiday clubs, passes, lessons, etc, once you arrived.
But the package operators have since slashed prices to win back customers, which means that DIY holidays are no longer the bargain they used to be.
How prices stack up
For example, we compared a DIY and all-inclusive seven-night ski holiday over Christmas 2011 to see how prices stack up.
Crystal Ski, one of the UK’s biggest ski tour operators, had flights and accommodation for a family of four at the Hotel La Foret in Val d’Isere for £678 per person.
Bought separately, those same flights and hotel would cost £2,943 for a family of four, so booking the all-inclusive holiday package would bring immediate savings of £231.
Then you have to consider the extra expenses, like food. Under the package deal, another £11 per person gets you breakfast and evening meal as well. I don’t know about you, but I certainly couldn’t feed my family breakfast and dinner for just £44 a week at home, let alone in a French ski resort.
Holiday insurance and protection
What about the horror of being stranded and having to fork out emergency funds if the tour group you’ve booked with goes bust?
The Association of British Travel Agents master insurance policy means that holidaymakers who booked though one of its 6,000 travel agencies or 800 member tour operators won’t lose out even if they’re already on holiday when the firm collapses.
It also means that you’ll be put up if something prevents you travelling home. Just ask someone caught up in 2010’s ash cloud who wasn’t ABTA-protected and subsequently got turfed out of their hotel, if you don’t think this an important protection to have.
Those choosing to act as their own travel agent are best advised to pay for all parts of a DIY trip with a credit card, to ensure they can avail themselves of a quirky – but vital consumer protection – known as Section 75.
This means that in event your airline or hotel goes bust you’ll get your money back from your credit card company.