Travel | What’s the best way to plan your holiday?

How do you plan your holiday? Do you go it alone, and prowl the internet for the very best deals? Or, do you sit back and let the travel agent plan your perfect getaway? Here at In the Middle, we’ve been having a little bit of a debate.

Doing it yourself: all part of the fun

‘The secret to happiness? According to a study by the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, the key is simply planning a holiday. The Netherlands-based researchers have discovered that pre-holiday anticipation induces the highest spike of happiness in the whole process of going away.

It’s not hard to see why either. I personally couldn’t bear to sacrifice my Inter-railing planning experience of ‘placing-pins-on-an-A3-map-of-Europe-while-I-google-Amsterdam-hostels-and-YouTube-‘Soundwave-Croatia’. Not only are you more ‘in the know’ about your journey and destinations, the gems you stumble on during the process are priceless. From virtually unknown festivals to quirky hostels, these are things you discover simply through a bit of wanderlust web browsing.

Naturally, with DIY holidaying, you won’t be paying somebody else’s commission either. Tour groups in numerous destinations across the world charge hefty amounts for their planning services. In Thailand, ThaiIntro charge £399 for just seven days bus travel, accommodation and an airport pick up. With your own planning, you can pick, choose and couch-surf your way through each country. With the average hostel in Thailand charging around £6 a night, and the bus trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok costing 750 baht (£14), it’s easy to see how a DIY trip could comfortably set you back only half of ThaiIntro’s fee.

However, the true beauty of travelling is simply wandering. What if you’ve spotted a beautiful waterfall to explore… then realise the coach leaves in fifteen minutes. The aspect of freedom and spontaneity is not something you can buy; you in fact sacrifice it when you buy into a tour group.’

All in the package: stress free holiday planning

‘From my very first holiday abroad, my parents have always taken the package holiday route and I have never had any complaints. Why would you book everything separately when you can guarantee that you’re going to have a great holiday, with limited problems and a flawless service, when booking it all-in-one? There are never any quibbles about whether your check in time matches your flight times, or how to get from the airport to the hotel, as everything has been arranged for you. Plus, more often than not, you’re provided with an English holiday rep who can deal with any queries you may have without the translation problem. Something that has certainly come in handy for my family when a rather unfortunate incident in Lanzarote one New Year’s Day resulted in my brother requiring stiches in his head. But don’t worry, he’s okay now…

Whenever I’m considering a holiday abroad, a package holiday will always be my go-to choice. They’re often just as cheap as arranging all elements separately, and at least you can be safe in the knowledge you’re not going to have to worry about inconsistencies and are more likely to have a holiday that runs smoothly and is stress-free. After all, a holiday is meant to be for relaxing and unwinding, so why would you want the added pressure of trying to make everything work out when you can have someone else deal with all that for you?’

Emily Willson and Eleanor Pugh


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