Many travelers and adventurers demonize travel agencies and ready-made vacation packages. Well, I do agree with that as why should you pay extra for a ready sightseeing trip to Cambodia when you can organize it yourself for much cheaper. However!!! For some destinations it’s much more convenient to go to the travel agency and buy holiday packages.
Let’s pause for a minute and think why travelers and adventurers are not fans of travel agencies and ready-made holiday packages? Because we can do it better ourselves! Because we prefer to explore things our own way at our own pace and not being led from one sight to another in a large group. Plus, we like to go there where tour groups don’t go… apparently dangerous neighborhoods… blah agency tour guide bollocks. Another reason is that lying on a beach in a 5-star all-inclusive reassort is not a traveler’s cup of tea… we simply think that this is a waste of time. We prefer to stay on the move, change cities, wonder, marvel, the more the better. Only is it worth it to turn our back on travel agencies and ready-made holiday packages completely? Nope, don’t think so!
Some destinations are just better explored with the help of a travel agency… like Egypt. I can confidently say that Egypt is the number one holiday destination for Polish people. Hence there are many, many, many offers to choose from. Apart from the fact that Egypt is well… flooded with tourists and the whole country is covered in plastic fantastic gadgets made in China. Still it’s worth visiting the pyramids, Luxor and the diving is just incredible. Organising a trip to Egypt on your own is simply not worth it. There are many offers to choose from and if you buy at the last minute, you can get a great deal for 500-700 Euro for a week.
Oman is also one of those countries where buying a ready-made holiday package is very convenient. Was there in 2016 with Itaka travel agency and have to say it was very very nice. Of course, for four days I was diving but Oman made a positive impression on me. Think this is how Egypt had to look like before the whole ex-soviet bloc started going there on holiday. The hotel was great, food was delicious and the beach nearly white with turquoise waters… perfect! However, that was not a pure beach holiday for me, it was an easy and cheap way to have everything organised and shoved under my nose. I could go diving without worrying about anything 😀
One more example OK 😉 Kenya… I just couldn’t be bothered to organise it myself. Yes, DIY would be more fun however the prices between ready-made and self-organised were very comparable.
Furthermore, it was my first trip to that part of Africa, so I wanted to play it safe as Kenya is not as developed as tourist services in Southeast Asia… ahaaaaa. Kenya was pretty cool, I didn’t see that much of local culture but I saw some amazing animals during the safari which was the main goal of the trip. Did some diving as well so the trip was also not a pure beach holiday just a nice trip full of adventure.
With all that said let’s not completely demonise the travel agencies and ready-made holiday packages… sometimes it’s good to be an infidel 😛
Ups and downs
Now, can we please take a moment to look at the pros and cons of travel agencies and ready-made holiday packages… actually not sure why there are more down than ups 😛
1. Last minute offers can be really cheap
If you wait nearly until the end, you can get extremely great holiday deals. Most of my trips bought via a travel agency were last minute purchases. Now while writing this post, I’m sitting on a plane that goes to Cabo Verde 😀 This trip was also a last-minute purchase… Booked it ten days before departure… had targeted a particular date and hotel so the only thing left was to wait for the right price. How did I know that the right price will come… research and a price down trend? In other words, I analysed all offers beforehand. I have been going to itaka.pl every day for the past two months to see if the prices for my targeted date and hotel are going down. It worked 😀
2. No need to worry just enjoy
Good thing about holiday packages is that you just need to pay once and all is included – flights, hotels, meals, transfers. The only thing you need to pay extra for are sightseeing trips or like in my case diving. Meaning you have your budget more under control. On self-organised trips the budget can sometimes be hit with an unexpected cost… when you miss your bus for example or to make it to the bus on time you need to take a very expensive taxi 😛
Below the beautiful animals I saw in Kenya during a ready-made holiday package
1. Charter flights – General
I absolutely hate charter flights. It’s like flying Ryanair only with a free baggage allowance. Till now I didn’t come across online check in for a charter flight. It means that there are kilometre long queues to the check in counter. Today for example, one and half hour queuing to check in… maybe if there were more than two check in counters working to serve over 200 people it would go smoother. Luckily, I still managed to go through security, passport control, buy my favourite gin, smoke and post a pic on Insta 😀 Good old Warsaw airport never disappoints! I know it might sound like a first world problem but come on! On a charter flight you are stripped from all the pleasures you get on a long-haul regular flight. No entertainment system, no booze, no nice pillows and warm blankets… at least the flight attendants are nice 😉 again charter flights are not my favourite… However, looking at the price of the trip, suffering for max seven hours is survivable.
2. Charter flights – People
That’s the funny bit as on charter flights you have the overview over the whole society. There is the party youth who just turned 18 and has spent the money from their summer jobs on a trip – good for them. There are retired couples who want to go somewhere warm and relax. People who don’t give a damn and my favourite type, country bumpkins. You know that type, they remind me of uncle Geoffrey from Bridget Jones. People who do all those things you shouldn’t do while being on an aircraft… like clapping after the plane has landed or standing up to get their luggage from the overhead compartment when the plane is still in motion OR telling the nice flight attendant – Mam you’re so gorgeous could you fly me? OK fine you can get country bumpkins on regular flights as well but somehow, they are more visible on charter flights and holiday packages 😛
3. Singles have it more difficult
That’s the drawback when you are traveling solo using a travel agency – additional supplements for singles. All travel agencies’ offers do show prices for one person however you need to travel as a duo. What I mean by that. Let’s say a weeks’ trip to Egypt costs 500 Euro per person so 1000 for two. If you are traveling solo, you should pay 500 Euro, right? Wrong! You will be charged additional 150 Euro for example as a single supplement. That sucks and sucks big time! Offers for singles are still not very popular in Poland and if you wanna go somewhere you need to pay extra. Hence mostly I organise the trips myself.
Surprisingly you have more security when you organise the trip yourself… aha! Let’s say a travel agency goes suddenly bankrupt during your holiday. What then? Dunno… the hotel will probably throw you out after a day or two and you will have to return home earlier than expected. Bummer! Heard on the news a couple of stories of travel agencies going bankrupt… not a nice adventure, a one I would like to avoid. On the other hand, when you organise a trip yourself and an airline goes bankrupt… hmmm… don’t think that you would have to shorten your holiday, right? Exact the opposite 😛 But seriously thought if an airline or a hotel goes down there are other hotels you can book or partner airlines you can ask for help… I think. Point is just not to spend huge amounts of money on accommodation 😉
That’s the biggest drawback of travel agencies and holiday packages. You can only choose from the given dates whereas on a DIY trip you go and return whenever you please… well depending on the amount of leave days you have from work 😛 You cannot move things around when buying a holiday package… it’s from X date to Y date, point, end of story. Either you make it or hasta la vista. In self planned trips you can re-book a flight to stay longer in a place you particularly liked 😉
How does the old saying go? You can’t have everything, and you can’t please everybody. It’s the same with ready-made holiday packages from travel agencies. Yes, they have more drawbacks than advantages, however to go somewhere nice for a still low price you need to sacrifice some of your habits and preferences. However, in all my travel history, despite some hiccups on the way I was always pleased with the travel packages I booked Wonder how Cabo Verde will turn out 😉