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Package holidays: A safer option

With the summer and school holidays in full swing, many of us will be looking forward to a well-earned holiday.

For many British holidaymakers package holidays have long been the preferred option to get a break in the sun with no stress or fuss.  However, the easy booking process is not the only benefit of a package break because they also come with many elements of financial protection and assistance guarantees that you will not get if you go with a DIY holiday booking.

What is a package holiday?

A package holiday is when you book a holiday which includes two or more travel services together. These include:

  • Transport e.g. flights, coach or cruise
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers or car rental
  • Tourist service that is a significant part of the holiday, either because of its value or because it is an essential part of the trip

If you book a holiday online, over the phone or in person and are provided with one single inclusive price for the various elements of your holiday (flights, accommodation, airport transfer, theme park tickets linked to the hotel etc) it counts as a package holiday. This will be confirmed on your ATOL certificate as a ‘Package’.  As a package holiday it will be covered by the Package Travel Regulations. 

The Package Travel Regulations ensure that holiday providers advertise their holiday packages honestly and deliver them to the customer as described so you get what you pay for. The Regulations also set out the holiday provider’s responsibility of care to you if something goes wrong during any part of your holiday, for example if your flight is cancelled or the hotel has overbooked.

Pros and cons of a package holiday

As noted, package holidays provide more financial and legal protection for consumers as the overall tour operator is responsible for all travel services provided. Also, they're hassle-free because you only deal with one provider rather than various companies.

If there's an issue with the services and/or something is not as advertised, the tour operator is responsible for providing you with what you paid for. Legally, the tour operator will work to fix the problem, offer a refund, or provide alternative services to match what has been paid for.

All-inclusive package holidays can be big money savers that aren't available with a DIY holiday booking. An all-inclusive holiday will provide all your food, drink and activities at the hotel so can be a good way to minimise your expenses while you are on holiday.  Therefore, if you were planning on spending most of your holiday in or around your hotel these types of holidays can be good value for money, especially for families with young children or those on a limited budget.

Also, most package holidays also come with a holiday company representative at the hotel so you will have help on hand if you have any problems during your holiday.

Financial security

Tour operators organising package holidays must put in place financial security to protect money paid for holidays sold in the UK.

Two important elements of your holiday protection under a package holiday are ATOL and ABTA schemes. If your package holiday includes a flight, you will be covered by the ATOL bonding scheme that guarantees you a refund and/or a flight home if the airline goes bust while you're on holiday.

The ABTA bonding scheme ensures you'll be covered in the event that the travel provider goes out of business.   Again, if you book your holiday independently you will not have either of these protections.

A safer option

Usually when something has the easy option of everything being done for you, you might expect that you would have to pay a premium for the convenience, but package holidays can actually be cheaper than a DIY option.  This is because holiday companies buy up flight seats and hotel rooms in bulk to create their packages so they get big discounts that they can pass on to their customers. However, due to the protection offered, package holidays can sometimes be more expensive than a DIY option.  

That being said, the hassle-free booking and protection provided do make package holidays a much safer way to make sure you get that well-deserved break.

For more holidaying advice, visit our dedicated 'Safe Travels This Summer' section on our website.