Many holidays on offer today are sold as packages or bundles, which means flights, accommodation and other perks are included in a single price. But do these types of holidays save you money in the long run? The answer is yes and no. Peak season packages can be a great money saver, as an industry insider told me once, as travel companies have often pre-negotiated rates with airlines, hotels and even cruise lines that you may not find available if you look for them separately. The way to find out if you’re getting a bargain is easy, however, although it takes a little bit of work. First, take the package you’re interested in, check the dates you’re intending to travel, and list the main components which may include flights, accommodation etc. Next, check the individual cost of each one with a competitor, or directly with a specified airline or hotel. For example, if your package is a New Zealand cruise departing from Auckland which includes return flights from Sydney with a specified airline, and two nights pre-cruise accommodation at a specified hotel in Auckland, you can check the individual cost of all three components to calculate if, when sold as a package, it is good value or not.
Overall, packages can save you time and money, especially if you choose well, with only one fare to pay and someone else doing all the work to organise the bookings you need. But what should holiday shoppers be on the lookout for when considering packages? Firstly, it’s important not to be seduced by price alone. For example, the package you’re seeing might be cheap, but it features a budget airline or doesn’t specify an airline at all, it flies you into and out of airports which are not super convenient for your destination, or it has connecting flights instead of direct flights. Also, you may be staying in a hotel which isn’t central, or a lower category, than you’d like, and with cruises you may not get a choice of stateroom. Another thing to be aware of is that some packages are offered at a time when the weather at a destination isn’t the best, a resort may be in the midst of renovations with a pool or restaurant closed, or there may be serious construction next door or nearby. Checking the fine print is essential with any travel arrangements, but this also applies to packages for anyone who’s unsure if they’re getting a bargain. The bottom line is do your homework, so you won’t be disappointed.