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Booking Your Holiday Online – Handy Tips
BOOK ONLINE AND SAVE
There are so many ways to book your holiday now days and with almost all airlines, hotels and tour operators now on the internet, everyone can easily book their dream holiday from the comfort of their own home.
Although booking online is easy and convenient, it is subject to many risks also. Do you really understand what you are booking, what you need to do? Do you know what visa may be needed to enter a country or how to get that visa? What about flights? Do you know the rules if you need to change your flight, do you understand what a point to point airline is or what a minimum connection is.
Don’t be left stranded at the airport, watching your plane take off without you, do it right first time and save yourself money.
TIPS FOR BOOKING ONLINE:
Plan your itinerary:
Before you start looking at airlines, hotels and tours make sure your type up your own itinerary. Pretty basic stuff and not brain surgery, but it is a basic thing that needs to be done correctly.
Start with your leaving date, and work out where you want to go, and what you want to do there and plan it from point A to B, then point B to C etc. I will give you an idea of how the holiday will look and if your ideas are realistic or not. Allow enough time to do things a relaxing pace and include a rest day here and there. Filling each day may seem like a good idea, but after 24hours in a plane, do you really want to do that tour early the next morning while your jetlagged?
This is where your holiday can fall apart before you even take off. Airlines will not even let you on the plane if you don’t have a visa for a country where one is needed.
Did you know, that to enter the USA you now need to apply for your visa waiver BEFORE you go? That’s right, you used to get it on arrival in the US but now you have to do it online. Can you imagine flying all the way to the US with the family, only to be put back on the next plane home because you did not know you needed to get a visa waiver. You would not believe how common it is.
Research the country you are going to and find out about visas.
Booking your flight:
So you know where you want to go and are ready to book online. It is relatively easy to book through airline websites but some things to remember are:
LOW COST CARRIERS:
Cheap flights, great!!! But, all budget airlines regard themselves as point to point carriers. What is a point to point carrier you ask? It simply means that they will fly from point A to point B. EG: Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia X). If you are flying on to London, you then have to book your flight from Kuala Lumpur to London separately.
This means, if your flight arriving into KL is delayed and you miss your flight to London, they are in no way responsible to put you on the next flight. You will have to buy a whole new ticket. So if you are booking budget airlines, keep that in mind and allow enough time between flight. On this example I would stop in KL for a day or 2. Its a great city and accommodation is cheap, and its a destination worth at least a few days. While on the subject of Budget airlines, be wary of your luggage allowance as they charge for every kg over the allowance.
Remember that you need to pay for everything on board, food drinks movies and even the blanket and pillows. Most give the option to prepay for everything online and I recommend you do as it will save you in the future.
One thing which catches a lot of people out when booking online is the form of payment. If you pay with a credit card, make sure it is yours. A lot of airlines will ask to see the credit card you used to pay for the flight. If you used a credit card that is not yours, they will probably not let you fly. Make sure you read the fine print when using a credit card that has your name on it, or that you can use another persons card to purchase the flights.
Take note of the rules of the airfare regarding date changes. All airfares have fare rules. This means if you have to change the date for any reason you may be charged. Discounted fares and budget airline fares are very restrictive or non changeable and non refundable. Change fees are normally free or have a fee depending on the airfare purchased. Most will charge you a fare difference if the cheap booking class you paid for is not available and you may have to upgrade the airfare. Doing a date change can be a costly exercise and there is not point arguing with the airline as its all in the fine print that you agreed on when you brought the flight. So, READ ALL THE FINE PRINT!!!
As I mentioned many budget airlines are point to point carriers. So if you intend to only transit through a city, make sure you allow enough time to catch your next flight. Don’t cut it too close as all it takes is one small delay and your buying a new ticket if you miss your flight. Check what the minimum connection time is at each airport.
If you think and hour or 2 is enough time to catch our next flight, think again!!!
When you land into an international airport and connect to a domestic flight within that country, you must allow enough time to clear customs and immigration, collect your luggage, catch a bus or walk to the domestic terminal and re-check in for your next flight.
Allow at least 3 hours in most airports, even more if your arriving the chaos of LAX, NY or Heathrow. They are huge airports and easy to get lost in, and can be the difference of catching your flight or not. Remember that airlines close off their check in counters 45minutes to an hour before the plane actually takes off and if your even a minute after that, your not getting on that flight, so leave enough time to do everything that needs to be done.
Booking your hotel:
One of the best online booking sites is hotelclub.com. It has a huge amount of hotels on its site and you can access them all on the one site and look at the hotel too. It saves a lot of time scrolling through all the hotel sites and gives great rates too. Join the club and earn rewards each time you book.
Make sure you check out the hotel in different review sites and see what others have to say. Don’t book a hotel just based on price. It could be cheap because its miles from anywhere, in a bad area or not near any public transport. Also make sure you choose the correct room type for the amount of people that going. Hotels give a maximum people per room advise for a reason. Often its fire regulations, or the room is only able to fit X amount of people. Don’t think that you can sneak in that extra child because normally they wont let you. Even if you do sneak the kid in, you may well find the room is hardly big enough for you all anyway.
Rooms in the UK and Europe are notoriously small and poky, so make sure you look into it before you book. Can you imagine being crammed in like sardines for 7 days because you wanted to save a few bucks!!
I hope this information helps you booking your next holiday over the internet. Just remember that when booking online, most things will be instant purchase so check all the fine print, check about visa’s and check that you leave enough time for everything. If anything does go wrong, you have no one to fall back on, its all up to you, and you have yourself to blame.
If you book with a Travel Agent, sure, you may pay more, but you will get expert advise, visa information and a well of information and experience to draw on. If anything does go wrong you have more chance for compensation as they can throw some weight behind the complaint.
Shop around though, get prices from the internet to show the agent and get them to do a better price. Always take comprehensive travel insurance, you never know what might happen before or during your holiday.
Good luck, and happy holidays!!!!
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