The internet is a valuable tool when preparing for overseas travel. You can look up locations, research tours, check out reviews and find a whole host of information right there at your fingertips. Many people will tell you that it’s much easier, or cheaper, to book all your travel arrangements online rather than through a travel agent and in some cases, that may be true. But there are some things to watch out for if you are doing your own bookings:
- The Hidden Extras
You may see a price online and think “That’s a good deal!” and go ahead and snap up the offer only to find it’s not quite as good as it first seemed. Airlines are particularly good at this. They’ll advertise a sweet deal, but then you’ll find it’s not available when you want to go, or it’s at some ungodly time of the day. If you’re booking online, make sure you check:
- The flight timings
- If the fare includes taking a bag – yes, even on international flights the fare may not include any luggage. You may have to pay extra.
- What the payment and cancellation rules are
- Whether it’s direct or whether it actually includes a 6 hour stopover somewhere…or more than one!
- Whether the fare includes a seat choice (most likely it doesn’t unless you choose 24 hours before departure).
- If it’s a one way fare, check your return flight cost – often you’ll find you can get a great deal on the first flight but you’ll pay through the nose for your return.
- Whether your flight is actually on the airline you are booking or whether it is operated by a completely different airline.
- Taxes, resort fees and nightly charges
More and more often, you’ll find that hotels will charge a nightly rate and hidden in the fineprint will be details of a daily service charge, resort fee or other taxes. Travel agents are obliged to outline these charges to you, however if you are booking directly online, you may not be aware of these until you find a nice little charge on your bill.
- Obstructed Views
On many ships, there will be a certain number of cabins that have obstructed views or are located next to the engine rooms. It’s something that can’t be avoided and some people are happy to take these cabins at a discounted rate. Just make sure that the super cheap deal you’re snapping up isn’t going to have you lying awake every night listening to the engines grinding away, or that special balcony that you’ve splurged on, isn’t obstructed by a large piece of metal framework.
- Connecting times
If you’re booking a multi-flight itinerary, make sure you allow for adequate connection times. If you’re flying with different airlines, it pays to allow additional time. If you’re flying from a domestic airport to connect with an international flight, it pays to fly with the same airline all the way through if possible. In the event that the first flight is delayed, if you’re flying internationally with the same airline, they have a responsibility to look after you. If you’re flying with a different airline, often they won’t see it as their responsibility to make sure you end up getting to your destination if you missed the international flight due to the delay.
Likewise, if you are joining a cruise, think about what will happen if your flight is delayed. Will you miss your cruise? Would there be the opportunity to join it later?
- Don’t believe all the reviews
As much as we would like to believe what we see on the internet is true, the fact is that it isn’t always. In many cases the reviews are legitimate but not all. The risk at booking online is that you’re relying on this feedback and trusting that the displayed material is genuine. On the other hand, hotels used in travel brochures have to pass the standards of that company and are regularly inspected to ensure they are of good quality.
Unless you are booking through a site that is well-known and validated, you also run the risk of turning up and the hotel not actually having your booking.
If you are doing your own bookings, be sure that the booking site is real and reputable.
While we understand that people want to make sure they’re getting a good deal, we’ve also seen many people come to grief when making their own online bookings. When you book with us, we will make sure you are well taken care of all the way through. Your flights will connect properly, there will be adequate time to get to your cruise, your accommodation will be of decent quality in a good part of town and your cruise cabin won’t be down in the dungeons. We’ll also make sure you are getting excellent value for money and if anything does go wrong or you’re delayed, we’ll fix it. That’s just what we do!