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Initial Booking

Package Trip or Do It Yourself?

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While a traditional package holiday still has its place in this constantly connected world, savings can be made if you’re prepared to put the legwork in yourself

Tour Operator

Traditional operators like Thomas Cook, TUI or Kuoni can offer a one-stop shop for all things Orlando. Flights and car hire are usually included in your base price along with your chosen accommodation. They can arrange for theme park tickets and holiday insurance to be added.  While all this convenience is nice, it can come at a premium in cost .

Do It Yourself

Screen scraping websites can tell you the cheapest scheduled flight for any date to any destination.  Hotel brokers do the same to fill the thousands of hotel rooms worldwide.  Book at the right time and you can sometimes save thousands.  

Tour Operator

Pros and Cons of a one stop shop

For some the ease of having one point of contact to deal with all the logistics is worth paying extra.

Tour operators book plane seats and hotel rooms months, if not years in advance. This buying power enables them to offer some competitive prices. Just make sure you know what you are booking is a good deal or not.

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Easier to budget. Book with just a deposit and pay off the remainder generally 10-12 weeks before your departure.

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A travel professional to handle any pre trip niggles. One point of contact to add, delete or amend people or things.

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Once things are booked, or added to an existing booking you are tied into those items.  Very difficult to alter without a charge.

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Even with their buying power, by the time agent commissions are factored into the price you may be paying more than DIY. Things like holiday insurance are obscenely over inflated compared to shopping around.

Top UK Tour Operators

Here are links to 4 of the top tour operators in the UK

When booking through tour operators, make sure you compare the prices of at least 2 to gauge what is a good price.

World's Oldest Travel Agent

Thomas Cook

Luxury & Tailor Made Specialist

Kuoni

Former UK upstart now multinational behemoth

TUI

The Maverick Entrepreneur

Virgin Holidays

Sheer complexity meant a travel agent was the only way to book a holiday. The internet has put the power of travel at everybody's fingertips.

But fear of the unknown and lack of time and knowledge of services available has kept many people from exploring their own holiday independance. 

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Book for any date and duration you want.  With multiple daily flights to Orlando you can go when it suits you not the operators

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Nowadays you can receive some or all of you money back if you change your mind or circumstances. Be sure you know the conditions before you book though!

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You have to keep track of multiple bookings and balances.  You need to be organised to book your own trip and keep on top of things.

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Things like airfares are complex.  Some you can change or cancel, others not.  You may have to pay for the service in full at the time of booking.  Keep a track of what’s been paid and when.

Do It Yourself

Fear of the unknown has kept a lot of people from exploring their own options.

Download Your Free Planning Tools!

If you are organising your own trip it is particularly important to keep track of the details.  Please download or free Budgeting spreadsheet so you can keep track of costs and travel details as they are booked. There are 2 seperate but identical versions.  One for Excel and one for Numbers.

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Free Excel Budget Spreadsheet

Let us help you plan better by downloading our FREE budgeting spreadsheet.  Add in costs and travel details as they are booked so you don’t lose track of where you have been and what you have to do.

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Free Numbers Budget Spreadsheet

If you are an apple user and would prefer a version of the spreadsheet written specifically for Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet program, download this file.

DIY – Finding The Cheapest Flight

There are a myriad sites offering flight comparison tools. These are the largest and most popular.  A good starting point is Google Flights.  Other notable mentions also go to Expedia, Netflights and Lastminute. When checking, flights can sometimes be cheaper if you add in a hotel to your search.  It’s not always the case though.

The best known flight comparison engine

SkyScanner*

Over 2 Billion searches per year

Kayak

Serving 18 million customer per year

Opodo*

The People's Champion

Money Saving Expert

Cheap Accomodation

A lot of the top flight comparison sites now also include hotel search as well so it’s worth checking them out.  When booking accommodation it’s worth comparing like for like to get the true comparison.  Also, a lot of accommodation bookings now include free cancellation if your plans change. Take all these factors into account when deciding on where you will stay.

Hotels.com*

Thanks to a marketing blitz, hotels.com is now very well know becuase of its loyalty program.  It is also one of my go to sites when looking for accomodation in any given city that I travel to.

Booking.com

From a small Dutch startup in 1996, Booking.com now sells over 1.5 million hotel room nights every day.  They also own the Kayak search engine after they acquired it in 2013.

Trivago

With over 3 million listings and 400+ booking sites and hotel chains, Trivago aims to be the best hotel search engine in the world. They’re not always the cheapest in my experience.

Travel Supermarket

Travel Supermarket are the UK’s market leading package holiday comparison site but offer a limited range of 200,000 accommodation listings from 40 suppliers and 650 flights from 100 suppliers.

You're all booked but you're not quite done yet

From booking meals and attraction times in Disney parks to ESTA and pre booking your flight seats.  The work is ongoing before you fly. The more you can put in, the easier it will be when you finally hit Orlando.

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ESTA

An ESTA is an electronic approval to travel and all UK passport holders must have one.  It costs US$14 per person and is valid for 2 years. This is the official link.  Don’t pay for someone else to do it for you.

Disney Fastpass

The Fastpass window opens 60 days before you arrive if you’re staying in a Disney hotel, 30 days if you’re staying ‘offsite’. Tabel reservations can be made 180 days in advance. This link takes you to the My Disney Experience website where you can set up an account or log in.

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Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a must for all travellers.  Tailor the cover to suit you. Use a comparison site to find a competitive quote or use this link to read up about it on the Money Saving Expert website.

Pre Book Your Flight Seats

Some airlines let you book your seats at the time of booking for free, others charge for the priviledge.  If you don’t want to pay extra for seats don’t forget to check in as early as you possibly can. This is usually 24-48 hours before the flight.

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Back To: Planning

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