Thinking it Through Making the Choice
The Underlying Choices
Weather and Seasonal Issues
What Children want
What Parents want
Making the Booking
Practicalities Thinking it Through Making the Booking
Bear in mind that UK travel agents are notoriously badly paid (down to as little as £6,200 a year according to a trade survey in 2000). Earning extra is therefore likely to be a priority. This means that you are unlikely to receive unbiased advice from any agent, and you will be steered away from smaller hotels for example, which are not in a position to offer this kind of cut.
If you do choose to use an agent it would be wise to stick to those which are members of CARTA, the Campaign for Real Travel Agents. For details tel: 020 8607 9080 www.realholiday.co.uk
Better though if you want help is to go to a specialist operator [subscribers database]. These are much more likely to be able to provide you with the detailed information you may require about safety, services and facilities. In addition, because they have good contacts with local suppliers they are in a better position to tailormake holidays to meet your requirements and to make special requests, including for childcare.
In addition, if you are going to a popular destination you may find that booking is cheaper than going direct because the operator can offer sufficient business to get useful discounts.
That said, even these specialists may not be able to get you seats or accommodation on popular dates or when booking late. In this situation you might find that rooms/seats not otherwise available, are free if you book directly.
Do beware of last minute offers. Once you add the ‘flight supplement', a possible fee for collecting tickets on departure and possibly other additions, it could well add up to more than the brochure price.
Bargains are available, especially if you agree to have accommodation allocated on arrival. But you might be allocated to the two-star option rather than the four-star - it's a gamble.
A last piece of advice. Don't be too keen to go to places which state in advance that they only want well behaved children. It's a signal to yours to misbehave the minute they arrive.