Booking your next holiday and wondering if it’s better to DIY it or book it as a package deal? We’ve got all the information you need to decide which option is better value for your trip, and some hacks to save you money either way.
Some people enjoy putting together their own itineraries and endlessly scrolling through hotel options to make their perfect trip and find the best deals and some of you are happier to pay a bit extra to take the stress out of booking.
We asked our Facebook group which they prefer and found Package holidays came out on top taking 64% of the votes, while DIY received 36% of the votes.
A package deal is offered through a travel agent or tour operators such as TUI, Jet2 and Virgin Holidays and includes flights and hotel together, it may also include extras like transfers, luggage & meals. Whereas a DIY holiday involves booking flights, hotel and any extras separately.
There are a few different factors to consider when deciding whether to DIY your holiday or book it as a package. Including; holiday type, destination, security and price.
Typically, all-inclusive and beach holidays that are geared towards holidaymakers will be cheaper when booked as a package including destinations like Greece, Turkey, Majorca, Mexico and Egypt.
Tour operators can charter their own planes and book hotel rooms in bulk so they can often offer a reduced rate due to this. Plus, if you’re booking last minute you might find a cheap deal when operators sell off remaining plane seats and hotel rooms for cheap so they don’t lose money.
However, it’s always worth comparing your package beach deal with flight and hotel price comparison sites. Sometimes pairing a hotel-only option with some cheap budget airline flights might work out cheaper. Especially if you’re savvy with your luggage.
Here is an example we previously found for a package holiday with TUI to Majorca for 1 week all-inclusive including flights, transfers and luggage from £449*pp.
The same hotel costs £1077* total (539*pp) on Trivago and that's before adding on flights and extras.
We often post city trips that are a DIY of cheap flights and a hotel, just recently we found 3 nights in Bucharest with flights for £89.50pp through Trivago and Kayak, when looking for comparable package deals we found them to be £141*pp or more.
When booking a city trip we’re often happier to compromise a little bit on the hotel, since we won’t be spending as much time in it, which means you can hunt for something cheap on Trivago. Plus, cities have great public transport connections which means you can usually get from the airport to your destination for under a tenna.
Generally speaking, this type of trip can be booked cheaper as a DIY. You’ll have full flexibility of your dates, schedule and hotel preferences. Plus, if you decide to make any last-minute changes you can book your hotel with a free cancellation rate.
One downside to DIY multi-stop trips is that a cancelled flight can have a massive domino effect on part of your trip, which can be stressful to sort out. However, there are lot’s of great multi-destination/tour packages available on the market too, for some competitive prices. If the thought of planning it all yourself is too stressful or feels like a chore, then this option could be your way forward.
There are lot's of competitive cruise packages on the market, if the cruise departs from another country, it can sometimes be cheaper to book without the flight and add on your own flights.
One thing to note: cruise ships aren't like a hotel, so if your flight is cancelled, the cruise ship leaves port and flying to the departing port the next day is no good. A good option is to fly a day early, book one night in a hotel, and do a small city break before your cruise. That will act as a buffer if the flights are delayed/cancelled.
Package holidays offer more protection than DIY holidays as they are covered by the ATOL scheme.
DIY bookings on flights and hotels booked separately are not covered by the ATOL scheme, but you can give yourself some protection by making sure you have travel insurance as soon as you book, paying for everything on a credit card and taking advantage of free cancellation offers on hotels.
Read more on ATOL here.
If you plan to DIY your trip, it's important to make sure your insurance includes cancellation cover. For example, if your flight is cancelled and you can't make it to your hotel, cancellation cover means that you can claim on your insurance for the hotel to be refunded, which isn't always included with basic insurance.
🏴☠️ Pirate tip: Taking out annual insurance can often work out cheaper than booking insurance for each individual trip.
Use comparison sites like Trivago and Kayak to find the best prices on hotels and flights.
Download the Chrome extension, Ratepunk, which will tell you if the hotel you're looking at is available for cheaper elsewhere.
If you’re going on a shorter trip invest in a 'personal item' approved size bag that you can use on Ryanair etc. without paying for baggage. You can easily pack for a few days in one of these and keep the costs down on a DIY trip.
Use Rome2Rio to check out the best way to get from the airport to your destination/hotel.
Check HolidayExtras for transfer options, they offer really affordable shared and private options to get you from the airport to your hotel, and there's nearly always a discount code!
Take advantage of free cancellation hotel deals so you have more flexibility. You can also check the prices again closer to your booking and rebook for cheaper if prices have gone down.
Sign up to our travel alerts to be the first to hear about cheap flights and hotel offers.
Get a general feel for the cost of a destination by pricing up the type of package and star-rating you want on a few different websites, this will make it easier to do a comparison.
Check if the deal includes luggage and transfers or any other extras that add value to the deal. Transfer and luggage costs can easily add up to over £100pp.
Book last minute. As travel agents try to sell off rooms and plane seat you can get some really cheap deals if you take a chance at booking your trip last minute.
Play around with durations and board-basis. We often find deals where 10 nights might be cheaper than 7 nights or all-inclusive only costs a smidge more than going half-board.