I know that package holidays have got a bad rap over the last few years and that everyone now likes the control of doing everything themselves but sometimes a good old package holiday is a nice change.
Most of the holidays we have taken in recent years have been self designed where all items are booked separately. However a few years ago my hubby and I decided that we just wanted a nice simple no frills holiday in Europe.
We decieded on Italy and more specifically Lido di Jesolo on the Venetian Riviera. We booked at the local travel agents with a company called TUI. The holiday included flights to Marco Polo airport transfer to the resort and half board hotel accommodation.
First of all it was nice to arrive at the airport and not worry about how we were going to get from the airport to the resort. We literally walked out of the terminal and onto a coach which, after a nice air conditioned drive through the countryside, dropped us off right outside the hotel. No wandering through airports looking for an overpriced taxi or train station situated in a different terminal.
On arrival to the hotel check in was easy and up to our room, our daughter had never been to Europe before was surprised that they handed us a key on a giant key ring and not a card. That’s is obviously not usual for all hotels in Italy but we were amused that she noticed this. The room we had was sea view and actually the hotel was virtually on the beach anyway so far so good
When you go on a family package holiday you are advised to attend the free introductory meeting by the company representative. This usually takes place the first morning of your stay.
When you book for a package holiday you don’t get the opportunity to choose flights they tend to be on specific days that the company chooses to fly often it is only one or two flights a week. This means that the company representative attends your hotel on specified days.
Essentially this meeting is a sales pitch for the travel company’s excursions.
We had decided that during our trip to Italy we wanted to visit Venice. I had been to Venice as a child and felt that as we were so close there was no reason not to go. Our plan had been to just go and get the water taxi and plan our own visit. However at this meeting we looked at the info and decided that maybe the company’s excursion was worth a look as it included a visit to two of the other islands in the Venice area – namely Murano and Burano. It also included a tour of the city and lunch.
The other trip that caught our eye was one to the city of Verona and the resort of Lake Garda. We had looked at visiting Verona ourselves but it would have been a 3 hours journey involving 2 trains and a bus.
This trip also included a guided tour of the city and finished at the famous Giulietta balcony from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The tradition of rubbing Juliet’s right breast if you are unlucky in love and then the opposite tradition of standing on the balcony with your true love.
I will say, however, that both of these traditions were slightly dampened by the throngs of tourists squeezed into what is actually a very small courtyard.
We the returned to our transportation and on to Lake Garda.
Whilst we made the choice on this trip to utilise the excursions I am not saying that this would always be the case. The trips themselves are quite expensive and only go on specific days. The Venice and Verona trips were in consecutive days and both involve a great deal of walking. Given the choice of different days I would have not chosen two days together.
I am glad we chose to take the excursions and do feel that we saw more on them than if we had gone independently especially the Venice trip as I suspect we would not have ventured to the other islands.
As for package holidays I do feel that they have their place in the travel industry. They are a good option if you just want an easy relaxed everything is done for you, no planning holiday. However they are not always value for money as we found on our most recent trip to Orlando when a package holiday for 3 people cost more that a bespoke one for 4.
Do you like to book everything yourself or is it package holidays all the way?