Nowadays, everyone wants the perfect holiday for the best value. However, when we look at prices offered by travel agents we may not be getting the best deals or feel that package holidays don’t completely fit your ideal vacation in some way. This has lead to more of us wanting to create our own tailored trips. The task of building your own trip is daunting for many and the worry often is that we won’t be able to get the same protection that a traditional package holiday would offer. But the truth is, it’s never been easier to create your own and many places have ATOL protection just like your travel agencies – you just need to check.

So, in five easy steps, we’ll show you how to build your own holiday that’s exactly the way you want it.

1. Research your destination

This part is essential to any successful trip, package or ‘create your own’. You’ll need to check online, use guide books, and brochures so you know where you want to go and what you want to do whilst there. You should also read plenty of reviews and forums to see what others have done and what advice they can offer you. If family or friends have been to your destination of choice, ask them about their experience and for advice and guidance.

Check out the following sites for reviews:

It’s also vital that you check the weather forecast and seasonality of your holiday destination as well as the cost of living, transport links, whether you need a visa, and the access to healthcare facilities. This all becomes even more important the more exotic the destination.

Check out the following links for help and information:
NHS Fit For Travel (Health and Vaccination Info)
Visa HQ (Travel Visa Requirements)
Met Office (Holiday Weather Information)

2. Research prices and availability

Your first port of call here would be to compare the cost of holidays on price comparison websites such as:

For flights, ferries, and car hire the following websites are a must too:

Ensure you check both mid-week and at the weekend to see if you can get better rates. Consider alternative airports to lower costs further.

Websites also compare hotel prices so take a look at, in addition to the sites mentioned above and consult for tips on bagging cheap accommodation!

3. Compare your ‘build your own holiday’ price to a package deal

At this point, you’ll no doubt be surrounded by notes of prices, places, flight times, and activities but before you book you should compare your self-made holiday plans to the price and features of a package holiday. This can be easily done by checking with your local travel agent in store or online. Get a quote for your holiday by asking them to price up your proposed itinerary. You can also ask to see whether any of their packages can be tailored to suit your needs better or whether any tours etc can be thrown in at a reduced cost.

4. Consider the benefits of either option

Mull it over and consider which way provides you with the best overall value for money and is closest to your ideal holiday. The benefit of fashioning your own holiday means that you are in control and you will likely get the experience closer to what you desired in the first place. Should you choose a package holiday, in the end, this would mean you would have full ATOL protection for each element of your trip and the travel agent would be responsible for correcting any issues should they occur or if the tour operator goes bust. Although, if you choose to select your self-made holiday you can insure against company failure by selecting a travel insurance policy that includes ‘End Supplier Failure’ cover.  In this case, any inconvenience caused by company failure will be mitigated.

Another thing to bear in mind is that package holidays are usually paid for with an initial deposit up front and a full balance to be paid about 2 or 3 months before departure. With DIY trips this won’t be the case and you’ll likely pay when you book or when you arrive at your hotel for instance. Therefore, you’ll need to fully manage your finances and plan your trip thoroughly to ensure you’re not left short.

5. Get it booked!

Once you’ve made up your mind, get booking! There’s nothing worse than missing the boat on great offers you’ve hunted down.

Wherever possible paying via credit card will ensure your holiday is protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act as well as the Consumer Credit Directive, providing it costs more than £100.  This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for the whole holiday by credit card though – you can pay by different methods, just as long as the charge to the credit card exceeds £100.

Another recommendation is that you should take out a travel insurance policy from the day you have booked your holiday so that you are covered should you have to cancel it for any reason.

Check out the following websites for travel insurance:

Lastly, get organised by compiling all of your holiday details in a planner and create an itinerary for your flights and hotels etc. At this point, you’ll also want to check out whether you need any travel vaccinations for your trip. Check out our guide to travel vaccinations here.

Happy travelling!