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Planning holidays takes time – over 30 hours! Here’s how to save time

According to research, it takes the equivalent of four working days for planning holidays. Planning holidays can be intimidating. And 30 hours is a lot of your precious spare time trying to find the right holiday at the right price, in the right place.

October 30, 2021


Over 30 hours of talking to our friends, reading reviews, perusing travel articles, searching for flights, looking for hotel deals and prices, exploring attractions and activities and working out all the logistics… and this is all before the ‘essentials’ shopping trip for a whole new wardrobe.

30 hours is A LOT of time spent planning holidays. Time spent glued to screens trawling through hotels, taking virtual tours around the grounds and scrutinizing the facilities. And I expect 30 hours is in respect to your average ‘fly-and-flop’ – flight + hotel + transfers / car hire.

Jump off your flight, transfer to your hotel and flop on your sunbed for a fortnight. Personally, this type of holiday is my idea of hell.

I don't want a cookie cutter holiday

I don’t want to book a one-size-fits-all holiday straight off a website or out of a brochure.

I don’t want expensive for expensive sake. I certainly don’t want to pay the earth for a big-brand five-star hotel just to defeat the worry that comes with booking a small independent three-star hotel online.

And I don’t want to be hurled up in an all-inclusive resort for a fortnight.

For me and my family, holidays are so much more than flying and flopping.

As a family we want to get off the beaten track

We want to experience the local culture. We want to stay in authentic accommodation, in the best possible location, with plenty to do on our doorstep. It’s more than just time out in the sun.

And these types of holidays take even more of my precious time to research. So it’s highly likely that the holidays I go on to book take more than 30 hours. In fact, I’m losing the will to live just thinking about planning the next one.

In any normal year, we take, on average, at least two if not three trips a year. That's over 90 hours of holiday planning!

Faceless websites are not the answer to incredible holidays

The internet plays a huge part in how we plan holidays.

Research suggests that we search an average of eight websites (more like 28, if you’re anything like me) when planning a holiday.

Hours are spent scouring the web for feedback and recommendations from social media and review platforms such as Tripadvisor.

We don’t need a study to confirm the obvious, of course, the internet is most people’s go-to when it comes to researching trips, but where do you start? Who do you trust? Who do you believe?

I have over 20 years of global travel industry experience working alongside major tour operators, airlines and global tourism boards. But I struggle to easily find the holiday that I want for my family when I book independently. I choose not to book through big tour operators because I know how they work and they can be restricted to what hotels they can sell.
Don’t expect to find that cute little five-room hotel which is off the beaten track if you book via a big UK tour operator.

The trials and tribulations of Tripadvisor
This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from a young travel influencer that I came across online. My eyes have never rolled quite so much as they do when I read this:

“Trip advisor – if you’re a traveller, you’ve definitely heard of this before! Personal reviews from MILLIONS of users which help you in making those difficult decisions a little easier”
Oh, the irony…

Wasting hours trawling through faceless travel websites when I am planning holidays - websites such as and Tripadvisor drives me to despair.

My precious time wasted online comparing dozens of contradictory reviews from people across the globe.
Do we have anything in common?
Are our standards the same?

The answer is probably no.

Holidays letdowns
According to a report compiled by ClubMed, Brit’s top 10 letdowns when it comes to a holiday are;
-Cleanliness of rooms
-Quality of facilities
-Quality of food
-Comfort of beds
-The quietness of the area
-Friendliness of staff
-Distance from the centre of town
-Price of basic things – a pint, meal etc.
-Proximity to beach
-Distance from airport

I think we can all relate to these letdowns. It doesn’t help that the numerous rating systems (they all differ depending on where you are travelling to) for hotels across the globe vary enormously and have not been invented with families in mind, so this can add to the uncertainty too.

How to cut down on the time spend planning holidays

So how do we cut down on the time spent researching holidays and remove the anxiety of not knowing what we are in for until we get to where we are going?

One route is, of course, recommendations from people you know who have similar interests, values and expectations. For me, a recommendation from a trusted source holds a lot of weight.

And the option is to find a good independent travel agent and put your faith in them. For the most part, they are totally unbiased and can pretty much book anything and everything and will often advise you on their own personal experiences.

A really good personal travel agent has been at it for years, will have a little black book of amazing hotel contacts and local ground-handlers and a small circle of devoted customers.

For peace of mind, they are fully bonded, meaning your money is safe if you make a booking and the company goes bust (this is not the case for 3rd party websites such as SkyScanner and Expedia).

Any many travel agents, including our preferred travel agent of choice - Charitable Travel - have an appointed trust fund with an independent travel trustee so all the money you pay to the company for your package holiday will be paid into a separate and designated bank account and only when your holiday is complete, will the trust account handlers release the money to the travel agent.

A good independent travel agent will also ensure you have the right insurance cover for your trip. Post Covid-19, these safety nets are more important than ever before.

So please consider your options when holiday planning. And think about how your choices might impact the holiday you end up with, and the support you get if anything should go wrong.


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October 30, 2021