We all know the traditional way of booking a holiday. We spend hours walking through the high street. We gaze into all the travel agent’s windows and then, when we’ve finally decided which is the best deal, we go in. Often we end up talking to a sales person who has never been to where we want to go and they simply repeat the brochure content, or we’re told that that holiday isn’t available – so we have to choose another (that’s usually more expensive than we planned). But it doesn’t have to be like this.
The Internet is changing our approach and, although it has some risks, used sensibly and with a little caution, and by following some basic rules explained below, the chances are excellent that one can create the perfect holiday in Greece through researching and shopping online.
Booking with Ease
It’s much easier to book your holiday from the comfort of your arm – chair.
Not only that, it’s more fun and can provide a richer and deeper holiday experience, because once you’ve decided your destination you can find out all about the area, what’s on, additional places to visit, special tips and advice, to more fully prepare for the experience you’re about to have.
Booking a holiday online is easy
If you want the traditional package tour all you have to do is pick your destination and choose the price range, and then you’ll be presented with a range of hotels and departure dates to suit. But if you’re just a little more adventurous you can book all the elements of a holiday yourself. The destination, the flights, the hotel, villa or apartment, the car hire and all the extras you may want, can be tailored to exactly suit your own taste and budget.
The first step is the choice of destination. You may have a firm idea, or just a list of ‘maybes’. One of the great advantages of booking on the Internet – and a ‘must use’ tip if you’re booking your own trip end-to-end – are the research tools available to you.
There will be several sites covering the general areas and the tourist attractions in the areas you’re considering visiting. The simplest way is to use the tourist board (http://www.gnto.co.uk/) and then drill down to the areas you’re considering visiting. Better is to visit our insight articles on the different types of Greek destinations and then when you’ve found some choices, click on the destination to get detailed information covering facts and reviews, different places to stay, and things to do in the area.
lowcosthotels.com features all areas of Greece and is a good place to start. By reading a specific destination review one can begin to discriminate in favour of your special preferences, such as good beaches, rural location, buzzing with nightlife, quiet and peaceful, good for kids, and so on. Once you’ve decided location, one can make a choice of accommodation.
Click on the destination’s information bar (located at the top of each page, as shown in the picture) where there is a list of hotels, apartments, or villas to choose from.
Or else, you can choose the magazine’s directories, click on ‘accommodation’ and then choose the area you are interested in; It will bring up a list of hotels, villas or apartments that you can surf through. Surfing through the hotels of a given area allows you to check reviews of places you are considering staying at.
Booking the hotel is easy, often using a contact form on the website of the hotels you want. lowcosthotels.com features selected hotels with reviews where you can send an email directly to the hotel owner and lowcosthotels.com is not taking commissions for a booking.
Alternatively, the site has a nice option called Cheap Hotels in Greece that allows you to submit a request to multiple hotels in the location of your choice. The hotels in the selected area will then reply with an offer directly to you, from which you can select the best offer.
To access this service you need to be already registered on the site. When browsing a destination review you can click on the Cheap Hotels in Greece logotype which is at the top of every page. Fill in the form with the preferences you want; Ask availability and questions about the property to make sure it suits you. As soon as you get a reply from a hotel, the Cheap Hotels in Greece service sends you a notification to your Email address. Just visit the website, log in, go to the Members Area (it appears in the top left corner of any lowcosthotels.com page). Click on the low cost hotels notification to get access to the Comparative Table of accommodation offers you’ve been sent.
When you have chosen an offer, simply contact the villa or hotel owner by email to book your accommodation. LowCostHotels is a user-friendly accommodation finder service and a quick and a clever idea to get a number of accommodation offers from where you can compare the rates and the amenities of each hotel.
You’ve now got your destination and your place to stay. Next, you need to match availability dates to availability of flights etc. This isn’t so daunting as it sounds, but you do have a decision to make. Do you want a direct flight, say, London – Athens – London, or are you prepared for a stop over along the way. The second option often has the advantage of significantly cheaper flights, but is a more complicated search.
If you want a direct flight, there are only a handful of carriers to select from and it’s easy to do yourself. Get the hotel or villa to ‘hold’ the dates you want for 24 hours whilst you search the airlines and make your reservation. BA, Olympic, Aegean, and Easyjet are the ‘big 4’ but there are others. If you’re happy to take an indirect flight, the best option is to visit a website that specializes in cheap air tickets: Any search by price on the dates you want will always throw up a number of cheaper alternatives that include stopovers. Be cautious, though. A delay on the 1st leg of your journey can easily result in a missed flight to your destination and is hardly the way to start a perfect holiday!
Once you’ve made your selection, booking confirmation is instant and you can go back to the hotel or villa and confirm the stay. If you’re worried about sending money to someone you don’t know and may not exist, do two things: Ask to be given contact details of several previous guests, choose two, and contact them both, as well as looking for villas that offer secure payment methods (Paypal, for example) where the owner is verified as existing and legitimate, the secure site offers arbitration in case of a dispute, and the villa owner never gets to see your credit card or bank details.
Car rental is simple, as any search will bring up many companies offering a wide selection of cars. My recommendation is to rent from the airport. The companies are bigger, it’s easier to collect and drop off, and prices stay reasonable through competition.
So you’ve chosen the destination, the place to stay, the air travel and the car. Everything should be exactly (or almost exactly!) as you want it, but you have to do one final thing before you travel. Buy foreign currency. Many of the more rural, less touristy places, you may visit won’t take credit cards, and local ATM’s can be expensive as well as a long drive away. Avoid buying currency at the airports or high street money shop’s as they can be extremely expensive. A simple Internet search will show you some options and cheapest rates, including the choice of delivery of the currency to your door before you travel.
Finally, consider travel insurance. The DIY approach gives you many benefits over the packaged holiday, but there won’t be the back up of ABTA or other Travel associations to fall back on if something does go terribly wrong.
Make sure you book all elements of your trip, and keep all the receipts and booking references safe, as unlike a tour operator you’ll have to account for all the various stages of the holiday yourself.
There won’t be a representative to offer help and advice if you book everything yourself, but you have created a unique and perfect holiday so do your research, check the facts, get on the plane – and enjoy!