11 Things you must do before booking your next holiday

In this guide we list 11 crucial things you must do before booking your next holiday.

You found the prefect holiday, or have you

So, you think you’ve found the perfect trip for your family.

But, you are hesitant to book and really want some way to check it is a good as you think it is.

Well, simple perform these easy 11 tests and you’ll know for sure if it is the right trip for you.

Run the trip costs through our holiday value calculator

Before you book that trip you need to work out if the cost is really worth it.

To do this you need to use our value calculator below.

This calculator applies our value equation and shows you just how hard you have to work to pay for this family holiday.

Once you have your answer you can then decide if it is worth it.

The Value Equation

The value equation helps you to focus on the cost per day of your trips.

But more than that it asks the question of how much effort did you expend to earn this much money.

How much of your life and energy went into being able to buy this trip.

Then, all you need to consider is are you happy with that deal, are you getting enough for your money and more importantly your time worked.

When asking this question try to imagine it is money in your hand that you are handing over every day to pay for your holiday.

Or better still, imagine having to do the hours worked first to get the day.

After all that is exactly what you have done.

How to use the value calculator and value equation

The value calculator asks for a few simple details and then you hit the calculate value button and you get your results.

Here are the values the calculator needs to apply the value equation, please note none of these entries are stored anywhere and your personal data is not at risk. The figures and results are only for you.

Cost of the Trip

Enter the total estimated cost of the trip. Ideally this should include flights, hotels, meals and any activities.

Number of days

Enter the number of days you will be on your trip.

Enter your gross income

Enter your total gross income (salary before tax) for your jobs.

Enter your approximate % deductions from your income

Enter a % value for the deductions that come off your salary each week or month before you get it e.g. if your salary is over £45,000 you will taxed at approximately 40% overall when NI and other deductions are added together. You don’t need to enter a percentage sign just the value.

Enter the total hours worked on average per week

Enter the total hours you all work to earn the gross income. To get a true result enter the real hours you work and not just your contracted time, also be sure to include any travel time each day as it all counts. For example you could be contracted to work 37 hours per week but in reality do 40 hours on average and travel for an hour each day so enter 45 hours.

The Travelbetter value calculator

Enter the total cost of the holiday

Enter the number of days you will be away

Enter your monthly net income (or sum of all your joint net income, this is your actual salary after deductions)

Enter the hours you work per week to earn that income

Do an Instagram Check before you book

Instagram is a brilliant way to get a more honest picture of the resort, hotel, food etc in your chosen destination and you should always check it before booking.

For example, a couple of years ago we were looking at a fabulous deal for a hotel in Thailand that said it specialised in family holidays.

However, when I looked up the hotel on Instagram it was clear that it was a party hotel for young people and not the family friendly hotel they were advertising.

Before you ask, I did take a long look back in the Instagram feed so I could see it wasn’t a one off party weekend.

How to check out a hotel on Instagram

Here is how to check out a hotel, or other accommodation, on Instagram to see if it lives up to its description and advertising.

  • Go to the Instagram app on your phone
  • Hit the search button (magnifying glass)
  • In the search bar enter the name of the hotel or accommodation
  • Ignore the results it shows and instead hit search
  • When the results come up click on places in the options bar underneath the search bar
  • Now click on the location that matches the hotel name
  • Move from most popular to recent pictures and scroll through

What you are looking for in the pictures is how tidy is the hotel, do the facilities like the swimming pool look ok, and what are the people and the food like.

Now, lets be clear on one thing here. You are not judging the people etc on how good or nice they are.

You are judging the place and people and whether it is right for you.

Look up the hotel on Instagram
Look up the hotel on Instagram
Look at the recent pictures
Look at the recent pictures on Instagram

How to check out a resort on Instagram

To check out a resort it is just the same steps as a hotel except you put the resort/location name in the search bar.

Once again, make sure you select the recent photos and not most popular for a true look at the resort.

Check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCO) website

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides invaluable advice on where you should and shouldn’t travel, and most importantly the risks of going to certain places.

This service has also been extended recently to cover any known COVID restrictions on countries or crucially restrictions that might apply on your return from that country.

Therefore, we strongly recommend you always take a look at the FCO website before booking a trip.

Take a look now at the Governments Foreign Travel Advice site.

All you need to do is enter the country and click on the link presented.

Check your travel insurance

If you have annual travel insurance then make sure it covers you for the country you will be travelling to before you book your trip.

Additionally, you will want to make sure it covers medical expenses in that country.

For example, if you fell sick in the USA this could become very expensive very quickly with their high cost of health care.

And, some insurance policies will only cover you to a set limit or maybe not at all.

Check the cancellation policy and full terms and conditions

We know it is really, really boring to check terms and conditions when all you are thinking about is a dream trip to sunny places and sandy beaches.

However, you need to take a deep breath, have a reality check and have a glance at the cancellation policy and other terms.

The key things you need to check are what level of notice you need to provide for a full refund, and what you get if you cancel at the last minute.

Other terms to check are fees or charges for making amendments to your booking.

Plus, we now have the added fun of COVID and again this may not be covered and you could end up paying for the trip and then having to claim it back on your travel insurance.

Ideally, you will be able to cancel within 24 hours for any reason and get a full refund but this won’t often be the case.

In such circumstances you need to make a judgement call on the level of risk you are willing to take and likelihood of having to cancel your trip.

Check out the Exchange rate and cost of living

Check the exchange rate before you go

Before you book that trip you should have a quick look at the exchange rate and try to gauge the cost of living to see what you will get for your money.

You can have a look at the exchange in google to get a broad idea (although this may be the business rate rather than the tourist rate)

To compare the cost of living between any two countries e.g. the UK and Australia then use this great tool from Numbeo.

It gives a breakdown on the average price of meals, drinks and goods in the supermarkets between the two countries.

The reason to check this before booking your trip is to make sure you can afford to go and enjoy yourself, and to make sure you have enough spending money.

For example, we once took a trip to Ireland and due to a poor exchange rate and higher cost of living we struggled to eat out and in one mediocre restaurant we could only afford starters and water.

What Travel Gear will you need

Travel gear is another item to consider before you book that holiday.

What you need to do is to list out everything you think you will need to make your trip go smoothly and then mark if you have that item or not.

Also, consider if the travel gear you have needs updating or replacing.

Once yo have your list of travel gear that you need to buy price up how much it will cost and whether you might get further use out of it.

If it is not too expensive and can be used on a few trips, or better still in day to day life, then that shouldn’t be a reason to stop you booking.

However, if it is expensive and may not be used again then you might want to ask yourself if the cost is worth it.

Now, that doesn’t instantly mean you can’t go on your trip.

There other options to buying brand new travel gear.

The first option is to look for a second hand version of the travel gear your need.

Another option is to borrow from a friend.

And a third option is to rent what you need at your holiday destination.

For example, it would be silly to buy a large amount of expensive Ski equipment for your families first ski trip.

Much better to borrow this or rent at the resort.

Here are some example items you might want to consider for a trip:

  • Walking shoes or boots
  • Swimwear
  • Luggage
  • Day sacks or overnight bags
  • Travel toys
  • First aid kits

Also, before you buy any new travel gear make sure to check out our travel gear buying guides so you get just what you need for your trip.

What vaccinations do you require for this holiday

You’ll be surprised just how many countries in the world require you to have vaccinations before you go.

And you must get them, even if you feel it is low risk.

Otherwise, if you do contract something nasty your insurance may not pay out if you are not vaccinated.

Also, you need to make sure you have enough time get all the vaccinations before you travel.

Some vaccinations have to be given as a course with gaps of weeks inbetween.

To find out whether you need any vaccinations for a country or part of a country check out this great website from the NHS.

Travel time and Flight options

Before you book your holiday you should have a good look at the travel times to the destination and the flight times to get there as you may find that your 10 day break is actually 8 days away and 2 stuck at airports and in a plane.

However, this can often be a key sacrifice to get a good deal.

Package vs Do It Yourself Holiday

Package vs Do It Yourself Holiday

If it is a package you are looking at then have a go at putting together the same trip yourself and compare the price.

To do this use services like Skyscanner, Expedia and Booking,com and price up your options.

However, this works the other way around as well. If you have put together the trip yourself then have a look at package options and see how they compare.

Good choices for this are Virgin holidays, TUI and On the beach.

One other advantage with package holidays is they often come with better total insurance cover and support when things go wrong so it is worth factoring that in when you do your comparison.

Check your travel and experience wish list

The last critical thing to do before you book that holiday is to check it against your travel and experience list.

How many of the places and experiences that you want to visit and do respectively will be ticked off by this trip.

This is especially useful if the value test at the beginning of this guide didn’t come out very well.

When you compare it with your travel wish list it may start to look like much better value for money.

Now, if you don’t have a travel and experience wish list then you better go a make one and here is a great template to get you started.

Things you must do before booking your next holiday – Conclusion

In conclusion, if you have run through each one of these checks and it all looks good then book that holiday right now.

If, on the other hand, it didn’t come out very well then you have dodged a bullet on paying out a lot of money and time only to be disappointed.

To help you find the ideal trip then check out our travel tools and tips.

11 Things you Must Do Before Booking your Next Holiday

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