The Independent Traveller

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“Once the travel bug has bitten there is no antidote, and I know I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” Michael Palin


Back in 2011, Rich famously (in our family) told a Thomas cook holiday rep “we don’t go on package holidays were independent travellers.”


What is an independent traveller? It may be the do it yourself versus the package tour. For one it may involve meticulous planning, for another going where the wind blows. In my mind, making your own travel and accommodation arrangements and deciding what to see and not see makes an “independent traveller”


Working as a nurse in general practice, part of my role is to carry out risk assessments on travellers and both advise and administer travel vaccinations. I see all kinds of holidaymakers from the package holidays to European hot spot to travellers of all ages going to the far flung corners of the globe.


What I have noticed and find interesting about traveller, is that the younger they are, the more likely they are to have booked through a travel agent or to be going on a package tour.


Why is this?


According to Sally Black, a travel agent writing for The Huffington Post. Time is our most precious commodity, yet people are willing to waste it. Hours can be spent properly researching a holiday. With the amount of conflicting information available on the web, it’s easy to quickly get overwhelmed and confused.


She goes on to say – not a day goes by that I don’t receive emails pleading for help from the would be holiday maker.


There are pros and cons to both booking a package tour and travelling independently. on a package tour transport is laid on to deliver you from A to B, you get to see a lot in a short space of time and the guides job is to explain everything to you in a language you are conversant in. however the drawbacks can be working to someone else’s schedule, which gives you lack of flexibility. There is a tendency to visit only the popular tourist sites and meals tend to be at tourist orientated restaurants.


On the other hand, independent travel enables you to go at your own pace; you can choose what you want to see even if that means getting off the beaten track. You do however have to research beforehand, booking your own transport and hotels and you’re on your own if you run into difficulties.


Whilst I appreciate that to some holidaymakers, having an agent to do the planning for you takes away the anxieties of getting it right and enables you to look forward to a stress free holiday. That is not for me.


I love the excitement of booking a holiday. Sitting with my laptop or tablet and searching for the perfect holiday is something I relish. Googling my chosen destination and visiting the local tourist information web pages, helps ensure that I have a perfect tailor-made experience.


I have found that booking accommodation directly with the hotel, may be more expensive that using a comparison site, but has meant, that there have been better offers available to me. Booking direct with the Accor group of hotels, I have collected loyalty points, which meant that a 7 day trip to the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, gave me 5 days with free accommodation, something that wouldn’t have happened on a comparison site.


Researching my own holidays, has also identified some “must eat at” restaurants, this gives the option to book tables at restaurants of my choice, months ahead of the trip. I don’t want to arrive at my destination and find the restaurant is booked up and I have missed the experience of eating there.


Going on holiday, knowing that I have taken care of all the arrangements is the best feeling there is. To me, I will always be an Independent Traveller.

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