Tips for Booking a Family Holiday in the Sun (without a Travel Agent)

Booking your own family holiday in the sun without a travel agent or holiday company offers more flexibility, choice and can be more affordable.  It doesn’t always suit to holiday for one week or two, departing at a weekend at pre-destined times. Plus with the sudden closures of several travel companies with no warning in recent times, booking independently can be a safer option.

family holiday

#1. Decide Where to Go

A starting point is to check out the summer schedule for both Aer Lingus and Ryanair. Both airlines cover the following popular tourist destinations from Ireland:

Portugal – both airline carriers operate daily flights to Faro during the Summer Season

Spain – there are a wide choice of flights to Malaga, Murcia, Barcalona, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Palma and Fuerteventura.

France – Biarritz, Marsailles, Nice, Carcassonne are just some of the French airports on the summer schedule.

Italy – Milan, Rome, Naples, Sicily and Venice are all served with regular flights from Ireland.

There are also direct routes from Ireland to Croatia, Greece and Turkey.

Top tip when booking your flight: If checking out family flights with any airline online, chances are you will try different dates and times, and check back over different days before booking.  Always delete the cookies on your computer before visiting the website you are booking the flights on. Airline websites are clever! If you visit a site a couple of times, the site will recognise and remember your chosen dates and flight prices can suddenly jump up a couple of hundred euro. So delete all cookies before booking.

#2. Choose Where to Stay

There are thousands of booking websites available and the choice can be overwhelming. Here are a selection of recommended booking and accommodation finder websites: – Everyone is familar with Irish website for properties to buy and rent and Ireland but they also have an extensive European short-term rentals section. Thousands of Irish people bought holiday properties in recent years and there is excellent value to be had when booking directly with them. An additional benefit when renting from an Irish owner, there are no language barriers when booking and always be prepared to negotiate on the advertised price!

Travel Republic – Offers a huge range of accommodation to suit all budgets with a phenomenal choice. Simply enter your desired location and dates and view what is available. – another recommeded site with over 100,000 hotels and apartments worldwide on their database. An added bonus with, is that they do not charge you when booking and you pay for accommodation on arrival.

Book direct with preferred hotel/complex – Perhaps you have a chosen hotel or complex in mind? If so booking directly with the hotel can often be the most affordable option. Tip: Don’t forget the joys of Google Translate if emailing hotels directly!

#3. Don’t Forget Additional Extras

Airport transfers/car hire can add significant extra costs to the total cost of a family holiday so always worth bearing in mind when choosing a holiday destination – always consider distance from airport and do not automatically rule out public transport on arrival (it is the cheapest form of transfer!)

If car-hire is necessary, shop around, again the choice of car-hire companies is huge. We recommend always paying the small extra charge for excess insurance or consider taking a policy with e.g. who cover any excess costs in Europe for 12 months for only 49GBP.

Don’t forget about car-seats when booking your car.  You can also check if the airline will let you check in your own car seats as this may be cheaper than renting them from the car-hire company.  Or have the kids take their car seats as backpacks!

Travel Insurance is another additional but necessary cost particularly when booking yourself.

#4. Research, research, research

Costs nothing but time! If booking your family holiday independently, we recommend researching your destination online thoroughly before the holiday, it really can save you money and time when there.

If you are holidaying this year and booking without a travel agent, we would love to hear from you!

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.