Travel Tip Tuesday: Understanding Travel Packages and Promotions


We’ve all seen them. Three Nights and Rental Car in Hawaii from $435Fly with American Airlines, Get a 5th Night FreeAll-Inclusive Cozumel from $425!

Particularly in today’s market, travel companies are offering promotion and package deals guaranteed to save you – the consumer – big money.

Or are they?

The untrained traveling eye might see a “package” deal for a hotel that includes free breakfast, free entrance to the hotel gym and a rental car and assume they are getting a price break. That isn’t necessarily the case.

A package deal doesn’t promise a discount, it is simply a collection of more than one component of your trip. 

Let’s use the Hawaii example above. The actual cost for two people to enjoy this three-day vacay is $870 (The rate of $435 is per person!) I went to the hotel website and found a room for three nights for $160 per room – not per person – for a total of $507. I found a three-day rental car for $200 on

The total package price is $870 (plus tax)

The total “my” price is $707 (plus tax)

Do you think you could provide your own breakfast for three days for less than $180? I sure could.

According to an article published on the Columbus Dispatch, here are some other things to look for when booking travel packages:

>> Phone VS Internet booking – Some deals are web-exclusive while others must be made via telephone. Sometimes there are additional charges for booking a deal on the phone. Be sure you know you are getting the best bargain before you book.

>> Per room VS Per Person – Not knowing this little detail could more than double your expected vacation price tag. Be sure to read the fine print before you move forward.

>> Freebies – Most package deals list everything that is included, such as breakfast, underage children and roll-a-way beds. Sometimes these things are added to increase the value of the package and other times they are already included for every guest. Check the hotel website for verification before you assume you are getting something, for nothing.

Have you ever booked a travel package? What was your experience with it? If you did the math, how much did you save by going with the package?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

7 Responses
  1. Like you pointed out-I tend to get better rates when I book separately!!

    Though- I always keep my eyes open. I’d certainly book one if I saved beaucoup bucks!
    I hear ya!!
    My Melange’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday – Why go solo?

  2. great post!! I would definately recommend booking seperately. The first and only time I booked a “deal” for a one week vacation in los angeles, I got to the hotel only to find out that it was going under major construction. I was relocated to another hotel in a less than desirable location (let’s just say that the “safe” neighborhood was a $60 cab ride away). It’s a good idea to look at deals to get an idea of prices, but, like you said, it’s often cheaper to book directly through the hotel.

    Also, airlines often have last minute deals on airfare. It’s better to be patient and plan out the trip than spring for a package without doing research.
    Oh no. That stinks. That is another reason not go with tours, as well. You are at their mercy!!
    Anait’s last blog post..Now That’s Hospitality!

  3. Vanessa

    I have been on a couple of package holidays. One was 2 weeks in Malta (from London incl flights, insurance, hotel, half board and airport transfers) for the huge sum of £220!!! Definitely could not have gotten a better bargain that that. ANother time we went to Sharm-el-Sheikh (huge tourist trap – would NOT return there!) for a week over xmas/ NY which was 250e per person for flights and full board at a 5* hotel so that was also worthwhile IMO.

    Other than that I don’t like staying in big hotels but it sure is a good (and sometimes cheap) way to take a relaxing holiday with all the planning taken out if that is what you are after.

    Oh and just remembered this now, but we also did a package deal once at a club med, New Caledonia. That was pretty awesome. That deal was one person got a free flight and half price room out of every pair that booked. So we saved a lot then. We were going to do a triathlon and ended up spending a lot less than everyone else who booked flights and (lower standard) accom separately, with the added benefit of having all meals free, great facilities and heaps of activities etc organised at the resort. Best holiday I ever had!
    Oooh, lucky you. Those sound fantastic, Vanessa. If you ever find something like that again, be sure to let me know!

  4. good advice Cherrye….it’s always a good idea to do your homework. I always compare hotel and flight prices by going to the hotel or airline website as well… I’ll do initial searches on sites like Orbitz and then directly to the ones I’m interested in.
    I do the same thing. It is all about research!
    joe@italyville’s last blog post..Caffe’ alla Nonna

  5. When I put together a package here at the inn, I do it with the guest’s TIME in mind. Many guests have never been to Maine, don’t know what there is to do and don’t want to bother doing the research. That’s where I come in!

    I do the research, buy the tickets, make the reservations, etc and hand the guest their ‘package’ when they arrive.

    You might get dinner for 2, tickets to a museum you might not have found on your own, a tour that might have been pre-booked, etc.

    And, yes, had you wanted to do all the calling and research, you might have gotten it for less. But, if you don’t want to do that, it’s done and you can just relax and ‘follow the map’ as it were to all of your sights or events.

    For the ‘7 cities in 7 days sort of person,’ the package works. For the leisurely traveler who wants to ‘discover’ the area on their own, not so much.

    All of that said, tho, I’ve generally found that when I’ve booked a package, it’s cost me more than if I had done it myself! A $10 entry ticket cost me $45 with the ‘package’! I don’t do that sort of overcharging when I prepare packages!
    Thank you for your comment. Since I think that researching and planning my trip is half of the fun, I wouldn’t want to give that authority over to someone else. However, for people who have less time or desire to plan their own trips, services such as yours are vital and customers should be willing to pay for your expertise. Thanks for pointing out a good point that I overlooked.
    Monica’s last blog post..25 Things about White Cedar Inn

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