Boring stuff out of the way, now you need to pick your holiday. You may already know where you want to go or you may be open to suggestions.
Fortunately most sites will have search functions that allow you to say where you want to fly from and when with no specific destination. See the useful links section for some recommended websites.
In the days of old you had one option for going on holiday and that was through a travel agent. Now we have the internet and a whole host of sites for booking a holiday.
If you want less hassle, piece of mind but at a slightly higher cost than you want a package holiday. First of all it's one stop and everything from flights hotel and transfers between the airport and hotel are taken care of.
If you book through one of the main operators you will also usually get a rep at the hotel or resort, giving you help and local knowledge without speaking the language. The other benefit of a package holiday is that you are protected to a certain degree from any problems with flights.
All of this will come at a cost but most tour operators realize they have to compete on price and it is not always the case that this will be a more expensive option so it is worth checking out.
It is important to pick a good one as this will directly influence your holiday. If you come across ultra cheap deals from companies you have never heard of before it is worth doing a quick check to make sure the company is OK. By this I mean checking they are not a con site but also that they are not likely to go bankrupt any time soon and strand you abroad.
The main thing is to check the tour operator is ATOL protected, this means you are protected financially from them going bust and make sure you do not get stranded abroad. A quick Google search should render some more information on the company, other people's reviews or company news.
If you are trying to save money and you are not interested in the other benefits of a package deal you can simply book your own flights and hotel.
The main downside to this is the amount of time you need to spend getting the right combination of flight and hotel.
You will also be responsible for getting to and from your hotel once you get to the destination airport which may or may not be straight forward depending where you go. Generally it is easier for city breaks where the transport infrastructure is good, especially sensible places where there is a rail link to the airport. So it is worthwhile trying to work out how you will get to your hotel before booking anything it may end up costing a lot more in time and money.
Another thing to remember with the DIY option is that should anything go wrong you are on your own. If your flights are delayed or cancelled you will have to notify your hotel or find yourself accommodation.
Before Trip Advisor going on holiday was a gamble and before the invention of the internet you were placing your trust entirely in the hands of travel agents. You would book a holiday based on a glossy brochure and the word of a person you have just met. When you arrive your hotel could be at the bottom of the runway or not even finished yet.
Thankfully that is no longer the case. I would thoroughly recommend before booking anything to check out your hotel on Trip Advisor. Apart from being able to get other peoples experiences of your destination, you can see travellers photos, which will show you what the hotel is really like rather than the glossy professional ones taken from only the best angles.
You can also get lost of useful information that is hard to find elsewhere such as hidden hotel costs, local attractions worth seeing as well as information on local restaurants and their cost.
One thing to note about reading public reviews is to not be immediately put off by the odd negative one, when the majority are positive. It is true that there are people in the world who will never be happy and take pride in being overly critical. I even saw one reviewer complaining that it was always the same people by the pool! Common sense should weed these out.
Not only can you use sites such as Trip Advisor to research your destination you can also get a birds eye view and sometimes even a virtual tour using Google Maps. This is very hand if you want to get an idea of where things are in relation to your hotel, is it far from the beach? close to local bars and shops? next to the airport? And although most far flung and more remote places will not have it but street view is great to get an idea of where your hotel is and check out what’s is on your door step.
Unless you are completely up to date with world news at all times you are not going to know where in the world it is safe to travel.
If you are going somewhere new that you are not familiar with check out the Foreign Office website for a list of no go areas and advice by country. The site is great for getting some local knowledge, standards and practices can differ wildly from country to country especially in terms of toilet arrangements! So it is also worth doing some local research first in case you are put off by that kind of thing.
Finally make sure you are not paying too much for your package, once you have an idea of where you want to go and stay it is worth shopping around for the best deals. If you are booking via a website then do a quick search for voucher codes, you may be able to save a bit of cash on a package that way. Also check if you can get cash back on your booking either via a website like Topcashback or by using a cash back credit card to pay for the package.