By David Light
Similar to Discmans (shouldn’t that be ‘Discmen’?), disposable cameras and Jason Donovan’s TV career, the package holiday looked dead set on being confined to the annals of history. With the introduction of low-cost airlines’ predilection for Web bookings and ‘click here for the best deal’ online hotel portals, come the millennium — millions of you became your own travel agent tapping away at the computer as fervently as the person in the high street office used to, minus the invariably red blazer and polka-dot tie or scarf. The trend has only increased over the last couple of decades with services such as Airbnb and Skyscanner further enabling travellers to tailor bespoke elements of their trips and phone apps only making the process easier.
Like the brick-and-mortar tourism operators who purveyed the package deal, the pre-determined holiday has a whiff of the anachronistic. Why would you trust an agency to decide where you were going to stay for your well-deserved time off when you can root around virtual tours or pick an apartment in the center of town under your own steam? I’ll tell you why: Cost. Where the build-it-yourself model has always tended to save money, lately bundles — often offered by airlines — seem to be presenting better prices. And who doesn’t want a cheaper vacation at this time of year? With reported hikes in transport fees, a last-minute Eid break for less is just what the doctor ordered.
My package deal revelation came relatively recently. I, like many, assumed I could always dig around and find the best price on everything. I would spend hours on my phone comparing values, planning stopovers and googling neighbourhoods to see if that suspiciously cheap flat was even situated in my desired city, let alone the town’s main thoroughfare. Then an e-mail from Holidays by flydubai changed everything. There sat a link proposing a two-night/ three-day stay in one of the Armenian capital Yerevan’s few five-star hotels along with return flights for a touch over Dh1,000 per person leaving a couple of days later.
Could that be correct? Yes, as it turned out. One click, details entered and that was it — no more thoughts, or worries and the following weekend I was off. It was refreshingly labour non-intensive. I’d always taken almost professional pride in constructing the various layers of my getaways, yet here was my every whim all taken care of for a one-off sum. What was even more pleasing was the conclusion — it was a lovely vacation. This Eid, further wallet-friendly recommendations from the same company, Air Arabia and tajawal, have sprung forth and I’m sure they have most likely popped into your inbox too. While I still enjoy putting together a voyage piece by piece, I just wanted to let you know — one traveller always on the prowl to look after the pennies to another — they’re more than worth a look.
David is an avid traveller. Give him the opportunity and he is off exploring.