Tsilivi, Zakynthos, Greece
Unless you have that annual family holiday destination every year, it is always difficult to decide where in the world to travel to next. The world has over 200 countries to offer, sure some of them are not exactly safe for tourists, but there is an incredible number of beautiful places still. Whenever I think of travelling, I always become slightly ‘tree-loving’, because I always wonder just how much of a beautiful world mother nature has given us, yet everything that humans do continue to destroy it, whether all of us know it or not.
But anyhow, I did not start writing this post to talk about how special the Earth is (even though I’m considering about it). In June this year I turned 21. Now, being someone who is huge on birthdays, and
realising that the next big birthday would be in 9 years time, I decided to make it the biggest I’ve had, so I booked a holiday. Unfortunately, I was subject to exams during the month of June, and did not manage to live the birthday I wanted on the day. Despite everything, I had a wonderful birthday and I was spoilt to the nines.
After browsing through countless websites and travel catalogues, me and my boyfriend Nathan were still completely stuck on where we would like to travel. The experience we had in the Thomson Holidays branch we went to was more than dismal, and completely helpless. Eventually, we found our saving grace in Thomas Cook Holidays.
Pros & Cons of a Travel Agency
I don’t know the ratio between the amount of people that book through travel agencies and the people that book their own holidays, but before this holiday, I had never been to a travel agency before. As amazing of an experience as it was, it is sometimes way more fun to plan your whole holiday yourself (coming from someone who has done backpacking).
Obviously depending on the type of person you are and the type of holiday you are looking for, there will be different things suited to your needs. A travel agency is a definite yes if you are like I was and want a great, no-worries holiday. Since everything is sorted for you at your own discretion, you still get control over your own holiday but you have absolutely nothing to worry about, because it is their job to make sure of that and if anything goes wrong, it is their job to sort it all out.
But, if a great peace of mind is what you require, then you better be prepared to make up for it in bread and honey. (Money)
Which Travel Agency then?
Now I am going to be slightly biased here, but Thomas Cook was really our saving grace. The staff was more than helpful in the store we went in there, completely clueless on where we wanted to go. Whereas for us, Thomson Holidays were a little more patronising and non-helpful as I said one place I definitely don’t want to go is Turkey – long story – and where does she advise us? Dalaman.
Another great thing about Thomas Cook was that the price of the holiday was the same no matter if you booked it in store or online. Whereas for a lot of the other agencies, booking in store is always more expensive.
Booking a Holiday Yourself
As stressful as this can be, it can also be a very good experience as you get to learn so much about the travel industry. I did a vocational course (pretty word for BTEC) in Aviation Operations and I know much about the industry already. Now having went on 3 backpacking holidays planned by me, I can tell you it is one of the best feelings in the world when the trip is a success. However, when it doesn’t, you will have no one to fall back on and sort or problems out for you, you must do it by yourself. Now that is some serious adulting.
Pro tip: Ever notice that the more you look at a holiday, the pricier it gets? When planning and searching for your holidays online, make sure to keep deleting your browser cookies. These are what the websites store on your computer or electronic device when you search for things online. So once holiday companies know you’re searching for a holiday, they will whack the prices up in order to try and earn more money.
Now this was another reason why I was grateful for the travel agents. Not only can they match my criteria up way better can any website can, they were also able to offer recent reviews of the location and maybe even specific hotels from personal experience.
Here is also where you seriously think about what you want for your holiday. Do you want to relax by the pool with a book in your hand or do you see yourself going to sightseeing and one excursion after another? If the latter sounds more like you, then truthfully, you don’t have to place too much importance on your hotel. Sure, having a nice place is what everyone wants, but if you’re hardly going to be there except for sleep, then do you really need that superior sea view room with a free standing jacuzzi bath?
An important thing though, is that you don’t settle. If you want something, go for it! Don’t come to spend your holiday regretting your decision and dreaming about another place.
Sentido Louis Plagos Beach Hotel
For us this year we found a beautiful hotel in Tsilivi, Zante. The Sentido Louis Plagos Beach was a double whammy because ‘Sentido’ are the chain of hotels owned by Thomas Cook, and ‘Louis’ are the chain of hotels owned by Greeks. So a high quality of service was delivered and I could not fault this hotel one bit.
The staff were incredible as we was greeted by a concierge with cold towels and fresh orange juice. The food was laid out buffet style and it was perfect as both me and Nathan are fussy eaters but there was so much selection that we never could have starved even if we tried. The impressive thing was that even though it was a family-friendly hotel with a kids pool and play area, the children never got a chance to annoy the adults that just wanted a relaxing holiday, because there was a mini disco on every night for them, and it was well far away
from the main bar where the adults sat and had a nice solid chinwag.
But the most incredible thing about this hotel was the barmen. I know what you must be thinking, barmen? But yes, the guys who served our drinks every night absolutely made our holiday. To the point where we would go back, just to visit them.
This post is not sponsored, but seriously, go check this place out if you are planning to go Zante or even if you are wondering where to go. You won’t regret it!
And if you don’t believe me, take a look at the TripAdvisor page for this hotel and see if you can spot the names Taz and Tony.
Just how important is it? Very, in my opinion. There is not a single trip I’ve been on where I didn’t look at TripAdvisor first and tried to suss out the situation. I think it is especially important if you are planning your own holiday and not relying on anyone else. On the other hand, as amazing as TripAdvisor is, you just have to be careful of the establishment owners as some of them can be really sketchy and only post some very nice photos of certain corners in their hotels, leaving us with a nasty surprise.
That is what happened to me when I was on my last backpacking trip. Me and my sister was in Mykonos, Greece when we discovered just how nasty the hostel we had chosen was, and ended up paying extra money just to get a room in the much nicer-looking hotel, right across the road.
So don’t be like me, and don’t place too much trust in these, because everyone as a different opinion, and what worked for some people might not work for you.
No matter how grand or amazing the location you have chosen, the holiday is only ever complete with the right people. The worse thing is when you have gone to a lovely spot on the globe, spent however much you have spent, and the holiday was not up to par because the people you had gone with just weren’t ‘your people’. If you have watched Grey’s Anatomy, you will know what I’m talking about.
The Things that Make It Better
A good holiday is obviously as great as it can be, but like all things in life, its always the little things. And these could be anything from the polite staff at the airport, the amazing drinks in the hotel bar, or the wondrous range of duty free products. I spoke about this Guess watch in a previous post and it was a product I picked up on the plane on the way out, since I always love to read the magazines advertising the duty free range, I saw that they had that beautiful watch for £80, plus 20% off! So right on that train I went.
It was only after did I sat and googled this watch - over £100 in the shops. So, little things like that are definitely worth it y'all.
Now all the obvious stuff is out of the way, we get to a point where not everyone thinks about. Now obviously, everyone gets excited about their holiday, everyone relishes in the thought of having time off work, but I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about the disappointment you feel when something during the holiday didn’t quite meet your expectations. Whether if it was due to something not going right like a flight delay or something you had expected something from the hotel that you never got. To have a perfect holiday, your mindset is very important. Whether you spend the rest of your week mulling over a delayed flight or do you bathe in being able to spend time away from the stress of home – it’s your call.
When me and Nathan first arrived in Zante, I was slightly disappointed on my first day because we had asked for a ground floor room because the pool was literally a few feet away and because it was my birthday. Birthday girl rules, right? But sadly, we didn’t get our ground floor room, which left me disappointed. But other aspects of the holiday absolutely wowed me, so I cheered up had an incredible holiday nonetheless.
So many different aspects can contribute to your dreamy holiday. Truth is, perfect holidays don’t really exist, because you can bet something can go wrong, and it wouldn’t be a trip without them. But it is definitely what you decide to make of it, and the experience you get from it.
Where is your next holiday destination?