There are some real bargains to be found in the High Streets these days in the way of budget package holidays. Are they a
viable alternative for the independent traveller to get their cheap travel fix?
British independent travellers have had it pretty tough since 2008. Not only has the worldwide economy tanked, leading to global recession, tax increases and job layoffs, meaning it is increasingly difficult to save money for travel, but also the Pound has tanked with it. As a result, trips to expensive destinations such as Japan or Australia are almost as fifty percent more expensive than when I first took my round the world trip detailed on this website way back in 2005.
Conversely, the Gap Year is increasing in popularity, with students fresh out of university with decent degrees but with little prospects fighting for a meagre selection of poorly-paid jobs deciding to hit the road instead. Is it escapism, or is it common sense to go and find adventure and other opportunities further afield?
Those of us who just want a cheap getaway are finding independent travel increasingly painful on the wallet, and I include myself amongst this group. Which is why for the first time I have seriously been considering a package holiday bought off the shelf on the High Street.
The package holiday sector is certainly running on razor-thin margins; just the other week it was announced that Thomas Cook, that stalwart of the industry, had to seek extra funds to continue its operations. Luckily it has secured these, so it will remain a familiar feature of the British High Street. And luckily for us, it means the package holiday industry will be offering good deals on cheap, sunny getaways for many months to come as they target those Brits with cobwebs on their pursestrings.
A browse of the packages offered up by a typical online travel agent, Directline-holidays
, shows the bargains that can be had. Couple the razor-thin margins the package industry is currently operating on in these tough economic times with the fall in prices to so-called "troubled" former golden-boy destinations such as Egypt and you can really uncover some bargains. One such deal, correct at time of publishing, is for a five star hotel in Sharm El Sheikh - seven days, all inclusive package, including all food and drink, accommodation and flights, for just over £500.
With these kinds of deals, even an independent traveller can be sorely tempted. The benefit the independent traveller has is that he or she is not afraid of leaving the resort; in the day whilst the other holidaymakers lounge at the pool, the backpacker can chip off into the nearest town, market, or see the local sights. Meaning that you get your independent travel fix for the price of an all-inclusive package, bought in pounds and therefore exposed less to the pound's weakness.
I worry somewhat about who I will meet on such holidays; it would be rare indeed to meet other single backpackers... I expect a lot of people would be couples, especially of the older agegroup. But then again, travelling is about meeting the unexpected head-on. Typical holiday experiences can be atypical when it's not your usual style of travel.
Away I go...