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Thread: DIY booking?

  1. #1
    hi we're thinking of booking for next year and have always used virgin holiday but we wonder whether to do it ourselves this year or use a travel agent.

    Where would we go for flights and how would we book the resort and cars if we did it ourselves?

  2. #2
    Well, I'm not a huge help to you, as I don't get to travel out of the country much, but we are planning a trip to Ireland, and we'll be doing it ourselves.

    We watch the flights like a hawk, and will choose those that have the best fares for when we want to travel.

    We research the areas we want to visit and make a hotel selection based on what the internet site for the hotel tells us, what reviews have to say, and if possible word of mouth from other sites (like this one!).

    Cars, we'd do the same. Typically, we research and see what car hire companies are available at our arrival airport and make a choice from the one with the best price.

    I know what our TA package trip cost last time and proportionately (allowing for increased prices, ect.) we are certain we can do it better ourselves. It takes loads of work though, so be prepared!

    Also, it helps a bit that we've already been once, so we have a tiny idea of what we want to do and how to accomplish that.

    The biggest issue for us is the hotels, and that would probably hold true for you too. If you didn't select a Disney resort, I cannot suggest strongly enough, you check out the offsite hotel through as many means possible before booking. There are some horrid Orlando area hotels out there!!!

    As for car hire, if you stay with the major companies here, you won't have any real problems. Dollar, Budget, Thrifty, Alamao, National, Avis, Hertz... are some of the larger companies. Hertz is often pretty expensive though, so check carefully.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Arizona, USA
    Like Tink, I live in the US, so most of my thoughts are general.

    I tend to prefer DIY, as I can control the various aspects without going through a third party. That said, a knowledgeable TA can be an incredible asset when you aren't familiar with your destination. In the case of WDW, be sure to use a Disney certified TA, such as Val (in the UK) or Johnie (in the US), both of whom are members of this site. General TAs don't always understand the Disney system, which can cause headaches. Disney certified TAs have to complete certification showing knowledge of various things Disney, including booking, ADRs, resorts, parks, etc.

    Whatever you do, learn as much as you can about WDW before booking anything. It will make life so much easier! Once you decide on your dates, you'll need to work on both transportation and rooms. Sometimes it works better to book them separately, even if you use a TA. Other times a package may be more economical. And, keep in mind that a package through a holiday company is priced differently than separate components. Price them both ways.

    If you plan to rent a vehicle, you'll also need to pay for insurance. That can be an expensive part of the holiday. I'm sure many of our UK members can help you with the best rental agencies to try for the best rates. The ones that work best for US drivers with personal auto insurance may not be the best for your circumstances--their insurance rates tend to be very high. Not always, but usually.

    We love helping others plan their holidays--particularly at WDW! It helps the withdrawal pangs for those of us who won't be visiting any time soon!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Arizona, USA

    Just went back and read your post again.

    Whether you book DIY or through a TA, these are the steps I recommend:

    1. Determine your travel dates.

    2. Determine your holiday budget.

    3. Get an idea of airfare prices--it's a significant portion of the budget.

    4. Learn about the WDW resorts, amentities and pricing. There are several categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and--hmmmm...can't remember what they're calling the DVC resorts now. It used to be Home-Away-From-Home, but they changed it a while back. Deluxe and DVC resorts tend to be the most expensive, but the DVC resorts can be a really good value. There are some perks for staying on site, even in the Value resorts.

    5. Learn about offsite resorts and villas in the Orlando area. We have several members who rent holiday villas in the vicinity of WDW, and there are other sites specializing in holiday villa rentals, as well. Check Travelocity or or any other sites you like for off site hotels, motels and resorts in the Lake Buena Vista/Orlando area. Read as many reviews as you can within the last six months to a year. Keep in mind that more people complain than praise, so take all comments with several grains of salt. Get an idea of pricing for the time of year you will be traveling. 2010 rates may not be available yet, but you can get an idea from the current rates.

    6. Learn about the things to do in the Orlando area. If you're staying 3+ weeks, as many of our UK members do, you may want to visit more than WDW--although you certainly don't have to! Search for Orlando, FL in your favourite browser and look for the visitors site (should end in .org). There is a lot to do there! You can plan your lodging around your interests, perhaps staying on International Drive (I-Drive) or at Universal Studios or in an off site villa part of your visit, then staying at WDW while visiting those parks.

    Many of our members have posted trip reports. Isafari, in particular, has visited many of the attractions in and around the Orlando area. WDW is a huge resort in and of itself, and the Orlando area is extensive as well. The best thing you can do to ensure a magical holiday is to educate yourself before making the major holiday planning decisions. So, pull up a comfy chair and get busy reading!

  5. #5
    i have found kayak to be really good for flight prices but i constantly check places like opodo, expedia and all the reputable airlines home pages.

    hotels i do the same -search around and see which offers the best deal- i also would make sure you're just guaranteeing the room with a credit card and it can be cancelled.

    car hire- usrentacar seem to have the best deals for me anyway.

    don't forget to book everything on your credit card as this will protect you

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    wow!! great tips!!

  7. #7
    On our last two trips to the US we booked DIY.
    Like BC said l check Kayak and all the other sites for flights. In 2003 we flew indirect with a stop off at Atlanta and then onto MCO. This took alot of 's off the price. The other good thing about this is you clear immigration at arrival airport and can then shoot through MCO quickly.
    We have stayed in villas the last few times and we found these through word of mouth.
    Car rental is so easy in the US. All l would say is make sure that you get an airport rental and not an ID or 192 pick up location.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Billericay,Essex, UK
    ive only ever done a package once because it was such a good deal.

    first time we went in 2000 booked VA direct as i didnt know any better

    but now i book thru a third party for VA flights, never ever got good priced thru opodo, expedia and certainly nothing close to what i pay from VH they are sooooo expensive wow!!!

    never stayed onsite always in a villa

    Sunridge Woods Villa Oct 2000 & 2002
    Esprit/Calabay Parc Oct 2004
    Sunset Ridge Oct 2008

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