The New Paper's tips on how to make the best travel deals

Update:16 Oct 2010
APART from good food, there is another thing that Singaporeans find hard to give up - travel.
The New Paper speaks to travel advisers for tips on how to manoeuvre the always-packed fair to find your perfect holiday without burning a hole in your pocket.

No.1. Beat the crowds
Arrive early and give yourself ample time to browse through the packages offered by different agents. Don't make a hasty decision and pay more for a tour which may possibly be offered for less by another agent.

No. 2. Cheap tours may not be the best
Avoid signing up for a tour just because it is cheap.
If you are going on your holiday with a group of friends or relatives, always look through the itinerary first to see if it is of interest to you and others in your group. You wouldn't want to pay for something that you won't enjoy.
No.3. Decide on a destination early
It would be wise to decide on a destination before heading down to the fair. This will help you to focus on the tours offered for that particular country instead of being swayed by agents into buying some other tour which may exceed your original budget, and which you may later regret.

No.4. Do your homework
UOB Travel Planners' vice-president of leisure, Ms Eileen Oh, said customers should check out the various Natas supplements in newspapers before heading to the fair. They can also call the agencies to check on the prices or go to their websites to get a preview of what's on offer at the fair.
But if you are determined to head down to the fair to see the deals for yourself, you should collect the brochures and itineraries for packages offered by various agents, and weigh the pros and cons of each.
A tour offered by one agent may cost less than another but there may be a trade-off. For instance, there may be fewer meals provided, or more free-and-easy time instead of visits to attractions.
When in doubt, surf the Internet for travel forums and get advice. Also look out for travel agents that offer more discounts if you pay using a particular credit card.

No.5. Free-and-easy vs packaged tours
For the more adventurous who prefer DIY holidays, it might save you a substantial amount of money to rent a car instead of buying separate transport passes.
However, ASA Holidays' Ms Louisa Chin advised: 'If you are unfamilar with the country, it will be wiser to take up a tour package. This way, you will not miss any 'must see' historical or scenic sites.'
'You also risk getting lost in an unfamiliar territory, and end up wasting a lot of time.'

No.6. Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals
Should you see packages selling at prices much lower than usual, it may be a good idea to ask what kind of accommodation or meals you are getting. It would be a disaster if you assume you're getting a three-star hotel and only realise only upon arrival that your accommodation is a rundown hostel or low-grade hotel.
If it is not possible for you to see pictures of the hotel room, read online forums to get a better idea of what you are paying for.
CTC Holidays' senior vice-president of marketing and PR, Ms Alicia Seah, believes that Singaporeans are discerning travellers.
'They would choose to book with a reputable travel agent that is reliable and offers good-value-for-money tour packages,' she said.

Audrey Tan and Geraldine Yeo, newsroom interns
SOURCE: The New Paper
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