Just how do you go about booking a fly drive holiday for the USA? We looked at a few options for our roadtrip…
A fly drive holiday is quite simple:
- You fly to a destination.
- Hire a car.
- Travel around staying at different places.
- Then you fly back home, which may not be from the same airport that you flew into.
Fly Drive Package Deals, and why we avoided them
They book the flights, the car, and you can choose from a brochure the accommodation you wish to stay in.
they don’t always have accommodation where you want to go
After much research (and a few phone calls to Fly Drive companies), we decided it wasn’t for us.
- On our fly drive we wanted to see certain things and go on a particular route. The package companies don’t always have accommodation where you want to go, which can mean you miss the very things you want to go on the trip for.
- Advice on where was ‘safe‘ to take the kids, and driving distances when you have a family, was a little bit vague or sketchy. I wasn’t going to spend that amount of money on big family road trip without knowing it was going to be good. The person on the other end of the phone (often a single young adult who has never been to your destination) will look at a map and think a 380 mile non-stop journey between accommodation is not a problem. They clearly haven’t travelled anywhere with kids.
- Compared to booking it ourselves, a lot of car hire and accommodation appeared a lot more expensive when going through these Fly Drive package deals. Now I don’t mind paying for a service that puts everything together for me, but the package deals we looked at actually did very little for us; they just wanted my money.
The trouble with creating your own Fly Drive roadtrip
With the package deals turning out to be a bit of a disappointment, creating our own fly drive holiday was the obvious choice. However, some big questions still remained: where was it safe to take the kids (I had been warned about no-go areas in LA by several people), and what are the driving distances?
We worked out driving distances and times from Google maps, and then from a great app called Roadtrippers, which had the added advantage of showing points of interest on route. When travelling with kids its great to know there are places you can stop at to break up the journey.
However, despite reading a lot of guides and information, it became apparent that to book this trip, which was going to take a few years of savings, there was a lot involved and it needed to be done right.
there was a lot involved and it needed to be done right
This left us with only one course of action…
Using (a real) Travel Agent
Fortunately this sort of dilemma is exactly what a travel agent is for. Not one of many high street chains that just book things out of a holiday brochure for you, but an agent that will create your custom trip and take care of all the details for you.
this sort of dilemma is exactly what a real travel agent is for
Yes, doing it this way can cost more than doing it yourself, but as I said before, I don’t mind paying for a service that actually does something for you.
We are lucky that we have such a local travel agent at Peakes Travel Elite, and Claire Moore took care of everything for us. Not only had she done the trip before herself, she also has kids and understood limits on family travel.
So with understanding our budget and the places we wanted to see, Claire proposed some itineraries, and after a few tweaks, we had our road trip sorted. They even helped with the admin for the electronic visas required for entry into the USA (which I had completely missed in my ‘DIY’ research – oops!).
And when we did run into a bit of difficulty (more on that in a later post) they were there to help sort things out.
Our recommendations for choosing a travel agent
- Find a smaller local firm that has good recommendations from friends and families. Make sure it is an agent that can create bespoke holidays rather than just book something from a catalogue.
- Ask the agent if they have personally been to the place you want to visit. Ask how many people they’ve sent to that region. They may even have some testimonials.
- Make sure you are clear about what you want to visit, the type of holiday, the amount of travelling that would be acceptable to your family.
- If you ask questions about things, they should be able to answer, or go and find out and get back to you.
- Ask what would happen if you run into difficulties. For example, on a fly drive holiday you are checking into many different places. What if something was wrong with your booking, such as the hotel has double booked you? Is there a service they have to support you?
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