The stress of booking a holiday

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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

“Do you want to park the car in the long stay, mid stay, short stay or meet and greet?”

“Anything but the meet and greet,” Dougie replies, “I don’t like the idea of people taking my keys. Who knows what they will do with the car while we’re away.”

“There are some good deals with the short stay,” I continue. “But you have to choose from economy, standard or premium.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Seven minutes’ walk with economy, three with premium. I’ve worked out we save a quid for every extra minute we have to walk to the terminal.”

That’s the problem with booking a holiday these days. Too many decisions to make. From booking a flight to a hotel room, the options available are so bewildering, the whole operation causes an inordinate amount of stress which is the last thing you need as it’s usually the reason you started thinking about a holiday in the first place.

It all begins with the flight. Living where we do, we could fly from a number of airports so whittling those down takes a considerable amount of time. 7am from Luton versus 11am from Stansted. Should we stay the night before or chance the rush hour traffic?

Flight is booked. Let’s pay. Do you want extra bags? No. Extra leg room? No. Priority boarding? No. Reserved seats? Ooh, ok, yes let’s have that - that will save the usual argy-bargy at the airport gate. Do you want a hire car? No. Shall we find you a hotel? No. For heaven’s sake, just let me pay and I can get on with my life.

Let’s look for accommodation. Comparison websites provide plenty of options and reviews but the road to madness also lies there. Every few seconds it tells me that prices for the city I am looking at are going up. My hotel is in high demand. Three other people are looking at it. Who are they? I start to panic and am desperate to beat the trio of trippers from across the globe who dare to be looking at my accommodation. Reading the reviews does me no good. Should I believe David from the UK who thought the beds were too hard or Lorenzo from Italy who complains about the water pressure.

The hotel’s websites are far more relaxing to look at. Beautifully lit photographs of two champagne flutes don’t really give me a true idea of what to expect but I’m being charmed, nonetheless, and it’s working. They offer me free breakfast if I book direct. Yes please.

Even with the hotel booked, the decision-making continues. I search for the best things to do and the most favoured restaurants. I waste whole evenings deliberating about whether to buy a city card or buy an advance ticket for the top attractions.

This is meant to be a last minute break, an easy, get away from it all mini holiday. I’m exhausted. But the process isn’t over. I need to buy an assortment of toiletries all under 100ml for my transparent plastic bag. And I don’t know how I will fit all my shoes in this tiny case.

Should have chosen that extra bag after all.

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk