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How many times has that phrase run through your head when telling the kids to tidy their room or to get on with their school work? Hell, I even think it when I tell my husband not to leave his shoes in the most inappropriate places. How many of us could do with a tidier house, fulfilling domestic duties as well as clearing our shoes away? Well this phrase ran through my head two weeks ago when booking our family winter holiday as I left it until the last minute.

I am usually organised and preach non-procrastination, but I found my stress levels rising when I realised I had four days to book the holiday for three families or lose the early bird offer and loyalty reward.

2015/16 Geordie crew

2015/16 Geordie crew

This might not sound like such a tall order, but the adults worked and alongside professional duties there were domestic ones to fulfil too. There were lots of texts, voice messages and emails pinging backwards and forwards. The deadline was 5pm on Thursday 25th June. I had already made my mind up months ago to hand over the holiday organisation to a specialist. I had no extra capacity to take on winter holiday organisation and, over the years, I have learned to never under estimate the time it takes to agree holiday dates and resort choice as well as sorting out accommodation needs, ski school, flights, transfers, ski passes and equipment hire. But add in other families’ requirements and the complexity levels sky rocket, so I gave this particular ‘holiday headache’ to my good friend and travel expert Lizzie Adamson-Brown, a Travel Counsellor. She liaised with all the families and arranged everything despite jetlag from her recent trip to Mexico and birthday celebrations on 24th June. A good job she did as she had to work her magic to get us onto a fully-booked flight!

Where's the sunshine?

Where’s the sunshine?

How do you organise and book your family winter holidays? There are several options:

Independent travel: by booking your own flights, transfers, ski school and liaising directly with hotels, chalets or apartments you make arrangements with each supplier on a separate basis. This gives you lots of choice and flexibility of options; you are in total control and everything is bespoke to what you want. However, it takes time and you are not covered by ABTA or ATOL if anything goes wrong such as a cancelled flight.

Tour operator: you can book directly with a tour operator to purchase their pre-planned travel product which they have put together. There are many options such as Crystal, Inghams, Neilson and Esprit to name but a few. You are tied into their product so not as much flexibility as independent travel, but usually you are covered by ABTA and ATOL which will give you some financial protection and comeback if the worst happens.

Travel agent: you can book with an agent who has a range of travel products you can buy. They sell on behalf of tour operators and act as a middleman. Traditionally seen on the high street, but often nowadays online offering highly bespoke packages which they put together on the client or customer’s behalf. Travel Counsellors are a type of travel agent but they can also act as a tour operator and go directly to suppliers to offer their clients the best price. As they are independent they can find the best deal and put together the package you want. Other travel agents include companies such as Snow Finders and Skiline. And again you will often be covered by ATOL and ABTA for peace of mind.

The choice and range of options open to us all is rather mind-boggling, but whatever you do and however you book your family winter holiday, if you want to get what you want at the best price, do as I say not as I do. I have learned my lesson and will be more organised for 2017. I’m now off to wash the dishes, sit down with my daughter to get that maths homework done and shout at ‘im indoors to clear those shoes away before I break my neck!

Enjoy the summer holidays and Ta Ta For Now