Travel Wellbeing | Taking The Stress Out Of Holiday Planning & Travelling
Gaynor Pickard – AKA The Travel Fixer and our new resident travel agent.
She designs holidays that can’t be Googled.
She has too many year’s experience than she cares to remember, working in travel as a holiday designer for people who want to offload the time-consuming pressures of researching and booking a holiday onto someone who knows all there is to know about where to go, when to go, and how to get the best deal and the most value.
Gaynor has travelled extensively, she only sells what she sees and she gives unparallel service.
I started writing this blog post with the intention of not pointing out what can go wrong or getting anyone lathered up about how complex and time-consuming booking travel and holidays can be. There are some people that appear to breeze through the process of booking their own holiday, however, I honestly believe that it’s because they are, somehow, unaware of the potential pitfalls, ever-changing prices and at times totally underhand marketing tactics used by a few online travel providers.
Let’s be honest, many people find that there is little fun in booking a holiday. Back in the day when there were less choice and fewer booking channels we would blindly take a punt and hand over our money for a package holiday. Rocking up in resort we would always wonder if our hotel was actually 200 metres from the ocean or if it would probably take Mo Farrow 20 minutes to run it! However, given that we didn’t have the choice or the resources that we have today we would seldom complain and take all of the hiccups in our stride.
Logistical issues seemed to be limited as holidaymakers all moved as a group and rarely undertook activities or excursions that were not booked and managed by their local representative.
Times have changed. We all crave choice and adventure, some want to make their choice instantly at the push of a button and some wish to take their time and browse.
There are pros and cons to both approaches.
With so many different prices and availability on the same property and room type, you have to be swift, decisive and confident that you are making the right choice when it comes to securing the very best value. There is also a boatload of choice out there and by the time you have read the online reviews, tossed out the dross reviews from the real ones, (if you can tell the difference) deliberated and cogitated, the price of your travel components may have gone up considerably. And they often do.
Since the emergence of low-cost airlines a quote is no longer something that is valid for anything longer than a nanosecond and with the hotels also offering fluid prices which change up and down based on demand and availability it’s very difficult to pin down an accurate cost. To further exacerbate the pain of nailing your target price many of the booking engines and online travel providers do not hold live availability which means that they are offering up rates which don’t guarantee you availability.
Frustrating right? Too right, but also totally unethical (in my humble opinion)
A really good travel agent will save you time and money, they know the best suppliers for price and the best suppliers to look after you impeccably, after all, you don’t want to be lumbered with a trash can view from your bedroom window just because you’ve saved a few quid on the holiday do you?
Hotel brands are my “thing” I have worked as a director of sales for luxury hotels and I know what makes a good hotel good. I know what’s happening in hotel land and who to turn to when I need additional support for my clients.
Smaller hotels and more obscure destinations don’t really get the same exposure as the larger, better funded big name brand hotels, which means that they can’t easily be found on booking platforms or on search engines. I personally stay abreast of all of the latest destination developments & hotel openings and will match your needs to somewhere that you may never find by yourself.
I act as a personal travel manager, I’m here to help people get the very best from their travel and holidays. My job is to tease out information from clients that they would not usually feel is important when searching for a holiday. I enjoy nothing better than enhancing my client’s travel arrangements with insider services and one of a kind experiences which they would simply not be able to find on the internet.
I am happy to support you by making restaurant reservations, plan activities and excursions, arrange for nanny support or even get your bags packed if need be. My phone is always on for support with logistical problems and travel curveballs, so when people book with me they need not worry, I have their backs.
An example of logistical support is tackling big issues such as airline strikes, national disaster, adverse weather patterns etc, for me, that comes as standard but I am also here, on hand, to support you with the minor issues that may turn into something bigger. It may be a lost passport, problems with a hire car, getting lost or being late for your flight.
On that note, I have never personally missed a flight in my life and used to think that I was supremely well organised when it came to preparing for a business trip or a holiday, after all, I used to live on the road for threequarters of the year.
But how things change when you have other people to consider especially if you travel with children, or you travel as a multigenerational group. Oh Lord, that’s when travelling and travel planning can become stressful!
I found this out last year when I embarked on a family road trip to Tuscany. My husband had stated that he was unable to go with me as he was really busy at work, so I decided to go it alone and to take my son and niece with me. They are great kids but one suffers from extreme anxiety and the other is a proper home bird. We had planned an “adventure” to Pisa, Florence, the mountains and the coast. The drama started en-route to the airport. My son was stressing that his bag was not packed appropriately, and, after I had spent 3 hours ironing all of his clothes and carefully packing them he unpacked them all, rolled them or scrunched them up, and, rammed them back into the suitcase in any old fashion, all the while shouting at me because I didn’t do it the proper way. Finally, after much perspiration and tongue holding on my part, we loaded up the car for the short 13-mile journey to the airport. After travelling around 6 or 7 miles I realised that amidst all of the stressing and upset I had left my wallet on the table. So, I did an about turn and sped down the motorway back home to pick them up. All the while the children were bickering in the back of the car and I was silently berating myself for being unorganised.
Luckily, we reached the exit for the airport in a reasonable time and only then did I start to relax and calm down. Unfortunately, my happy mood didn’t last more than five minutes because we hit heavy festival traffic. For the love of God, festival traffic!! There are not many festivals held close to our location…apart from this one, a VW campervan festival. We sat in traffic for what seemed like hours, it was in fact, only an hour and a half but it put us so desperately behind that I honestly didn’t think that we would make the flight. Whilst we sat waiting for the traffic to move my son decided he needed a poo. A poo! I didn’t have any toilet roll, what should I do? I had to let him go to the toilet behind a bush and use a hankie I found in the glove compartment. Panic averted, kind of. My niece was sat in the back of the car howling because I had paid a lot of money for the holiday and wouldn’t be able to make the flight. My son was screeching back at her to shut up because she was hurting his ears!
At that point, I pulled over, called a contact that happened to work at the airport and asked them to make a note that I would be late dropping my bags off. I called the car parking company and had a car standing by to meet me, and, luckily I made my flight.
I’d like to say that all went perfectly whilst we were away but it wasn’t as smooth a ride as I would have hoped for. To cut a long story short, my son got an infection in his penis, my niece started her periods and I got a nasty infection in my ears. I only speak pigeon Italian so as you can imagine trying to relay all of these symptoms to the pharmacist was a bit of a struggle. Eventually, I walked out of the door with no medication or pain relief. What I did have, however, was the back up of a really great ground handler. I called him on his mobile and told him the story. Within the hour he met me at the same store and conveyed all of our symptoms and needs to the pharmacist. Job done.
I have worked in travel, operations and logistics for over 33 years and although we all try and plan for every eventuality, it really is impossible to do so.
After the event, situations like this are easily forgotten, but at the moment they are larger than life and very stressful. When you have logistical problems no matter how small it’s important to know that you can reach out to someone who has your back, someone who can calm you down, reassure you, and who can support you by taking control of the problem. I am here to do just this, the ground handlers that I work with are amazing and my personal mobile is switched on 24 hours a day should my clients need me.
If you need assistance or advice with planning a holiday I would love to hear from you.
Email me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call me on: 07866 921723
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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