Holly Hawkins has been with Diverse Travel for 5 years. Previously at Scuba Tours Worldwide and Maldives Scuba Tours where she developed a love of sharks and manta rays from deep dives in the Maldives, South Africa and beyond.
What was your best dive holiday?
The Maldives. It was the first time I had ever dived into the water not known where to look first. It was here that I dived with manta rays for the first time; it’s an emotional experience watching these majestic creatures on the cleaning stations with them brushing the tops of our heads as they trooped past. Really amazing.
Many years ago I jumped in without my fins and it made getting back to the boat to pick them up pretty tricky. I also hate wasting time with transfers. Nothing worse than being on a connection with a long time at an airport when you could be by the pool or diving. Always fly direct if you can.
Why do you think it’s important to book early?
Scheduled flights – With scheduled it’s always wise to book early but never on the day they come out as prices usually drop a few days later. But at the same time it’s wise to trust your travel agent. We’ve been in the business for years and book flights every day so have a feel for airlines and their habits. Which is why we’re always happy to take “what if” calls as everyone gets a much better feeling for what you need. You’ll never get that going direct to an airline.
Cheaper extras – Also, if you book early you have a better chance of doing a deal on dive extras, which are always needed; liveaboards places and destinations and choice of cabins.
Tall people – Leave your seat to chance and you’ll still be unpacking your muscles on the first dive. Far better to book at extra legroom seat or arrive a few hours early and grab a better seat – Emirates have a front row with a massive space to the front bulk head, that’s bigger than first class!
Last minute – Only really works if you avoid school holidays and peak points. There are always deals but you need to be flexible and care less about your dive destination.
So wise to grabs flight as soon as you decide where you want to dive?
Absolutely. According to a recent study*, the cheapest months to book a flight are January and February. The further you book flights in advance of your holiday, the more flight seats are available at the lowest prices. This is especially true for those looking to book their trips during the school holiday season.
A lot of people come to Diverse with a good idea of where they want to go, such as Truk, aka Chuuk Lagoon, (look out for our upcoming blog) and with long haul destinations like this you have to book in advance and you have to have a good on going relationship with your agent as there’s a lot to think about, not just the flight.
Another good tip is to travel on a Sunday as, on average, it’s the cheapest day of the week to book a flight. And never forget Christmas Day + New Year’s Eve, they can be great value days to head out.
Liveaboard or resort?
Big question and I don’t want to preach to the converted, as a lot of our divers already have experience, but it really depends on what you want to see underwater and what sort of scuba diving experience you want to have. Are you social, or eager to get away from people in the evening, or happy to socialise.
I think 2020 is going to be a great year for liveaboards because you get more diving for your money and economy and costs are now big drivers. This year, if you’re serious about diving, liveaboards are the way to go – arrive, dive, repeat… what’s not to love.
You mentioned summer holidays, where’s good this year for family holidays?
When it comes to family dive holidays the existing places tend to be the best and you don’t have to make up itineraries which don’t really match. We are looking into some new destinations this year, but it will take time as we personally check out all new destinations ourselves.
For something different in July + August it’s the perfect season for the Azores, but maybe not with little ones!
What about people who want to book last minute or stay flexible?
As a general rule, always best to avoid school holidays as the increased demand forces prices up. Similarly, the more flexibility you have over your departure airport the greater the chances of finding a good price for your flights.
Avoid school holidays and Easter, a few days either side will always get a better deal. There were good prices in May / June last year and Egypt had some great last minute deals which maybe even better this year with direct flights back on to Sharm El Sheikh.
And what about if you’re flying solo. Tips for individual divers?
Again, I think it’s very important to choose an airline where you can book a seat. Most solo travellers don’t want to be sat in the middle seat between a couple or friends. Not wishing to be anti social, but it’s not great being in the middle of someone’s conversation during a long flight.
Liveaboards are again a go to choice for single travellers. You’re surrounded by like-minded people and on the whole, divers are nice friendly people. Much better than being at a resort on your own.
Let’s talk kit and baggage, KG allowance is very important for divers.
Again it’s not just about kit it’s also about how your luggage gets handled. This year EasyJet are saying they will be fully automated so that’s something to consider.
When it comes to pure allowances:
- U.S. based airlines tend to sell tickets with no baggage so all KG are extra.
- Emirates and Turkish tend to have good KG’s
- Easy jet it’s always an addition and limited bags to 3 weights so divers will always be in the upper bracket.
Again, with the fear of repetition, that’s why you’ll always save on liveaboards as you physically need less luggage, which could save you £100+.
So go on, book now?
Like all businesses, hotels, liveaboards and dive centres alike want to start their year with a full order book. Some of the most popular strategies used to encourage bookings are early bird discounts, free upgrades, free Nitrox, free spaces for liveaboard groups and BOGOF deals. So, yes!
So what make Diverse Travel a different kind of Dive Travel Agent?
Collective knowledge. Every agent is an expert. We’ve dived all over the planet so if I don’t know about a destination I can turn to my colleague for advice. We’re also all diving on a regular basis so our knowledge is up to date – we go Dive Shows across the world so we’re truly global. Unlike some companies reading from brochures down the phone our knowledge is bespoke and personal.
Call the Diverse Travel team today on 01473 852002 to plan your next dive holiday adventure.
*report by Opodo, January 2020.