The i-escape blog / Michael Cullen

By Michael Cullen, Co-founder

In 21 years at i-escape, the pandemic has been a true game-changer. First came lockdowns, then travel restrictions, then short-staffed airlines and rising fuel costs. Alongside that comes an increasing awareness of the environmental impact of travel. It’s all contributing to a realisation that we can’t take holidays for granted; that we must treasure each one, and make it really count.

So here’s helping you plan the perfect holiday – and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

1. Bigger is not always better (but older is wiser)

The big booking sites feature hundreds of thousands of properties – but is that a good thing? You’ll have to vet them yourself, or take pot luck. With a small specialist company, you know what you’re getting. All 1,500 properties in our portfolio have been handpicked by our team (just 1 in 50 makes the cut), and they are constantly being monitored for guest feedback. And we’re pretty sure we’re getting it right: we’ve been around for 21 years now, and some of our loyal clients have holidayed with us every year since 2001!

2. Choose a hotel or villa that will delight you

If it’s your only big holiday this year, you want it to be a good one – for everyone. Our detailed accommodation reviews tell it like it is, with the highs and lows from our own visit, so you can decide if it’s right for you – and for your children, parents, dog etc. If you’re still unsure, call or email our hotel experts who will give you honest, first-hand advice.

We visit all our hotels and villas, and write our own reviews


3. Choose a company that’s easily contactable

For me, this applies to any online purchase. The ability to directly call or email someone is invaluable, be it to check the holiday is right for you, or to speed up the booking process, or to gain extra insights. Such as “That weekend is a local holiday – if you can go 3 days later, it will be much cheaper”; or “Travelling with kids? This hotel has family rooms for 4”. And if you end up having to change plans, you know you can get through to someone. Want to put us to the test? Here are our numbers!

Our well-travelled team is happy to help


4. When booking hotels, check for flexible rates

Sometimes there’s a non-refundable rate which is a bit cheaper – but ask yourself if it’s worth the saving. Especially for short stays, where an insurance claim might be not worth it because of the excess, a flexible rate will give you the reassurance of free cancellations or date changes up to, say, 7 or 15 days ahead. Our rate info or (i) button will always show the details. And remember, we always guarantee the best like-for-like prices.

The cheapest rates carry most risk; we advise going flexible


5. Protect yourself from amendment charges

Unlike some pesky airlines, we’re not out to profit from unexpected changes. So if you need to amend your dates, we will transfer your initial online deposit to your new dates without charge. If you decide to change hotels, we can usually do the same (the only exception here are those ‘non-refundable’ rates we mentioned above). Note that any later payments made directly to the property are subject to their own terms – on which note, see item 6 below.

Unlike some pesky airlines, we’re not out to profit from unexpected changes


6. Get an annual travel insurance policy

Assuming you travel at least twice a year, it works out cheaper than individual trip cover. Buy it directly from an insurance provider, not via an airline – which is less transparent and often pricier. We recommend Columbus Direct whose annual multi-trip policy is comprehensive and competitive, and as an i-escape client, you get a small discount. Do this before making your first payment to the accommodation (or other provider) – that way, you’re completely protected.



7. If you’re concerned about future covid outbreaks…

… rest assured that our Flexible Policy still applies. That means, in the event of government travel restrictions (such as lockdown or FCO “red” advice), or closure of the property, we’ll transfer or refund any initial deposit paid to i-escape at the time of booking. Of course – assuming you’ve heeded our earlier advice – your travel insurance will also cover you for this, as well as for any other payments you’ve made directly to the property or to airlines, so that’s generally the first place to start.


And here’s a final thought: holiday less often, but longer and better

From an environmental, an ethical and a soul-recharging perspective, it makes sense. So if you’re flying long-haul, take 3 weeks if you can. Closer to home? Make it a week, not a weekend. And stay somewhere really special, whether it’s through i-escape or not. The best holidays are where lifelong memories are made.