Independent Holidays in Spain - diy easily!

airport check-in
Easily arrange your diy holiday to Spain.

Unlike ready-made package holidays, diy holidays offer flexibility and can work out cheaper than traditional package holidays. Arranging and booking your own holidays means that you'll be able to visit Spain or the islands for shorter or longer durations than the usual one or two weeks stay on the Costas, Balearic or Canary Islands, and you could save money by doing it yourself.

You can organise and book travel, accommodation, transfers or car hire direct with airlines, hoteliers or other suppliers or by booking with agents online.

Getting to Spain

You can fly to Spain with low or full cost scheduled airlines or with a tour operator offering charter flights. Low cost airlines generally offer cheap flights, but it pays to shop around for the best deals if cost is a consideration. Spain's national carrier is Iberia and the airline offers full cost scheduled flights, giving as much flexibility as you need (at higher fares). Monarch operates scheduled flights from UK to several Spanish destinations, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. Low cost scheduled airlines, such as Easyjet, Ryanair and Jet2 offer one way or return flights to holiday and city destinations in Spain. Examples of tour operators operating from the UK to Spain include Thomas Cook, Thomson and Cosmos Holidays. Tour operators offer package holidays, which include flights, accommodation and optional transfers from the airport to the destination, and usually offer flights only as well as accommodation only and package holidays.

Alternatively take a slow route to Spain by cruising from southern England to Santander in north-west Spain with PO Ferries or Brittany Ferries.

If you want to go to the Balearic Islands from mainland Spain, there is a choice of ferry operators. Balearia is the main ferry operator for Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca.Trasmediterranea also serves the Balearics Islands from mainland Spain and operates the long sea crossing between southern Spain and the Canary Islands. Trasmediterranea has a general sales agent in the UK - Southern Ferries and you can book ferry tickets through this established agent.

Eurolines operate coaches from the UK to Spain.

Getting Around

Bus services in Spain are usually efficient and are excellent value. There are many bus operators, but Alsa is probably the largest and has bus services throughout the Spanish mainland. Spain's rail network is called the Renfe.

Car hire companies include Avis, Hertz, Europcar and others. It can be cheaper to book car rental through a broker such as All Inclusive Car Hire or Holiday Autos - a UK based company. Shop around to get the best deals and be sure to read the small print before booking a car for your holiday or stay in Spain.

Getting from the airports in Spain to holiday destinations has been made easier and cheaper since the introduction of shared shuttle transfers between airports and resorts. Unlike a tour operator's coach from airport to resort in Spain, shuttle transfers drop off in resort centres. Therefore, it may be a question of getting a taxi from the resort centre to your accommodation if you are staying outside of a resort centre. You can book transfers with Shuttle Direct or Resort Hoppa, for example.

A number of airlines operate domestic flights within Spain. For example, Vueling (low cost airline), Spanair, Air Europa and Iberia.

Somewhere to Stay

Hotels and apartments can be booked online direct with the hotelier or through online agents, such as Late Rooms, or ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents) bonded agents will usually book accommodation only for you, but agents such as Alpha Rooms specialise and offer bargain rates, however, payment is usually required in advance of your stay in Spain. Tour operators such as Thomson Holidays or First Choice offer accommodation only in hotels, apartments or villas, and often offer bargain rates for as little as £5.00 per room per night. Again, payment in advance of your stay would be required. For help, tips, information or to exchange ideas with others, you are welcome to join Pineapple's Spain forum.

Villas, farmhouses or apartments can also be booked direct with the owner, and some British expats offer Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Owners advertise their accommodation online or in magazines like The Lady. Be sure to book with a reputable owner with good feedback from previous guests. Visit our classifieds page to find owners who are advertising their holiday rentals with us.

Hostels or camping can be great choices for solo travellers wishing to meet up with others. Summer camping can be particularly pleasant - Spain has a good choice of camping sites and standards are usually excellent, depending on the category of the camping. Pitches for tents can be booked through Allan Rogers, for example, or call campsites directly. Sometimes it isn't possible to book a pitch for a tent in advance directly with camping sites for the peak months of July and August so best to arrive at your destination early if planning to camp in peak season.

Hostel dorm beds or private rooms can be booked online through, for example. Some hostels in Spain are classed as such, but are more like small hotels and don't offer dorm rooms. Dorms in a selection of Spain's youth hostels can be booked online through The International Youth Hostel Federation.

Holiday Essentials

A travel insurance policy. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is another essential!

Booking Safeguards

Reputable UK travel agents belong to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). Booking through an ABTA agent should give you peace of mind should things go wrong. Some UK travel agents choose to be insured through the Travel Trust Association (TTA) instead of belonging to ABTA. Both provide safeguards for consumers.

Tour operators offering package holidays and charter flights must be bonded and licensed with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Look out for the ATOL (Air Tour Organiser's Licence) when booking or making an enquiry.

Full cost scheduled airlines and travel agents issuing scheduled air tickets should be appointed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Low cost scheduled airlines are not appointed by IATA, but some belong to a low cost airline trade association, and must be licensed by the CAA to operate flights out of the UK. Full cost scheduled airlines should offer complimentary services in the event of long flight delays or unexpected flight cancellations, for example, overnight accommodation should a flight be delayed to the next day. Low cost scheduled airlines can be less generous, but in the event of long delay or unexpected cancellations all European airlines should offer at least the amount of compensation that has been laid down in European regulations.

Online agents which specialise in accommodation only do not all belong to ABTA or the TTA. Be sure to read and understand the booking conditions before confirming your accommodation booking. The terms will vary, depending on the supplier's (for example, a hotel) booking conditions. Tour operators offering accommodation only in hotels, villas or apartments will have their own terms and conditions. Be sure to read and understand the tour operator's conditions of booking, before confirming your reservations.

Video - Canary Islands

by - Spain's national tourist board.