January is the most popular month for booking holidays, and we splash out an average of £3,216 a year on them, so here’s five ways to protect your trip against holiday nightmares.
Book a package holiday
Book a ‘package’ and you get greater protection than booking all the bits separately. But this doesn’t mean you have to go for an ‘off the peg’ deal complete with rep and transfers.
A holiday counts as a ‘package’ if you buy your flight and at least one other part of your trip at the same time, so that could be your accommodation, car hire or even a cruise.
This then gives you ATOL protection which means your money back if the airline or holiday company go bust before you go, or costs covered if this happens while you’re away.
And in case you’re wondering, ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence and it’s a financial scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Quick protection booster
For instant ATOL protection, you only need add in one overnight stay. This works providing you book both the flight and overnight at the same time, through the same company and pay a single price.
Pay by credit card
If you just book a flight you don’t get ATOL protection.
But if you’re booking flights direct, and the cost is over £100, pay by credit card. This is because a nifty rule known as ‘Section 75’ shifts the responsibility on to both the supplier and your card company.
So if the airline goes bust, you can claim back the cost of your ticket from your credit card company.
Pack travel insurance
One in five of us don’t bother with it, according to Sainsbury’s Bank which is frightening stuff. In fact it’s just mad in my book. A week’s policy for a trip to Europe can cost around the price of a couple of drinks, and could save thousands of pounds in potential medical bills if you come a cropper on your trip.
Worth buying as soon as you book your trip as this way you get cancellation cover. And no need to buy it from the airline or holiday company you book your trip with, so shop around, but don’t just look for the cheapest policy, compare the cover you get for the price.
Get ABTA cover
For trips that don’t include flights, like rail, coach or cruise based holidays, look for ABTA protection.
ABTA is the trade group covering UK tour operators and agents so always worth looking for its logo and membership number. And then double check this back through ABTA’s own website.
Means your money back if the company you book with goes bust, or if this happens while you’re away, ABTA will get you home.