So… Is it safe to book your next holiday?
More money saving tips from Loans 2 Go…
The collapse of Thomas Cook has come as a tremendous shock to many of us. It is so sad that a long-standing traditional British company has gone under, and that thousands of people have lost their jobs. We have also heard many reports of people on holiday either having problems getting home or being asked for extra money from their hotels, and also people who had booked holidays in advance but are now having their dreams shattered.
It has also made many of us worried about booking a holiday in case something like this happens again. Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves from the impact of a holiday disaster? Here are our Five Top Tips to safeguard your next holiday:
Top Tip 1 – Book as late as you can
This may seem like strange advice but if you are able to leave booking your holiday till the last minute this can be a good way forward. It means that there is less time for things to go wrong before you head off to the sun. In the case of Thomas Cook, there are thousands of people who have booked holidays in advance that have had their holidays cancelled and are now waiting for refunds.
So if you can wait till last minute you will have greater assurance that everything is going to be fine. You may also be able to pick up a great deal if you are prepared to be flexible about where you go, as travel companies often slash the prices of last minute holidays that would otherwise go unsold.
Top Tip 2 – Book through a travel agent
Many of us do everything ourselves online these days, including arranging our holidays. And if you really do want to do this, then see Top Tip 3 below.
But if you do book via a travel agent you have the assurance of knowing that they are likely to be registered members of either the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) or the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO). Both of these associations provide an amount of financial protection when you book a package holiday with the agent, who would also usually offer a replacement holiday if anything goes wrong with your original booking.
Your holiday should also be covered by ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protection, which will provide refunds or repatriation to customers affected by the collapse of an airline or travel agent, as in the case of Thomas Cook.
If this happens, you would need to complete an ATOL claim form and provide proof of the holiday booking, the ATOL protection, and all payments that you have made: so make sure that you do keep evidence of all these things just in case the worst happens.
Top Tip 3 – Alternative protection
If you are not going to book via an agent then do make sure that you have some kind of alternative protection. If you book both your flight and accommodation through the same provider this should still be covered with ATOL protection, as long as the different elements are booked within 24 hours of each other. So make sure that you have documented evidence of this.
But be aware that if you book your flights and accommodation from different providers, your holiday is unlikely to be covered by ATOL or ABTA protection. If your flights are on an EU carrier and begin or end at an EU airport, then under EU law you should be entitled to either a refund or alternative transport to your destination if your flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. You should also be entitled to free meals and refreshments if you have been stranded somewhere whilst waiting for a delayed flight.
The key thing is to check what you are and are not entitled to before you set off, and make sure that you have travel insurance (see Top Tip 4) to cover any gaps.
Top Tip 4 – travel insurance
It is always important to arrange travel insurance when you go on holiday. This is particularly important if your holiday is not covered by ATOL or ABTA protection, but still worth doing even if it is.
The particular type of travel insurance you need will vary according to your destination and circumstances, but take time to find the combination of cover that is best for you.
Most travel insurance covers some or all of the following:
- Cancelling/changing dates before your holiday – for example due to illness or redundancy or bereavement;
- Disruption to your holiday – for example delayed or cancelled flights, missed departures, or cancelled accommodation;
- Medical treatment – emergency medical treatment, repatriation where necessary;
- Possessions – loss or theft of luggage, documents, or cash;
- Legal costs – covers legal fees for an incident that wasn’t your fault and may also cover personal liability if an incident was your fault.
But make sure that you examine your insurance carefully before you travel, to ensure that the insurance is correct for you. It’s also important to arrange insurance as soon as you book anything so that you are covered if anything should go wrong even at an early stage.
Top Tip 5 – pay by credit card
When you book your holiday, whether you are paying up front or in instalments, it is a good idea to pay by credit card rather than debit card, even if this incurs a small surcharge. Whilst you need to be careful not to run up debt that you will struggle to repay, the advantage of paying by credit card is that under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you will have financial protection for any purchase between £100 and £30,000.
This means that if something goes wrong – particularly if your holiday is not ATOL-protected – the credit card provider has a responsibility to refund you if there is no other source for the refund. This protection applies even if you’ve only made a part-payment on the credit card, for example your deposit.
We hope that the above advice will help you to plan your next holiday and feel confident about what you are doing. If you need some extra help with funding your holiday then why not see how Loans 2 Go can help? You can get in touch with us either online or by calling us on 0330 400 0403.