Planning a holiday for 2023? Few households have money to waste, so here’s how to make sure your booking is as cost-effective as possible.
1. Book a package holiday
Booking a package holiday can offer more financial protection than booking each element of your trip separately as an independent traveller.
As a rule, tour operators will cancel a holiday if the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) changes its advice to warn against all but essential travel to a destination.
Kuoni, as an example, says:“You can book a Kuoni holiday with confidence knowing that it’s ABTA and ATOL protected, that we stringently follow the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s advice and that we have the backing of REWE, a financially strong international business.”
While TUI says:“If government advice is against travelling overseas on holiday, we will cancel your holiday and you will be able to receive a full refund, or you can change your holiday to another date for free. If local area restrictions change, but the government does not advise against travel overseas, you will be able to change your holiday, without change fees.”
If a package holiday is cancelled, you are legally entitled to a refund under the Package Travel Regulations. You may also be offered to change your holiday to another date if you are happy with this option.
Make sure you book a package holiday that is ATOL-protected. ATOL stands for the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence and it’s a financial protection scheme in the UK that will protect your money if the company you book with ceases to trade.
If this happens before a trip, you will be refunded. If it happens while you’re away, you’ll be given help to continue your holiday and then helped to get home. Find out more about the scheme here.
If your package holiday does not include a flight – for example a rail holiday – book with an ABTA member to receive similar financial protection in the event of a company entering administration. (This applies to package holidays sold to you by a company within the European Economic Area.)
2. Take advantage of flexible booking policies
Travel companies are aware of the uncertainty around travel at the moment and so many now offer flexible policies to give customers the confidence to book.
Many holiday companies will allow you to cancel or amend your trip without paying a change-fee if you no longer wish to travel – but always check any time limitations.
If you don’t book a package holiday, look for flexible policies for each separate element. For flights, as an example, easyJet has a “Freedom to Change” promise. This allows you to transfer a flight without a fee up to two hours before departure. You will have to pay any difference if the new fare is higher, though.
3. Pay attention to terms and conditions
When booking any travel, look carefully at the terms and conditions around cancellation due to a change in government advice or illness, as these will outline your options would be if your accommodation had to be cancelled.
These might include transferring your booking to a later date, taking a voucher for the full amount you have paid, or to cancelling your booking for a free refund.
4. Buy travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday
Travel insurance is important for trips in 2023 and comprehensive policies can cover you for a number of things that could go wrong including thos that are Covid-related.
But not all policies offer the same amount of cover for medical expenses or cancellation, and policies will have a number of exclusions relating to Covid-19. Find out what to look for in a policy in 2023 here.
It’s important to take a policy out as soon as you book too so you’re protected should you need to cancel in the run up to a trip for any reason such as testing positive for the virus.
Read the terms and conditions of a policy carefully to ensure you’re comfortable with your cancellation cover.
5. Pay with plastic
If you can, book your travel using a credit card to benefit from protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This will cover you for purchases of over £100 and up to £30,000, even if you just pay for the deposit by card.
This protection makes your card provider equally responsible alongside the retailer if something goes wrong. So, if your travel company goes out of business or there’s a problem with your holiday, you should be able to claim.
However, there must be a direct transactional relationship between you and the seller for Section 75 to work so you may not be protected if you book through a third-party booking site such as Expedia and Booking.com – although the third-party site may have its own protection policy that you could take out.
If you pay by debit card you may, similarly, be able to make a claim through the voluntary chargeback scheme with Visa, MasterCard and Amex.