Is your money protected if you decide to go on holiday this summer?
With news that UK hotels can reopen from 4th July and speculation that international travel will be easier soon you might be thinking you can finally leave your home and have a break.
Before you jump on a site to book, there are a few things you need to consider and a handful of actions you can take to help protect your cash if the situation changes (again).
Make sure you can cancel your accommodation
Lots of booking sites, and even direct with hotels, will give you the option to cancel your hotel room up to 24-hours before your stay begins.
I tend to do this when I go away as it allows me to hunt around for last-minute price drops, but I’d 100% be doing this right now.
You might have to pay a small premium for this, but I’d say it’s well worth it.
You should also aim to pay when you stay, rather than in advance. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t but it’s an added level of protection in case the hotel or B&B goes under.
Here are a few more hotel booking tricks.
Staycation or abroad?
There’s certainly more risk for something to go wrong if you book an overseas holiday.
For a start, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all non-essential travel abroad. This means if you do go away and something goes wrong – Covid related or not – your insurer can choose not to pay out.
There’s also still the risk of a 14-day quarantine at your destination and / or when you return. There are lots of noises from the UK government that this will be relaxed here, or avoided through the use of “sky corridors”. But at the moment this could impact you when you get home.
You’ll also find it difficult to get travel insurance, and near impossible one that will cover you for cancellation or disruption caused by coronavirus.
Personally, I’d look to stay at home.
Booking now vs last minute
There’s been a huge surge in UK holiday bookings the last week since restrictions were announced, so you might be worried that if you don’t act now you’ll miss out.
Well, with capacity likely to be restricted for travel and possibly accommodation you might want to join that rush, especially if you have a specific destination in mind. And generally “last-minute” for summer holidays is a couple of months before the trip.
Of course right now, the opposite could be true. There will be more empty rooms out there than normal and lots of people will still not be keen to travel. So even the sudden demand you might find you can cut it really close to the wire and see what bargains are around just before you want to go away.
Here are a few places to look for last-minute packages.
Go via a travel agent or package
I always book the component parts of my holidays separately – the DIY approach – to get the lowest prices and most flexible itinerary. But that’s not necessarily a good idea right now.
The travel industry is suffering more than most right now and there will be more companies that collapse. Booking yourself increases the risk that you’ll lose out if that does happen to the provider of any part of your holiday.
So to protect your money it’s best to book overseas holidays via a travel agent so you get ABTA cover, or a flight and hotel package together so you get ATOL protection. Though you can get ATOL if you book the flight and hotel yourself from the same website. Here’s more on these protections.
Buy cheap flights
If you are committed to getting out of the UK, then I’d look for dirt cheap flights that you don’t mind losing out on the cost if you can’t or choose not to go. That most likely means places like Europe. Here are some tips to help you find low price flights.
There are of course flexible or cancellable flights, but these can be quite expensive.
If the flight itself is cancelled you are legally entitled to the money back, so don’t accept a voucher. Saying that, people have had a tough time getting their full refund.