Smart Travel Tips: How to protect your holiday
Are you already in the midst of planning your holiday… but you’re not sure whether you’ll be protected?
For some people, planning a holiday is almost as exciting as the moment they step onto the plane itself. It’s something to look forward to, often planned months in advance and keeps them going through those long weeks of work.
But, as much as we love picking destinations and planning activities, it’s important not to forget the admin bits, too – like whether you’ll be financially protected if things don’t pan out.
So, what do you need to know when it comes to protecting your holiday? Here, we’ve outlined some key steps to help you find peace of mind.
Booking a package holiday vs a non-package holiday
The type of holiday you book can have a big impact on whether you’re protected and how you’re protected, so make sure you know which one your holiday comes under.
A package holiday is usually booked through a UK-based tour operator or a travel agent, and generally includes flights and a hotel. In this case, your holiday will normally be ATOL protected. This high level of protection means that should your travel company go bust before or while you’re away, you will have a guaranteed money-back or help to get home.
Just remember to check what’s included in your ATOL protected package, as the protection may not cover certain aspects of your trip, like theme parks or seat upgrades.
If you’ve booked things separately, you’re unlikely to have ATOL protection for any part of your trip – though, in rare cases, your flights may be ATOL protected, such as when you pay your flights in instalments or you don’t receive your ticket straight away. So, before you book anything, check cancellation policies and find cover that will keep you safe should the worst happen.
Either way, it’s still important to make sure you’re covered elsewhere for your trip or for any other issues that may go wrong, such as medical emergencies – and remember to keep up with the latest news so you’re ready for any unexpected changes in the travel world.
Checking for ATOL protection
If you’ve booked a package holiday with a UK-based tour operator, chances are, your holiday is ATOL protected. This means that, if the company goes bust, you’ll get your money back – or a flight home if it happens while you’re away on your trip.
UK-based tour operators legally have to offer ATOL protection with package holidays, but it’s always good to check anyway – particularly if you’ve booked through an agent instead. There are a few ways to do this, from getting an ATOL certificate from the operator (or travel agent) upon booking, to checking the operator’s ATOL licence online.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the same as travel insurance – if your flight gets cancelled, ATOL won’t cover you.
Getting the right travel insurance
Travel insurance is vital for any trip, whether it’s a package holiday or whether you’ve booked your flights, hotel and transfers separately. And that’s because it not only covers things like cancellations or delays, but it should also cover you for any medical costs you may need abroad.
A good policy should cover:
- Medical expenses such as emergency medical treatment or medications, repatriation, a return flight (should you miss yours due to medical problems) and accommodation and travel expenses for someone to stay with you. It should also cover the cost of someone to travel to you from the UK if recommended by your doctor.
- Cancellations due to things like accident, illness, family bereavement, home emergencies or bad weather.
- Lost luggage and belongings
While your travel insurance will cover most things, you’ll normally have to get specialist insurance if you’re taking part in extreme sports while away (such as bungee jumping or skiing), and you won’t be covered if incidents occur while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to find insurance cover online, but, if you’re not sure, speak to a travel agent and they can usually help you find the best cover for you. Just keep your eyes peeled for any clauses in the small print, that may catch you out when you’re not expecting it.
Using your credit card as a backup
Booking your trip on your credit card can give you an extra level of protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, providing your flight or hotel costs between £100 and £30,000.
However, be aware that, while your credit card provider may refund you if your flight or accommodation provider is the party at fault, there are rules around what they will and won’t pay out. So, if you booked things separately and your flight is cancelled (meaning you don’t make it to the hotel), you may get the flight money refunded, but may not get the hotel money back.
That’s where, if you’ve been savvy, booked a package holiday and planned in advance, your travel insurance should kick in.
In conclusion? Making sure you’re as protected as possible really is the key to a stress-free trip (though, we can’t speak for the packing).
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