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‘I WANT TO BOOK A HOLIDAY!’

Should I book a holiday right now though? – My pragmatic advice to you…

By Lyndsey Thomas – 8th December 2020
Holiday advice

Good grief what I’d give to feel the sun on my bones, sticky sun cream in my hair, the feeling of a cheap plastic sunbed under me, and a pint of Sangria in my left hand.

I’m not fussy, I would literally go anywhere right now.

But, I’m holding fire.

Just a little bit longer.

Because I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen after many of us have been let loose like a pack of hysterical hyenas over the festive period. What the impact of this might be in 2021.

Plenty of people are throwing caution to the wind…

Book that amazing deal to NYC in May!

Splash out and banish the January blues in The Canaries!

Life’s too damn short – I get you, I’m with you!

But I urge you to air on the right side of caution because that almighty high of booking a holiday – that feeling of euphoria when you have to give your full name to book those flights – it can all be very short-lived if the sh*t hits the fan. Seriously.

Before you decide to commit to anything, make sure you know the risks. And be clever about how you book and most importantly, WHO you book with.

Here goes…

 

Flexible booking, package holidays and independent travel agents are essential.

Thousands of holidaymakers are still fighting to get refunds from tour operators and airlines for trips cancelled this summer – don’t let that thought pass you by when you are sucked in by a ‘great deal’.

Jeez though, there are some unbelievable holiday offers doing their rounds on the World Wide Web right now. People are desperate to get away and travel companies are enticing them to part with their cash and book a holiday RIGHT NOW!

These companies cash flow situation is, well not exactly flowing, so of course, there are deals out there that are too good to miss. They need to sell holidays, and they need to do it now!

 

DO NOT use an OTA (online travel agent)

Loveholidays, Lastminute.com, On The Beach – these are what we call OTAs (online travel agents). Essentially they are 3rd party faceless booking websites who have no real relationship with the hotel you are checking out on their website, or any real interest in forming a relationship with you.

Yeah, you might save a few quid, but don’t expect to get through to them if anything goes wrong.

And don’t be surprised if you rock up at your hotel to find it closed. Seriously – this has happened.

Also, it’s worth noting that two of the above-mentioned have refused to refund the cost of holidays to destinations that the Foreign Office says aren’t safe to visit. And as we’ve witnessed already, smacking a destination on the ‘unsafe’ list can happen, with very little notice, at any time.

 

Book a hotel with free cancellation policy and no deposit

If you’re using Booking.com, ensure you rigorously check the terms and conditions. Remember that Booking.com is a marketing platform for hotels, and it’s up to the hotels individually to enter their own hotel information, images (you’re relying on the integrity of the hotel here), prices, and policies.

Check the deposit amount – ideally, you don’t want to pay until you check-out, and check the cancellation policy. Also, look at what’s included in the room rate – it’s very easy to get sucked into the cheapest room, only to realize that after you’ve plugged in your payment details, you’ve got a great deal because you’ve paid up front, with a no refund policy. You DON’T want to do that right now.

My advice to you is to check with the hotel direct – you might have to pay a few quid more, but it’s likely that right now, they will offer you a room with no deposit and a short-lead cancellation policy. Some as short as 24 hours.

 

Book a package holiday and get protected

A package simply means you’ve booked more than one component in the same transaction. If a flight isn’t included in your package, it won’t be covered by ATOL. Booked separately and you could be out of pocket.

When the travel advice against a country changes many tour operators will cancel package holidays. You then will be offered a trip to an alternative destination or can claim a full refund under the terms of the Package Travel Regulations. Similarly, some tour operators promise ‘quarantine-free’ holidays. If your destination is removed from the UK’s ever-changing list of travel corridors, they will either cancel and refund you in full or you’ll be allowed to move your holiday to a later date.

Use a credit card

If you like to book directly with either airlines or accommodation providers, make sure you use a credit card to make the payment – simply because if either were to fail, they’re not obliged to reimburse you. But if the transaction is over £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says the credit card company is equally liable with the supplier if something goes wrong; you’d be entitled to a refund from your credit card company, but that’s where the assistance would end – you won’t get any further support with rearranging travel plans or finding alternative flights.

It’s a whole other ball game if you use a third party site to book flights or accommodation (eg Expedia or Skyscanner) individually, even if you use a credit card – for Section 75 protection to kick in, there must be a direct relationship between you and the supplier.

 

Use an independent travel agent

I’ve said it a thousand times – book with an independent travel agent!

You really can eliminate a lot of the stress by using an independent travel agent.

So it might cost you a few extra quid, but what you receive in value and service is more than a little bit worth it.

If the sh*t hits the fan, a good travel agent will be on hand to amend your booking if further travel restrictions are put in place, or if things go wrong while you’re away. You’ll know someone is at the other end of the phone to help if you have questions or, if your trip is cancelled, fight for your refund.

They’ll advise you on all the stuff that, 12 months ago, we didn’t need to consider…

  • Do you need a Covid test?
  • How long before do I need a test?
  • How do you go about getting one?
  • Where is safe to travel?
  • Do I need a test to get there?
  • What are the restrictions?

Independent travel agents do so much more than book your holiday – they are the saviors of the travel industry. The consumer champions. The workhorses. The integrity in a somewhat questionable industry of faceless companies who will entice you with that ‘unbelievable deal’ – only to dessert you when the sh*t hits the fan.

Let your common sense guide you, not that ‘great deal’.

Happy holiday hunting

 

Lyndsey x

Lyndsey Thomas
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