With the peak holiday booking season upon us I thought I would pass on some hints and tips on how to ensure you have a worry-free holiday right from the booking process through to leaving the country.
ABTA and AITO agents
Firstly, ensure you book with an ABTA travel agent to ensure money paid to them is protected. An independent agent is even better, that way you know you are receiving unbiased advice. There is a group of over 120 specialist independent travel agents called AITO agents. These are even better as they have access to a wider range of suppliers than regular high street agents.
ATOL protection Once you have checked out the company you are booking with, ensure the holiday you are booking is protected by the government’s ATOL scheme. When you book you should receive an ATOL certificate showing brief details of what is protected and by whom. Should anything should go wrong while abroad you know you have the backing of the government’s protection to get your home. Booking elements separately or through airlines websites will not offer protection; it all has to be under one roof from an approved ATOL licence holder which independent travel agents like ours will use. Your travel insurance does not offer the same protection. While sometimes it may look like a good deal to book a flight online and add a flight via a partner website, often there is little protection and you could find yourself stranded should something go wrong. You can read more about this at www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk.
Ask when you book what kind of overseas support you have. Even if you don’t want to be hassled by a rep, it is important to know there is a local phone number in the country, or a 24-hour international helpline should you need it. For example, we work with a UK-Japanese holiday supplier who actually has their own office in Tokyo too, and are on-hand now just for emergencies but also hints and tips to ensure you make the most of your trip.
Travel insurance It is worth taking a little extra time to make sure your travel insurance is suitable for the holiday you book and covers for any activities you undertake. Insurance also needs to be put in place from the date of booking, don’t wait until you travel otherwise you wont be covered for any cancellation. If the trip you are booking is of a high value, check the maximum level of coverage on your insurance, as the whole amount may not be covered with some cheaper policies. Another common problem is not being covered for activities such as snow-mobiling ,which may be exempt on winter sports cover. Complimentary or ‘included’ insurance with bank accounts can have more restrictions and so do read the small print.
Currency and credit cards
Bank charges for withdrawing cash abroad with debit or credit cards differ widely. Charges can be a percentage of money withdrawn plus a standard fee such as £5, and these will quickly add up over a week’s holiday. It can be beneficial to have a specific account or card for travelling, especially if you travel regularly. Some offer no-fee credit cards that won’t even charge an ATM fee or zero-percent on foreign currency purchases. Alternatively, you could pre-load a currency card which is the modern replacement of traveller’s cheques.
Ensure your phone has suitable insurance cover while abroad, and another member of the party has a phone too as a back-up. Read up on your call charges while abroad as well as internet roaming fees. Network providers have been forced to reduce overseas charges recently. Some charge a flat rate of about £3 and you can use your minutes, text allowance and data as you would normally in the UK with no extra charges. Pack a spare charger and invest in a handy emergency battery carry charger which you can pick up for a few pounds in case you get caught. Airports and stations are increasingly offering charging points which can come in handy too.
Travel documents While airlines and hotels are becoming paperless, it is handy to keep a back up of your documents on your email so you can access it from your phone or any computer in the world. If you have a smartphone, see if your airline has an app you can use for your boarding pass so you have less paperwork to worry about.
To plan and book your holiday call us on 01543 258 631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.