Follow our tips for avoiding these common -and costly- mistakes before you book your next holiday.
You’ve got to love holidays. Sightseeing in the sun, beach time, yummy food - and all with nothing more to worry about than keeping the sun cream topped up. At least, that’s how it should be.
Sadly, holidays don’t turn out that way for everyone. With booking scams on the rise, more and more travellers are seeing their holiday dreams turn into a nightmare. And although that’s a situation most of us will never have to deal with, there’s still the risk of being ripped off, or simply paying more for your holiday than you need to.
We don’t want to let that happen! So here’s the lowdown on 3 holiday mistakes that could be really costly - and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: You don’t check your passport before you book
We know, we know - it’s just so tempting to get stuck into browsing for holidays and skip the boring stuff. And before you know it you’ve bagged an ‘unmissable’ deal - without checking whether your passport will get you there.
Trouble is, you could be setting yourself up for a lot of hassle and expense (up to £137 per passport) if you realise last-minute that you, or someone in your family, needs a new passport.
To avoid all this, follow our passport action plan:
- Check your passports before you start shopping round for holidays. Remember, it’s not always enough for them to be in-date - depending on your destination you might need to have a certain amount of time left on them before they expire.
- Next visit Gov.uk to check the passport and entry requirements of all the countries you’re thinking of going to.
- You won’t need a visa for most countries in Europe, but there are some exceptions (e.g. Turkey), so it’s best to check this out.
- Sort out any new passports and visas you need before you book your holiday. (Everyone in your family will need their own passport - even babies!)
It normally takes 3 weeks to renew an adult passport or 6 weeks to get a new one. However, as with any application, mistakes and other issues can hold things up, so it’s always safest to wait until you’ve got your valid passports before booking.
Mistake #2: You don’t compare deals
There’s so much competition between holiday companies, airlines and hotels that if you just go for the first deal you see, you may well be missing out on a better bargain.
So hit the comparison sites and shop around.
If you’re going to a popular holiday destination for the standard seven, 10 or 14 days then a package holiday (with flights and accommodation included) will usually save you money. Ice Lolly and Travel Supermarket are good places to hunt down the best package deals.
As a bonus, package holidays usually come with ATOL or ABTA protection (see below), meaning you’ll be entitled to a refund or alternative accommodation/flights if the travel company goes bust.
Top tip: Always check exactly what’s included in a holiday package. Cheapest isn’t always best - sometimes it’s better value to pay a bit more for a deal with added extras included.
Mistake #3: You don’t check up on the holiday company
Last year, almost 6,000 UK holidaymakers fell victim to booking fraud. To avoid it happening to you, it’s important to do some thorough checks on your holiday company before booking.
Your first port of call should be online reviews. Find out what others are saying - if the company is dodgy then there’s a good chance that someone else will have posted a warning about them.
Check whether the company is a member of ABTA - this means they’re a verified firm that has signed up to high standards of customer care. You should see the ABTA logo on the company’s website, and you can double check they really are a member by searching ABTA’s directory.
If your package holiday includes flights, then by law it must have ATOL protection. A reputable travel firm will give you an ATOL certificate once you’ve booked. Follow the advice of Money Saving Expert to make sure your certificate is legitimate.
Top tip: Scammers often ask people to pay for a holiday via bank transfer or cash, making the payment difficult to trace. Never do this - pay by credit card or debit card instead to give yourself more protection.
However, if you do pay by credit card make sure you pay off your bill in full at the end of the month to avoid big interest. If you haven’t got the money set aside already, it may well work out cheaper to pay off the card by taking out a loan with us.
Need to spread the cost of your next holiday? Our loans are often cheaper than credit card borrowing - visit our loans page for full details.