Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Protecting your next holiday investment.
Dare to dream about a once-in-a-lifetime 2021 holiday and there are bargains galore to scoop up.
With hopes that lockdowns will come to an end next year, experts at Trailfinders have found deep discounts for trips to the Maldives and Dubai from spring onwards.
Barbados bargains: Seven nights at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, above, now costs from £1,749 next year
They have also sourced deals with incredible extras, such as 14-night family breaks in Florida, where half the time is spent in a private villa and half at a five-star beach resort, from just £1,529pp including flights (trailfinders.com).
Caribbean islands are certainly the stuff of lockdown dreams, and Dial-a-flight is offering near half-price deals in Barbados, with direct flights and seven nights at the newly renovated beachfront Fairmont Royal Pavilion from £1,749pp (dialaflight.com).
If you fancy real luxury, BA Holidays is offering business-class flights and seven nights by the beach in Mauritius from £2,249pp (ba.com/holidays).
Booking a big trip now does mean a gamble on the world reopening. But it also means it is vital to find a company you can trust to look after your holiday – and your money – if coronavirus issues continue. Step one is to see if a holiday will be ATOL-protected.
The Government-backed scheme means you get your money back if your tour firm collapses before you take off, or, if you’ve already left, lets you continue with your holiday with the peace of mind that you and your family will be brought home.
A 14-night family break in Florida, where half the time is spent in a private villa and half at a five-star beach resort, now costs from just £1,529pp including flights
Any holiday that includes a flight should come under the scheme’s umbrella, and you will be given an ATOL certificate when you book, even if you pay only a low deposit.
But be aware that if you book an overseas tour without a flight, make a flight-only booking direct with an airline, or book a train, ferry or coach holiday, then you do not get protection from ATOL.
If you do book flights only, then go back to the same travel firm at a later date to book your accommodation, it is up to the company whether you are ATOL-protected or not. Find more information at caa.co.uk/consumers.
If the holiday you want does not offer ATOL protection, the next step is to see if you can rely on similar support from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). Most package holidays – which include both transport and accommodation – should be protected.
Booking through an ABTA member also means your travel company should conform to a code of conduct and offer a proper complaints process. There is more information at abta.com.
The cancellation cover of travel insurance can pay out if you are ill or injured and can’t travel, or in some cases if you lose your job or need to remain at home for other reasons
But neither ATOL nor ABTA can help if you book a 2021 holiday now and are unable to travel as the departure date approaches.
However, the cancellation cover of travel insurance can pay out if you are ill or injured and can’t travel, or in some cases if you lose your job or need to remain at home for other reasons.
So the best advice is to take out travel insurance the day you book a holiday, even if your trip is months away. Fortunately, a growing number of insurers will pay out if you cannot travel because you’re diagnosed with Covid-19 or forced to self-isolate.
It’s also important to pick a travel company that’s proven to adapt well when a crisis hits.
The Consumers’ Association regularly ranks holiday companies and has just published research that includes firms’ customer service levels and refund policies amid the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The five travel brands that came out best were Jet2holidays, Kuoni, Hays Travel, Trailfinders and Saga.