Planning a getaway this winter? Then there’s plenty you need to know and must remember when it comes to travelling at this time of the year.
Maybe you are eyeing up a sunshine break to escape the chilly UK temperatures, looking for a skiing or snowboarding trip with friends or planning when and how you’re going to get to see family over the festive season?
Whatever you travel needs, bear this in mind. During the winter months, things can and do go wrong. Sometimes they are no-one’s fault and could not have been foreseen.
But at other times they will be the responsibility of the holiday company, the airline, the train operator or maybe a public body if there’s an issue on the roads.
So what can you do when things go awry? And what ways are there for you to avoid problems in the first place? Here are my top tips to get you off to flying start.
Plan in case things fail
You can’t complain to yourself if something goes wrong that you caused. So make a start with a thorough checklist of what you need to book, when everything needs to be booked by to take advantage of any cheaper prices or discounts and if you’re travelling between a few destinations, ensure you’ve worked out to leave enough time for flight connections or hotel check-ins in case of delays. It won’t stop issues arising but it will set you up sensibly from the start. And search out the best rates for holiday money, because you won’t find them at the airport at the last minute.
Use your credit card to pay
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is crucial when you are booking a holiday or travel. After all, it’s a big expense and you can’t afford to be left out of pocket should the worst happen such as a hotel being unable to put you up, rooms or apartments not looking like they were in the ad, a hire car booking that you thought was made and it actually wasn’t, or, and this is the worst of all, an airline going bust meaning you are unable to getaway in the first place.
That’s where Section 75 comes in. What’s important to remember is even if you just pay your deposit using your credit card, as long as the total amount is £100 or more excluding any fees, you will be covered for the whole total of your holiday or travel booking if things go wrong. It doesn’t even matter if you have paid the balance in cash. What’s important is your credit card provider has exactly the same liability because of Section 75 as the company booking your trip. You can even contact them before the company, or at the same time. You don’t actually need to speak to the travel firm first.
Safeguard your possessions
Whether you’re claiming for lost luggage, stolen possessions or gadgets and technology that gets broken along the way, it’s important to know every exclusion in your policy.
Some travel insurance for example puts a limit on the number of electronic items you can claim for or the total monetary amount you will be covered for. In these days of travelling with a family-sized bag of smartphones, tablets and computers, it’s crucial you understand what you are covered for, and more importantly, what you’re not covered for.
One other tip is to take photos of all the expensive items you are taking, including clothes, and keep these along with the receipt and serial numbers noted down. This is one simple way to prove to the insurance company that you were the owner should you need to make a claim. Just remember to email yourself the pictures or store them in the cloud in case your mobile is one of the items stolen.
Claim for any delays
Under EU law, there is a really helpful piece of assistance that can get you lots of money back. If a flight you are taking is delayed for three hours or more and is EU-regulated or travelling from or too an EU airport, then this is your right. It’s not an optional extra, the airline has a duty to pay you some money based on the length of the delay and cost of your ticket if the delay was within their control. So claim it.
And if you’re taking a train in the UK and are delayed for 30 minutes or more you’re also due to get back some of the cash you have paid. However, there are many exclusions - more than for flights - so check what is said to be within a train operator’s control and what isn’t. You’ll find this in the operator’s own terms of service.
Keep your tickets just in case you need to claim and note down any personal issues or monetary costs a delay causes you so you can make a claim for what you are entitled to. For example, if it is late at night and the station authorises it, you may be able to claim for onward travel such as a taxi home.
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