James Walker: Top tips for bumper holiday month

Allow time for security checks at the airport
Allow time for security checks at the airport
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Because of the double bank holidays, May can be a great time to travel abroad.

Living on an island with such unpredictable weather means that what might have been a wonderful weekend can suddenly be a washout. So it’s not a surprise that many of us go online to try to find some last-minute holiday bargains.

But much can go wrong between that click to commit and boarding the plane. Here’s a few tips to avoid a travel trauma.

 Compare – but buy direct. There are bargains galore to be had on holidays and packages online if you hold your nerve. If you’re willing to be a little flexible then you could bag a really good deal. So shop around on the comparison travel sites (there’s loads) and when you spot something you like, try and buy direct from the holiday company. This is because it may actually be cheaper when fees and costs are added on.

 Pay on a credit card if you buy direct. The Consumer Credit Act covers you for goods and services that don’t turn up or are misrepresented. That doesn’t mean you can get your cash back if you don’t enjoy your holiday. But if you’ve been fundamentally misled, it’s another layer of protection.

 Print it, snap it, save it. If you’ve booked a last-minute trip make sure you photo your confirmations, save or print those emails and save the information where you can access it. Lots of people who contact Resolver have been stranded as a direct result of the web going down with all their info. And if you’ve got e-tickets, make sure that your phone or tablet is fully charged.

 Don’t leave buying currency to the airport. It’s generally an urban myth that “you get better rates abroad”. You get the best chance of a decent rate by checking what’s on offer online each day and using a click and collect service from your local station or pick-up point. And if you have one, take a credit card to cover you in case of cash emergencies (remember to pay any costs straight back on to it).

 Don’t leave at the last minute. Security checks are taking longer, no matter where you’re going, so add some extra time to get to the airport. I’ve noticed some airlines have automated their bag drops, so bear in mind that while a nice check-in assistant might overlook that extra pound or two in your suitcase, a machine won’t negotiate – so leave a kilogram or two to spare.

 Buy a decent travel insurance policy. Don’t go for the one that comes with the flight or holiday package. Look for a policy that covers you from the moment you sign up (in case you can’t travel for any reason) and has decent excess fees in case you need to claim.

 Smaller is pricier. The liquids limits at airport security are still in place, limiting you to 100ml bottles in a one-litre clear bag that must fasten. This means people leg it to the nearest shop and buy miniatures of their favourite brands in small sizes. Yet research has shown that these smaller toiletries are much pricier than their larger versions. Save some cash and buy some clear containers and decant the stuff you need for your hand luggage.

Finally, if something goes wrong with your holiday and it isn’t your fault then you have every right to make a complaint – and I can help you get things sorted at www.resolver.co.uk