Don’t get caught out by winter holiday mishaps

You may require insurance even on the nursery slopes. Photograph: Getty
You may require insurance even on the nursery slopes. Photograph: Getty
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January can feel like the longest month. It’s cold outside and the days are still far too short. Little wonder then that this time of year is one of the busiest for travel and holiday bookings – and especially skiing trips. If you’re planning a spontaneous winter getaway, or you’ve already booked and you’re getting ready to head off, here are some tips for winter holidays so you don’t slip up on the slopes.

Get covered now

A surprisingly large number of people still bank on using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when going on holiday. But it doesn’t cover everything – and if you get ill or injured, it could be very expensive. Different countries have different rules about what the card will cover so don’t assume it’ll be cost-free if you need to pop to a clinic or hospital.

Take out travel insurance before you travel – and make sure the cover starts from today. That way if you slip and fall on a typically glacial January morning, you’ll be covered if you have to cancel. There’s lots of different types of travel insurance but the basic rules of shopping apply here too: buy cheap, get cheap. Don’t save £5 on cover that could have given you much more protection when away.

Pause before clicking

If you love a bargain then you might have been tempted by an email from an airline or an advert for a travel comparison site, telling you that the January holiday sales are on. There are lots of bargains to be had – but it pays to be realistic. A flight or hotel is only worth what you’re willing to pay for it. So 20 per cent off a £300 a night boutique hotel isn’t a great deal if you wouldn’t have looked twice if it cost £300 normally. Factor in spending money and the exchange rate and have a think about cancellation options – just in case a better deal comes along closer to the time.

Take out winter sport insurance

If you’re doing anything even slightly adventurous while on holiday, don’t forget to take out the winter/sports cover. This might seem obvious if you’re planning on skiing off-piste but you’ll need it even on the nursery slopes.

The same goes for what might seem like relatively tame things, like going for sedate ramble on a nature walk. A few years ago, we helped out a couple who did just that, got lost, broke a leg or two and had to be rescued by helicopter. They were billed for the helicopter rescue. It’s only a little extra cash to be covered – not paying the supplement is a false economy.

Flight delays

It’s foggy. It’s snowing. It’s suspiciously overcrowded in the airport terminal. Uh-oh.

It’s ridiculously annoying If your flight is delayed. Our top tip? Grit your teeth and be charming. You’re more likely to get on the next available flight if you make sure the staff see you’re being polite and courteous. If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, then you are potentially entitled to compensation depending on the circumstances. This is based on how late after the scheduled arrival time your flight arrives. The rules vary quite a bit but don’t let that put you off. If you’ve waited for ages, put in a claim.

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