James Walker: Keep feet on the ground booking winter getaway

Be cautious of bargain promotions on the internet
Be cautious of bargain promotions on the internet
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Many of us have held back on booking a holiday because of the rubbish exchange rates and political turbulence over the past year.

While things are still up in the air, exchange rates have improved – and all the signs are that people are heading out to the high street or online to see if there are any bargains to be had for a winter getaway.

The good news is there are still some good deals out there. But before you book, here are some tips for winter holidays so you don’t slip up on the slopes or have a bad time on the beach.

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 30 per cent off a £400 a night boutique hotel isn’t a great deal if you wouldn’t have looked twice if it had cost £250 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.

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 a sedate ramble or a nature walk. It’s not hard to get into difficulty in winter weather abroad and I’ve had to help sort out numerous insurance claims involving helicopter call-out costs, repatriation and extended hospital stays. Check out our guide to winter sports insurance.

Despite Brexit uncertainty, you can still use your European Health Insurance Card when going on holiday – for now. But the EHIC 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. And don’t buy at the airport unless it’s an emergency – the cover is generally much poorer.

Travelling over winter comes with its own risks. Much as it’s good to escape the UK, there’s a higher chance of a flight cancellation or delay. If you’re travelling with your family, make sure you have back-up batteries for phones and tablets and things to keep the kids occupied. Have a credit card handy with lots of credit on it just in case you have to make alternative arrangements or rebook a flight if there’s a problem. Don’t forget to check with your hotel or tour operator what your rights are if you are delayed or need to rebook. And know your rights – Resolver has a full guide to your rights if your plane is cancelled or delayed. It’s a cold comfort, but you might get some cash back if something goes wrong. We’re working with the airlines to make the process of making a claim stress free – but if you aren’t getting anywhere, we can help you get your complaint sorted.

Resolver can help you sort out complaints about pretty much anything for free.