Compare – but buy direct. There are bargains galore to be had on holidays and packages online. Do shop around on the comparison travel sites (there are loads) but when you spot something you like, try to 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. 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 keep the information where you can access it. Loads of people who contact Resolver have been stranded as a direct result of the web going down with all their booking info. And if you’ve got e-tickets, make sure that phone or tablet is fully charged – and bring a spare battery pack.
Don’t leave buying currency. It’s 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 pick up point.
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. Small bottle are pricey, so decanting samples from larger versions in advance will save a lot.
Watch your plastic. If you use your debit card to make a purchase or withdraw cash your bank will hit you with a charge of up to 3 per cent for the privilege – and the interest rate you get will be when the item is presented to the bank, which might not be for weeks.
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.
Watch out for smartphone charges. The rules covering what firms can charge you for using your card abroad have changed, but they’ve got more complicated. Yes, you get loads of warnings about your spending limits, but you can still get hit with high charges for photo messages, downloading and voicemails that you haven’t even listened to. You could get a pre-paid SIM for your trip, but speak to your provider to find out how their policies work if you’re not sure.
James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk