With the recession forcing us all to tighten our belts a bit, more people than ever are turning to ‘DIY Holidays’ to enjoy a much-needed break without incurring the often considerable cost of going through a travel agent. Arranging your own holiday could save you hundreds of pounds – but it could also leave you vulnerable to a number of pitfalls. Here are some of the most common issues to look out for…
If you’re booking your own flights, try to do it as far in advance as possible in order to get a cheaper deal. Some airlines may draw you in with a cheap base price, but ramp it up considerably with extra charges, so make sure you check everything before you order. Optional extras like car hire might be cheaper to arrange yourself.
Also, make sure you check the location of the airport. Just because it shares a name with the city you’re headed to, doesn’t guarantee it isn’t actually hours outside of it. If you are travelling to an outlying airport, make sure to allow plenty of time to get to it on your way back or you could end up missing your flight.
If you’re booking your own hotels, you have nobody to complain to if it doesn’t live up to expectations. We’ve all heard the holiday horror stories of people booking in to what look like luxurious resorts only to turn up and discover that the reality is somewhat different.
Never trust the photos on the website – seek out independent user reviews to sort the good from the bad. If possible, get advice from somebody who lives in or has visited the area, and check that your hotel is well located and not out in the sticks – though by the same token, if it’s in a popular resort, you probably don’t want to be sleeping a few doors down from the town’s busiest nightclub.
It’s more important than ever on a DIY holiday to make sure that you have proper travel insurance in case anything does go wrong, as many DIY holidays may not be ATOL or ABTA protected. From medical care to lost luggage, insurance can help to protect you from a wide range of common holiday issues.
Your level of cover may vary from insurer to insurer, so if possible make an itinerary of any things you might need to be insured for (such as winter sports, travelling or golfing) and make sure you have a policy that protects you in all eventualities.
Ultimately, a DIY holiday can be an exciting and rewarding experience as well as a valuable exercise in cost cutting. The important thing is not to go into the situation with your eyes closed, but to make proper preparations and do your homework, so that when you do arrive at your destination, all there is left to do is relax.
RIAS are award-winning specialists in providing great value travel and holiday insurance for the over 50s, visit their website at www.rias.co.uk.