James Walker: Beware the winter wanderlust

Despite strained credit cards, stress and the prospect of a house full of relatives, December is one of the most popular times of the year for booking a last-minute holiday. And what better than a winter break?
You should consider whether you need winter sports coverYou should consider whether you need winter sports cover
You should consider whether you need winter sports cover

But before you commit to buy, here are a few things to bear in mind so your holiday goes to plan.

Question the deals

Just because a travel website says it’s got 71 people watching the hotel you’re checking out, don’t panic buy. If you’re online shopping for a holiday, use comparison websites to source the best deals – but don’t forget you can book your hotel or flights direct. Not only will the prices be more or less the same, if you pay over £100 on a credit card you’ve got loads of rights if things go wrong.

Be suspicious about sales

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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 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 it’s still over what you would have been willing to pay 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.

Don’t forget the health card

Leaving aside Brexit, a surprisingly large number of people still don’t take out a European Health Insurance Card when going on holiday. It’s free and really useful should you need medical treatment while away. But it doesn’t cover everything – and if you get ill or are 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.

Don’t skimp on travel insurance

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. 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.

Flight delays

It’s foggy. It’s snowing. It’s suspiciously overcrowded in the airport terminal. Another volcano has gone off. And then a Tannoy announcement of doom says: “Your flight is delayed.” Nightmare. But remember; if your flight is held up by more than three hours, you are entitled to compensation depending on the circumstances. This is based on how late after the scheduled arrival time your flight arrives. Find out more about your flights rights at resolver.co.uk.

Got a travel trauma we can help with or you want to share? Let me know what you think on Twitter www.twitter.com/resolvercouk or Facebook www.facebook.com/resolvercouk

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk