Booking a holiday

Holidays can be expensive, so it’s always a good idea to shop around to get the best deal. Always try to book through a travel operator that can offer you protection and make sure to get travel insurance that covers you if things do go wrong.

Choosing a travel operator

There are lots of travel operators online and on the high street, meaning you can get a great deal but it can also be overwhelming to choose one.

Speak to your travel agent or tour operator about the protection they have if something happens. You should ask if:

  • they have an Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL)
  • they are a member of an approved body such as the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)
  • they have a suitable insurance policy
  • they have a protection scheme or trust fund for any payments you make ahead of travelling

Make sure to ask if the protections they have in place cover the travel arrangements you are making. If they don’t, the company may be able to offer suitable insurance to cover you.

Booking tips

Here are some tips for booking your holiday. You should:

  • shop around to get the best deal
  • use a reputable travel company – this can be on the high street or online
  • get your travel insurance sorted at the same time – make sure it gives you the cover you need
  • pay your deposit with a credit card

Paying your deposit or your whole holiday with a credit card can give you extra protection. This is especially handy if you’re not protected by an ATOL, as you may be able to claim back from your credit card company. However, be aware, you may be charged a fee for using a credit card.

If you book a package or flight plus holiday you should get an ATOL certificate. This certificate will tell you what cover you have. Make sure to read it carefully and bring it with you on holiday.

Holiday and flight scams

Be careful of unsolicited emails, phone calls or adverts online offering you cheap flights and holidays. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Find out more about scams.

Package holidays and linked travel arrangements

You can find out what to do if there are issues with a package holiday or with travel services  bought from different traders in separate contracts but which are linked on the following page:

Package holiday cancelled

If your package holiday has been cancelled, you're protected by law and you're entitled to a refund of any money paid. 

Cancel a package holiday

If you want to cancel a package holiday, find information about what you are entitled to at this link:

Deposit for a holiday 

If you've paid a deposit for a holiday later in the year but you're not sure if it will go ahead, there is advice available about your options:

Independent travellers

If you have booked your holiday yourself using different providers for travel, accommodation and holiday services, your money is not protected in the same way. 

Insurance

You should always get travel insurance no matter how you book but if you’re booking independently check if your insurance policy covers airline failure or gives you extra holiday protection.

Most insurance policies won’t include a Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) as standard but you may be able to:

  • buy SAFI as an add-on
  • buy separate holiday protection insurance

If your insurance policy includes a SAFI, always check the airline you’re using is covered. Adding extra protection will increase the cost of your policy so you may want to consider the following before you buy:

  • what you paid for the trip
  • how confident you feel about the airline
  • how cheaply or easily you could get home another way

Make sure to read the booking tips above if you’re booking independently.

Cancelling your holiday

If something happens and you need to cancel your holiday, check the terms and conditions of your booking. It should explain your rights to cancel. If in doubt, speak to your travel operator.

You may be able to claim on your travel insurance, but you’ll need to show that you had a good reason to cancel.

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