Covid uncertainty means vacation bookings are a risk

4. As travel insurance will not protect you against Covid cancellations, flexible bookings are essential.

Look for ones that allow you to easily change your mind or date, or cancel.

a) Package vacations are inexpensive and offer extra protection. This is where you pay for two or more travel services in one thing (i.e. flight + hotel or flight + car rental) through a travel agent / company. To learn how to find the best deals, see Cheap Vacation Packages.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, you are legally entitled to a refund if the travel agent / company or an airline / hotel / car company, etc. went bankrupt. This also applies if you can’t go because your destination has closed its borders to the British, or if you don’t get the vacation you paid for.

This is solid protection, worth using, although not all companies have come up with the quickest remedy, so check out our Company-by-Company Travel Reimbursement Survey (December 2020 ) to see how former customers think they have been treated.

Note that you are not entitled to a refund if you cannot go because you will have to isolate yourself on your return. So an extra step is to look for companies that offer free changes or easy cancellation when booking.

b) Many inexpensive flights now offer free date changes. Our comprehensive guide to How to Book Cheap Flights tells you how to get cheap deals. You are legally entitled to a full refund if the flight is canceled, but many airlines now offer flexibility if YOU choose to change as well.

For example, Easyjet and BA allow you to make changes for free, almost until the last minute (although you’ll pay the difference if it’s a more expensive flight). See cancellation policies company by company.

c) Hotels, even the cheapest ones, often offer free cancellation up to a few days before. Many give you up to 24-48 hours before your reservation to change your mind – some don’t require payment before that date either. Even forgetting about Covid, it’s useful as if you find the same cheaper room right before you leave, check availability, book again, then cancel. See Tips on Budget Hotels for more information.

d) Self-catering is also becoming more flexible. If you book your own accommodation, Airbnb for example now offers free cancellation up to 24 hours before on many properties (check carefully). Much more help in cheap self-catering accommodation.

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