Whatever your travel plans are for 2024, make them in confidence knowing that you have the right information to make the best choice for you. From choosing the type of holiday, to car hire and what to do if something goes wrong, our top tips will make sure that you are ready for takeoff.
Package holiday or DIY: Which is best?
There is no right or wrong answer to this one; the key is knowing the difference and making an informed decision. Booking your own holiday can often be cheaper and allow more flexibility, as the world really is your oyster. However, the important thing to know is that you don’t have the same level of protection as you do if you book a package holiday. Where this is important is, for example, if something happens at the destination you are flying to or if the accommodation you booked isn’t what you expected. If you book a package holiday, the provider is responsible for either addressing the problem or organising a different arrangement. If you book your holiday yourself, make sure to spend time reading the terms and conditions of each part of your holiday, particularly around cancellations.
Expired passports and the 10-year rule
EU rules state that passports are valid for a maximum of 10 years. That means if you’re visiting another EU country, Iceland or Norway and your passport is valid for more than 10 years, you could be denied entry. It’s up to you to check this, not the airline.
If you are travelling within the EU your passport will also need to be valid for three months after your return date. Many countries including Egypt, Thailand and Turkey require up to six months. Save yourself a stressful sprint to the passport office by checking what the requirements are for your destination before you make the booking.
The cheapest time to book online
Travel businesses were among the first to embrace algorithms – the computer technology that predicts everything from demand to pricing. “Dynamic pricing” is the way in which some businesses describe algorithms that raise prices at high demand times. Often flight or hotel costs can change significantly even in the space of an hour. As a general rule, look online during quieter spells – for example, mid-afternoon or late in the evening – for the best deals. The more people are online and searching, the pricier the flight or hotel might get.
Whether you are booking in person or online, shop around and be wary of “pressure selling” – those warnings on websites that claim there is “one room left at this price” or that “42 people have looked at this deal in the last hour”.
Navigate car hire like a boss
Car hire can be a tricky business. From the cost to deposits and rules around use, you need to go into car hire with your eyes open. Before you leave, compare the rates of different car rental firms; remember, too, that it can make a big difference to book a car online. Before booking a rental car, research the company and always read the policy and rental conditions to ensure you select the best choice for you.
In the EU, there are rules that protect you when you rent a car in one of the member states, including Norway and Iceland. You are entitled to clear information and a fair contract. You can also involve a dispute committee if you have a dispute with the car rental company.
To find out more about what you should watch for when you hire a car abroad see our Car Rental advice page.
Be on your guard for scams
Accommodation scams are unfortunately a reality that we all need to be aware of. If you are booking your accommodation yourself, make sure to do your research. There are lots of review websites that you can check. Whilst a five star-rated hotel might seem like a brilliant find, it is more important to check the number of reviews, the details in those reviews (are they specific?) and be realistic there is always going to be the odd negative review. If you can, try to use booking websites and pay through those sites as you will have a better level of security. Email the owner too, before you commit, to confirm the accommodation is genuinely available and what will happen if there is a cancellation – either you or them.
What happens if things go wrong?
This depends on what type of holiday you have booked. If you have booked the individual elements yourself, then depending on the nature of the problem you will need to look at the terms and conditions of each contract. If your issue is in connection to travel, we have advice in our Travelling in the EU section.
If you booked a package holiday, the business that booked your holiday is responsible for addressing the problem. Read about your rights on our Package Travel consumer advice page and get in contact with the business as quickly as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to pack your travel insurance. For most people, travel insurance is a must, as it will cover you for many situations such as if you fall ill before you fly, or if you have valuables stolen when you are away. Remember don’t leave it to the last minute to buy your insurance, put it in place as soon as you book or consider taking out an annual policy.