What are the classic mistakes that I should avoid when booking a holiday?

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12 January
15:00
12 January
15:36

Booking a holiday seems so easy – book a hotel, add a flight, start packing. Simple! But, in fact, holiday logistics are complex, and a small mistake can ruin your trip. Proceed with caution – and watch out in particular for these six blunders. 

1. Booking your hotel before checking flight availability

These two elements of your holiday – if you are going DIY – are completely separate. So if you book your accommodation and only then look at flights only to find none fit your accommodation dates, hotels won’t refund the costs. Check both items and then book the flight and hotel, in that order, immediately after one another. 

2. Ensure your arrival and departure flight dates match your accommodation dates

Look closely at flight timings. If your outbound flight’s an overnight one, you may miss the start of the cruise or tour, or waste a hotel night. This does happen! Similarly, if the return flight is overnight, you may inadvertently miss a day at work.

3. Not allowing enough time between connecting flights

Airlines usually have ‘Minimum Connecting Times’ – the quickest amount of time in which they estimate you can transfer between flights at a particular airport if your name’s not Usain Bolt. Still, check your airline hasn’t booked flights which connect too tightly – it definitely does happen, believe me. Things can go wrong, too: a broken down inter-terminal train, say, or huge queues at customs – and, obviously, connections between different airlines’ flights won’t be so carefully timetabled. I always allow at least two hours between connecting flights – it's easier for me to kill time in terminals than to miss my onward flight!

4. Not checking visa requirements

Visa requirements can change without notice; whether it’s an alteration – as with the USA recently, when biometric passports suddenly became essential for visitors – or where a country newly introduces visa demands. Check current requirements on the relevant tourist board’s website or employ an experienced visa service. Establish how long is needed to process your visa, and the length of time it’ll be valid for. 

5. Not buying travel insurance

Otherwise known as ‘it won’t happen to me’ syndrome! Luggage does get lost and – more importantly – people do fall ill on holiday. If you have to be flown home or to a local hospital by air ambulance, say, this can easily costs thousands of pounds. It’s simply a false economy to skip this cost.

6. Confirming that final price

Be warned: the headline price, the one on which you based your holiday decision, might not actually include everything. Departure taxes? Single-supplement fees (charges levied at solo travellers)? Visa costs? Transfers from airport to villa or hotel? Check the ‘what’s included’ and the ‘what’s not included’ lists carefully, and ask if you have doubts. But my best piece of advice? Avoid almost all of these worries by booking your financially-protected trip with a tour operator or specialist travel agent, letting their experts do the donkey work. 

All of our AITO specialist members can trawl flights, outline costs and sort visas, while you relax and – crazy idea – look forward to your holiday instead!

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