The risks of DIY holidays

How did you plan and book your holiday last year? Did you book a package holiday, booking all the components of your holiday with a travel agent? Or, did you take total control and book everything: accommodation, flights, car hire etc. yourself? Increasing numbers of families are taking control over their holidays and opting to book trips in holiday parks in the UK. Whilst there is no guarantee of the weather, these type of holidays have many advantages.

If you are one of the estimated 11 million people in Britain that creates their own DIY holiday – booking individual components from different sources, you could be putting your holiday at risk.

Did you know that if your airline or accommodation provider were to go bankrupt, your holiday may be in jeopardy? Flights, accommodation, car hire, attraction tickets when booked separately as part of a DIY holiday are unconnected and, in the event of the collapse of your airline or hotel provider you may be forced to make alternative arrangements, often at significant expense. If you are in the unfortunate situation that you cannot make different arrangements you may be forced to cancel your holiday. Imagine having a holiday booked but being unable to get there to enjoy it. Without cover, you could even be stranded on holiday if your airline fails while you are away.

So how do you protect your holiday from the risks?

Booking your holiday and all its components together with a single, ATOL bonded travel agent/company will offer you protection.

ATOL is the UK’s only licensing scheme for travel companies selling air holiday packages, protecting around 27 million people each year from losing money or being stranded abroad if their travel company goes bankrupt. You also have the benefit that your travel company is also responsible for making alternative arrangements should anything go wrong.

When using a travel agent to book your holiday, look for the ATOL logo on the company’s website, in its brochure, or call and ask for it.

When booking, ask if your whole holiday is covered by ATOL.

Check the ATOL website, www.atol.org.uk to confirm that the company’s ATOL number is valid.

If you do decide to book your own DIY holiday, remember you do not have the same protection offered by ATOL, so make your booking by credit card – although this will not offer full protection it may give you some cover, but you must spend at least £100 on each component.

Make sure your travel insurance covers you against insolvency, however, most travel insurance policies will only offer the cost of the lost component, not consequential costs such as non-use of accommodation, car rental etc if your airline fails. Some policies now offer scheduled airline failure, but check prior to purchase.