5 lessons to learn from the volcano
We look at the five crucial financial lessons we should all take from the Icelandic volcano.
Like some sort of disaster movie sequel, the volcano is back! All flights out of Ireland on Tuesday were cancelled as a new ash cloud from Eyjafjallajokull (or the Icelandic volcano as I prefer to call it) settled again over home waters, with parts of Scotland also affected.
While this new wave of ash is (hopefully) unlikely to cause the chaos that we saw first time around, it has reinforced the fact that there are a number of lessons to learn from this whole episode about the way we live our lives.
Lesson #1 – Get the right travel insurance
This is easy with hindsight, but a useful lesson to take forward. When you are booking a trip away, it really does pay to know exactly where you stand with your travel insurance if a completely unforeseen event – and I reckon an erupting volcano falls into that category – does take place and ruin your plans somewhat.
The last few weeks have reinforced the fact that all travel insurers are different. While some were quick to step forward and confirm that certain costs would be covered (such as unused hotel rooms or car hire), just as many said they would not.
So when the time comes to book your travel insurance, just as important as getting a deal that is as cost effective as possible is ensuring that the cover you do plump for gives you sufficient cover.
As boring as it sounds, that does mean reading the small print.
Lesson #2 – Know your ATOLs
All holiday companies in the UK selling holiday packages and flights are required to hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL).
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This licence is very important – it means that should something go wrong, not only will you not lose out financially, but they will also ensure you aren’t stranded abroad.
So how do you know whether your journey is ATOL protected? According to the Civil Aviation Authority, which runs the scheme, if you pay any money to a holiday company in the UK for a flight or air holiday package, the sale usually has to be ATOL protected.
However, if you book through a travel agent and get your ticket or airline confirmation immediately, chances are you won’t be covered by ATOL.
Obviously, if you like to book elements of the holiday separately then you open yourself up to the possibility that you won’t be ATOL covered. Before you book any trip overseas, I’d advise having a good read of the ATOL website so that you are completely clear on just how much cover you are enjoying.
- Adopt this goal: Have a cheap holiday
Lesson #3 – Money transfers
One of the big problems that came to the forefront during the volcano hold ups surrounded the money in travellers' pockets - or rather the lack thereof.
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Thousands of Brits, stranded overseas at the end of a holiday found themselves with little or no option but to turn to their credit cards to pay for food and drink until the airspace was reopened. And as any loyal lovemoney.com reader knows, spending money abroad on your credit card generally results in outrageous charges.
As a result money transfers, provided by firms like Western Union, have enjoyed something of a renaissance. Thanks to these services you are able to transfer money to thousands of locations worldwide (Western Union for example boasts more than 420,000 agent locations across the globe), and all for just a few pounds. It certainly works out a lot cheaper than slapping that spending on plastic.
- Read this blog: £1000 for best volcano stories
Lesson #4 – Trains, planes and automobiles
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- magicol asks:
I’ve never been a big fan of flying to be completely honest, so it’s been nice to see a resurgence in the forms of travel that don’t involve fighting the laws of gravity. After all it’s far nicer to travel into Paris while looking out of the window of a train, watching the countryside whizz past rather than trying to peer out of a plane window.
Similarly, who wouldn’t enjoy a nice trip by sea to the Mediterranean, rather than having to go through Heathrow? It’s far more civilised.
Thankfully, we have all been reminded that you don't have to travel by plane if you are travelling into Europe, and hopefully it's a lesson that lasts.
Sadly, getting to somewhere like Hong Kong remains somewhat tricky if you can’t take a flight.
Lesson #5 – Don’t mess with Mother Nature. Or the Icelandics
It’s been a funny old year for Brits so far regarding nature.
First the nation came to an absolute standstill thanks to the worst snow seen in decades, and then we spent a week discussing the admirable lengths our friends and family went to in order to get home for work thanks to an erupting volcano. Thank goodness for mobile technology allowing us to work from home (or even, God forbid, from abroad!) or else the nation’s productivity would have been even worse!
And as for Iceland, hopefully after a global financial disaster and an exploding volcano, our Scandinavian chums might cut us some slack. I dread to think what else they might have up their sleeves...
What lessons have you learned?
If you've learned a lesson we haven't touched upon, then please do share your experiences with other lovemoney.com readers using the comments box below.