A few days of sun, sea and sand may be just what you need after the trauma of the last year, but booking a trip now can be a tricky game.
It is perhaps inevitable that thoughts for so many of us have turned towards holidays this week.
After the Prime Minister announced his plans for loosening lockdown this week, holiday firms and airlines reported seeing a sharp surge in bookings.
TUI for example said that bookings for foreign trips had jumped a massive 500% overnight.
Of course, it’s all still based on everything going to plan and any loosening measures not causing new issues which will cause further restrictive measures to be introduced.
But the rising hope that we might finally be getting out of the misery of this pandemic ‒ coupled with the weather starting to improve ‒ means it’s no great surprise that the nation is starting to dream of days by the beach, whether on domestic shores or overseas.
However, actually booking a holiday remains a big gamble.
The travel insurance conundrum
Travel insurance is a crucial part of holiday planning at the best of times, but given the current circumstances having some proper cover in place has never been more important.
Yet travellers face a confusing situation when it comes to putting travel insurance in place for a trip this year.
Financial information site Defaqto released analysis of the market’s current travel insurance policies this week.
On the plus side, a whopping 96% of policies will cover your medical expenses should you fall ill with Covid-19 while on your trip, which is clearly a big consideration for any would-be holidaymaker.
But there is huge variance when it comes to falling ill before the holiday itself.
Just 72% of policies will cover costs if you have to cancel the trip, meaning you will have to foot the bill yourself.
The situation is even worse if you are told to isolate by Track and Trace, meaning you have to cancel your holiday. A paltry 34% of policies will protect you if this happens.
And should you get to the airport and then be denied boarding because you display symptoms, even fewer policies will protect you.
A miniscule 18% of policies cover this for the return flight, while just 16% will cover this for the outbound flight.
It all simply emphasises the importance of going through your insurance policy carefully so that you are completely clear on what is actually covered, and what situations will leave you footing the bill.
Of course, you can bet your bottom dollar that as soon as demand for anything starts to rise ‒ whether it’s a holiday or a hot tub ‒ it won’t be long before prices increase too.
There have been reports in the Mail this week highlighting some of the apparent tactics employed by holiday firms ramping up prices.
Sykes Cottages for example was accused of ratcheting up the price of properties let through the site by as much as 100%, with even property owners who use the site to let out their cottages saying they were “embarrassed” by the prices, which are set by Sykes itself.
Sykes denied the claims, saying it would be “wrong” to accuse the firm of changing prices because of the pandemic, but it’s certainly not the only business which has raised eyebrows over its pricing.
My own holiday booking experience
It’s something I’ve seen first hand too. A month or so ago I decided to look into booking a few days away for my family and I over the June half term.
Obviously, this was quite the gamble at the time given we knew so little about the way out of lockdown, but I wanted to have something provisional in the diary to look forward to.
So I looked at a holiday park we had stayed at last summer. When we first looked, a three-day stay would cost around £450.
We didn’t book it there and then, but had another look a few days later. Now the price had jumped to £666.
Again we put it off, and within a few days the price had jumped to £740. That same break would still cost £740 if I booked it today.
Of course, if you have a little more flexibility over when you can take a trip you’re less likely to suffer from this blatant price gouging.
But there’s no escaping the fact that, if you are looking to snap up a holiday now that it seems like something that might be possible this year, you’ll not only have to battle against travel insurance uncertainty but also pick your way through the businesses that are wasting no time in hiking prices to levels that may be hard to justify.
Have you booked a holiday this year? Are you worried about losing out? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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