4. As travel insurance won’t protect you for Covid cancellations, bookings with flexibility are key
Look for those that let you easily change your mind or the date, or cancel.
a) Package holidays are cheap and give extra protection. This is where you pay for two or more travel services as one thing (ie, flight + hotel, or flight + car rental) via a travel agent / firm. For how to find the top deals, see Cheap Package Holidays.
Under the Package Travel Regulations, you’re legally due a refund if the travel agent / firm or an airline / hotel / car firm etc goes bust. That also applies if you can’t go because your destination has closed its borders to Brits, or you don’t get the holiday you paid for.
This is strong protection, worth having, though not all firms have offered the swiftest remedy, so check our firm-by-firm travel refunds survey (December 2020) info to see how past customers feel they’ve been dealt with.
Do note you’re not due a refund if you’re unable to go because you’d need to self-isolate on your return. So an extra step is to look for firms that offer free changes or easy cancellation when booking.
b) Many cheap flights now offer free date changes. Our full How to bag cheap flights guide takes you through ways to get cheap deals. You’ve a legal right to a full refund if the flight’s cancelled, yet many airlines now offer flexibility if YOU choose to change too.
For example, Easyjet and BA let you make changes for free, nearly up to the last minute (though you’ll pay the difference if it’s to a more expensive flight). See airline-by-airline cancellation policies.
c) Hotels, even cheap ones, often give free cancellation until a couple of days before. Many give you until 24-48 hours before your booking to change your mind – some don’t require payment until then too. Even forgetting Covid, this is useful as if you find the same room cheaper just before you go, check availability, rebook, and then cancel. See Cheap Hotel Tips for full info.
d) Self-catering is getting more flexible too. If you’re booking your own accommodation, Airbnb for example now offers free cancellation up to 24hrs before on many properties (though do check). Far more help in Cheap Self-Catering Accommodation.