How to avoid the pitfalls when you're booking a bargain holiday


Across the nation, there’s been a collective sigh of relief in the last few weeks as the first payday of 2018 arrived. It’s such a long time to wait in January, isn’t it?

Boringly, this is usually the time where consumer rights experts like me tell you to watch your finances and pay everything off, but I suspect everyone’s sick of that advice by now.

It’s February, it’s cold, and summer seems a long way off. So let’s talk about splashing out!

One second - put down that credit card! Before the fun police accuse me of being irresponsible, of course you need to make sure you’ve covered all the bills and outgoings first.

But as long as you’ve done that, why not treat yourself? After all, as part of your resolutions, you might have given up something bad (but fun) or taken up something good (that you hate).

At this time of year, the number one treat that people buy themselves is a holiday. So here’s a few tips to make sure you get the best deal – and what to watch out for.

Don’t believe the hype

Websites and airlines love to tell you there’s only a few rooms or flights left, but recently, we’ve begun to question this. Panic selling is an old tactic to get you to snap up a bargain.

But resist. Do your research first, compare prices and book at times when people are less likely to be on the internet – they’re usually cheaper.

Be realistic

Booking the cheapest flight you can might be a bargain, but not if the additional costs add up.

As you’ll have seen in the news lately, chances are if you want to sit together you’ll inevitably have to pay for a seat reservation.

Not all extra charges are useless or unfair though. I’ve always thought priority boarding was a total waste of cash. But some airlines let you take an extra item of hand luggage for priority customers– invaluable if you’re not putting a bag in the hold but want to keep things handy for the plane.

Stay onsite

I’ve highlighted the rise of fraudsters on booking sites like AirB&B before. Holiday booking frauds work when genuine apartment photos and descriptions are pinched by the scammer and advertised through often genuine sites.

They get around security by suggesting you go off-site to pay. Beware – it’s a sure sign of a scammer. Pay with a credit card if you can, and check for verified reviews from people who’ve previously booked.

The red-eye home

That last flight of the day is cheapest for a reason. A quick turnaround of planes means the more flights a day your plane has, the more likely you are to be delayed.

Factor in the cost of a taxi home too if you arrive too late to get public transport.

If your flight is delayed, then don’t despair

If the delay is over three hours you could be entitled to a refund. The rules are a little complicated but you can find out more at

Annoyingly my least favourite thing in the world – claims managers – are all over the web trying to get you to use them to get what’s rightfully yours back. Don’t trust them!

Oh, and if you’ve miscalculated and you’ve got less money than you thought, you still have options. Have a think about your budget, reduce it by 20% to give you some breathing room if something goes wrong and see what’s out there.

Look for hotels with refundable deposits or have a think about putting aside some money each month in the run up to your holiday (including spending money).

If you’ve already overspent, don’t panic, ask for help. Your bank or credit provider can give you some tips – and we’ve got loads of free advice on the Resolver website.

Don’t forget you can claim for flight delays sometimes years after they happened. Find out more here: