‘Revenge Travel’ has taken an early lead in the race to be the most used buzzword of 2021 – and it’s easy to see why. With the postponement or outright cancellation of dream holidays, trips to see family living abroad and even weddings, it’s natural that the desire to jetset as soon as life returns to normal will be a high priority for many.
Unfortunately, the uncertainty associated with COVID means many Brits aren’t sure what they should be doing about booking their summer hols, which is especially confusing because the January sale appears to be alive and well! So, if you’re concerned – or just downright confused – about how COVID might impact your travel this year, we’re here to tell you it’s going to be OK.
Here’s our travel booking and spending advice for your next holiday – the good news is, we think you should crack on and start planning a dream vacay for the summer months — you definitely deserve it!
Is it safe to book a holiday?
In a word, yes. While reading the news might convince you otherwise, booking a holiday – even in these times – isn’t as risky you might think. In fact, at the time of writing, flights and hotels are excellent value thanks to numerous sales driven by the uncertainty of travel at the moment. Airlines and hotels are also becoming more and more flexible in order to encourage you to keep booking.
There are, however, a few important steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Check the refund policy on flights or accommodation before you book
What you want to look out for is how the company will refund you. Ideally, this will be in cash rather than a voucher. If you receive a refund via a voucher and the company goes bankrupt, getting your money back will be very challenging.
- Avoid putting down a deposit
If possible, stay away from paying a deposit. If you do pay a deposit, make sure it’s very low and only required close to the time of the trip in case there are any last minute changes to your travel plans.
- Say no to package holidays
Given the general uncertainty at the moment, we’d recommend staying away from package holidays. Booking everything separately means you can review the T&Cs of each company to ensure they all offer good refund policies. It also makes it easier to move booking dates and you won’t have to deal with any middle men who make communicating directly with the company particularly tricky.
Your advice came too late! I’ve already got a holiday booked – what do I do?
If you have a holiday booked before Easter, I’m afraid it’s very unlikely that this will go ahead due to the current lockdown. However, and this may sound crazy, don’t cancel your trip. Instead, move your flight, hotel etc. to a later date when travel might be possible. This could save you a lot of cash if you booked your original flights in the last few months when they were good value due to the uncertainty of the current situation. In all likelihood, costs will sharply increase when travel becomes safe again as everyone will be rushing to book, so postponing will ensure you can still take advantage of your savings.
…Ok, but I’ve also got a bunch of foreign currency in cash, what can I do there?
If this is the case, then the safest and wisest option would be to keep it at home. Unfortunately, the exchange rate is extremely volatile at the moment so if you travel later in the year, you could be hit again converting your money back into the currency you need. This means you could lose between 10-20% of the value due to fees.
OK – I’ve booked my Summer holiday! But we’re all trying to save a bit of money right now, are there any easy ways to save when abroad?
It’s a big change from ten or even five years ago, but the days of using the bureau de change in the airport and being hit by 10-20% fees are over! Moving forward we’d recommend minimising the amount of cash currency you take out before travelling. While having a little bit of cash on you just in case is always useful, using a travel debit card means you’ll get the benefit of lower fees and better exchange rates. If you can, try to pay with a card directly as much as possible (i.e. when at a restaurant or a shop), as this means you’ll also avoid the significant charges that come with using an ATM abroad.
A debit card is the safer option, too. Not only is it more hygenic – particularly important in the COVID era – but it means you won’t have to worry about hiding large amounts of money when you’re out and about. You’ll also have the benefit of spending with the consumer protection of your card. For example, Currensea links with your existing bank account meaning you don’t have to transfer any money when you travel and can feel safe that you have the same protection you have back home.
Then, when you get home you also don’t have to worry about re-exchanging leftover cash, which can hit you again if the exchange rate has changed while you were away (which happens a lot at the moment due to the volatility of the market). We’ve also got an eco-conscious scheme that allows you to donate some of your savings to plant trees, meaning you can save the planet while you travel!
In summary: preparation is key
Even in the wake of Covid, your dreams of a beautiful Summer holiday can continue. Until travel restrictions are lifted, the main difference between now and previous years is you have to be more careful and conscious when booking. Ensure you read the fine print in the terms and conditions so that there’s minimum disruption to your finances in the wake of further restrictions.
And, for when you get there, switch to a travel debit card. You’ll get the best rates, save on any unwanted FX fees, and travel with peace of mind that you don’t have wads of cash on your person – not to mention the cleanliness of card versus cash to boot!
Taking the necessary steps will ensure that your revenge travel will be a dish best served cold. And you could even save some cash along the way!