Although Spain continues to be a top favourite holiday destination for UK travellers, for many visitors the days of the traditional ‘Costa’ package have long gone. Today’s visitor is more likely to make her own booking arrangements often by-passing both travel agent and tour operator.
If you are a UK resident currently planning to arrange your own DIY holiday to Spain, perhaps for the first time, there are some points you should consider for your peace of mind:
1. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance cover
Some people think that, because Spain and the UK are both part of the EU, they do not need travel insurance: that is not correct. Although you should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK, it is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance and you are strongly advised to obtain personal insurance cover
. You should also ensure it is adequate for your needs; for example, extra cover will be required if you plan on skiing, diving or participating in extreme sports. For further information visit the UK Foreign Office website, Know Before You Go
. If you are not a UK citizen then please check the advice of your own government.
2. Ensure you have financial protection in the event the supplier of your flights, accommodation etc fail
2a. Booking a traditional Package
If you are travelling from the UK on a traditional package holiday, which includes flights and accommodation (as a minimum) all for one inclusive price, then the arrangement must, under European legislation, be covered by an ATOL Licence. This is a licence granted by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority and warrants that you will not be stranded abroad in the event your travel company collapses. Also if you haven’t yet travelled, ATOL will ensure you get a full refund for the holiday. In some cases you may be able to continue with your holiday as planned. Before you book ensure that the tour operator has an ATOL Licence: check here
2b Booking just a flight only.
If you book direct with a scheduled airline* ensure you receive a ticket in return for payment. Important note:
the ATOL scheme referred to above only applies to scheduled flights if sold as part of a package for one inclusive price. For that reason you should consider purchasing an Airline Failure insurance policy; as the name suggests you would be covered in the event the airline failed financially. Some personal travel insurance policies now include this as part of the cover.
If you book on a charter flight you must ensure you receive a “Flight Only” ATOL Certificate
. Make sure that the agent or operator that you are buying from has an ATOL Licence: check here
In the event of financial failure you would be protected under the ATOL scheme.
*It is worth noting that Monarch Airlines (and perhaps other carriers too) offer both scheduled and charter flights. You should ensure you obtain the appropriate cover.
2c. Booking flights, accommodation and/or car hire separately but within one day
If you book a flight with one or more other elements booked separately you would be protected under the ATOL scheme provided all arrangements were booked at the same time or on the next day with an ATOL Licence holder. Ensure that the travel company has a licence by checking here
. You should receive a “Flight Plus” Certificate
2d. Booking accommodation and/or car hire independently and separate from flight
Any pre-payment for accommodation and car hire should be made by credit card: under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act
the credit provider may be equally responsible for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by a supplier of goods or services on credit. This protection is NOT available for debit card payments.
As an aside it’s perhaps worth mentioning here that, at the time of writing, Drivalia
does not require any payment until you collect the hire car from their rental station at Alicante Airport
The above information is given in good faith but no liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions. For further consumer information visit the CAA´s Pack Peace of Mind website
. For the latest information on the CAA’s ATOL scheme visit the ATOL website