4. Since travel insurance doesn’t protect you from Covid cancellations, booking flexibility is key
Look for ones that allow you to easily change or cancel your mind or the date.
a) Package tours are inexpensive and offer additional protection. Here you pay for two or more travel services as one thing (ie flight + hotel or flight + rental car) through a travel agency / travel company. For information on finding the top deals, see Cheap Vacation Packages.
Under the Package Travel Regulations, if the travel agent / company or airline / hotel / car company etc. goes bankrupt, you are legally required to be reimbursed. This is true even if you can’t go because your destination closed the borders to British or you aren’t getting the vacation you paid for.
This is strong protection that is well worth it, although not all companies have offered the fastest means. So check out our Travel Refund Refunds survey (December 2020) to see how customers have felt in the past.
Note that if you cannot leave, you will not be paid a refund as you will have to self-isolate upon your return. An additional step is to look for companies that offer free changes or easy cancellation when booking.
b) Many cheap flights are now offering free date changes. Our complete guide to cheap flights walks you through the ways to get cheap deals. You have a legal right to a full refund if the flight is canceled. However, many airlines now offer flexibility if you choose to change too.
For example, Easyjet and BA let you make changes for free almost until the last minute (although you pay the difference if it’s a more expensive flight). See airline-to-airline cancellation policies.
c) Hotels, even cheap ones, often offer free cancellation up to a few days in advance. Many give you up to 24-48 hours before you book to change your mind – some don’t require payment until then. Even forgetting Covid, it comes in handy when you find the same room cheaper just before you leave, check availability, rebook and then cancel. For more information, see Cheap Hotel Tips.
d) Self-caterers are also becoming more flexible. For example, if you’re booking your own property, Airbnb is now offering free cancellation for many properties up to 24 hours in advance (check this though). Far more help with cheap self-catering accommodation.