The COVID-19 pandemic has punched a crater in the UK’s holiday industry, with lockdowns and quarantine measures of various kinds in place all over the world. Holiday preparation and planning are tricky enough at the best of times, and right now the complications are massive. There’s some sunlight at the end of the train tunnel, though, with the first signs of hope starting to flicker on the horizon. While no one’s probably going to recommend travel to countries with severe coronavirus trouble any time soon, there are still some less destinations that could be opening up to holidaymakers in the upcoming months.

So, the question is, does this look like a good time to book your getaway in advance? Certainly, prices are pretty low at the moment, depending on where you’re thinking of heading. Chances are they won’t stay that way once travel restrictions are lifted, though. It’s a gamble, though, since we don’t exactly know how the rules are going to change yet.

Booking a package deal

Package deals are usually your best bet for fairly short trips of up to a couple of weeks. Discounts are pretty common right now, since the demand for plane seats and hotel rooms has dropped through the floor recently. 

You’re still going to want to play it safe, though. That means booking through a reputable travel agent with a solid cancellation policy. For longer trips, you might consider putting together more of a “do-it-yourself” type of deal. It’s more work, and probably not as cheap, but it does put you in the driving seat.

Where can you travel to?

Obviously enough, the first thing to consider is where you can actually go. Again, we’re still being warned about non-essential travel, but there are certainly countries that aren’t forcing any quarantine periods on travellers (Spain, for example).

With your basic package details and destination firmly in mind, it’s time to look at how to protect yourself. This is one of the areas where package deals tend to shine. ABTA and ATOL schemes can get your money back if your travel company goes belly up, for instance. You’re also covered for unavoidable problems with airlines or even cancelled travel due to dangerous weather. Back in 2018, the rules changed to bring DIY package protections more in line with traditional packages, so you’re covered against losing your cash either way.

When to book for the best deal

With package deals, it can actually pay off to hold your nerve and book a little later. Some of the best deals don’t kick in until a couple of months (or even weeks) before you set off. You might need to be a bit more flexible on the details of your trip to get the most out of this, but you could end up very glad you kept your powder dry a little longer before splashing out.

Never go slapping that cash down on the first package that seems to fit the bill, though. The first leg of your journey should always be a trip through the price comparison websites. It really does pay to shop around when you’re booking a holiday, so don’t skive off this vital little bit of extra homework. While you’re at it, check for short-notice sales and other limited offers. You never know what you might find or save with just a few minutes of extra research.

If you’re on the ball, you might even be able to get one company to beat a quote you’ve just had from another. You lose nothing by asking, so feel free to be a little cheeky. For bonus points, take the better quote you just got from the second company back to the first and see what they offer in response! Don’t expect miracles, but you could still save yourself a decent chunk of change this way.

Covering the cost of a holiday  - at home or abroad - is one of the most popular uses for a tax refund by our customers. With the average first refund (where you can claim for 4 years) being work almost £3,000 you can get to most places in the world and have a chunk of spending money left over. It only takes a minute or so to check if you're due tax back - so have a look now and then get on with the planning while we do all the hard work for you.

Those are a few basic pointers to keep you from losing your shirt when you’re stripping if off on the beach. Holidays are for friends and family, so there’s no better time to score your mates or loved ones a tax refund with RIFT Refer a Friend. Our current Star Prize of £1,000 would make a very large dent in your summer holiday costs, so get those referrals rolling in for cash rewards and prize draw entries.