More and more people are choosing to book travel online but what are the benefits of this system? And how should you go about using it?
In this guide, we look at everything you need to know about booking holidays or transport on the Internet.
We also have a handy FAQ section at the back of the guide to help answer any immediate or pressing questions you may have.
The main reasons people turn to the Internet to book travel is because it’s better value for money and they enjoy building their own holiday.
You’ll find many benefits from booking your holiday online and these are outlined in the following sections
Booking holidays online can have many advantages over using high-street travel agents. These include:
While everyone can benefit from the advantages of booking travel online, those over 50 could stand to gain from specific perks. As well as benefitting from discounts aimed at your age-group, some travel sites waive single traveller supplements to make holidaying alone less expensive.
With so many travel websites on the Internet, there is no limit to the types of travel you can book online.
Most travel websites cater for popular holiday destinations as well as a number of more exotic locations.
If you are planning to visit places off of the usual tourist trail then you may have to visit a specialist website.
Next, you should compare different holiday deals and packages online. There are many websites which can help you do this but Kayak, Skyscanner, Travel Supermarket and Go Compare are the obvious options.
All of these websites work in similar ways. Simply input the details of the travel you intend to book and you’ll be given a list of results based on this search. You can filter the results by numerous criteria and arrange them by price to find the best deals.
All of these sites are free to use too. This means that when you see a price that you like for your holiday all you have to do is click on that selection and you’ll be automatically transferred to the travel operators’ page where you can complete your booking and make any necessary payments.
Before finalising your book, it is advisable to check your selection is a good one. Trip Advisor is well known for providing comprehensive user reviews of hotels, tour operators and attractions.
Visiting the website and typing the name of your hotel, flight company or destination will return plenty of results which can help inform your choice and provide inspiration over what to do once at your destination.
The site also provides their own list of recommended hotels and holidays in popular locations which are well worth a look if you’re not sure where to stay. You should also look out for key recommendations – such as the Traveller’s Choice Awards – which will be mentioned in Trip Advisor’s overview of the hotel.
There used to be a lot of suspicion about paying by credit or debit card online, but as the practice has become more widespread, there are more things in place to ensure you’re payment is secure.
You can stay safe when booking online travel in the following ways:
When you are buying holidays online, you should ensure that the link is secure.
As well as checking the safety of websites in your browser, you should also follow these steps to stay safe online:
If you pay online using a credit or debit card, you will normally be asked to enter another password or security code to authorise the transaction.
The purpose of this is to stop unauthorised transactions from going through. If you were making the card transactions in person then you would be asked for your PIN number to verify the transaction but when shopping online you do not provide this information. Only need the details printed on the card are needed so in order to stop unauthorised people using your card this additional layer of security is used.
The first time you come across one of these schemes, you will be asked for your card details and personal details before setting a password. Thereafter, you will be required to enter your password or specific characters from it in order to proceed with a transaction.
This extra security level applies to all online payments and transactions you make and does not just apply to holiday bookings.
You can get holiday or travel insurance from a wide range of financial institutions, including:
With banks and building societies, you may find that travel insurance is provided for free on certain accounts. These are generally accounts which you pay a set fee for each month and receive a number of bonuses such as free travel insurance, car breakdown or mobile phone insurance.
Current examples of these accounts include:
There are a number of comparison sites, such as GoCompare and MoneySupermarket that make searching for the best value policies much quicker and easier and you can also search for other current accounts which offer benefits on their site too – simply fill in one form with your details to get a list of quotes from insurance providers.
Make sure you opt for an appropriate level of cover for your holiday and consider whether single trip insurance (which covers the one specified holiday) or annual cover (which covers holidays or tips made over a one year period) is best for you.
Buying currency online can also make sorting your holiday a little easier and once again there are many sites which offer this service as well as many different formats in which you can buy currency. The main options are listed below with a brief summary of their benefits:
Many services allow you to buy foreign currency in cash. This can be either posted to you or sent to a local branch of the seller for you to collect (usually a bank or Post Office). The benefit of buying online is that you get greater visibility over the exchange rate and don’t have to carry a large sum of English money with you to buy it in person.
Currency cards are similar to credit and debit cards in the sense that they represent a set amount of money. You pre-load these cards with the amount of money you want in the specified currency and can then use it whilst on holiday in the same way you’d use a credit or debit card back home. There is usually no charge for using currency cards and they are much safer to carry around on your holiday too. They may also be referred to as travel money cards.
Travellers cheques offer an extra layer of security when taking foreign currency on holiday with you. The cheques must be double-signed by you while presenting photo ID to redeem them at the bank and that means that any lost or stolen cheques should not be able to be cashed – allowing you to reclaim your money. You reclaim these at a bank in your destination and can cash them all at once or bit by bit in order to budget your holiday spending.
As well as being able to buy currency in numerous forms online, you can also get it from numerous places. Some of the most common examples are listed below:
When you make a hotel, travel or holiday booking online you will usually be given the choice to add holiday extras such as airport transfers, hire cars, airport parking or even extra luggage allowances. Although these may offer good deals, you may be able to find a cheaper price by booking separately. Make sure you research the options online using comparison websites and select the cheapest option.
NB. Although you will be asked if you want to add holiday extras to your travel booking at the time you make it, you can add them at a later date if you wish to compare prices first. All you need to do is log-in to the travel website you used to make the booking and open the booking.
Airport parking is a bit more complex as there is both on-airport and off-airport parking options available. The latter is often cheaper but it will require a bus journey to the terminal.
Make sure you are comparing like-for-like when comparing prices to choose the right option.
Airlines are very strict about luggage allowances and restrictions. It will vary depending on which airline you’re flying with but should be clearly marked in your flight literature or on the website.
Typically, checked baggage has a 15-20kg limit while hand baggage can vary from 5-10kg, with maximum dimensions of 55x40x20cm.
Most websites are set up to accept payments from all major debit and credit cards. You may also be able to pay through secure payment services such as PayPal.
If you are paying for a package holiday, or flights and accommodation, most travel websites will give you a number of choices. The most common methods are paying a deposit on the day of booking, followed by a single payment a couple of weeks before you fly or by several smaller payments over a few months if booking your holiday in advance.
If you are paying to stay in a hotel, some will take a deposit and require the remainder on check-in or check-out while others will take the full amount at booking – this is particularly common if you’re getting a non-refundable rate.
If you are a British citizen you don’t need a visa to travel to any EU member state, this includes popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, and Greece.
However, you will need to apply for a visa to enter Turkey, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt and many other countries. For a full list, please visit: http://www.thetravelvisacompany.co.uk/visas/
Always check visa requirements before booking your holiday and check the application time as some countries require you to apply for your visa in advance while others allow you to fill out a form online.
Most airlines now require you to check-in online. This is a simple process, where you enter the details of the passengers on the airline’s website. You will then receive your boarding passes which should be printed and taken to the airport with you.
You can usually check-in online between seven days and two hours before flying.
For those without access to a printer, you can usually select an option to collect your tickets/boarding passes at the airport. This can either be done from the check-in desk or from self-service kiosks which allow you to print your tickets. Those who own a smartphone can also have the boarding pass sent to their mobiles instead of being printed.
Alternatively, many airlines still offer you the option to check-in in person at the airport.
NB If you have checked-in online but have checked baggage to be placed in the hold then you will need to go to the ‘baggage drop’ area on arrival at the airport. Those without checked baggage (i.e. hand baggage only) can go straight to security if they have checked-in online and have printed boarding passes.
You are entitled to cancel your booking at any time but you may be charged for doing so. Most travel operators will allow you to cancel your booking and receive a full refund within a set period of time. This will vary between websites so you need to check it carefully.
After this period, you may be offered a partial refund on any booking cancellations you make. Some websites or travel companies may also deduct an ‘administration fee’ for processing your cancellation.
In some instances, such as when purchasing discounted flights, you may not be entitled to a refund once the booking is made. If you think there is a risk you’ll need to cancel or amend your booking details then you should select a different ticket type to avoid losing money.
* Where this website contains links to other websites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your information only. We have no control over the contents of those websites or resources and we accept no liability for their content. Inclusion of the third party website does not necessarily represent an endorsement of their views nor does it imply a business relationship between McCarthy & Stone and the company whose website it is. We will not be liable for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them.