Booking a holiday and then counting down the days until you can set that ‘out of office’ on your work email account is one of the most exciting times of the year, isn’t it? We look forward to making those memories for so long.
But for some people, the lead up to a vacation can be stressful. I’ve spoken with many people who can rattle off a long list of fears they have about traveling that actually take the joy away from that magic countdown to the out of office such as possible flight delays, natural disasters & other incidents and fear of falling ill while away.
These are all valid concerns, but none of them should be deal breakers to you planning and enjoying a well-deserved break. Things like this happen all the time and they can be dealt with easily, especially if you know how to plan for these incidents ahead of your trip.
The easy answer is book with a trusted travel agent (like me) who will handle all of these things for you and is just a phone call away while you are on holiday. However, if you are more of a do it yourself kind of booker, then here are my top tips when protecting yourself and your family when travelling.
The golden rule in booking any travel component, is that if something seems to good to be true, then it probably is. Travel agents and online booking portals tend to have better rates than the hotels directly, but whoever you choose to make the booking make sure that the site is secure and that you are only making payments by debit/ credit card or PayPal via a secure portal. Most bogus accommodation sites will ask you to pay by making a deposit or transfer into a bank account, this is a huge alarm bell and any reputable site will offer multiple secure payment methods.
Flights are available to book 11 months in advance of the travel date, the more seats that are available then the better the price you are likely to get. Throughout the year, airlines will have sales and offers but the best tip to save money is to secure your flights as soon as you know that you will be travelling, especially if it falls on a public or school holiday. The higher the occupancy of the flight, the higher the fare you will pay for your seat.
For flight tickets, there are many sites available these days that sell flight tickets. I always advise that the airline direct site is your best bet if you aren’t booking your whole holiday with an agent. However, if you do see an opportunity to save some dirhams on a flight site then read the booking T&C’s in detail before hitting that payment button. Only use sites that issue tickets same day and who are completely transparent with your allowances and their fees and charges should you need to amend your plans.
Another tip is that when flying out of the UAE flights tend to cost more on a Thursday & Friday so if you can avoid these days you can usually save some dirhams.
My trusted source of information for all the latest travel advice by country is the FCO website https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice This is a great resource about safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health. The purpose of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice is to provide information and advice to help British nationals make their own informed decisions about foreign travel. It’s a great resource for all travellers, but if you are not a UK passport holder you should check in with your own Governments equivalent organisation to check for any nuances that might apply.
The FCO advise all travellers to consult a health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before travel and to check the information and advice on travel-related risks and disease, including vaccines recommendations on these websites:
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) encourages residents who plan to travel ensure they take necessary travel vaccinations at least one month prior to their journey to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccines.
DHA has two full-fledged Travellers’ Clinics — a hub for pre-travel medical services such as vaccinations, risk assessment and travel advice — at the Nad Al Hammar and Al Barsha primary healthcare centres.
I always recommend that you buy travel insurance immediately upon booking any travel component, if you don’t have an annual policy already. It’s one of those things that people often see as an unnecessary expense, but as with any insurance you don’t realize the value until you actually need to make a claim.
Many people wait until just before they travel but it’s best to get as soon as you book so you are covered for anything that might prevent travel into that country and airline failures. At a minimum, you should be covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation, but I also recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Many UAE credit cards offer insurance as a benefit so investigate that and see if you already have a policy that way or I use AIG as my Travel Insurance partner in the region.
Your Travel Tips in Summary
1. For the best rates, book as soon as you have your dates confirmed for your travel
2. Book with reputable companies that have a tried and trusted name in the market
3. Always read the small print before booking any travel component
4. Only make payment for online travel services via secure payment methods
5. Always travel with the best Travel Insurance policy you can buy & read the small print
6. Purchase your Travel insurance as soon as your holiday is booked or go for an annual policy if you travel frequently
7. Check the country safety and health advise at least 4 weeks before you travel
Jamie Macneilage is an Independent Travel Specialist based in Dubai and specialises in Bespoke Leisure, Luxe & Group Travel