Booking a holiday at this time comes with added risk. Non-essential travel within the UK and overseas is prohibited and the Government has yet to issue a potential date for the end of lockdown, let alone the resumption of tourism. Travelling abroad when we are permitted to do so could also come with as yet unspecified regulations – some destinations may require proof of vaccination, while quarantine and testing rules are under frequent review in most countries. However, six weeks into lockdown 3 – with homeschooling, home working and the dregs of winter getting Britons down – many people are in need of something to look forward to. The prospect of a holiday could be your chosen form of respite. If you are tempted to book ahead for a trip abroad, it is vital to secure flexibility. The current circumstances mean it is necessary to look closely at travel companies’ terms and conditions before you book. Some points to note include: The cost of the deposit How close to your holiday the final payment will be due If you will be charged for making changes to a booking (and, if free changes are permitted, how far up until travel they are allowed) The company’s policy, and record, on issuing refunds Its approach to changes in Foreign Office advice that affect your trip That the operator is Atol-protected Here are some of the most flexible policies – for both foreign and domestic breaks. Overseas holidays Kuoni The luxury operator brought in its Flex+ policy in response to Covid-19, which offers more flexibility to its customers than ever before. Selected holidays to the Indian Ocean and Asia are covered, allowing you to change or cancel your booking (with a full refund) up to 10 days before your trip, without charge. For holidays to Europe you can change or cancel bookings without a fee up to 21 days before departure. This only applies to holidays that include flights with British Airways, however. Under these Flex+ terms, if you change the date of a holiday and the new booking is cheaper than the original, Kuoni will refund the price difference. If the amended booking is more expensive, you will have to pay the extra. Be sure to check that your chosen destination and the airline you’ll be flying with are included in the Flex+ policy. If not, it will not apply to any element of your booking. The policy is good for holidays up to September 30, 2021. Jet2holidays The operator’s Holiday Refund Guarantee promises to refund quickly if it has to cancel your trip. Customer experience backs this up: Jet2 holidays was ranked as the best travel firm for providing refunds in a survey of over 77,000 consumers by Moneysavingexpert. If a holiday cannot go ahead due to lockdown or self-isolation rules then customers can change their booking to a later date without facing an admin fee. However, if you decide to alter your plans for another reason, you will be charged. Deposits for Jet2holidays start from £60 per person and the full balance of a trip is due 10 weeks before departure. Explore Explore also offers fee-free booking changes up to 10 days before departure – or customers can opt for a credit voucher. However, in both instances, the money you’ve paid for any elements of your trip that are designated as non-recoverable (such as pre-booked tours) would be lost. The terms and conditions should detail which elements of your holiday would be deemed “non-recoverable”. If your holiday goes against Government rules, due to national or local lockdown, Explore would cancel the trip and refund or transfer the full holiday value without charge. Anyone who has received a Covid diagnosis or been contacted by track and trace and required to self-isolate will receive a refund for recoverable costs (this may not include your flights) and Explore will waive cancellation charges – this will cover all customers under a booking. British Airways Holidays You can secure a booking with a low deposit of £75 per person with British Airways holidays. However, the latest you can defer the final payment is three weeks before you travel. If you wish to change booking details within the final three weeks before your trip, you will face additional charges. If you decide you don’t wish to travel for any reason before the three-week mark, you can change your booking for free (while paying any difference in the price of the holiday), up until April 30, 2023. If you choose to cancel the holiday within this time frame, you can also receive a voucher for future travel up until the end of April 2023. The company suggests securing travel insurance with its official provider, Allianz Assistance, to cover the cost of your trip in the event you, or any family members included in your booking, cannot travel due to being diagnosed with the virus or being required to quarantine. Audley Travel Audley Travel is offering full refunds for cancellations up to 14 days before travel to selected destinations for bookings made before March 31, 2021. Short-haul destinations covered by this include Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey. However, some hotels are excluded from the offer, so check before you book. Long-haul trips to the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados, St Kitts & Nevis and Dubai are also covered, for selected flights routes – again, check before you book.