Direct Line magazine

Need to change or cancel your holiday? Here’s what to do…

Updated on: 30 March 2020

A departure board full of cancellations.

Have you changed your mind about a holiday? Has something unavoidable cropped up? Perhaps you no longer feel safe flying to the country. 

Your right to cancel will depend on the terms and conditions of your holiday booking and your travel insurance. Check both to see if your circumstances are covered and you can avoid going without losing all the money you spent on the trip.

Even more stressful is receiving news when you’re away that leaves you having to get home as soon as possible. It’s worth knowing that you can make a claim should this happen to you.

There are still many holiday companies that don’t provide compensation if you have to return home for personal reasons… If this happens to you, consider making a claim on your travel insurance

Where do I start?

First, contact the holiday company you bought the holiday from. Many have a cancellation policy, especially if they’re members of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents).

If you cancel before you’re due to go away, you may get a refund for the amount you’ve paid – this tends to be on a sliding scale, with the refund being less the nearer you get to departure.

However, there are still many holiday companies that don’t provide compensation if you have to return home for personal reasons. And if your agreement doesn’t allow for cancellations, then you may have to cover the loss made by the holiday company because of your cancellation. If this happens you should consider making a claim on your travel insurance.

Row of empty sun loungers round a pool, after rain

What can I claim for?

If you need to make a claim because you’ve cancelled or shortened your trip, your insurer will only accept your claim if you have a good reason for doing so.

Reasons may include:

  • Unexpected death, illness or injury of you, your partner or people travelling with you

  • A fire, burglary or unexpected damage happens to your home

  • You’re made redundant

  • You’re pregnant and are advised not to travel for a medical reason that occurred after you took out the insurance

  • You’re called for jury service or as a witness in court

  • If you have to come home early, your insurer will usually only refund any extra travelling costs and the cost of any unused time in your holiday accommodation

What if the country is no longer safe to travel to?

If you’ve booked a holiday and feel the country has become unsafe, check out the Foreign Office travel advice website. They have a long list of countries, and advise against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ if your holiday destination is deemed unsafe.

If the Foreign Office advises against all travel to your holiday destination, then your tour operator is legally obliged to offer you a full refund or an alternative holiday. However, their policies will vary and it’s best to look at the terms and conditions for your booking.

If you’re on holiday when an incident occurs, then it’s very likely the tour operator will run additional flights to bring you back to the UK.

Related articles

Three young adults walk through an airport.

Make the most of a gap year

Gap years can be a good way to take a break from the norm. Here are some useful tips on what to consider when you've decided to travel for a year.
An elderly couple sit on a bench and look out over a lake.

Over 65s travel insurance

If you're over 65 and want to do more travelling, Direct Line puts together some of the answers to your questions.
A paper plane covered in a Union Jack.

Travel after Brexit

With a lot of uncertainty about travel after Brexit, we take a look at how you can prepare if you think your trip will be disrupted.