AFTER barely a week back at work, more than 840,000 of those in the North West will have already booked their next holiday.

That's according to the latest research from ATOL, the UK’s air holiday financial protection scheme.

This Saturday, January 6, dubbed ‘Sunshine Saturday’, is expected to see the biggest spike in holiday bookings, as UK holidaymakers look to beat the post-festive season blues.

The research revealed that 2018 is set to be the year of the package holiday revival. Two thirds (65 per cent) of consumers living in the North West are booking, or considering booking, package holidays this year, citing convenience and ease of budgeting as the main reasons for choosing this type of break over a DIY trip.

By comparison in 2017 under half (45 per cent) of consumers booked package holidays.

Another key benefit of the package holiday is ATOL protection, something that over 22 million Brits consider a top priority when planning a holiday abroad. ATOL protection ensures holidaymakers are protected should the worst happen, and their travel company fail.

For all those looking to book their holiday this January, consumer protection expert, Harry Wallop, has partnered with ATOL to provide top tips on how to best protect your holiday:

1. Check for ATOL protection 

Make sure your package holiday is ATOL protected before booking - look out for the ATOL logo on travel company’s websites, this will also help protect you if your travel company collapses. Once you’ve booked, you’ll receive an ATOL certificate which confirms what is protected—it’s important to take this certificate on holiday with you.

2. Always pay on credit card

If you are not booking a package holiday, always pay for your trip with a credit card. By doing this you will be protected for up to £30,000 under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

3. Check your travel agent

As well as being ATOL protected, it’s worth seeing if your package holiday company is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) or another respected industry body. This means they must abide by a Code of Conduct which includes accurate advertising, fair terms of trading and managing customer complaints.

4. Get travel insurance as soon as you book

Make sure you have adequate travel insurance, which will cover medical costs and any other potential expenses such as damage or loss of any possessions you take away with you. You should consider taking out a policy as soon as you’ve booked your trip to ensure you’re covered should anything go wrong before you take off.

5. Use Google Street view and read reviews

Use Google Street view to scout around the location of your hotel or holiday home to check if it is the same as the website/brochure promises. It’s also a good idea to read previous reviews – remember to take the extremely positive and negative ones with a pinch of salt, and instead focus on those in the middle which give a more balanced view.

6. Budget wisely and watch out for hidden costs

Use a foreign currency pre-payment card to avoid rip-off transactions and bank fees, and never exchange money at the airport. Make sure you also check the airport and resort fees, such as baggage allowance and hotel transfers, to avoid any nasty surprises.

Richard Moriarty, consumers & markets director at the Civil Aviation Authority said, “Lots of consumers research holidays over Christmas and New Year, and now people are back to work and reality, it’s no surprise that millions of people across the country are now booking their trips abroad.

“We’re urging all those planning their holidays this January to ask about ATOL before booking. Having an ATOL certificate means that your holiday is financially protected, and will prevent you from being stranded or losing money if you travel company or airline goes bust.”