New research from the UK’s travel protection body ATOL, has found that British holiday makers from the South East of England are laden down with pre-holiday worries ahead of jetting off this summer – but are failing to take action to safeguard against those fears.
Poor weather is the top travel worry (41 per cent), closely followed by missing flights (35 per cent) – with a third (33 per cent) arriving at least three hours early to the airport. More serious concerns are also playing on people’s minds such as family members becoming ill (21 per cent), losing key travel documents such as your passport (34 per cent) and travel companies failing (19 per cent).
However, the research revealed that this frantic fretting does not always lead to practical action, with more than half of holidaymakers (55 per cent) admitting to travelling without insurance. Only a third (33 per cent) of holidaymakers from the South East check for ATOL protection before booking their trip, leaving them vulnerable should their travel company fail.
Almost half of tourists from the South East (47 per cent) have experienced difficult situations on holiday. Figures show that since 2010 more than 316,000 holidaymakers, have been rescued or reimbursed by ATOL, the UK’s statutory holiday financial protection scheme, due to travel company failure. This means those holidaymakers were not left out of pocket and were able to get home at no extra cost, despite their travel company collapsing. Furthermore, nearly one in five southerners (18 per cent) have needed medical attention on holiday in the past and another fifth (23 per cent) have lost their possessions or had them stolen.
Psychologist Donna Dawson comments on the findings: “People spend too much time worrying about things that are outside of their control, such as the weather and getting ill while on holiday. It is far better to concentrate on those things that you can control.
“Taking practical steps to protect you, your family and your holiday will give you peace of mind. Travel insurance will help protect your belongings, while ATOL protection will ensure that you can get home should the worst happen and your holiday company fail. Pre-emptive action of this kind gives you the knowledge that you have done everything you can to lessen the risks, allowing you to de-stress before you go away”.
Southerners’ top 10 holiday worries:
Missing flights or transfers
Losing a passport
The hotel not being up to standard
Needing medical attention
Having possessions stolen
Travel company failure
Getting a seat on the plane with friends/family
Forgetting to turn off appliances at home
Not liking food on offer
The younger generation are more concerned by technology based worries, with a quarter of those aged 18 – 25 admitting they worry about a lack of wi-fi at the hotel (25 per cent), and a fifth concerned about leaving their phone charger at home (22 per cent). For one in ten of those aged 25 and under, they are more concerned about breaking their phone poolside than about their travel company failing (13 per cent).
Commenting on the research Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL, said: “Booking a holiday with ATOL protection should be at the forefront of customers’ minds when planning their break.
“ATOL ensures consumers will be able to return home free of charge, if the company they have booked with fails while they’re on holiday, or that they get a refund if yet to travel. “In 2016/2017 alone ATOL refunded or repatriated 17,000 people, so it’s really important that consumers not only check for the ATOL logo when booking their holiday this year, but that they remember to pack their ATOL certificate as an essential travel document.”
Top tips to enjoy your holiday stress free
1. Get your paperwork in order and have key documents in one place to limit the potential for stress. Make sure to include your travel insurance documents, ATOL certificate, passports, medical cards and boarding passes and use a document purse that’s easily accessible in your hand luggage to help make your journey go smoothly.
2. Travel light to reduce hassle and ensure you have weighed your luggage before getting to the front of the check in queue. Avoid the worry of incurring a fine and the possibility of losing precious belongings by limiting your packing to just the essentials and only packing items that could be easily replaced should they get lost or stolen. Less is more when it comes to stress-free travel.
3. Have a leaving-home checklist, outlining everything you need to do before going on holiday then tick them off when complete. List all the essential things that you mustn’t forget, like turning off appliances and securing window and door locks. Physically ticking each item off the list will give you a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind that you needn’t worry about the safety of your home while you’re away.
4. Take control, if you are anxious about something, such as losing a precious item, or a family member falling ill, work out a contingency plan in advance. What would you do if the ‘worst’ happened? Thinking an issue through all the way – instead of just stopping at the ‘anxiety’ part – will make you feel more in control, and more able to tackle anything that arises.
5. Use the flight to unwind, relax and switch off from all the worries and stresses at home. For mental relaxation, close your eyes and clear your mind of everything. Imagine in detail every positive physical aspect of your holiday. For five minutes, use all your senses to do this: for example, smell the flowers, feel the breeze on your face, hear the breaking of waves, see the ocean, taste the seafood. Follow this with five minutes of physical relaxation: starting from your face, jaw and neck, alternately tense and then relax each muscle group in your body, working slowly down to your toes.