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Now Is Traditionally the time when we stock up on holiday broachures and start planning those expensive foreign vacations.

But remember that brochures should be treated with caution. Holiday firms don’t always mention the fact that you will be travelling in the monsoon season, or that you’ll be sharing your hotel with a naturist convention from Cologne.

To make sure your holiday doesn’t provide the subject matter for the Autumn series of Watchdog, interrogate your travel agent or their website(s) and get satisfactory answers to the following questions:

  • Accommodation: Is it Suitable?

The majority of nightmare holiday complaints centre on medieval apartments with hygiene standards to flatter a Victorian brothel. You can avoid being placed in such squalor by asking to see a copy of OAG Gazetteer. This guide is held by most travel agents and provides an honest, wartsn’ all assessment of hotels and apartments.

You’ll be able to see exactly what facilities are on offer, the location and accessibiliy, plus rating of catering and cleanliness.

  • The Package: What’s Included?

    You may be offered an all inclusive holiday that sounds terrific, but actually includes little of interest. Be wary of such vague phrases as All Inclusive Watersport .

    You may find a bat and ball available for shoreline tennis, rather than jet skiing, yachting and scuba diving. Or there may be one jet ski per hundred holidaymakers.

  • What Is The Exact Price?
    Don’t take as gospel the prices cited in the brochures or websites, as firms can alter these, depending on the popularity of the destination and the date of your holiday.
  • Is Insurance Included?
    Some holiday firms force you into buying their own insurance as part of the package. You’ll generally get a better deal by taking out travel insurance seperately.
  • What Will The Weather Be Like?

    Imagine you were a foreigner coming to England. The travel agent may say this is a temperature clime with nice warm summers – technically true, but we know the miserable, rain-sodden truth.

    So, if you’re travelling to a country you know little about, read up on it beforehand.

  • How Do You Get There?

    To prepare adequately for the journey, make sure your travel agent can answer these vital questions:

    • Is the flight chartered or scheduled?
    • Is the flight direct?
    • What are the arrival and departure times?
    • Is transport from the airport to your accommodation included?
    • How far is the airport from your destination?
    • Also find out if you can pre-book a seat and meals on the plane, and how much (if anything) this will cost.

    Watch out for bargin flights that drop you off at an airport miles from your destination.

  • How Safe Is Your Destination?

    This won’t really apply if you’re off on a day trip to Calais. But if you’re going somewhere more exotic, contact the Foreign Office’s Travel Advice Line on:

    0207 238 5403. It provides information on vaccinations, political/social instability and many other essential details that could help you avoid spending your holiday being tortured by terrorists.

    Other helpful services can be found on the internet at for Foreign Office advice.

  • Dover – Calais crossings now 40 plus 2 for 1 minicruises to Amsterdam, Bruges, Rotterdam and Bilbao.

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