The European Consumer Centre Ireland has issued its latest consumer advice on how to avoid additional holiday and travel costs in an already expensive year for all, reports Clodagh Dooley
Rising energy and supplier products prices top the list of main worries across Europe at the moment, and many consumers will have to further limit their travel budget or forgo holidays again this year.
There is not much you can do when your travel budget is spiralling out of control, but watch out for these things that might make a small difference. Here is European Consumer Centre Ireland’s advice to Irish consumers looking for holidays abroad:
Hotels and Accommodation
- Avoid additional hotel costs such as paying extra for late check-in or check-out, extortionate hotel parking and in-house breakfast. In many European cities, there is free or cheap car parking, and you will find lots of breakfast options around the hotel area. If you are willing to forgo that lie-in, head to the nearest bakery and have a reasonably-priced breakfast with the locals.
- Some cities charge a local tourism tax, which can be per day or per stay and is charged via the hotel or accommodation provider. Do some research and easily avoid the cities with the highest taxes, which change every year but tend to be highest in the most popular destinations.
- Other costs that might surprise you on arrival are paid-for (high-speed or in-room) WiFi, luggage storage, and the use of in-room amenities, such as hair dryers or bathrobes.
- Pets will almost always trigger an additional fee, on top of the regular cleaning fee for non-hotel accommodation options.
- Other items such as airport transfer, access to gym/spa, and a fee for the use of sun umbrellas, towels and loungers on a private beach are also costs that you can avoid by choosing alternatives.
Most importantly, these costs must be listed and notified in advance; the consumer can refuse payment if not informed previously. This is a basic consumer right in Ireland and the EU.
European package travel legislation provides that, under certain conditions, the organiser of the package can increase the travel price by up to 8% after the booking is finalised and partially/fully paid, if:
- There is a price adjustment clause in the original contract
- The price increase is communicated at least 21 days before departure
- The price increase is justified and transparent, and is caused by unavoidable fuel or local taxes increases.
If any one of these conditions is not met, the consumer is entitled to refuse the extra payment and terminate the contract.
Additional Flight Costs
Before and at the time of the booking, travellers must be informed of how the total price is calculated. The price to be paid at the end of the booking process must list all of the components: the airfare, as well as all the local, airport and any other taxes, fees and surcharges.
There are, of course, additional items that are charged separately, and which you can forgo, if you can, such as: airport check-in, checked baggage, seat selection, and meals.
Here are a few extra tips on how to avoid additional costs by booking right in the first place:
- Read travel offers carefully and check which services are included before you finalise the booking. If in doubt, contact the operator. Sometimes, travel offer prices seem very attractive, i.e. low, and that is because only the base price is advertised.
- Read tourist reviews to see if other consumers have complained about unexpected additional costs on-site/at the destination.
- Ask for the expected bill before the end of your stay to detect extra charges early on.
- Go for slightly higher flexible reservations – they might save you money in the end, if you need to make changes or cancel.
- If you book an “all-inclusive” holiday, check if everything on-site is included. Sometimes, only food and beverages are included, whereas other amenities are still chargeable extras.
Many of us have become savvy at spotting the right deal over the years, but it doesn’t hurt to remember these:
- Book well in advance for promotional prices or last minute for desperate deals.
- Choose a less popular destination (overall cheaper and lower tourist taxes), less luxurious accommodation (the difference between 3 and 4 stars, and then between 4 and 5 stars is quite small and sometimes insignificant) and fly to a smaller airport (less taxes).
- Book your holidays in the off-season or on weekdays, closer to an airport so that you don’t need to rent a car.
For more tips like these or consumer advice on travel and holidays, visit eccireland.ie
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