Pól Ó Conghaile: Three essential steps to take before you travel
Peace of mind
This summer has been a sobering one for holidaymakers.
In Tunisia, a terrorist attack left 38 dead - charters have since been suspended from Ireland. Greece had its cash crisis. In France, an air traffic controller strike (yes, another one) was called off at the eleventh hour... but not before an exasperated Ryanair launched a petition calling for the removal of their right to strike.
How can we avoid such events? The answer, quite simply, is that we can't. Tunisia obviously stands apart as a shocking act of terror, but there are steps you can take to protect against other travel disruption.
Firstly, if you're concerned about the safety of a destination, or other issues such as cash shortages, check the Department of Foreign Affairs' travel advice (dfa.ie/travel). This is updated regularly, and in detail.
Secondly, take out an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy. These can cost from less than €30 for an individual, and cover everything from medical expenses to cancellations and lost luggage for a whole year. Package holidays are protected by licensed and bonded tour operators, but if you book flights and accommodation separately, check the T&Cs to ensure your policy covers 'End Supplier Failure' and travel disruption.
Thirdly, take a photo or copy of your passport in case it gets lost, and check your airline's website before you leave home - that's where to find the most up-to-date information on delays, cancellations and strikes.
We're all aware of the painful exchange rates for travel in the UK and the US at present. So why not look at a destination where the euro actually works in your favour? South Africa, with its weak rand, is one compelling option. The package prices ain't bad, either. Joe Walsh Tours (joewalshtours.ie) has seven-night trips to Cape Town, including flights via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and accommodation in the four-star Colourful Manor Luxury Lodge, from €979pp based on travel in September and October, for example. NB: Prices subject to availability.
It seems awfully early to be mentioning C*****mas, but at least I can blame tour operators. Falcon Holidays (falconholidays.ie) has already launched day-trips departing Dublin Airport for Lapland on December 5 and 18 from €659pp (adult) and €579pp (child); while Sunway (sunway.ie) has one-night packages on December 19 from €859/€759pp. Sunway also has a seven-night luxury 'Christmas on the Rhine' river cruise, including all excursions, food and wine from €1,859pp departing November 23. But enough of that - back to the summer sun!