Save My Holiday – top tips for holidaymakers


The BBC programme Save My Holiday continues to feature stories of shoddy standards in holiday hotspots. But throughout each programme the show’s presenters and health expert Dr Lisa Ackerley also give top tips on how to avoid getting ill on holiday, how to prevent accidents on holiday and how to get the holiday you paid for.

Package Holiday ComplaintsHere are just a few of the latest tips prompted by holidaymakers’ horror stories:

Before you book:

  • Thoroughly research your destination location and hotel. Read as many holiday review sites (eg as you can – Save My Holiday has featured everything from sub-standard hotels to unfinished hotels to non-existent villas! If you’re looking for peace and quiet, don’t book to stay near a 24 hour party resort!!
  • Check that the company you’re booking with is a recognised tour operator and ATOL or ABTA affiliated.
  • If you are booking a villa or chalet with a private individual, ask them for a reference number from the Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Office based where the villa is, or ask for a reference from their accountant.
  • When you do book your holiday, get all the details in writing including what facilities you have asked/ paid for such as air conditioning, a sea view, child’s cot in your room etc.
  • Ensure you know who to call if there’s a problem, and that you can dial that number from abroad. Check when the phone lines are manned – some companies don’t have staff on their helplines on Sundays for example.
  • Always pay by credit card if you can, then your payment is traceable.

Health and Safety standards are very different abroad so it’s up to you to ensure that things are up to scratch to keep you and your family safe on holiday. If you find hazards that are unacceptable, complain to the hotel manager if you want to switch rooms or see your holiday company rep asap if you want to move hotels.

The check-in checklist:

  • Your room should have a fire plan with emergency instructions on what to do in the event of a fire. It should show you the nearest exit route from your room. Take a few minutes to walk the route, with your children if you have them with you. It’s vital that you all know how to escape the hotel in an emergency.
  • Check the wiring in your room – if sockets are hanging loose or wiring is visible this is an electric shock hazard. Check especially any sockets in the bathroom – a Health & Safety hazard not allowed in the UK. If the socket is not properly sealed against the wall this could allow water to get in and be an electric shock hazard. Ask to move rooms if you feel unsafe.
  • Check the balcony – look for any gaps that small children can squeeze through and check the height of the railing or wall – too low is too dangerous.
  • Check around the hotel for slip, trip and fall hazards, shoddy pool maintenance or dangerous kids’ play areas. Ask to move hotel if standards are below your expectations or are a clear safety hazard.

Six out of ten people have experienced food poisoning on holiday, usually from all-inclusive buffet food or dirty glassware. Here are just a few things to check for:

  • Look at the food – does it look fresh? Many all inclusive hotels ‘recycle’ food by putting the same dishes out for lunch and dinner or chopping yesterday’s food into today’s salad. If it looks dodgy, it probably is.
  • Look out for flies in the food area – flies carry disease and shouldn’t be near food.
  • Check that hot food is hot and cold food cold – anything in between could mean that germs and disease are having a field day multiplying in your lunch.
  • Check the cleanliness of the glassware –it should be sparkling. Glasses should also be stored upside down to prevent flies getting into them and spreading disease.
  • Check the number of staff on duty – too few means they’ll be cutting corners, perhaps topping up trays of gone-cold food with fresh-from-the -kitchen food, the perfect recipe for food poisoning.

The main thing to do is to trust your instincts and if you need to complain, do so as soon as possible and keep complaining until something is done for you. Get as much photographic or video evidence as you can of poor standards, dangers and dodgy food. Write down every call and conversation.

If your holiday is more hell than heaven, you may be able to claim compensation for holiday illness, holiday accident or loss of enjoyment on holiday.

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